Comics Alternative Interviews: James Albon

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Time Codes:

  • 00:25 – Introduction
  • 02:31 – Setup of interview
  • 03:32 – Interview with James Albon
  • 57:35 – Wrap up
  • 58:31 – Contact us

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Canine Romance

On this interview episode Derek has the pleasure of talking with James Albon, whose new book Her Bark and Her Bite comes out this week from Top Shelf Productions. James is British artist whose illustrations have appeared in The GuardianThe Wall Street JournalWIRED, the New StatesmanThe Diplomat, The Financial Times, and various publications from the Folio Society. Her Bark and Her Bite is his first graphic novel, and much of the conversation is devoted to this fact and how his work as a professional illustrator informs his graphic storytelling. The book can be described as a romantic comedy, where its protagonist artist figure, Rebecca, moves to the big city and meets Victor, a gregarious and flamboyant socialite with whom she quickly becomes smitten. Complications arise when Victor receives a young dog as a gift, and the canine becomes an unwitting rival to Rebecca’s affections. What follows is a series of faux pas and inanities that pits social acceptance against personal expression. In this interview, James shares the genesis of his narrative, its links to his own life experiences, and why fiction was the perfect platform for his inaugural long-form comic.

Comics Alternative, Episode 236: Reviews of What Parsifal Saw, Love and Rockets #2, and Redneck #1

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Land of Hopey and Glory

This week the Two Guys give you a double shot of recent Fantagraphics books. They start off with a discussion of Ron Regé Jr.’s What Parsifal Saw, his followup to 2012’s The Cartoon Utopia (the paperback edition of which has also just been released by Fantagraphics). This is the first time that Andy and Derek have covered one of Regé’s books on The Comics Alternative — they’ve discussed his comics before, but only as part of an anthology — and they point out how his art requires a different way of reading. After that, they look at the latest issue of Love and Rockets. The guys never miss an opportunity to discuss what the Hernandez brothers are up to, and in this second issue of the new series they see how both Gilbert and Jaime are continuing the storylines they began in the last couple of Love and Rockets: New Stories annuals. Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with the latest title from Donny Cates, Redneck #1 (Image Comics). With wonderful art by Lisandro Estherren, this is a contemporary vampire story set in East Texas (and not far from Derek). Both feel that this is a successful first issue, but Andy points out that the structure feels similar to what Cates has been doing in God Country and The Paybacks.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Kristen Radtke

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:20 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:29 – Interview with Kristen Radtke
  • 00:59:16 – Wrap up
  • 01:01:39 – Contact us

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All Things Must Pass

Andy and Derek are pleased to have as their guest Kirsten Radtke. Her new work Imagine Wanting Only This has just been released from Pantheon Books, and it’s a deeply personal speculation on impermanence, decay, and abandonment. Using as a springboard significant events from her own life — such as the loss of a beloved uncle and a fortuitous creative discovery — Radtke explores our sense of place in a culture that privileges newness and disposability. The book has been described as a memoir, but the guys feel that it’s better framed as a meditation, a contemplative graphic essay tinged with introspection and self-analysis. Over the course of the conversation, Radtke discusses the genesis of the project, her experiences with comics journalism, and the challenges of defining the art that she creates.

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Reviews of Notes 1: Born to Be a Larve and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot before The Mamas & the Papas

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Life Stories

On this month’s Euro Comics episode, Edward and Derek check out to recent publications, both from publishers that they’ve yet to discuss on the series. They begin with Boulet’s Notes 1: Born to Be a Larve, just out from Soaring Penguin Press. This is the first collection of the comics Boulet created specifically for his blog, and this initial volume includes the entries published between July 2004 and July 2005. While the guys enjoy Boulet’s work, they feel that the strips may not work as well in book form as they had originally on the blog. The episodic nature of the comics could probably be better appreciated as online updates than as a bound collection.

Next, the guys turn to Pénélope Bagieu’s latest English translation California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot before The Mamas and the Papas (First Second). Derek and Andy W. had discussed Bagieu’s earlier book, Exquisite Corpse, on an episode about two years ago, and the latest work certainly follows up on that promise. In fact, Edward is bowled away by this graphic biography. As the subtitle suggests, it covers the life of Cass Elliot — born Ellen Cohen — up to the breakout of the famous 1960s quartet. The guys appreciate Bagieu’s art, but they are particularly impressed by her choices of narration and her structuring of the story.

