Comics Alternative, On Location: HeroesCon 2018, the “How to Read Nancy” Panel

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:17 – Panel context
  • 00:04:01 – “How to Read Nancy” panel
  • 01:04:50 – Wrap up
  • 01:05:19 – Contact us

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“Draw, you varmint”

This past weekend was HeroesCon 2018, and while there Derek was a part of two different scholarly panels. One was about the relationship between print and digital comics texts, “Between Pen and Pixel,” a recording of which was released earlier this week. The second was a panel based on the book by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden, How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels. Andy Mansell, who oversees the programming every year at HeroesCon, wanted to pull together a panel of scholars to discuss the significance of How to Read Nancy and its potential place in the classroom and in scholarship. In addition, he wanted the panelists to discuss other important books about comics, comics history, and formal aspects of the medium. Other panelists included the former cohost of The Comics Alternative, Andy Kunka, Craig Fischer, Jennie Law, and the new cohost for the podcast’s bi-monthly on-location episodes, Michael Kobre. The resulting panel, “How to Read Nancy and Other Indispensable Books about Comics,” is part of the ongoing series of panels that Andy Mansell organizes every year, which he calls the “Comics Canon.”

A big thanks to Andy Mansell, not only for pulling together this panel, but for all of the hard he does every year in overseeing the programming at HeroesCon.

Comics Alternative, Episode 284: Reviews of The Escapist Omnibi

Time Codes:

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Faux Histories

This week, Pascal (of the Euro Comics series) joins Derek on the weekly review show to discuss the two omnibi collections of The Escapist from Dark Horse Books. They look at both Michael Chabon’s The Escapist: Amazing Adventures (which was released this past February) as well as the latest collection, Michael Chabon’s The Escapist: Pulse-Pounding Thrills, published in wide release this week. The two guys discuss the faux history that Chabon and a variety of writers and artists have created, wedging this narrative into our recognizable comic-book history. They’re not able to discuss all of the selections in these two collections — between both volumes, there are almost 50 Escapist stories, some never before published — but they focus on many of the pieces that stand out to them. Among the Escapists stories they cover are those by such notable creators as Will Eisner, Eduardo Barreto, Jeffrey Brown, Howard Chaykin, Paul Gulacy, Jeff Parker, Marv Wolfman, Thomas Yeates, Brian K. Vaughan, Kyle Baker, Gene Colan, Matt Kindt, Kevin McCarthy, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Starlin, among many others.

Comics Alternative, On Location: HeroesCon 2018, the “Between Pen and Pixel” Panel

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:02:27 – Aaron Kashtan provides context
  • 00:07:11 – “Between Pen and Pixel” panel
  • 01:08:58 – Wrap up
  • 01:09:55 – Contact us

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Dead Print?

This past weekend at HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, Derek was on a panel based on a recent book by Aaron Kashtan, Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future (Ohio State University Press). Aaron pulled together several comics scholars — in addition to Derek, his former cohost, Andy Kunka, and Craig Fischer — along with Matt Kindt, whose work Aaron sites extensively in his book. This episode is a recording of that panel, which explored what comics can tell us about the future of the printed word (as well as the digital text), the book industry, and comics as an art object.

Stay tuned over the next week for more HeroesCon episodes!

 

Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at HeroesCon 2018

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Straight from Artists Alley

This past weekend was HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC. It was a great convention, organized by the folks at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. And as Derek likes to do every year, this past weekend he walked around Artists Alley talking with various creators about what they’re doing, what they’ve recently published, and what they may have in the works. The result is a series of short interviews with various creators, some of whom have been on The Comics Alternative before, others that Derek met for the very first time.  In this episode are brief conversations with, in order, Rich Tommaso, Steve Conley, Milton Lawson, Naomi Franquiz, Dave Chisholm, James F. Wright and Jackie Crofts, Scott Wegener, Natalie Andrewson, and Michael Eury.

Stay tuned over the next week for more HeroesCon episodes!

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Adamant, Scurry, and The Phoenix Requiem

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“It is a big-ass story”

This month Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics. They begin with Mike Exner III, Ian Waryanto, et al.’s Adamant, a superhero narrative that spins the genre in fascinating, and parodic, ways. After that they turn to a beautifully rendered tale, Mac Smith’s Scurry. While the story is solid, the guys point out that the art is this webcomic’s biggest draw. Finally, they discuss the already-completed webcomic, Sarah Ellerton’s The Phoenix Requiem. This is a Victorian-inspired supernatural narrative of love and mystery that, as both Sean and Derek point out, is quite substantive.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Max de Radiguès

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:26 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:56 – Interview with Max de Radiguès
  • 01:01:11 – Wrap up
  • 01:01:47 – Contact us

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In the Camera Eye

Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, was a street photographer for New York’s popular press during the 1930s and 1940s. He worked primarily in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and he developed a signature style that captured a gritty, unflinching view of urban life. What’s more, he was, famous, or rather infamous, for adjusting his tableau, in particular the position of dead bodies at crime scenes, in order to capture an image that was to his liking. Max de Radiguès, along with his co-creator Wauter Mannaert, has decided to take on this historical figure as the subject matter of his latest book, Weegee: Serial Photographer. In this interview, Derek talks with Max about his fascination over Weegee, the origins of this project, and the challenges of writing such a condensed graphic biography.  But we also cover Max’s previous work, Moose, and what we might expect from his upcoming book, Bastard, being released this fall from Fantagraphics.

