Comics Alternative Interviews: Katriona Chapman

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:14 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:59 – Interview with Katriona Chapman
  • 01:06:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:15 – Contact us

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Travels and Travails

Katriona Chapman first came to our attention through her work at Avery Hill Publishing. She works in marketing there, and back in summer of 2015 she introduced Tillie Walden. Tillie’s first book, The End of Summer, had just been released, and Kat worked was instrumental in setting up an interview with the very young artist. But over the subsequent year, we’ve come to know Kat as more of an artist herself. She had done a lot of illustration work for children’s books, but it was her self-published comic, Katzine, that specifically caught our attention. In fact, we had discussed Katzine in a special episode from last year, where we looked at self-published comics. In one of the later issues of Katzine she mentions working on her first book, an autobiographical work centered on her travels in Mexico. Last month that book, Follow Me In, was released by Avery Hill. This is a fascinating travelogue about her experiences touring Mexico, it’s diverse regions, its many ruins, and its vibrant cultures. As you’ll hear in this interview, Kat doesn’t only write about her experiences touring in this new book, but she also explores her problematic relationship with her companion as well as her own efforts as an artist. As such, Follow Me In is much more than a travelogue. It’s an account of a young artist undergoing new experiences and using those to grow as a creator and to define her art.

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Review of The Arab of the Future, Books 1-3

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:02 – Being away in September
  • 00:05:21 – The Arab of the Future, books 1-3
  • 01:26:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:28:05 – Contact us

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Between Cultures

On this episode of the Euro Comics series, Pascal and Derek look at the first three books of Riad Sattouf’s series, The Arab of the Future. Each of these volumes is thick in content, giving the guys a lot to discuss. And while they do a bit of close reading in their discussion, much of what Pascal and Derek do is provide larger overviews, focusing on themes, narrative structures, aesthetic choices, and cultural contexts. In fact, Pascal had read each of these books originally in French — indeed, he is now in the middle of reading the fourth volume that is already available in France — so he provides some of the context that might escape American readers. Both of the guys are bowled away by this series, and they eagerly await the continuation of this graphic memoir…and other translated works by Sattouf.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of My Solo Exchange Diary, Vol. 1 and Grand Blue Dreaming, Vol. 1

Time Codes:

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Radically Different

For July, Shea and Derek discuss two works of manga that are radically different, one from the other. They begin with Nagata Kabi’s My Solo Exchange Diary, Vol. 1 (Seven Seas Entertainment). This is the follow-up to her previous autobiographical work My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, a text the guys discussed last year. Whereas the earlier work was more targeted to a particular experience, the first volume of Kabi’s Solo Exchange Diary  is broader in scope and chronicles a variety her life phenomena. Both Shea and Derek are fascinated by this project, especially given the diary’s structure and the creator’s conversations with herself.

Next, the Two Guys check out the first volume of Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka’s Grand Blue Dreaming (Kodansha Comics). The premise of this series is based on a young man going off to college and expecting to have the usual college experiences. What he finds instead is a wild world of drunken and naked partying, all generated by the men of the local Diving Club. Both Derek and Shea find this title quite different from their usual reading, and they didn’t expect the wildness, and the weirdness, embedded within. If you’re looking for a manga about heavy drinking and naked game play, then Grand Blue Dreaming is for you.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Erin Nations

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:16 – Setup of interview
  • 03:40 – Interview with Erin Nations
  • 51:50 – Wrap up
  • 52:14 – Contact us

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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.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass

Inspiring

On this weekend’s Kickstarter episode, Derek talks with Barron Bell and Koi Turnbull about their campaign The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass. It’s a graphic adaptation of the memoir, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and it’s the first of three planned volumes on Douglass’s life.

The North Star is a dramatic retelling of three pivotal moments in Frederick Douglass’s story, bringing to life the legendary figure’s efforts as an abolitionist, a businessman, a politician, and a man of faith. There are a variety of reward levels, some of which underscore this project’s goal as an educational tool.

Support these noble intentions by backing this Kickstarter campaign. And learn more about the work of Barron Bell and Koi Turnbull.

Sample Art

 

 

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Corpus: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments

Body of Work

This week talks with Nadia Shammas about her Kickstarter project Corpus: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments. It’s a collection of comics by various creators all focused on health issues, including physical ailments, mental illness, struggles with disease, and healthcare experiences.

