Comics Alternative Interviews: Happy New Yoe with Craig Yoe!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:29 – Introduction
  • 00:02:38 – Setup of interview
  • 00:07:14 – Interview with Craig Yoe
  • 02:16:37 – Wrap up
  • 02:18:05 – Contact us
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Yoe! Yoe! Yoe!

It’s a new year, so that must mean that it’s time for the annual Happy New Yoe show! On this, The Comics Alternative‘s very first episode of 2019, Derek talks with Craig Yoe about what he’s been up to lately. They spend much of the time talking about the year in review for Yoe Books. And it was a busy one for Craig and his companion/colleague, Clizia Gussoni, who oversaw the publication of such titles as Limbo LoungeReefer MadnessWe Spoke Out: Comic Books and the HolocaustLou Cameron’s Unsleeping DeadSuper Patriotic HeroesThe Best of Don Winslow of the NavySuper Weird Heroes: Preposterous but True!, and new collections of their Weird Loveand Haunted Horrorcomics. Craig also reveals some of the titles we can look forward to in the new year, such as The Unknown Anti-War ComicsJungle GirlsSwamp MonstersClydeLife on the Moon, and Matchless Beauties: The Art of Pin-up Matchbook Covers. Along the way, the two discuss Yoe Books’ recent efforts to publish original graphic novels — such as Limbo Loungeand Life on the Moon— the glories of HeroesCon, the future for Craig’s various comic-book series, which books caught the most fire in 2018, and plans for Yoe Books to branch out and cover more popular culture topics in addition to comics and comics history. And of course, there are the laughter and wry humor that Craig always brings to every interview he gives to podcast. And this marks the 11th occasion that Craig has been interviewed on The Comics Alternative!

And Craig is also an artist!

Design that Craig Yoe created specifically for The Comics Alternative!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Talking Again with Jon Morris

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:17 – Introduction
  • 00:02:59 – Setup of interview
  • 00:05:14 – Interview with Jon Morris
  • 01:15:03 – Wrap up
  • 01:17:05 – Contact us
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Getting Your (Side)Kicks

Jon Morris is back, once again, on The Comics Alternative, to share his research and sense of humor. His latest book The League of Regrettable Sidekicks (Quirk Books) is the follow up to his previous two works, The League of Regrettable Superheroes and The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains. In the spirit of the previous books, this one is a revealing and good-natured look at some of the strange creations making up comic-book history, figures that may be unknown or  completely forgotten by most enthusiasts. And perhaps for good reason. Also like the earlier works, Jon divides his survey into three temporal categories: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and the Modern Age. Sterg and Derek have a fun time talking about the weirdness of this collection, their favorite “regrettable” sidekicks and henchmen, and their wonderment at how such figures made it into four colors. They also talk with Jon about his other work and future projects, including his own comics work.

See where it all started! Visit Jon’s blog, Gone and Forgotten, and get the inside scoop on retro comicdom! And if you’re a Columbo fan, check out his sleuthy podcast, Just One More Thing.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back Again with Bill Kartalopoulous

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:16 – Introduction
  • 00:03:27 – Setup of interview
  • 00:06:18 – Interview with Bill Kartalopoulos
  • 01:13:04 – Wrap up
  • 01:14:09 – Contact us

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Opa!

As the Two Guys like to do every year, they are back talking again with Bill Kartalopoulos about the latest volume of The Best American Comics (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). This year the guest editor is Phoebe Gloeckner, perhaps best known for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. In fact, one of the topics of conversation with Bill is how different it might be working with vastly different comics creators as guest editors every year. Sterg and Derek also talk with their guest about the process of pulling together each year’s volume, the inundation of submissions he receives, strategies for choosing what to include, the (at times) painful process of excluding from the anthology certain comics due to logistical reasons, his relationship with the publisher, and unique directions that perhaps he may want to take the series. There’s not much discussion surrounding the content of this year’s volume — that will be the topic of this week’s regular review episode — but Sterg and Derek ask Bill about the process off Best American Comics and get quite a bit of behind-the-scene answers. 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Tom Hart

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:21 – Introduction
  • 00:03:12 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:32 – Interview with Tom Hart
  • 01:32:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:33:38 – Contact us

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Life Stories, Life Changes

On this interview episode, Sterg and Derek are excited to have Tom Hart back to discuss his new book, The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Tell Your Story, Change Your Life (St. Martin’s Griffin). Tom was on the podcast not quite three years ago to discuss his new memoir at the time Rosalie Lightning, but this time he’s returned to talk not so much about story content, but about the process of creating a graphic memoir. As he discusses with the Two Guys, Tom’s latest book is more instructional or how-to, covering the necessary steps in planning for, organizing, structuring, visualizing, and finalizing a memoir through the comics medium. In addition, he points out that the very project of writing and illustrating one’s own life story isn’t only about sharing a story with readers, but perhaps just as important, using the very process of creation as a way of revisiting, revisualizing, and even coming to terms with important life moments. Along the way Derek and Sterg talk with Tom about his other instructional texts, such as How to Say Everything and The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Creating Professional Comic Strips, his vast knowledge of the comics memoir genre, his new comic-strip project B. Is Dying, and his experiences teaching at and directing SAW, the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, FL.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Noah Van Sciver

