Mythical figures, anthropomorphic characters, and heavy dose of magic, all set in a contemporary urban landscape complete with coffeehouses, mobile devices, and garage bands. This is the world of Moonstruck, a series that began last year and coming out from Image Comics. The writer and artist of this series, Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle, were kind enough to come on The Comics Alternative to talk about the completion of the first narrative arc and what we might expect with the second. These two creators have known each other for a long time, and, along with their editor and designer, Laurenn McCubbin, have experienced a curious incubation period for their project. Derek talks with Grace and Shae about the origins of Moonstruck, their unique mix of fantasy and contemporary cultural concerns, the process of collaboration, and their attempts to build a reading community, not only with their storytelling, but also through social media and a keen understanding of their target audience.
On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s interview series, Derek welcomes Kristin LaLonde. She is one of the cohost of The Secret Stacks podcast, and she has a particular interest in graphic medicine and comics that deal with health and end-of-life issues. Together, the two of them talk with Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman, the writer and illustrator of What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to Her Daughter (Bloomsbury Publishing). This is a book that the mother-daughter team worked on together, addressing the eventual death of Suzy and what advice she might want to give to Hallie before passing on. They talk with Kristin and Derek about the origins of this idea, the long incubation period, its evolution as a text from a personal project to something for a much broader audience, and how both mother and daughter collaborated on a subject matter that, while somber and ominous, was nonetheless was a necessary life-affirming exercise.
Set in the not-too-distant year of 2024, Analog(Image Comics) is a not-too-far-fetched look at what can come of information technology when it has fallen into the wrong hands. Its protagonist, Jack McGinnis, is a leger man, an armed courier working freelance for individuals and businesses who need to transfer information in the old-fashioned analogmanner. This is a world where the cloud has come crashing down, and the “security” of the internet has been exposed as nothing more than fiction. Combining elements of sci-fi and noir narrative, Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan have created a world that, curiously enough, smacks of the many of the events we see unfolding on the nightly news. Although they may not have fully anticipated the inroads of Mueller’s Russian investigation, the ongoing revelations of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, or the various security breaches we learn about on almost a daily basis, Gerry and David, along with the help of colorist Jordie Bellaire, have established a premise that just may be the logical conclusion to what we’re witnessing now. In this interview, Derek talks with his guests about the genesis of this new series, their process of collaboration, the injection of both noir and humor elements, and the various narrative questions established in this first issue.
On April 4 you’ll find in your comic shops the first issue of Isola, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s brand new series from Image Comics that combines nuanced storytelling with Kerschl’s magnificent artwork. In this inaugural issue, we find a captain of the Royal Guard fleeing her capital city with the realm’s queen, on their way to a mythical land called Isola. But appearances can be deceiving, and the initial journey unfolds under the cloud of an evil spell that leaves us with more questions than answers. On this episode, Derek talks with Karl and Brenden about what transpires in this first issue, how long they’ve been nurturing this concept, their process of collaboration, and what we might expect in future issues…at least, as much as they could tell without spoiling anything. The two also share some of their experiences working on their other series, such as Motor Crush, Gotham Academy, Batgirl, and The Abominable Charles Christopher.
On this interview episode, Gwen and Derek talk with the creative team behind Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter, a new book out from First Second. Both Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor share their experiences conceiving the premise, their process of collaboration, and their hopes to further explore this fantastical world. Scarlett Hart is the story of the titular protagonist who carries on in her deceased parents’ footsteps, keeping her city free of monsters. With the help of her steadfast assistant Napoleon, she hunts down big nasties while trying to stay one step ahead of her nemesis, fellow monster hunter Count Stankovic. Over the course of their conversation, Marcus and Thomas discuss their love of weird monsters and young adventure narratives, combining these passions to create what they refer to as a “gothic Tintin.”
A couple of weeks ago the first issue of Eternity Girl, the latest title in DC’s Young Animal line, was released. Written by Magdalene Visaggio and with art by Sonny Liew, this is a title that combines parts of Element Girl with a dash of Kid Eternity, and mixes things up in an offbeat way that fits perfectly in the Young Animal world. On this interview episode, Derek talks with both Mags and Sonny about this new series, and both kindly agreed to be on the podcast.
Listeners of The Comics Alternative will know that both creators have been on the show before. Derek spoke with Mags briefly at HeroesCon a couple of years ago, and then he along with Gwen interviewed Sonny around the publication of his landmark book, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a work that went on to win three Eisner Awards last year: Best Writer/Artist, Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia, and Best Publication Design.
Since Sonny lives halfway around the world, in Singapore, there was a challenge in trying to find a common occasion when everyone could be online and all talk together. So they decided to break up the interview where Derek would talk with both creators separately, asking both similar questions, while at the same time focusing on each one’s unique contribution to the series. This show begins with Mags Visaggio, with Derek asking her about the genesis of Eternity Girl as well as the differences between creating for Black Mask Comics and now working at DC. After that, you’ll hear a conversation with Sonny Liew. He talks about his visual approach to this unstable, composite character and how his art style is particularly suited to the title. Derek also asks Sonny what it’s like to be a multiple Eisner Award-winning artist and how his professional life has changed since last year’s accolades.