The anthology is in full color and will include over 200 pages of content by a wide variety of artists including

To say the least, there’s a lot packed into this anthology! Be sure to back this Kickstarter campaign. It will be great for your health!

Sample Art

From “The Curse” by Christof Bogacs and Kaska Gazdowna

From “A Twisted Tale” by Ryan Estrada

From “Odin’s Eye” by Cody Sousa and Ben D’Amico

 

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Julia Wertz

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:39 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:29 – Interview with Julia Wertz
  • 01:10:16 – Wrap up
  • 01:12:40 – Contact us

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Screw Cronuts!

On this interview episode, Paul and Derek are pleased to have Julia Wertz on the podcast. Her new book, Tenements, Towers and Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City, came out earlier this month from Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers. As the subtitle suggests, this is a different kind of history, a guide to the Big Apple’s present as well as its past, investigating its architecture, its businesses, its facades, its entertainment venues, and the many colorful figures who have populated its boroughs. The guys talk with Julia about how different this book is from her previous works — e.g., Drinking at the MoviesThe Infinite Wait and Other StoriesFart Party — which are primarily autobiographical. For this project, the author considered herself an urban explorer, forgoing the inward gaze and focusing instead on the city that she called home between 2007 and 2016. Tenements, Towers and Trash includes a variety of stories that compose its past, and punctuating the text is a series of before-and-after illustrations of storefronts and city blocks that underscore New York’s ever-changing nature. This isn’t a nostalgic look back at what once had been, but a chronicle of a dynamic urban space in the process of becoming. And of course, the book has more than its share of Julia’s poignant, even laugh-out-loud, humor.

Deconstructing Comics #557: Thi Bui and “The Best We Could Do”

The Best We Could DO


Our friend Matt Silady is back with us for the first time in five years, and he’s here to introduce us to a friend: Thi Bui, who recently completed her decade-long quest to create a graphic novel about three generations of her family in the context of Vietnamese and American history. After catching up with Matt, Tim talks with Thi about the book, The Best We Could Do, and how she now finds herself teaching comics!

Deconstructing Comics site

Deconstructing Comics #556: Vanessa Davis

Vanessa Davis

Vanessa Davis is an L.A.-based creator of autobio comics Spaniel Rage, Make Me A Woman and Out of Time. Koom has been an admirer of her work, and this week he talks with her in depth about whether she sees herself as part of a “movement”; the pitfalls of reporting in your comics on what your family members do (like that time with her mom in the museum…); how her parents affected the direction of her art; and much more.

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Golden Kamuy

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Time Codes:

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Getting Real

It’s the end of the month, so that must mean that it’s time for Shea and Derek to discuss their latest manga recommendations. They begin with Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (Seven Seas Entertainment), a deeply personal autobiographical work whose title is perhaps more provocative than it is revealing. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time talking about the underlying impulses embedded in the text and how sexual preferences take a backseat to the deeper longings that Nagata reveals. This is a manga all about self-discovery, a diary-like account of the author’s attempts to understand herself within the context of her culture and her yearning for what she calls “next level communication.” As Derek and Shea highlight, this is in some ways an example yuri manga, but at the same time such a designation doesn’t do the text justice.

Next, they look at the first volume of Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy (VIZ Media). This is a more realistically based narrative that takes place in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War. The protagonist, Saichi Sugimoto, gained a reputation during the war as an almost invulnerable hero, but he lives his post-war years unsuccessfully prospecting for gold in the Hokkaido region. There he befriends a young Ainu woman, Asirpa, and together they begin hunting down a legendary hidden treasure with a violent pedigree. Both Shea and Derek appreciate the story’s realism and historical context — in many ways, this is a didactic text — but they’re not yet sure of how Noda will handle the indigenous Ainu culture. That being said, they’re both definitely on board for future volumes.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 244: Reviews of Nothing Lasts Forever, What Is a Glacier?,and Revenger and the Fog

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Time Codes:

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Killer Butts

This week the Two Guys with PhDs review three recent releases, two of which are autobiographical in nature. They begin with Sina Grace’s Nothing Lasts Forever (Image Comics). This follows a couple of other autobiographical works from Grace including Not My Bag (2012) and Self-Obsessed (2015), but this latest work has a looser feel to it. Written in diary form when the author was suffering from a rare esophageal condition, the book reveals Grace’s struggles with his health, his romantic/sexual relationships, and his art. Indeed, as both Andy and Derek point out, it’s his emphasis on the latter, along with the pencil art, that makes this such an intimate text.