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:15 – Introduction
  • 00:03:32 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:53 – Interview with Noah Van Sciver
  • 01:15:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:16:39 – Contact us

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All Over the Place

The Two Guys with PhDs are very happy to have back on the podcast Noah Van Sciver. He was first on the show back in March 2015, and a lot of things have changed with him since the guys last talked with Noah (and not just his growing of a mustache). Most significantly, his output has been through the roof! One of the things Sterg and Derek discuss with their guest is the sheer volume of his comics creation. Over the past six months alone he has released four different titles, and from a variety of publishers: Constant Companion (Fantagraphics), Blammo #10 (Kilgore Books and comics), One Dirty Tree (Uncivilized Books), and Fante Bukowski 3: A Perfect Failure (Fantagraphics). The guys talk with Noah about his work habits, his penchant for working with different publishers, his ability to juggle different projects at the same time, and his current work and what we can expect from him in the future. And of course, there is a lot of laughter in this episode. Noah is a humorous, and at time quite satirical, writer, yet the humor is often mixed with pathos, as we see not only his autobiographical comics, but most notably in his recent Fante Bukowski. This was a fun interview…and even more fun was had after they turned off the microphones and the guys hung out on Skype to talk about even more matters. Too bad that wasn’t captured for the show, but this new interview with Noah Van Sciver is definitely a highlight of Stergios and Derek’s year.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Conor Stechschulte

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:15 – Introduction
  • 00:03:15 – Setup of interview
  • 00:05:06 – Interview with Conor Stechschulte
  • 01:15:57 – Wrap up
  • 01:17:44 – Contact us

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A Good Kind of Disturbing

On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s interview series, the Two Guys have the pleasure of talking with Conor Stechschulte. The third volume of his ongoing series, Generous Bosom (Breakdown Press), was released in the spring, and Sterg and Derek have an enlightening conversation with Conor about this narrative. While in the first two parts the story was flowing in one discernible direction, more or less, it takes a strange and disturbing turn in the third part. The guys talk with their guest about this narrative trajectory and what it may portend. And as they intuit from the latest installment of Generous Bosom, there are more surprises in store. They also talk with Conor about his other comics, The Amateurs (which was reviewed on the podcast in June 2014), his self-published work, his relationship with his UK publisher, and his inclusion in last year’s volume of Best American Comics. This interview has been a long time in coming, and the guys make the most of it.

Be sure to check out Conor’s band, Lilac, and the sounds they make!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Katriona Chapman

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:14 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:59 – Interview with Katriona Chapman
  • 01:06:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:15 – Contact us

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Travels and Travails

Katriona Chapman first came to our attention through her work at Avery Hill Publishing. She works in marketing there, and back in summer of 2015 she introduced Tillie Walden. Tillie’s first book, The End of Summer, had just been released, and Kat worked was instrumental in setting up an interview with the very young artist. But over the subsequent year, we’ve come to know Kat as more of an artist herself. She had done a lot of illustration work for children’s books, but it was her self-published comic, Katzine, that specifically caught our attention. In fact, we had discussed Katzine in a special episode from last year, where we looked at self-published comics. In one of the later issues of Katzine she mentions working on her first book, an autobiographical work centered on her travels in Mexico. Last month that book, Follow Me In, was released by Avery Hill. This is a fascinating travelogue about her experiences touring Mexico, it’s diverse regions, its many ruins, and its vibrant cultures. As you’ll hear in this interview, Kat doesn’t only write about her experiences touring in this new book, but she also explores her problematic relationship with her companion as well as her own efforts as an artist. As such, Follow Me In is much more than a travelogue. It’s an account of a young artist undergoing new experiences and using those to grow as a creator and to define her art.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Liz Prince

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:02 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:13 – Interview with Liz Prince
  • 01:16:24 – Wrap up
  • 01:18:11 – Contact us

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Woods Porn

On this interview episode, Sterg talks with Liz Prince about her latest books, Look Back and Laugh (Top Shelf Productions) and the colorized Be Your Own Backing Band (Silver Sprocket), as well as several of her past publications. Over the course of the conversation, Sterg talks with Liz about self publishing, writing for certain age-appropriate audiences, the influences of music, her international reach, as well as many of her previous works.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Howard Shapiro

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:22 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:58 – Interview with Howard Shapiro
  • 01:06:33 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:06 – Contact us

