Comics Alternative Interviews: Bill Kartalopoulos and Ben Katchor

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:30 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:05 – Interview with Bill Kartalopoulos and Ben Katchor
  • 01:36:02 – Wrap up
  • 01:37:10 – Contact us

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Challenging Comics

Derek talks with Bill Kartalopoulos and Ben Katchor about the 2017 volume of The Best American Comics (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). They are, respectively, the general editor of the series and last year’s guest editor. Paul and Derek had wanted to interview the two back in December, but due to life complications, they weren’t able to have them on the show. And although Paul wasn’t able to join in on this interview, he was with everyone in spirit. So better late than never, Derek speaks with Ben and Bill about the process of their collaboration, the challenges that they faced in collecting potential material, Ben’s choices in structuring and populating the 2017 volume, the ways in which current politics couldn’t help but find their way into the text, and the questions both editors faced with the very concept of “best comics.”

Comics Alternative, Episode 262: Review of The Best American Comics 2017

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:02:26 – Better late than never
  • 00:05:42 – The Best American Comics 2017
  • 01:30:43 – Wrap up
  • 01:32:15 – Contact us

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Provocation

On this episode of the podcast Paul and Derek discuss The Best American Comics 2017, edited by Ben Katchor along with series editor Bill Kartalopoulos. The Two Guys usually discuss Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s annual contribution to comicsdom in the penultimate episode of every year, but this time around life got in the way — and Paul, everyone’s heart goes out to you — so they had to postpone slightly the current show. But better late than never!

As Paul and Derek reveal, this has to be the most experimental volume of The Best American Comics we’ve ever seen. Editor Ben Katchor does his best to challenge our understanding and definition of “comics” and to interrogate the very concept of “best.” In fact, you could call these efforts provocative. This most recent anthology is attuned to the current political environment, and this is perhaps best demonstrated in Katchor’s multifaceted and hilarious introduction, as well as Kartalopoulos’s insightful Foreword.

The contributions themselves are perhaps the most fascinating, and definitely the most varied, of any The Best American Comics volume.  There are many names that would be recognizable to listeners of the podcast — e.g., Kim Deitch, Tim Lane, Gabrielle Bell, Ed Piskor, Joe Sacco, Josh Bayer, Michael DeForge, and Sam Alden — but what marks this annual is the sheer number of contributors that neither Derek nor Paul had previously known. Indeed, at least a good half of this collection is comprised of creators never before discussed on the podcast, and it’s exciting to discover this many new artists. To say the least, this is the most engaging, and the most challenging, volume of The Best American Comics to date.