It’s great to discover a high-power storyteller when you go to a comic convention, and one of the most recent “finds” for me has been Chris Charlton, scripter of many wonderful tales including Black of Heart, Binary Gray, The Dolls, and Open Tree, just to name a few! I enjoy variety, and his writing sparkles and surprises every time I read it. I met him in person at this year’s Cincinnati Comic Expo, and I picked up the hardcover version of Black of Heart, a book I very highly recommend! We discuss that book and his other works, all of which I enjoyed tremendously! To access his stories, go to his website at this link. Don’t miss this entertaining chat with an excellent comics creator I hope we hear much more from in the days ahead!
I enjoy variety, which is why I’m talking with Lynsey G. from Oneshi Press during Episode 355! She’s one of the driving forces behind that company, and she also writes two of the series’ in their Oneshi Press Quarterly Anthology series. Right now, she has a Kickstarter project going on for Tracy Queen Volume 1, which deserves your support! We discuss how they put the anthology book together as well as how Tracy Queen came into existence, among other things! For more on Oneshi Press, go to their website here. Don’t miss this fun chat with a rising star in Indie comics!
We cover Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty for our second episode of Follow Up Fall in 2018. We head back out to the Cursed Earth and join Judge Dredd in his new assignment. We talk about the villain, the setting, and the social commentary of this story.
The story with the mutant that exudes pheremones to control men (2:28)
Mayor Byron Ambrose/PJ Maybe (12:11)
Dredd and Rico teaming up (20:56)
Mutant/Human relations alegory (29:53)
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Our next podcast will be our review of the Venom film on October 7th.
We would like to thank Packie Wambaugh for recording our intro and outro music for us.
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- 00:00:33 – Introduction
- 00:03:10 – 2018 Eisner Award winners
- 00:10:38 – Nobrow 10: Studio Dreams
- 00:29:19 – Love and Rockets, Vol. 4 #5
- 00:54:56 – Last Mountain #4 and #5
- 01:14:34 – Wrap up
- 01:15:42 – Contact us
“There’s a lot of hey being thrown here”
This week Paul and Derek discuss three unique titles that help define our understanding of what comics can be. They begin with a visual anthology that is, arguably, not a comic at all. Nobrow 10:Studio Dreams (Nobrow Press) is a series of 70 gorgeous illustrations by a variety of artists — all of whom have contributed to Nobrow publications in the past — that reveal their ideal studio space. The styles in this volume vary widely, but each illustration is a luxurious work that invites visual lingering.
After that the Two Guys turn to one of their favorites, the Hernandez brothers. The latest issue of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics) is notable in that it wraps up Jaime’s ongoing storyline, “Is This How You See Me?” This narrative began back in the New Stories volumes, and in it Maggie and Hopey attend a Hoppers reunion that begins well, but then takes a darker turn for the two. Jaime also contributes a couple of shorter comics that revisit Maggie and Hopey in their younger days, another narrative thread we’ve seen in recent issues of Love and Rockets. Gilbert’s contribution, “Rosy,” is a long story about one of Fritz’s daughters who confronts her mother’s colored career and decides what it means to her.
Paul and Derek wrap up the episode by looking at the two latest issues of Dakota Mcfadzean’s minicomic Last Mountain. Issue #4 is a surreal look at the disturbing power of product iconography, where a little girl is terrorized by a cereal box mascot. Issue #5, “To Know You’re Alive,” can be read as a response to the previous issue in that it also concerns childhood and media, but from the perspective of a stay-at-home father. Unfortunately, both of these minicomic issues are sold out, but as the guys mention, listeners should definitely keep their eyes on Mcfadzean as he releases new material.
Hajime is an anthology (the first in a proposed series from new group Tokyo Collective, or ToCo) presenting four-page stories from seven artists about their first impressions upon arriving in Tokyo. Longtime Tokyo residents Tim and Mulele discuss.