Episode 283: The June Previews Catalog

Derek’s Design Gripe

Paul and Derek are back with another look at the latest Previews catalog. And for the month of June, they find a variety of fascinating title…and several of which they even resist mention on mic, in the interests of keeping the show containable and relatively short. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are:

Comics Alternative Interviews: Dean Haspiel

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:55 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:07 – Interview with Dean Haspiel
  • 01:09:43 – Wrap up
  • 01:11:07 – Contact us

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Welcome to New Brooklyn

Gene and Derek are happy to have Dean Haspiel on The Comics Alternative to discuss his new book from Image Comics, The Red Hook, Vol. 1: New Brooklyn. This is the first in a planned trilogy introducing readers to his universe of New Brooklyn. The Red Hook is a reluctant hero. Once a super-thief, his unlikely encounter with the legendary superhero, The Green Point, bequeathes unto him The Omni-Fist of Altruism. This transform him into a hero, where he cannot resist helping others in distress, despite his better judgment. In this role, The Red Hook becomes a major player in New Brooklyn, a borough whose heart had been broken by commerce and real estate speculation, and, as a result, secedes from New York, and America. Sound unlikely? Well, listen to Dean as he explains the premise and his plans for future New Brooklyn narratives. The guys talk with Dean, asking him a variety of questions not only about his new book, but about his other publications, as well. But then Dean turns the tables and begins interviewing Gene and Derek. It’s a wild experience with an indefatigable Haspiel.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction, Vol. 1, The Troublemakers, and Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1

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Fully Loaded

On the last episode in The Comics Alternative‘s monthly manga series — a show that was supposed to be the May episode, but was actually a late April show — Shea and Derek promised that they would provide an additional manga episode at the very end of May, and that that show would be the real May show. As reality unfolded, the two guys had problems in coordinating their schedules and being available at the same time. And as a result, you get this episode. But it’s an extra-long episode, one that includes discussions of not two but three recent manga releases.

They begin with the first volume in a the latest series from one of their favorites, Inio Asano. Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction (VIZ Media) is an unusual work that, in many ways, reminds the guys of Goodnight Punpun they reviewed in March 2016, a title that they especially loved. And they appreciate this new work at least as much. This new book begins as a realistic narrative of Tokyo schoolgirls and their everyday interactions at school. Soon, though, the reader discover that this is not a normal environment, but one where the city is, literally, living under the shadow of a giant mysterious spaceship that visited them three years previously.

Next they turn to a notable new release from Retrofit/Big Planet Comics, Baron Yoshimoto’s The Troublemakers. Translated and edited by Ryan Holmberg, this is a collection of six short works of gekiga that vary in narrative approach, theme, and (to a lesser degree) style. All of these pieces were originally released between 1966 and 1974, and in a variety of publications. The volume ends with a magnificent essay, providing history and context, by the book’s editor. This book marks the first translation of Yoshimoto’s into English.

The guys conclude with a completely different kind of book, Fujita’s Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics). The title is a series of episodes — think of a sitcom — of a small group of young workers, all of whom are otaku (those with obsessive interests in very specific, especially fan-based, media and culture) and interact in everyday scenarios, at work and otherwise. The guys aren’t near as enthusiastic about this work as they are with the others reviewed in this episode. However, Derek is more open to Wotakoi than Shea. In fact, Shea even wonders if the emphases in this series may not even be counterproductive, if not harmful, to consumer health.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Karl Stevens

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:23 – Introduction
  • 00:02:22 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:31 – Interview with Karl Stevens
  • 01:03:39 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:05 – Contact us

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A Pope Cat and A Floating Gandhi Head

Derek first talked to Karl Stevens in February of last year, and during that discussion he had mentioned that he was working on a new project for Retrofit/Big Planet called The Winner, and now we have the book out, being released on May 23. The two discuss Karl’s new work, its very autobiographical quality — no masking any identities here — and it’s curious structure and fantastical interludes. But they also talk about Karls others works, as well, including the Xeric Award-winning Guilty (2004), his series of books that followed, all published by Alternative Comics — Whatever (2008), The Lodger (2010), and Failure (2013)– as well as his Penny strips that ran in the Village Voice between November 2016 and March 2017. Karl is wonderful guy to interview, as you’ll hear from the conversation.

Comics Alternative Episode 282: Reviews of Sabrina, The Unsound, and The Last Siege #1

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“We’re not about the cool factor. We’re about the cool analysis”

On this episode, Paul and Derek discuss Nick Drnaso’s Sabrinba, Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole’s The Unsound, and Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood The Last Siege #1.