Gene and Derek are excited to have John Porcellino back on the podcast. His new book From Lone Mountain has just been released by Drawn and Quarterly, and John talks in depth about the time in his life covered in this collection, as well as the process of pulling all of these experiences together. The book collects King-Cat Comics & Stories #62-#68, released between 2003-2007. The Two Guys ask John about the evolution of his compositional strategies, the role that place and landscape play in his comics, how both prose and illustrations function for self-exploration, his thoughts on punk and the DIY aesthetic, and how his comics serve as a release for, as well as a reflection of, the many changes in his life. This isn’t the first time John P. has been on The Comics Alternative — he came on for an interview around the release of issue #76 of King-Cat Comics & Stories — and the guys certainly hope that this isn’t his last visit.
And be sure to check out John’s online store, Spit and a Half. There you can find not only his King-Cat Comics & Stories, but also a variety of other mini- and indie comics by other creators, as well!
On this interview episode, Gene and Derek talk with Ho Che Anderson about his new book Godhead, coming out next week from Fantagraphics Books. This is a work of speculative fiction involving corporate culture and its attempts to communicate with God. It’s an ambitious narrative that zeroes in on the juncture of religion, technology, and capitalist greed. The book is the first of two volumes exploring this futuristic world, and it’s a project that Anderson has been developing for years. The guys talk extensively with their guest about the genesis of and the creative process underlying Godhead, but they also ask about his larger body of work and its sheer diversity, from the erotic I Want to Be Your Dog, to the five-issue series (along with Wilfred Santiago) Pop Life, to the text he’s perhaps best known for, his graphic biography of Martin Luther King. Both Gene and Derek have been big fans of Anderson’s comics for years, and they’re excited to finally get him on the podcast. Listen up and learn!
Derek talks with Ivy Noelle Weir and Christina “Steenz” Steward about their new book coming out next week from Oni Press, Archival Quality. It’s the story of a young woman who gets a job as a museum archivist, but who soon discovers that her new place of employment is haunted. As she investigates the mystery behind the spectral activity, she also confronts her struggles with mental health and the relationships that have sustained her in the past. Over the course of the conversation, Ivy and Steenz share the genesis of the narrative, their methods of collaboration, and the story’s thematic observations and keen cultural awareness.
We’re in the middle of Will Eisner Week 2018, and over the past several years The Comics Alternative has offered special episodes to celebrate the annual event. This year is no exception. On this episode, Derek is pleased to have back on the podcast Denis Kitchen, this time discussing his relationship with the comics legend, his history with him as a publisher and businessman, and his first-hand accounts of the various career moves Will Eisner experienced beginning in the 1970s. Along the way Denis talks with Derek about his first encounters with Eisner, how Kitchen Sink Comics helped to introduce The Spirit to a whole new generation, Eisner’s evolution as a graphic novelist, and his experiences in working with Eisner as both an editor and as an agent.
On this interview episode Derek talks with Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth about his new book Sparring with Gil Kane: Debating the History and Aesthetics of Comics. It’s a collection of thirteen interviews, conversations, and panel transcripts focusing on Kane and his aesthetics. The pieces that Groth collects highlight the legendary artist’s thoughts on the potential and limitations of the medium, his relationship with other creators, and Kane’s place within the larger context of comics history. As Groth reveals, this book was long in the making, and it’s the first of several Gil Kane-related works that Fantagraphics will publish in the coming years.
Derek talks with Bill Kartalopoulos and Ben Katchor about the 2017 volume of The Best American Comics (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). They are, respectively, the general editor of the series and last year’s guest editor. Paul and Derek had wanted to interview the two back in December, but due to life complications, they weren’t able to have them on the show. And although Paul wasn’t able to join in on this interview, he was with everyone in spirit. So better late than never, Derek speaks with Ben and Bill about the process of their collaboration, the challenges that they faced in collecting potential material, Ben’s choices in structuring and populating the 2017 volume, the ways in which current politics couldn’t help but find their way into the text, and the questions both editors faced with the very concept of “best comics.”
Box Brown returns to The Comics Alternative, this time discussing his new book Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, just out this week from First Second. Similar to his previous Andre the Giant, this is a graphic biography of a colorful celebrity with a complicated life story…and involving wrestling. Box talks with Derek about his ideas for beginning this project, his appreciation of stand-up comedy, the challenges he faced in constructing Kaufman’s story, and how his emphases are notably different from those of Miloš Forman’s 1999 biopic Man on the Moon. And since both Box and Derek are big Andy Kaufman fans, there’s a lot of nerding out and reminiscing over the comedian’s many TV appearances, many of which can be found on YouTube. So put on your wrestling tights, slip into that sequin high-collar Elvis jacket, and get ready to engage with this friendly, friendly world.
Derek talks with Dave Calver about his new book Limbo Lounge. This is his first graphic novel, and it’s a first for IDW Publishing, a joint effort between two of its imprints, Yoe Books and Top Shelf Productions. Over the course of their conversation, the two discuss the origins of this project, the author’s effective use of coloring as a narrative tool, the surreal and tonally ambiguous nature of the work, how Dave’s background as an illustrator informed his storytelling, and where his efforts, largely inspired by Limbo Lounge, are taking him now.
On this interview episode Derek has as his guest Clifford V. Johnson. He is a professor of physics at the University of Southern California, and his new book The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe was released last fall by the MIT Press. Clifford talks with Derek about the genesis of this project, his choice of the dialogue form in structuring his text, and the challenges — as well as the appropriateness — of representing complex scientific concepts through comics. The Dialogues is a fascinating work of ideas, one that could even be categorized as a graphic cycle, and a book that can be appreciated by scientists and laypeople alike. Science!
Be sure to check out Prof. Johnson’s blog, Asymptotia, for his ongoing thoughts on science in our contemporary culture.