- 00:24 – Introduction
- 02:16 – Setup of interview
- 03:40 – Interview with Erin Nations
- 51:50 – Wrap up
- 52:14 – Contact us
Illustrating the Self
In December of 2016, Top Shelf Productions published the first issue of Erin Nations’s Gumballs, the one of four issues that would be released over the course of the following year. This quarterly ran as a one-personal anthology, a collection of stories and observations, many of which were autobiographical in nature. Gumballs stood out among its peers in that it recalled the kind of comic books we used to get from other alternative creators such as Seth, Daniel Clowes, and Chris Ware. Now those creators have turned to the “graphic novel” or book form, and it’s a rarity that we get a comic book like this, making Gumballs stand out as a title of note. Now those four issues have been collected as a trade, one that has just been made available in the direct market and next week will be out for wider release. In this interview, Derek talks with Erin Nations about the genesis of his Gumballs series, his thoughts on being an autobiographical cartoonist, how he uses comics to chronicle his transitioning, and the various tones he strikes among the many stories contained within his series.
- 00:00:33 – Introduction
- 00:02:57 – Listener mail!
- 00:10:23 – James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner – A Graphic Biography
- 00:41:38 – NOW #3
- 01:13:43 – A discussion of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations
- 02:00:49 – Wrap up
- 02:01:55 – Contact us
Modern and Different
This week Paul and Derek review two recent releases, and they also take the time to discuss this year’s Eisner Award nominations. They start off with Alfonso Zapico’s James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner – A Graphic Biography (Arcade Publishing). Originally published in Spanish, this is a look at the life of the famous Irish modernist, covering not only his accomplishments as a writer, but his family and personal relations, as well. As the guys discuss, Zapico’s text provides a general outline of the major events and relationships in Joyce’s life, but as with most comics-based biographies, the interiority of the subject is limited. At the same time, this is a well-paced and even detailed look at the author of Dubliners and Ulysses, with Zapico presenting a very human portrait of a writer most may only know from a critical distance.
After that, the Two Guys check out the latest issue of NOW, the Fantagraphics anthology edited by Eric Reynolds. This has become an ongoing obligation of The Comics Alternative, covering each issue of this anthology as it’s released. (Paul and Derek discussed NOW #1 last fall, and then Gene and Derek looked at NOW #2 back in January.) The latest collection brings together several artists contributing to previous issues — e.g., Noah Van Sciver, Eleanor Davis, and Dash Shaw — but also a variety of creators who are not only new to the anthology, but brand new to both Paul and Derek, as well. In fact, this is one of the things they enjoy about NOW, its diversity and the editor’s dedication to exposing the work of little-known comics artists. Some of the most notable pieces in this third issue are from contributors outside of North America, including Marcello Quintanhila (Brazil), Anne Simon (France), and Roberta Scomparsa (Italy).
The guys wrap up this week’s show with a discussion of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations. Paul and Derek do not make any predictions, nor do they second-guess the award judges or speculate as to internal dynamics about which they had no way of knowing. What they do discuss are the various creators and publishers under nomination, any trends or tendencies they can possibly discern from this year’s selections, the process of categorization and definition within the industry, and the sheer number of current nominees, artists and texts, that were actually discussed on The Comics Alternative.
Beehives and Quiffs
On this week’s Kickstarter show, Derek talks with Nick Prolix about his campaign for Slang Pictorial #3. This will be a 24-page black-and-white comic, following up on on the already published first two hardcopy issues. Nick is using his first-ever Kickstarter in order to cover the comic’s printing and shipping. Plus, he has a really cool promotional video:
Slang Pictorial is Nick’s one-person anthology comic, and it includes his serialized retro comedy-drama The Sheep And The Wolves. This story actually began as a webcomic, and it’s a light-hearted look at the broken dreams and busted schemes of the many residents of a fictional London neighborhood at the start of the Swinging Sixties. Slang Pictorial also includes an assortment of other stories set in the same world.
