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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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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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.