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Puzzling Out Conundrum
This week on The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys with PhDs are back with another Publisher Spotlight episode, this time focusing on the spring 2015 releases from Conundrum Press. They begin the show by doing something they’ve never done before: interviewing the publisher of the press they’re about to spotlight. Derek talks with Andy Brown briefly about his founding of Conundrum, its evolution into a comics-only publisher, the many roles he plays at the press, the kind of creators he works with, and a summary of the spring releases and beyond. After that, the guys plunge into a discussion of the five new releases, beginning with Zach Worton’s The Disappearance of Charley Butters. This is the first of a trilogy, centering on the discovery of an abandoned shack and the mystery surrounding its former occupant, a solitary artist. As some of the characters learn more about this missing figure, they begin to see themselves and their relationships more clearly. Next, Derek and Andy W. turn to Max de Radiguès’s Moose. Despite the guys’ (embarrasing) inability to correctly pronounce the Belgium artist’s name, they are nonetheless able to grasp the poignancy of his narrative. This is a story about bullying, yet one with dark ethical implications and with no easy answers. After that, the guys turn to Kat Verhoeven’s Towerkind. This minicomic-sized book is one of Andy’s favorites of the week, and its simple art masks a profound and unsettling tone. Set in Toronto’s St. James Town, a densely populated neighborhood of high-rise apartments, the book follows the uncanny interactions of a group of kids with ominous forebodings. The next book, The Adventures of Drippy the Newsboy, Vol. 1: Drippy’s Mama, is arguably the most curious of Conundrum’s seasonal releases. In it, Vancouver artist and animator Julian Lawrence brings to full story his popular figure from the Drippy Gazette, a free local monthly that Lawrence co-created and edits, but does so within the context of Stephen Crane’s 1896 novel, George’s Mother. This is the first of three such Drippy books, each based on a Crane narrative (as Andy Brown reveals, the second will reference The Red Badge of Courage). Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with Dakota McFadzean’s Don’t Get Eaten by Anything: A Collection of “The Dailies” 2011-2013. This is an impressive hardbound collection of McFadzean’s The Dailies webcomic that he began back in January 2010 and continues to this day. The strips vary in tone from the autobiographical — especially the early ones — to the surreal. Derek is especially excited to discuss this book, since he interviewed Dakota for the podcast last year, who at the time mentioned the upcoming release. For fans of McFadzean’s art and his offbeat sense of humor, this is wonderful companion tome to read along with 2013’s Other Stories and the Horse You Rode in On. And it’s just one of the the many great books that Conundrum Press continues to put out. This is definitely a publisher worth following!