Backers can also get reprints of the first two issues of the anthology, and there are exclusive prints and art cards, as well. If you’re a fan of Palookaville, Eightball, and Optic Nerve, then this is definitely a comic for you. Be sure to back Nick’s Slang Pictorial!
This week on the Kickstarter series, Derek talks with Mike Emeritz and Marshall Couture about their current campaign, Life in Space: A Comic Book Anthology. Over the course of their conversation, Mike and Marshall reveal the genesis of this project, how they gathered a variety of creators together, and the process of decided on a particular anthology theme.
This project is coordinated by Mike Emeritz, Marshall Lee, and Chris McQuinlan, with Emeritz designing and editing the book. Kevin Cross provides the cover art, and contributors include:
- Jerry Gonzalez
- Carrie Schurman
- Holly Brown
- Mike Emeritz
- Casey Roberson
- Marshall Lee
- Chris McQuinlan
- Noah “Ox” Baas
- Dalibor Zujovic
- J. Allen Ratz
- Patrick Brown
- Adam Lore
- Scott Serkland
- Karyn Lewis Bonfiglio
- Lenwood Brown III
- Sasha Fitzgerald
- Johannes Vick
Don’t miss out on this Kickstarter. Check it out to learn more about Life in Space!
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- 00:00:30 – Introduction
- 00:03:12 – The tragedy of the California wildfires
- 00:05:58 – Lighter Than My Shadow
- 00:48:27 – Now #1
- 01:14:03 – The Family Trade #1
- 01:31:28 – Wrap up
- 01:32:31 – Contact us
Hungry for Art
This week Paul and Derek take on three exciting new titles. They begin with a moving memoir from UK creator Katie Green, Lighter Than My Shadow (Roar-Lion Forge). In this work, Green reveals the eating disorders she struggled with as a young girl and into adulthood. Growing up obsessive-compulsive, Green chronicles how this condition contributed to her anorexic behavior, later evolving into problems with binging. Green also narrates her many attempts to address these problems with various doctors and therapists, the most notorious of whom ends up sexually abusing her…providing even more obstacles to her recovery. The guys are impressed by Green’s honesty and storytelling abilities — particularly taken by her art and the visual metaphors she employs throughout — although toward the end of their conversation about this title, they wonder if perhaps the memoir could have been streamlined just a little. This is a 500+ page text, after all.
Next, the Two Guys look at a brand new anthology from Fantagraphics, Now #1. Edited by Eric Reynolds, this collection of diverse and experimental comic art brings to mind Fantagraphics previous anthology, Mome (which both Derek and Paul dearly miss). In fact, the guys begin their discussion of Now by referencing the earlier anthology, with Paul feeling that the latest efforts are more experimental than Mome, while Derek see it as more similar to the previous series. The only difference is number of new and/or unfamiliar creators in Now (and, Derek argues, such was also the case several years ago with Mome). Some of the standouts in this first issue of Now are Dash Shaw’s “Scorpio,” Gabrielle Bell’s “Dear Naked Guy…,” Sammy Harkham’s “I, Marlon,” Malachi Ward and Matt Sheean’s “Widening Horizon,” and especially Noah Van Sciver’s “Wall of Shame” (for Derek, the best of the collection). But the guys are also impressed, and at times curiously confused, by the contributions from creators that are new to them, such as Sara Corbett, J.C. Menu, Antoine Cossé, and Kaela Graham. But as Paul and Derek argue, the entire issue of Now is compelling and works successfully as an anthology. They can’t wait until the second issue, due for release in January.
Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with a discussion of Justin Jordan, Nikki Ryan, and Morgan Beem’s The Family Trade #1 (Image Comics). This is another example of the kind of world-building often found at Image, and it’s the story of a neutral territory in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Float, ruled by the descendants of the ship captains that originally founded the realm — called the Clans — and the Family, descendants of the hands who had worked for the captains. This first issue opens with the protagonist, Jessa Wynn, attempting to assassinate Stagger Berghardt, a Trump-like charismatic demagogue who appeals to the base instincts of the citizens of the Float. She bungles the assassination, but her efforts put into motion a series of encounters that will propel the narrative into the next issues. Both Derek and Paul are impressed by this first issue, especially Beem’s art, and both plan on remaining on board for the rest of the series.