 

 

Comics Alternative, On Location: The April Visit to Valhalla Games and Comics

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Catching Up

As he tries to do every month, Derek visits his local shop, Valhalla Games and Comics in Plano, TX, to talk with customers and employees about what they’re reading, what they’re looking forward to, and what interests them in current comics culture. For April the topic is open, so anything goes…and the resulting conversation is free-floating and casual. Among the topics that come up are local conventions, Bones of the Coast from Cloudscape Comics, getting caught up with the Marvel Universe on Netflix, Astro City, Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, the return of Rat Queens, Kyle Starks’s Rock Candy Mountain, the convoluted world of Love and Rockets, the new Anne Hathaway movie Colossal, and speculations on how (and if) comics creators will eventually work Donald Trump into their stories.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Michael Eury

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:09 – Interview with Michael Eury
  • 01:27:46 – Wrap up
  • 01:28:38 – Contact us

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“Wonderful, warm blanket of camp”

On this interview episode Derek talks with the Eisner Award-nominated editor-in-chief of Back Issue magazine Michael Eury. His new book Hero-a-Go-Go: Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters and Culture of the Swinging Sixties comes out from TwoMorrows Publishing next week, and the two discuss this project’s genesis and the significance of the camp cultural phenomenon. This text stands out because Eury doesn’t limit himself to just comics, but instead he looks at camp from a wider vista, revealing its convergence among television, film, toys, cartoons, music, and everyday consumable products. In Hero-a-Go-Go, readers will find in-depth discussions of such subjects as Metamorpho, The Inferior Five, Jerry Lewis comics, MonkeemaniaNot Brand Echh, Hanna-Barbera cartoonsHerbie the Fat Fury, Captain Action, the TV Green Hornet, M.F. Enterprise’s Captain Marvel, The Cowsills, JFK and LBJ in comics, the ill-fated Harvey Thrillers, and, of course, the Batman television series. As Michael reveals over the course of this interview, Hero-a-Go-Go is intended for diverse audiences, written as both an informed introduction and a chronicle for remembrance.


 

Comics Alternative, Episode 235: Reviews of Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero and the DC Hanna-Barbera Specials

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Reminiscing

This week Andy and Derek discuss five new titles. They start off with Michael DeForge’s latest book, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero (Drawn and Quarterly). While this is an unusual story, it’s nonetheless one of DeForge’s most conventional stories, at least when compared to many of his previous works. It’s an episodic narrative about its titular character, a multi-talented 49-year-old woman who moves to a Canadian national park to escape a scandal surrounding her rich father’s finances. There she befriends a bunny named Oatmeal, a moose lawyer who goes by the name “Lisa Hanawalt,” a love-struck eel, a “marked” young woman called Girl McNally, dumb geese, proxy ants, a bear chronicler, and the park’s wannabe reporter “Michael DeForge.” Did we mention that this is one of DeForge’s more conventional stories? This title began as a webcomic on Tumblr, and while people can still find the complete comic up and available, the guys strongly recommend that listeners get the new book to fully take in the physical, tactile experience.

Next, the Two Guys with PhDs turn to the four new Hanna-Barbera one-shots from DC Comics: the Adam Strange/Future Quest Special (by Mark Andreyko, Jeff Parker, and Steve Lieber), the Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special (Mark Russell, Rick Leonardi, and Scott Hanna), the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special (James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela, and Ariel Olivetti), and the Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits Special (Tony Bedard, Ben Caldwell, and Mark Morales). They both enjoy all four of the titles, although Derek has some reservations about the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits team-up, and Andy feels that the Green Lantern/Space Ghost one is a missed opportunity. But they spend about as much time discussing the short backups in these four specials, with Howard Chaykin’s Ruff ‘n’ Reddy being a standout. Is that any surprise

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Jon Morris

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:11 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:47 – Interview with Jon Morris
  • 01:28:38 – Wrap up
  • 01:30:09 – Contact us

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Jon Morris returns to The Comics Alternative, this time to discuss his latest book The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains (Quirk Books). This one is a follow up to his 2015 The League of Regrettable Superheroes, a book that Jon discussed the last time he was on the podcast. Derek talks with his guest about the natural transition from weird and offbeat heroes to their villainous counterparts, the process of researching the new book, and the hard decisions he had to make in deciding what rogues to showcase. Jon also shares some of his favorite regrettable villains across the Golden, Silver, and Modern Ages as well as possible plans for similar books in the future. The Club of Regrettable Sidekicks, anyone?

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: Gabby Schulz

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:18 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:43 – Interview with Gabby Schulz
  • 01:11:55 – Wrap up
  • 01:14:04 – Contact us

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“The sewage of negativity I bring to comics”

In an interview that is a long time in coming, Gwen and Derek have the pleasure of talking with Gabby Schulz. His new collection of diary comics, The Process of Drastically Reducing One’s Expectations, was recently released from Alec Longstreth’s Phase Eight Publishing, and in their conversation, Gabby shares his views on the uses and misuses of autobiographical comics. And the three spend a lot of time discussing several of Gabby’s earlier works, especially Sick and Monsters (both published through Secret Acres), and how the personal necessarily becomes political when exploring individual shortcomings and predilections. Gwen and Derek also ask Gabby about “Ken Dahl,” his recent travels, and the experiences of living on the road.

Be sure to visit the artist’s Ignatz Award-nominated website Gabby’s Playhouse.

