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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.


Dec 16, 2015

For this week's review show, Gene and Derek are back with an extra long episode jam-packed with nougaty comics goodness. They begin with Adrian Tomine's Killing and Dying (Drawn and Quarterly), his new book collecting issues twelve through fourteen of Optic Nerve. (Be sure to check out the guys' previous reviews of Optic Nerve #13 and Optic Nerve #14.) The text contains six separate short stories, and the guys start by trying to find any connective tissue binding the pieces together. Derek observes that every other story in the collection -- "Amber Sweet," "Translated, from the Japanese," and "Intruders" -- are first-person narratives functioning as confessionals of some sort. Also, the three longer stories that precede each of these "confessions" become progressively darker in tone. The overt humor embedded in "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as 'Hortisculpture'" gives way to the ambivalence of "Go Owls," which leads to the more ambiguously somber "Killing and Dying." Yet this is not a story cycle, by any means, with each narrative standing distinctively on its own, both in subject matter and art style. Next, the guys focus on a recent discovery, the semiannual Canadian magazine, Taddle Creek. It's latest issue, #36, is a special comics edition featuring many artists the guys admire, such as Noah Van Sciver, Dakota McFadzean, Meags Fitzgerald, Michael DeForge, David Collier, Nina Bunjevac, Joe Ollmann, and Maurice Vellekoop. And part of the joy of this collection is being introduced to creators Gene and Derek weren't familiar with, such as David Lapp, Philip Street, Eleri Mai Harris, Jason Kieffer, and Nick Maandag. It's difficult to pinpoint their favorites in this anthology, since everything in it is good...although Gene is quite taken by Fitzgerald's "The Village under the Clouds," and Derek spends a lot of time talking about the comedic sophistication of Ollmann's "A Road Trip with the Notorious M.I.L." After that, they discuss the newest digital comic out Panel Syndicate, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin's Barrier #1. This is the first of a five-part tale of violence, division, and illegal immigration. (And just in time for the angry chaos currently known as the Republican primary!) Although Gene isn't yet familiar with the duo's previous collaborative efforts, Derek wonders if Barrier will have a similar impact as did The Private Eye. Finally, the guys wrap up with what has to be one of the oddest comics ever discussed on The Comics Alternative. R. Sikoryak's The Unabridged Graphic Adaptation of iTunes Terms and Conditions -- published in two mini-comic volumes (and also on Sikoryak's Tumblr site) -- is just as the title describes: an unabridged adaptation of the oft-encountered, but never read, iTunes Terms and Conditions. What makes this comic so notable, and what makes it distinctively Sikoryakian, is the manner in which the artist adapts the text. Each page of the comic is not only a rendering of the iTunes legal mumbo jumbo, but also an exercise in representing comics' most distinctive creator styles. From Jim Steranko to Will Eisner, from Julie Doucet to Akira Toriyama, from Mort Walker to R. Crumb, from Bil Keane to Moebius...Sikoryak's art spans the history of comics, and with everything converging on the stubbled, bespectacled, and black turtlenecked figure of Steve Jobs. This is a fun read, perfect for those long nights of software installation.