It’s another double-header week, as Episode 251 features the return of two great writers as they update us on their latest projects! First up in Tyler Chin-Tanner, who has a Kickstarter project going on now for his new anthology Loved & Lost. It’s described this way: “Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get burned. Nine stories about imperfect romance.” We talk about how he came to write these tales and what else he has coming in the future. You can keep up with him at his website at this link!
Then everything wraps up with Michael Jan Friedman, noted author or comics, novels and other great things! He discusses his upcoming Empty Space comic, which will be available digitally in December. We discuss the main characters, what brought him back to comics, and what else he’s working on. Be sure to check out his website at this link!
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This week on the review show, Andy and Derek focus on two notable titles, one that has been greatly publicized and the other that has come in under the radar. The former is Daniel Clowes’s Patience (Fantagraphics), the creator’s long-awaited release and his first new book since 2010’s Wilson. (Mr. Wonderful and The Death-Ray, both published in 2011, had been previously published in different formats.) In fact, the guys begin by discussing the publicity and the excitement surrounding this event. While Andy tried to keep himself ignorant of the book’s details before its release, Derek admits that his reading experience was initially affected by all the hype, and not in a positive way. However, both guys conclude that this is a strong narrative and one well worth reading. While much of Patience bears the Dan Clowes stamp, parts of it seem more outside of the creator’s usual style. For example, even though the relationship between the protagonists is reminiscent of the interactions found in Ghost World, Daniel Boring, and Ice Haven, the fact that Clowes premises everything on time travel make this book stand out in his oeuvre. And although, as Andy points out, there’s nothing really new to the time-travel subgenre presented here, Clowes does use its basic components in a compelling way. Next, the Two Guys discuss a work that was designed specifically for the classroom, Visual Storytelling: An Illustrated Reader, edited by Todd James Pierce and Ryan G. Van Cleave (Oxford University Press). This book was released late in 2015 yet hasn’t received much publicity at all. While there have been other comics-related books that are designed for pedagogical use, this is the first to bring together a wide variety of primary texts specifically as a course reader. What’s more, it’s a book that could easily be used in rhetoric/composition and other non-comics-centric classes, as well. Pierce and Van Cleave divide their collection into seven thematic topics: identity, men and women, young adulthood, trauma, history, politics, and the arts. The comics that compose each segment, some complete short pieces and others excerpts, serve as illustrative examples of their particular theme, while at the same time potentially connecting with other thematic sections, thereby giving the collection a feeling of cohesion. The guys admire the diversity of the reader’s selections, arguing that this is a much more usable book than the comics anthologies already out there. At the same time, Derek questions the editors double dipping on some contributors — Peter Kuper and Derf Backderf each have two pieces in the collection, while Gabrielle Bell has three — while Andy questions Derek’s second guessing of Pierce and Van Cleave’s decisions. But this is a debate that the guys always seem to have with anthologies. The bottom line is that Visual Storytelling is an exciting anthology perfect for the classroom, but it is also a collection that can be enjoyed outside of any pedagogical context.
Back inCritiquing Comics #25, we discussed the first issue of comics anthology mag Ugli Studios Presents. This time Tim and Mulele are looking at issue 2, finding some interesting ideas and art but some missed opportunities and places where crucial establishing shots don’t appear, leading to confusion. Maybe these creators just needed more pages to tell their stories?
The Boston Comics Roundtable is a thriving group of creators who have weekly meetings and put out anthology books of their work, including Show & Tell; a Collection of Comics about Teaching & Learning; and The Greatest of All Time. This week Tim talks to anthology co-editor (and comics creator) Dan Mazur, who publishes the books through his own imprint, Ninth Art Press; Norwegian artist Line Olsson; and first-time comics writer (and former English teacher here in Japan) Ben DiMaggio.