Next, the guys turn to What Is a Glacier?, a short autobiographical piece from Sophie Yanow (Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics). In this work, the author uses a trip to Iceland, and a visitation to a glacier, to explore the nature of life changes, feelings of uncertainty, and grief over loss. In terms of the latter, Yanow deftly associates the end of a relationship with our treatment of the environment, contextualizing climate change in dire, yet not completely hopeless, terms.

After that Derek and Andy look at a completely different kind of comic. Charles Forsman’s Revenger and the Fog (Bergen Street Press) is the follow-up (and prequel) to his first Revenger volume, Children of the Damned. Originally appearing as four-issue miniseries, and including a one-shot, Revenger and the Fog is a 1970s-/1980s-inspired action narrative of a vigilante, Reggie (AKA, Revenger), enacting retribution against the victimized. In this case, the victims are other members of her team, The Fog, specifically her lover Jenny (AKA, Dynarat). There’s a lot of extreme violence in this story, along with a premise that is sure to gross you out. But as the guys point out, Forsman’s over-the-top handling of his subject matter adds a touch of humor that helps to mitigate the discomfort.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Carol Tyler

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You’ll Never Know

soldiers-heart-coverLast week at Small Press Expo, Derek had the opportunity to sit down with Carol Tyler for a one-on-one interview. Her book from last year, Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter’s Memoir (Fantagraphics) was up for a 2016 Ignatz Award in the “Outstanding Graphic Novel” category. Derek talked with Carol about the book’s nomination and about the impact her memoir has had on her own life since its publication. They spend a good deal of time talking about the current state of veteran’s affairs, the debilitating effects of PTSD, and how Soldier’s Heart both has and hasn’t resonated within the veteran’s community. Carol also discusses the current projects she has underway, including a follow up (sort of) to her father’s story and a project documenting the days leading up to her attending The Beatles concert at Comiskey Park in August 1965. As she tells Derek, in that work she’ll be channelling her inner 13-year-old-girl self. This is a moving and, at times, a deeply personal interview, one that reflects the sheer impact of Carol Tyler’s writing.

Derek with Carol Tyler. Photo taken by Joe Sacco.

Derek with Carol Tyler. Photo taken by Joe Sacco.

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Tom Hart

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Circles

Tom-SAW-smaller

Gene and Derek start off the week presenting a powerful interview with Tom Hart. His new book, Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir, is being released this week from St. Martin’s Press, and it’s an honest and heartrending work. It chronicles the days following the unexpected death of Tom’s daughter, Rosalie, as he and his wife anguished over the loss and tried to make sense of RL-Coverwhat had happened. In addition to their grief and feelings of emptiness, they also had to continue struggling with the frustrations of the mundane, such as trying to sell their apartment in New York. It’s a story about putting the pieces of your life back together, reflected in large part through the structure of Tom’s narrative. Gene notes the images that bind the scenes together, such as the visual prominence of circles, and Derek believes the Rosalie Lightning reads much like poetry with its associative, non-linear linking of emotions and memories. The guys also use the opportunity to talk with Tom about his other work, such as his Hutch Owen comics and his educational efforts. In fact, they talk a good deal about the Sequential Artists Workshop that Tom founded in 2012 in Gainesville, Florida, as well as the online course he offers on graphic memoir writing…an endeavor that largely grew out of his own experiences documenting his loss. As the guys point out in this episode, Rosalie Lightning an important new book from Tom, one that is sure to resonate beyond the comics and graphic novels community of readers.

To find out more about Tom’s work, visit his website. And also check out the Sequential Artists Workshop.

RL-Interior

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Critiquing Comics #065: “Square” #11

Square #11Ian MacMurray‘s Square #11 is a tour de force of autobiographical cartooning, eschewing chronology, switching up styles, and closely observing himself and the things and people around him. He digs deep within himself and still makes it a fun read. Tim and Mulele discuss.