Comics Alternative, Episode 256: Reviews of Kid Lobotomy #1 and #2, Carnival of Contagion, and Monograph

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Time Codes:

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Trying Too Hard

This week Paul and Derek review three new titles that are all quite different in content and audience. They begin with the first two issues of Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler’s Kid Lobotomy, the first series in IDW’s new Black Crown imprint. The guys start their discussion by referencing Shelly Bond and her stated intentions behind the new creator-owned line. But while they’re certainly amenable to the edgy or punk mentality that had once defined Vertigo, the guys feel that in her commentary in these first two issues, Bond is trying a little too hard to be hip and get us on board. And while both Derek and Paul are fans of Milligan’s storytelling, there’s something a little too much, something too crowded or unwieldy, about the premise of Kid Lobotomy. Nonetheless, given the creative team on this title, and its place in the new Black Crown line, the guys are going to give this series a lot of rope in hopes of being won over.

Next, the guys discuss Carnival of Contagion, a new educational comic from the University of Nebraska Press that’s all about vaccination awareness. Illustrated by Bob Hall, and written by him as well (along with John West and Judy Diamond), this is a title that’s apparently intended for classroom use. As Paul and Derek reveal, the story may be a little dry — and even didactic in places — but it effectively drives home the importance of vaccination not only for individuals, but for our communities as well.

Finally, the Two Guys turn to a behemoth of a text, Chris Ware’s Monograph (Rizolli). Both Derek and Paul are big fans of Ware’s creativity, and they’re mesmerized by the sheer beauty and ingenuity contained within this work (which is much more of an art book, and one with autobiographical impulses, than a comic). However, they’re a little put off at times by the apologetic tone of the author. Granted, Chris Ware is known for his self-deprecation, where he feels he has to apologize for his comics efforts as an artist. But such a stance can also take on a more self-aggrandizing quality, highlighting the uniqueness — and the “seriousness” or the high-brow-ness — of the project and contrasting it to more “common” or mainstream comics. This can also be seen in Art Spiegelman’s introduction and his emphasis on “comix.” But despite these minor annoyances, the guys are completely taken by this volume and strongly recommend it to not only Chris Ware fans, but to serious comics readers as a whole.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Specialists, Hominids, and The Last Saturday

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February Fun

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Setup of episode
  • 00:03:50 – The Specialists
  • 00:32:17 – Hominids
  • 01:01:33 – Checking in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz
  • 01:16:16 – The Last Saturday
  • 01:38:20 – Wrap up
  • 01:39:52 – Contact us

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For the month of February, Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics. They begin with Al Fukalek and Shawn Gustafson’s The Specialists, an alternate history superhero narrative set in the mid-1940s, with an undefeated Germany flexing its might with its own team of superpowered individuals, Die Übermenschen. The United States fights back with The Specialists, a diverse collection of heroes that is, at times, more propaganda than powered.

Next, the guys look at what is arguably the highlight of this month’s episode, Jordan Kotzebue’s Hominids. This fantasy adventure is set in world populated by varied creatures, the central of which are a race of jungle dwellers. This is a tale with complex moral undertones, but whose message isn’t overbearing or preachy. Plus, Kotzebue’s art is outstanding.

After a brief check-in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz — their Poe and the Mysteriads was launched just last month — Sean and Derek turn to the last webcomic of the month. Chris Ware’s  The Last Saturday appeared in The Guardian during the last half of 2014 and into September 2015, and the guys discuss the ways in which Ware employs the webcomic format. In fact, they both feel that this story never really utilizes the unique qualities of the platform. We could get the same effect in print. Still, this is an engaging narrative whose topic and style should be familiar to any Chris Ware fan.

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Deconstructing Comics #407: Should “Building Stories” be condemned?

buildingstoriesChris Ware’s 2012 work Building Stories attracted a lot of attention because of its unusual format: a box of 14 publications of varying shapes and sizes, which can be read in any order. Ware says the work is about memory, in various ways, and reading the story in various non-chronological ways can give us different points of view on how its characters remember (or mis-remember, or forget) various things.

While Tim finds the examination of memory to be interesting in itself, and feels that the format enhances that, Kumar is less patient with it, wondering what the conclusion is, why all the characters seem so miserable, and whether the work’s form has any relationship to the content. This week, they discuss whether the work deserves a “historical landmark” plaque, or a wrecking ball.

AV Club review of “Building Stories”

Deconstructing Comics site

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Deconstructing Comics #278: “Jimmy Corrigan”, the Densest Comic Book on Earth

Jimmy CorriganChris Ware‘s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth started as a jokey, weird, serialized comic and evolved into a densely packed tale of betrayal, loss, and recovery. Not only that, but Ware’s extraordinary cartooning captures the mundane moments of everyday life as well as it utilizes symbolism on multiple levels. And not only that… Well, unlocking everything gathered into this 380-page tome is a task that can’t be completed in a one-hour podcast, but Tim and Kumar do their darnedest to cover all the bases.

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