Comics Alternative, Episode 245: Live at HeroesCon 2017

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On the Scene

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Last weekend was HeroesCon, and as they have for the past few years, Andy and Derek are on the scene in Artists Alley reporting the event from the floor. On this episode, you’ll hear the Two Guys sharing their varied experiences at the con. Among other topics they discuss the vendors they visited and the comics they were able to find, their attempts to interview creators at their tables, the two high-powered panels they moderated, the various artists they had signing their comics, the tone of this year’s crowd, Derek’s cool Space Babes shirt (design by Beto), the uncertainty of their table location, and their Saturday night dinner with Gilbert Hernandez’s family. And both Derek and Andy are most thankful for the various fans who stopped by their table to say “Hello!” and tell them that they’re avid listeners.

Much thanks to Daniel Yezbick for providing the pictures of the Two Guys in action!

 

 

Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at HeroesCon 2017, Pt. 2

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More Heroes Talk

In the second of two on-location interview episodes recorded at this year’s HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, Derek talks with Fabian Rangel, Jr. (author of Tarantula), Charles Forsman (Slasher), Chris Sheridan (Motorcycle Samurai), Shawn Pryor (Cash and Carrie), and Alison Sampson (Winnebago Graveyard), and Andy and Derek speak with Darren Neely (Chase Van Bolt). Fun stuff!

Stay tuned over the next week for more HeroesCon episodes!

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 243: The June Previews Catalog

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Ben Affleck and Jason Lee

The Two Guys with PhDs, AKA “Ben” and “Jason,” are back with another Previews episode. And for the month of June, there’s a lot that Andy and Derek want to highlight. Among the many upcoming titles they discuss are:

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 242: A Discussion of the 2017 Eisner Award Nominations

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The Meryl Streep of Comics

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Earlier this month the nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards were announced at the Comic-Con International website, and as Andy and Derek like to do every year, they’re devoting a full episode of The Comics Alternative to a discussion of the nominations. On this week’s show, the Two Guys give their impressions of the various nominees, both as a whole and on a category-by-category basis, making observations and trying to understand any trends underlying this year’s selections. However, Derek and Andy resist the urge to play armchair quarterbacks, so they don’t second-guess the six-member panel of judges or focus on what they would have chosen if they had been on the selection committee. As diligent comics scholars, they judicial and discerning in their commentary. At the same time, they don’t shy away from pointing out a few inconsistencies and a few head-scratchers when trying to make sense of this year’s nominations.

Comics Alternative, Episode 240: A Publisher Spotlight on Koyama Press

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Holy Balls!

For this week’s review episode the Two Guys with PhDs turn a critical spotlight on Koyama Press and its spring 2017 releases. They devoted an entire episode to Koyama a couple of years ago, but this season there are just so many great titles coming out from the press that the guys wanted to look at all of their releases and not just two or three scheduled across several weeks. First, though, they share a brief conversation with the press’ founder and publisher, Annie Koyama, who provides an overview and history of the Canadian publishing house.

Then the guys start discussing the new releases, beginning with Eleanor Davis’s You & a Bike & a Road, a diary comic of her time biking from Arizona to Georgia and the various experiences and encounters she had along the way. Reading this book has even gotten Derek back exercising on his bike, although Andy wasn’t inspired in quite the same way. After that they look at another autobiographical work in diary form, Keiler Roberts’s Sunburning. The Two Guys have discussed Roberts’s work on the podcast previously, but this is the first time the both of them have focused on one of her entire books, her first Koyama Press release.

Next, they turn to Crawl Space, the latest from Koyama creator Jesse Jacobs. This is a visually unique work, combining Jacobs’s geometric abstractions with a straightforward, yet self-reflexibly revealing, storyline. Another experimental work is Eric Kostiuk Williams’s Condo Heartbreak Disco. At the center of this narrative are Komio and The Willendorf Braid, two figures whose stories are part of Williams’s Hungry Bottom Comics series, of which neither of the guys are familiar (unfortunately).

Then it’s on to Volcano Trash, the follow up to Ben Sears’s Night Air which was leased last year. This all-age adventure featuring Plus Man and Hank is one of the highlights of the week, and the guys hope Sears continues developing this series. And finally, Andy and Derek wrap up with Jane Mai and An Nguyen’s hybrid text, So Pretty/Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture. This is a fascinating exploration of a cultural trend that neither of the guys really knew much about — at least in detail — and one that caters to their scholarly sensibilities.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:30 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:47 – Interview with Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
  • 01:10:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:11:29 – Contact us

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Yeggs

For this interview episode, the Two Guys with PhDs talk with Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the creators behind The Damned, from Oni Press. This is a series with some history, beginning back in 2006 with the five-issues run, “Three Days Dead,” and then the three-issue miniseries from 2008, “Prodigal Sons.” Soon after that, Cullen and Brian began The Sixth Gun, but now that that long-running series is behind them, they decided to revisit and revitalize their first creative project together. Over the course of their conversation, Cullen and Brian talk about their efforts to reprint the original comics in color — and with the help of the new series’ colorist, Bill Crabtree — the impetus behind the new on-going series, their work together on The Sixth Gun, and their process of collaboration on The Damned. Andy and Derek also ask them about some of their other projects, including Cullen’s Harrow County (with Tyler Crook) and Brian’s Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon (with Matt Kindt).

Comics Alternative, Episode 239: Reviews of Herman by Trade, Rise of the Dungeon Master, and Eternal Empire #1

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Huzzah!

