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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.


Aug 26, 2015

This week the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics look at three recent titles, each one an example of genre mash-up. They begin with a new book that isn't really so new. Philippe Druillet's The 6 Voyages of Lone Sloane (Titan Comics) is actually a reprint of a series of stories originally published in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote between 1970 and 1971, and then later made available to English speakers through both Dark Horse Comics and NBM. Each short narrative centers on the titular character, a space wanderer/adventurer who encounters a variety of pirates, robotic threats, despotic rulers, and space gods along his multi-dimensional journeys. Druillet's style is colorful, lush, and baroque, demonstrating much of the cultural psychedelia of the time, and the artwork is nicely showcased through the bandes dessinées format in which Titan Comics chose to publish this edition. Derek and Gene discuss in some detail Druillet's non-traditional panel layout and how he utilizes the mise-en-page to both generate meaning in unique ways and demonstrate a playfulness engaging reader expectations. This is the first in a series of Lone Sl0ane narratives that Titan will reproduce, the next two featuring his adventures originally published in 1972's Delirius. After these fantasy-inspired space quests, the guys turn their attention to something more earth-bound, although not necessarily of this world. Ales Kot and Matt Taylor's Wolf (Image Comics) is a curious blend of supernatural and noir conventions featuring werewolves, vampires, ghosts, demons, Cthulu, and possibly the Antichrist. The second issue was just released, so Gene and Derek are able to discuss this new series with quite a number of pages under their belts. Ironically, though, the guys aren't entirely sure what's going on in this title, despite the almost-60-pages first issue and the regularly sized second. Kot and Taylor have laid out their narrative groundwork, for the most part, but there just isn't much that happens in these first two issues. Despite the intriguing premise and the promise of socio-cultural pertinence, this may be a title that reads better in trade...or so Gene and Derek wonder. An inaugural issue with much more action can be found in Bradford Winters, Larry Cohen, and Daniel Irizarri's Americatown #1 (BOOM! Studios/Archaia). What drew the guys to this new series is its premise, a futuristic or alternative world where U.S. citizens become illegal immigrant workers in other countries, sending back their earnings to provide for their families while they evade the surveillance and deportation. Given recent political news -- thanks largely to that paragon of civil discourse, Donald Trump -- Americatown is a timely speculation on national boundaries and economic survival. Gene especially appreciates Irizarri's art, and it is for this reason, as well, that both he and Derek are likely to return regularly to this eight-issue limited series and not wait for it to be collected.