Their conversation his great! Although be warned, there may a couple of spoilers on this show…or least semi-spoilers.

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: A Discussion of the Nominees for the 2018 Eisner Awards for the Early Readers, Kids, and Teens Categories

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:31 – Introduction
  • 00:03:19 – Setup of the discussion
  • 00:05:04 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Early Readers category 
  • 00:51:47 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Kids category
  • 01:31:45 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Teens category
  • 02:20:32 – Wrap up
  • 02:26:03 – Contact us

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Putting on the Evening Gown and Tuxedo

On this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul detail the three categories of the Eisner Awards that focus on children and teens:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • The Dam Keeperby Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi (First Second/Tonko House)
  • Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
  • Louis Undercover, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi)
  • Monstressby Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Spinningby Tillie Walden (First Second)

In addition to reviewing each nominated text, the duo refers listeners to The Comics Alternative archives for the shows that reference these nominees: Good Night, Planet by Liniers; Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez; The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi; and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

Paul and Gwen use this episode to launch a general discussion of age designations and categorization of children’s and YA comics, and they reference the art of Bolivian painter and lithographer Graciela Rodo Boulanger, whose depiction of children resembles that found in Campbell Whyte’s Home Time. So, won’t you pour yourself a chilly beverage, kick back, and give a listen to the two PhDs — more on Paul’s recent doctoral graduation from University of California-Berkeley will appear in the June podcast — for a rundown of this year’s Eisner nominees.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Madness in Crowds: The Teeming Mind of Harrison Cady

Historically Conscious

On the current Kickstarter episode, Derek talks with comics legend Denis Kitchen about Madness in Crowds: The Teeming Mind of Harrison Cady, the latest campaign from Beehive Books, in association with Denis.

Madness in Crowds will be a large-format hardcover art book — a towering 10″ x 14″ and with 176+ pages — collecting the works of the definitive early 20th-century illustrator and cartoonist Harrison Cady (1877–1970).

So, who was Harrison Cady? As Denis and company describes the artist:

Over the course of a 70 year professional career, he created countless overflowing worlds, bustling with life and energy and detail and chaos. His illustrations were generous, abundant, warm and humane. There was never another artist like him. He specialized in frenzied crowd scenes, in which each tiny character came armed with their own distinct personality and a sense of humor that projected off the page. He especially loved animals and insects, spawning and exploring vast eco-systems of creeping crawlers with human affectations: beetle ballerinas, ladybugs in spats and umbrellas, fiddle-playing mosquitos. A committed political progressive, Cady frequently made cartoons about women’s suffrage, injustice and the exploitation of the working classes. In his long and productive career, he laid an endless array of visual feasts out for the eyes of readers and art-appreciators all over the world. But, as is too often the case with illustrators and cartoon artists, his work faded from memory very quickly once his career ended. Though there remains a loyal cadre of fans and collectors, trading old tear-sheets and  weathered magazine clippings, his name is largely unknown by modern lovers of illustration, cartooning and graphic art.

As Denis tells Derek, this is an absolute must for any serious student of illustration and cartoon art. Not only are Cady’s visuals absolutely stunning, but this is sure to be a highly sought-after collectable in the years to come. What other reasons do you need to support this Kickstarter campaign? Head on over to their page and back Madness in Crowds!

Cover and Sample Art

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Peter Normanton

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 04:13 – Interview with Peter Normanton
  • 55:17 – Wrap up
  • 55:53 – Contact us

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Horror in the UK

On past episodes of The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys have discussed comics fandom and zine culture quite often, although usually the context surrounds American fan activity. But as Derek points out in his conversation with Peter Normanton, he has little knowledge of fanzines outside of the states, particularly within the United Kingdom. That’s why Peter’s latest book, It Crept from the Tomb, was such an enlightening read. Normanton was the publisher and editor of the UK horror zine, From the Tomb, which began in 2000 and ran for over 20-some issues. Several years ago, he was approached by Roy Thomas about the possibility editing a collection from the pages of his horror zine, and the result was The Best of From the Tomb, which came out from TwoMorrows Publishing in 2012. And then more recently, John Morrow asked Peter about a second “best of” collection surrounding From the Tomb…and this request eventually became Peter’s newest release, It Crept from the Tomb. In his conversation with Peter Normanton, Derek talks with his guest about his time as an editor and publisher, the history of comics in in the UK, his love of the horror genre and comics fandom, and the many challenges he faced in putting out a fanzine over the years.

NOTE: Over the course of Derek’s conversation with Peter, they experienced occasional problems with the internet connection. Peter lives in northwest Britain, and at times the connection on Skype was sketchy. So apologies in advance for the several breaks and momentary silences that are noticeable on Peter’s track. Still, the gist of his comments comes through clearly, so please overlook any technical difficulties they may have had.