Comics Alternative, Episode 181: Reviews of Paracuellos, The Baker Street Peculiars #1, and Power Lines #1

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Fascism, Sleuths, and Race

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This week on the podcast, Gwen and Derek look at three very different recent titles. They begin with Carlos Giménez’s Paracuellos. The original first two volumes of this comic, published in Spain in 1977 and 1982, have now been collected into a single-volume English translation (by Sonya Jones) and published by IDW’s EuroComics imprint. The Paracuellos strips are Giménez’s autobiographical look at his time in several of the Social Aid “homes” that were a part of Francisco BSP-sampleFranco’s fascist Spain. As Gwen and Derek reveal, the stories are stark and heartbreaking, and Giménez presents a difficult environment where oppression and apathy (at least in the context of the adults) shape young and vulnerable lives. They discuss not only the socio-political atmosphere of Paracuellos, but also Giménez’s stylistic strategies for rendering this world. Next, the Guy and Gal with PhDs Talking about Comics look at two #1 issues just released this month: Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch’s The Baker Street Peculiars (KaBOOM! Studios) and Jimmie Robinson’s Power Lines (Image Comics). The former is of particular interest to them, since Andy Hirsch is a friend of the show. This is the first of a four-issue series about a group of young outsiders who team up with whom appears to be Sherlock Holmes in 1930s London. The setup to this story is action-packed and exudes adventure, and Hirsch’s art brings out both the dynamism and the fun that this narrative has to offer. Power Lines is a different take on race relations in the United States, and, in many ways, it’s a very timely premise. A young African American male goes with his tagger friends into a white middle-class neighborhood, only to find himself a embroiled in some mysterious centuries-old power from which he cannot extricate himself. (Sort of like race in America?) Both Gwen and Derek like where Robinson seems to be going with the story, but they nonetheless wonder if he may be unexpectedly stepping into some ethnically tinged traps. However, the ambition is clearly there, and both cohosts are curious where Robinson’s story will eventually lead.

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Also, the guys announce that The Comics Alternative is now available through Spotify! So if you consume your audio through that service, then definitely listen to the podcast that way!

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About Derek Royal

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.) New shows become available every Wednesday…much like the comic books you get. Episodes feature 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, spotlights on various creators and their oeuvre, roundtable discussions with prominent critics and scholars in the field, and interviews with the artists and writers who make all of this possible. Along the way, Andy and Derek will talk about the various books that they are reading; the many pop cultural references that, for better or worse, inform their lives; and the unpredictable (and inexplicable) weirdness that seems to creep into each episode. In essence,The Comics Alternative podcast is brilliantly simple: Two guys with PhDs talking about comics.

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