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The Comics Alternative

The Comics Alternative is weekly podcast focusing on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There's nothing wrong with superhero comics. We just want to do something different.) New podcast episodes become available every Wednesday and include reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, and spotlights on various creators and publishers. The Comics Alternative also produces "special feature" programs, such as shows specifically dedicated to creator interviews, webcomics, on-location events, and special non-weekly themes and topics.


May 22, 2015

Andy and Derek are pleased to have as their guest on The Comics Alternative the artist who has done more than anyone to help us understand comics, Scott McCloud. He has just concluded an exhausting world tour -- traveling all over the United States and Europe, and then wrapping up at this year's TCAF -- and the Two Guys were able to catch him during a breather and talk with him about his latest book, The Sculptor (First Second). They begin by asking him about the reception of his new graphic novel and the kind of reader reaction he had experienced on the road. Scott shares some of the commentary he received, such as finding the book a quick read as well as questions regarding the story's ending. In fact, the guys spend a bit of time discussing the concluding section of the book -- without really spoiling anything -- and ask Scott about his thoughts on structuring his narrative. He reveals that The Sculptor was a long time in coming and that he's been thinking of the ending almost from the beginning, over five years ago. This leads Derek and Andy to observe that this is a meticulously crafted book, one that demands multiple readings in order to see the various clues and allusions that are buried throughout the text, linking the end to the beginning and revealing a solid narrative cohesion.  The guys also ask Scott to speculate on his current statue as one of comics' preeminent spokespersons. They wonder if his celebrity as "the guy who wrote Understanding Comics" has been eclipsing his reception as a fiction writer. That then becomes a springboard into a fruitful conversation about Scott's career as struggling young fan-turned-artist, the creation of Zot!, the critical reaction to his expository trilogy -- Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics -- his prescient advocacy for webcomics, his brief stint on Superman, the writing of The Sculptor, and his current project concerning visual communication. They even discuss Scott's recent work as editor on last year's Best American Comics, and how in many ways it brought him back into an awareness of current comics. Toward the end of the conversation, Scott shares his experiences as a teacher, and he even gives Andy and Derek useful strategies for using comics in the classroom. (Hint: The guys are going to fish out their copies of Shaun Tan's The Arrival.) All in all, this was an incredible interview. Derek and Andy had really wanted to have Scott on the show around the pub date of The Sculptor, but this later post-publication conversation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only are they are able to talk with Scott McCloud about his latest project, but they also get all of the detail surrounding his world tour, his thoughts on the critical response to his book, and how his recent post-publication activities have impacted an already impressive career. This is an interview you cannot miss!