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Nazis in the Bathroom Just below the Stairs

A common theme in Howard Shapiro’s stories is the significance of music. His first graphic novel, The Sterotypical Freaks, revolved around competing high school bands and how that competition and their dedication to the music defined each member’s life. In his latest book, Queen of Kenosha (Animal Media Group), music once again takes center narrative state. It’s the story of young singer-songwriter from Wisconsin, Nina Overstreet, who comes to New York City in the early 1960s to make it on the folk scene. What she unexpectedly finds is espionage and ideological conspiracy. Whereas in his earlier Forever Friends series of graphic novels Howard wedded music to hockey as the backdrop for his stories, here in Queen of Kenosha — the first book in what he’s calling The Thin Thinline Trilogy — he uses music within the context of geopolitical intrigue. In this conversation, Derek talks with Howard about the impetus behind his latest project, the importance of music to his storytelling, the kind of research he conducted to set the historical stage, and his plans for following up on his songwriting protagonist. Howard was on the podcast a couple of years ago when Hockey Karma was released, and it was nice to touch base with him again and discuss his subsequent work.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Tillie Walden

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:20 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:01 – Interview with Tillie Walden
  • 01:15:35 – Wrap up
  • 01:17:30 – Contact us

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Queer Women in Space, or Women in Space Who Are Queer?

Sterg and Derek are happy to have Tillie Walden back on the podcast. (She was originally on The Comics Alternative in June 2015, her very first podcast interview!) Her latest book, On a Sunbeam, will be released next week from First Second. This narrative actually began as a webcomic — one that was nominated for an Eisner Award last year, and one that is still available online — but now it will be available in print. The Two Guys talk with Tillie about the process of creating On a Sunbeam and its importance as a webcomic, the science fiction scaffolding around which the narrative is constructed, and how this work compares to some of her earlier books. In fact, much of the conversation is focused on the kind of fantastical stories Tillie spins out, with flying fish planes and cats large enough to ride on. The guys also ask her about last year’s Spinning, the winner of a 2018 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, and the creative shifts she had to make with this outright autobiography. Over the course of their conversation, Tillie shares her experiences growing as a storyteller, her large and dedicated fanbase, the almost improvisational nature of her writing, and her discomfort being pigeonholed primarily as a writer for teens or as a lesbian creator.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Jason Lutes

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:26 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:50 – Interview with Jason Lutes
  • 01:20:31 – Wrap up
  • 01:21:13 – Contact us

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Stones, Smoke, and Light

Jason Lutes began his Berlin series in the spring of 1996, with plans to publish his ambitious project over a 24-issue run. Over the years, he pared down the number of issues to 22, and the last of those was released in March of this year. Earlier this month, Drawn and Quarterly released a complete single-volume edition of Berlin, clocking in at over 550 pages, as well as a third volume of the series, City of Light, for those who had already gotten the previous two collections, City of Stones and City of Smoke, and didn’t want to get the completed series in just one volume.

Berlin is a massive narrative with an ensemble cast. It takes place in that volatile city during the last days of the Weimar Republic, 1928-1933, when Germany was struggling with its economy and war reparations, and a variety of political factions — in particular, the Communist Party and the National Socialist Workers Party — were vying for power. Lutes’s story primarily focuses on the lives of Kurt Severing, a world-weary journalist, and Marthe Müller, an uncertain art student moving to Berlin and longing to define herself in this newly adopted city. But there are a variety of other characters, as well, and Lutes even peppers his fictional cast with several historically based figures, including the jailed journalist Carl von Ossietzky, Joseph Goebbels, Josephine Baker, and, yes, Adolf Hitler himself. The result is an expansive narrative that not only captures the Weimar culture at the time, but also explores individual desires and unpredictable relationships in the midst of political and economic upheaval. In his interview with him, Derek talks with Jason about the origins of the series, the amount of research that went into the project, how the city of Berlin became a point of inspiration, the various challenges he faced maintaining such an ongoing series for over 20 years, and where Jason’s artistic ambitions may take him next.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Youssef Daoudi

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:22 – Setup of interview
  • 04:01 – Interview with Youssef Daoudi
  • 52:10 – Wrap up
  • 52:47 – Contact us

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Hey, pop! Re-bop! Mop! Y-e-a-h!

