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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.


Mar 18, 2016

This month, both Gwen and Andy are battling colds, so it’s “Two sick people with PhDs talking about comics for young readers!” But there’s nothing unhealthy about the three comics Gwen and Andy discuss on this month’s show: Royden Lepp's Rust: The Boy Soldier (Archaia/BOOM! Studios), Sara Varon's Sweaterweather and Other Short Stories (First Second), and MK Reed and Joe Flood's non-fiction book, Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers (First Second). They begin with Rust: The Boy Soldier, and they found it to be both an exciting adventure story set after a world war and an effective reflection on power, responsibility, and humanity. Jet is a young boy with a jetpack who saves a farm from a killer robot left over from a destructive world war, but the Taylor family -- whose farm Jet saved -- isn’t sure whether Jet is a friend or a foe. The book’s sepia-toned art recalls photographs from the early twentieth century, but its story is one that transcends time. Although an action/adventure book, Rust: The Boy Soldier also reflects on the concepts of war, responsibility, power, and humanity. The book actually serves as a prelude to the entire Rust series which currently includes Rust: A Visitor in the FieldRust: Secrets of the CellRust: Death of the Rocket Boy, and a yet-to-be-published fourth and final volume. Next, Gwen and Andy discuss how Sara Varon’s simple, approachable animal characters in Sweater Weather and Other Short Stories explore friendship, diversity, food, fun and more, all with a good-natured sense of humor and sophistication. While readers may be familiar with some of Varon’s other works, including Odd DuckRobot Dreams, and Bake Sale, this time Varon gives some background on the creative process and her development as an artist. Gwen and Andy both think this book will not only entertain young readers, but may also inspire them to create their own comics. Finally, both of the folks with PhDs are very excited to discuss Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers, by MK Reed and Joe Flood. This is another book in First Second’s Get To Know Your Universe: Science Comics series. C’mon, everyone loves dinosaurs, and so will anyone who picks up this book. Gwen and Andy agree that Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers is a great non-fiction graphic novel that entertains and instructs. It can also be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, giving younger readers a great, fun look at dinosaurs, and providing older readers with the history of dinosaur research and discovery. This is a book that is bound to be explored many times by young readers, so maybe you’ll want to get two copies?