Comics Alternative, Episode 207: Reviews of The Lost Work of Will Eisner, Libby’s Dad, and Blubber #3

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“It is a liquidy issue”

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This week on The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three new titles that are quite different in tone. They begin with The Lost Work of Will Eisner, a collection of Eisner’s earliest known professional comics. This began as a Kickstarter campaign last year from Locust Moon Press, and just last week the book went on sale to the general public. The collection is made up of two serial strips, the pantomime gag comic Uncle Otto and the espionage adventure Harry Karry. While they do talk about the former, it’s Harry Karry that interests the guys more. They spend a lot of time discussing some of the problems of that action-packed strip — e.g., its racist caricatures and its abrupt shift in narrative direction and art style — and how it can be read as a testing ground for what Eisner would later do in The Spirit.

Next, the Two Guys turn their attention to Eleanor Davis’s Libby’s Dad. This is one of the latest books from Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics, a publisher that has become a favorite of the show. This is a straightforward and deceptively simple short story about a young girls’ pool party and sleepover. The power behind this tale is Davis’s ability to focalize the action through her teenage female narrator and to do so in a detached and non-judgmental manner.

Finally, Derek and Andy discuss a much less innocent text. Gilbert Hernandez’s Blubber #3 (Fantagraphics) is, in many ways, more explicit and more potentially offensive than the previous issue, which the guys discussed back in April. And back then they thought that issue #2 was “worse” than the first. So what is it about Hernandez’s obscene free-for-all that keeps drawing the guys’ attention? Perhaps they are just on board for everything Hernandez does. Perhaps they see Beto as a happy First Amendment rebel. Perhaps they are mesmerized by Hernandez’s attempts to out-Crumb Robert Crumb. Or perhaps Andy and Derek are just two warped sickos who get their jollies talking about offensive comics for the podcast. You decide.

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Comics Alternative, Episode 183: Reviews of Love & Rockets: New Stories 8, Girl Crazy, and Blubber #2

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“At this point Gilbert is just f**cking with us”

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This week’s episode is a Hernandez-centric show. On it, the Two Guys with PhDs play a little catch-up with some of Gilbert and Jaime’s comics that have come out over the past few months. They begin with the latest installment of Love & Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics), and most of the tales in this volume continue what began in last year’s annual. In fact, both Andy and Derek feel that New Stories 8 can be best appreciated, and better understood, when read alongside its predecessor. Jaime’s contributions — the Princess Animus, Maggie and Hopey, and Tonta storylines — are fairly straightforward, although the guys aren’t entirely sure how Princess Animus will ultimately fit into the Love & Rockets world. (Is it similar to the Ti-Girls with Jaime playing around with the superhero genre again? Might Penny Century be involved in some way?) But things aren’t as clear-cut when it comes to Gilbert’s selections, all centered on Fritz in some way. Over the last two New Stories annuals, Gilbert has been mapping out a complex narrative concerning the B-movie star and her imitators, chock-full of unusual characters, many LoveRockets8-interiorof whom look alike…and purposefully so. The guys comment on the ways in which Gilbert is manipulating his sequential chronology and the general weirdness surrounding Fritz’s world. And given the labyrinthine nature of this current volume of Love & Rockets, Derek advocates for a much-needed Hernandez brothers wiki and challenges listeners to begin creating one. Next, they turn to the new edition of Girl Crazy (Dark Horse Books). This originally began as a three-issue miniseries published by Dark Horse in 1996 and then collected as a single volume the following year. But that book has been out of print for some time, and now the publisher is rereleasing this new hardbound edition to stand alongside other Dark Horse books by Gilbert, including Speak of the Devil, Citizen Rex (with his brother, Mario), Fatima: The Blood Spinners, Loverboys, and last year’s Grip: The Strange World of Men. Both Andy and Derek note that, with Girl Crazy, the story still holds up, and it’s yet another example of Gilbert’s no-holds-barred storytelling. At the same time, they point out that the art in Girl Crazy is noticeably different from his most recent style, with its detailed texturing and heavier inks. Finally, the guys wrap up with the second issue of Gilbert’s Blubber (Fantagraphics), a comic-book series that is a strange amalgamation of experimental storytelling and pornography. This is definitely not a title for those with tender sensibilities and who are easily offended. In fact, Derek and Andy point out that, for the most part, all the stories in this issue include a lot of sucking and f**king…and not only between humans. There are zombies, robots, and fantastical creatures involved, as well. It’s all weird, wacky, and fun, but after discussing Blubber #2 the Two Guys really feel like they need to take a shower.

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