This week Andy and Derek look at three new titles, each one visiting the fantastic in one form or another. Before they jump into the reviews, however, they discuss some of the big comics news from the past week: the announcement of the 2017 Eisner Award nominations and Free Comic Book Day. The guys don’t go into too much detail about the Eisner nominees because they plan on devoting an upcoming episode to that topic. However, they do briefly mention the curious situation surrounding the nomination of the Love Is Love collection in the Best Anthology category. They have much more to say about last Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day. Both guys share some of their experiences at their local shops and the free comics they got there. Listen to the podcast’s FCBD episode for more details.

But then the Two Guys get into the heart of this week’s show. They begin with Chris W. Kim’s Herman by Trade, coming out this week from SelfMadeHero. Although on the surface this appears to be a more realistic narrative, its fantastic elements become apparent in the transformation of the title character who has the ability to change his appearance and mimic others’ abilities at will. As both Derek and Andy point out, this is an unusual story that sticks with you long after reading.

Next, they turn to a new graphic biography that is all about fantasy, Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D (Nation Books). The art is by Koren Shadmi, but the book is written by David Kushner, based on a profile he wrote for Wired magazine in 2008. What’s most notable about this brief biography is the narrative point of view, almost entirely presented in the second person. This is fully in keeping with the spirit of role-playing games, where in this case the the narrating presence is, in essence, your “dungeon master” guiding your awareness as you enter the creators’ biographical realm.

Finally, Andy and Derek conclude with the latest collaboration from Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. Eternal Empire #1 (Image Comics) is a fantasy set in a distant world that, as Andy points out, is reminiscent of Game of Thrones. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time speculating on the originality of this series, wondering if the unique elements will become more apparent in the issues to come. And while Andy isn’t sure if he’ll stick around to find out, Derek is going to give Eternal Empire a chance, especially given his appreciation of the Luna brothers’ previous comics, and especially Luna and Vaughn’s previous series Alex + Ada.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Jeff Lemire

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:40 – Setup of interview
  • 00:06:49 – Interview with Jeff Lemire
  • 01:33:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:34:37 – Contact us

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Rotting Husks

On this interview episode Derek and Andy are excited to have Jeff Lemire as their guest. His new graphic novel, Roughneck, has just been released by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery 13 imprint, and he has a new ongoing series through Image Comics, Royal City. The guys talk with Jeff about those works, particularly their place within Lemire’s growing body of writing, but they also ask him about his other current ongoing series, such as Descender (with Dustin Nguyen on art), Black Hammer (along with Dean Ormston), and the miniseries A.D.: After Death (written by Scott Snyder). A lot of ground is covered in this interview, including revelations on the early origins of Roughneck, the long-range plans for Royal City, the themes and characters that seem to be woven throughout Jeff’s oeuvre, the curious links between Descender and Adam Strange, and Jeff’s thoughts on “slice of life” stories and their reception within the comics-reading community.

And here’s a fun fact! Jeff Lemire was actually the focus of the Two Guys’ very first creator spotlight way back in Episode 6 of The Comics Alternative, and at the time Andy and Derek thought there was almost too much to talk about in terms of Jeff’s output. But now almost five years later, and with so many more titles under Jeff’s belt, those assumptions seem amusing in hindsight.

It’s important to note that Andy and Derek recorded their interview with Jeff the day before this year’s Eisner Award nominations were announced, where he has landed in the Best New Series and Best Writer categories (both for Black Hammer). This is why no one brings up the Eisners at any time in the conversation. But a big CONGRATULATIONS to Jeff for this well-deserved attention!

Comics Alternative, Episode 238: The May Previews Catalog

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Super Teams, Literature, and Headlights

It’s time for another look at the current Previews catalog, so this week Andy and Derek check out all of the interesting solicitations for May. First, though, they briefly discuss their plans (or lack thereof) for Free Comic Book Day this coming weekend, and then they share some listener mail. After that, they begin their deep dive into the May Previews..and it’s a good long dive this month. Among the many upcoming titles they highlight are:

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Matt Kindt

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:35 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:57 – Interview with Matt Kindt
  • 01:33:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:34:37 – Contact us

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“What if you set a book on fire?”

Andy and Derek welcome Matt Kindt to the podcast to discuss Grass Kings, published through BOOM! Studios, his two current ongoing series from Dark Horse Comics, Dept. H and Ether, and his voluminous work for Valiant Comics. The guys have been wanting to get Matt on the show for years, so this interview is a long time in coming. And the conversation is quite substantive. Among other topics, they discuss the geneses of these recent series; Matt’s strategies for juggling multiple storylines at once; his collaborations with Tyler Jenkins (on Grass Kings), David Rubín (Ether), and Brian Hurtt (Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon); the many titles he has written for Valiant Comics; his love of genre storytelling; the unique way he “signs” certain books at cons; and his creative direction after the groundbreaking Mind MGMT. This has to be one of the most prolific creators the guys have ever had on The Comics Alternative, and they come nowhere near covering all of the topics they wanted to discuss with Matt. But this is all the more reason to have him back on the show in the not-too-distant future.

Comics Alternative, Episode 237: Reviews of Star Hawks, Vol. 1: 1977-1978, Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special, and Godshaper #1

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Nifty Looking Ladies

On this week’s episode Andy and Derek check out the old and the new. They begin with Star Hawks, Vol. 1: 1977-1978, a new collection of Gil Kane and Ron Goulart’s classic newspaper strip. As the guys discuss, this isn’t the first time that Star Hawks has been collected, but this new release from IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint is probably one of the best. Next, they turn to Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special (Image Comics). This is more of the Street Angel fun you’ve come to expect from Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca. Fans of action comics, especially the old 1970s style martial arts type, will appreciate this one-shot. Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface’s Godshaper #1 (BOOM! Studios). As with other Spurrier creations, the premise of this title is rather complicated, but it’s not too top-heavy. The creators are able to pull off this inaugural issue with a satisfying coherency.

 

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, 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, 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!