Youssef Daoudi is a French creator whose previous albums include La Trilogie Noire, published by Casterman, and several works released by Glénat, including Mayday, Ring, and Tripoli. Unfortunately, these books aren’t yet available in English, but you can discover the art and storytelling of Daoudi through his brand new book from First Second, Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica, and the Friendship behind a Musical Revolution. Indeed, as Youssef discusses with me in this interview you’re about to here, Monk! is his first work to be written originally in English, and later to be translated into French. This isn’t a graphic biography of the jazz legend, often called “The Mad Monk” or “The High Priest of Bop,” but a portrait of his relationship with Kathleen Annie Pannoica de Koenigswarter, a free-spirted and jazz-impassioned baroness who was a member of the Rothschild family. Daoudi meticulously lays out the contours of that relationship and how each sustained the other. In our conversation Derek talks with Youssef about the genesis of this project, his love of jazz, and what it was about mid-century bebop culture — and in particular, the lives of Monk and Pannonica — that so captured his imagination.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Summer Pierre

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:37 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:33 – Interview with Summer Pierre
  • 01:19:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:20:13 – Contact us

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Musical Definitions

The Two Guys were first introduced to the work of Summer Pierre during June of 2017. At the time, they were wanting to do a special episode of The Comics Alternative devoted to self-published creators, and John Porcellino recommended to Derek that they check out the work of Summer Pierre. At the time her minicomic Paper Pencil Life was at its fourth issue, and so they went to her website to get the full run of the title up to that point. They were impressed by her art and storytelling, and since then, Derek has made it a point of following Summer’s work. She had told him last year in an email that she planned to have a new graphic memoir coming out from Retrofit in 2018, and at this week’s Small Press Expo that book will officially debut. All the Sad Songs is a moving account of the role of music in Summer’s life, from the creation of mix tapes to her performances as a musician, and how that music is linked to key moments with her various relationships and her growth as an artist. In many ways this book is a work of remembrance, but it’s not soaked in the kind of nostalgia that would come across as sentimental. On the contrary, Summer takes a hard look at herself during those times in her life, bearing herself in ways that, at times, may be a bit uncomfortable. But her story is authentic and speaks from the heart. In this interview, Derek talks with Summer about the genesis of this project, her experiences writing in long-form narrative, the role that music has played in her life, and the potential pitfalls in writing about her past in such an open and honest way. This is an interview that’s been a long time in coming, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Tim Bird

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:23 – Introduction
  • 00:02:29 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:11 – Interview with Tim Bird
  • 01:00:17 – Wrap up
  • 01:00:53 – Contact us

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Mystery and Magic

The Great North Wood, which was just released through Avery Hill Publishing, is Tim Bird’s longest work to date. It’s the story of — or perhaps a better way of putting would be that it’s a history or a meditation on — an area in South London known for its wooded past. This includes areas such as Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Honor Oak, and Sydenham Hill Woods. In fact, as Tim mentions in the interview, Sydenham Hill Woods is really the last vestige of the heavily forested area south of London, and it’s where Tim and his family currently reside. What makes The Great North Wood stand out is Tim Bird’s use of geographic space to tell his story. As he and Derek discuss over the course of their conversation, character is at a minimum in Tim’s work, and he uses location and space to carry his narrative. What’s more, the creator often underscores the mystery and magic that has traditionally been a part of Britain’s wooded areas. Much of Derek’s talk with Tim centers on the new book, but they also discuss his previous comics, such as the various works in his Grey Area series, also published by Avery Hill. These are also largely based on location and geographic space, and Tim goes into detail about his evolution as an artist, working through his Grey Area comics to get to a place where he can more fully explore his surroundings in his latest book.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Keiler Roberts

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:24 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:41 – Interview with Keiler Roberts
  • 01:04:06 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:48 – Contact us

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Exposures 

In 2009 Keiler Roberts began putting out a series of self-published minicomics that she titled Powered Milk. These were brief stories and scenarios where she represented the experiences she had as a mother, wife, and friend. Many of the situations were observational in nature — for example, some of her Powered Milk comics were one-panel expressions of something off-beat and telling that her daughter, Xia, had said — but occasionally she would illustrate longer narratives that concerned her life as a mother. She has gathered these earlier minicomics in collections such as Powered Milk: Collected Stories and Miseryland. Last year, however, Keiler began turning to book-length format and publishing her Powered Milk stories, what she continues to call her work, through Koyama Press. In fact, Sunburning was one of the texts discussed last year during the publisher spotlight on Koyama Press’ spring 2017 releases. And this week we’ll see the release of Keiler’s next book, Chlorine Gardens. It’s a work that’s certainly in the Powered Milk spirit, but this book is notable in that Keiler engages more in long-form storytelling than she does in her previous comics. What’s more, and as Derek discusses with her, Keiler brings a structure to the various stories and observations that is more apparent than in the past. In this interview, Derek talks with Keiler about the evolution of her comics-writing, the role of journaling or diary illustration in her work, the process she undergoes in creating her stories, and the power — as well as the limitations — of exposing herself and her loved ones as subject matters for her narratives. Keiler has been on the podcast before, albeit briefly, during the 2016 Small Press Expo, an event at which she won an Ignatz Award for Best Outstanding Series, but this is a special occasion in that Keiler gets to discuss her work in a longer, more sustained manner.