Comics Alternative, Episode 234: The April Previews Catalog

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Marathon Men

It’s time to look at the current Previews catalog from Diamond, and for this month Derek is joined by Paul, the new cohost of the monthly Young Readers series. Paul has helped out on earlier Previews shows, and as Andy has jokingly pointed out, on those occasions the episodes have tended to clock in on the longish side. And indeed, that’s what happens this week! But the lengthiness of the April Previews show is filled not only with choice solicits, but also with critical commentary, astute observations, and even a couple of soapbox rants. In their highlights from this month’s catalog, the guys discuss offerings from:

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Jon Nielsen

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Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:03 – Setup of interview
  • 06:30 – Interview with Jon Nielsen
  • 43:18 – Wrap up
  • 44:33 – Contact us

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Existential Robotics

On this episode, Gwen and Derek welcome Jon Nielsen to The Comics Alternative. His new book Look recently debuted at the MoCCA Arts Festival, and Jon talks with the cohosts on the eve of the event. Among the various topics they cover, Gwen and Derek ask Jon about the story’s evolution from webcomic to printed form, his process in finding an appropriate publisher, the existential nature of his narrative — something like a Waiting for Godot with cute robots — the all-age appropriateness of his storytelling, and his broader work within the webcomics format. His popular online title, Massive Pwnage, came to an end last year. Jon is a young creator, doing some exciting things, and both Gwen and Derek were glad to get him on the podcast in early bloom.

To learn more about Jon’s comics, visit his website, Dark Magic Press!

Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at the Sumter Comic Arts Symposium 2017

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Our Man in Sumter

As listeners of The Comics Alternative know, Andy oversees the annual Sumter Comic Arts Symposium every spring, and this year is no different. And this time, not only has he organized the entire event, but he also took time out of his duties to interview several of the creators who appeared at the symposium. First, he speaks with Sophie Goldstein and Carl Antonowicz at the local Waffle House — the sound quality isn’t ideal, but the breakfast ambience is palpable — and then he conducts an interview with Jeremy Whitley, talking primarily about his recent work with Marvel Comics.

Be sure to check out today’s companion on-location episode where Derek talks with several artists and publishers at Fan Expo Dallas 2017!

 

 

Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at Fan Expo Dallas 2017

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Our Man in Dallas

This past weekend Derek attended Dallas Fan Expo 2017, and there he was able to talk with several creators and publishers for the podcast. Some of his guests are individuals who have been on the podcast before — either while at conventions or on regular interview episodes — although some are appearing on The Comics Alternative for the first time. Those talking with Derek on this on-location show include Robert Wilson IV, Terry Moore, Raechel Alexis Gasparac, Ed Brisson, Joe Eisma, and Matt Hawkins. Enjoy, won’t you?

Be sure to check out today’s companion on-location episode where Andy talks with a few creators at the Sumter Comic Arts Symposium!

 

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and Platinum End

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Japanese Adam Sandler?

This month on The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek check out two very different titles. They begin with Kazuto Tatsuta’s Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics). This is a 500+ page account of the reconstruction and cleanup in the wake of 2011’s disaster in Fukushima. As the guys discuss, the text does two things at once: provides objective reportage of the situation surrounding Fukushima and reveals the author’s very personal experiences  in securing and maintaining his role in the cleanup efforts. While both guys enjoyed the book, perhaps Derek more than Shea, they nonetheless wondered about Tatsuta’s background as a mangaka — “Kazuto Tatsuta” is a nom de plume, so it’s difficult to determine any bibliography — and any potential agenda (if any) underlying this work.

After their focus on real-world disaster, the guys move into the realm of fantasy. Platinum End (VIZ Media) is a current shōnen series from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the same team behind Bakuman and Death Note. The second English-language volume was just released this month, so the guys have enough story under their belts to get a secure feel for the art and narrative. As Derek explains, the premise appears a little on the hokey side, at least at first, but as things develop the story begins to take on a life of its own, one that soon hooks you. Much of this is because of Obata’s style, but there are also larger thematic issues that make this title worth exploring. The guys discourse over the text’s theological import, its engagement with gender identity, and its satiric commentary on contemporary popular culture. This is definitely a series that both Shea and Derek will continue reading.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Kyle Starks

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:44 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:37 – Interview with Kyle Starks
  • 01:01:47 – Wrap up
  • 01:02:54 – Contact us

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Indiana Beard?

The Two Guys with PhDs are happy to have Kyle Starks back on the show. This time, they talk with him about his new Image Comics series Rock Candy Mountain, the first issue of which comes out next week. In their conversation, the guys ask Kyle about the genesis of this project, his collaboration with Chris Schweizer, the fascination with hobos, and his decision to set the narrative in post-war America. Andy and Derek also spend a good deal of time talking with their guest about the demands of writing and drawing for an ongoing monthly series and how that dynamic might have changed his storytelling style, previously exemplified by the original graphic novels Sexcastle and Kill Them All. Along the way, they discuss his ongoing writing for Rick and Morty, other projects in the works, and possibilities for Kyle’s hobo name.