Comics Alternative Interviews: Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:44 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:48 – Interview with Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus
  • 00:59:30 – Wrap up
  • 01:02:24 – Contact us

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Froot Loop?

Sean joins Derek to interview a creative team that the two have discussed previously, Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus. Last year the guys reviewed Ryan and Klaus’s webcomic Turncoat (now available in softcover), but this time they talk with the creators about a new print publication, their Image Comics limited series Void Trip. The first of its five issues comes out this week, and the Two Guys talk with Ryan and Klaus about the genesis of this project, the psychedelic nature of the story, the dynamics of their collaboration, and their philosophies on self-contained and tightly woven narratives. They also talk with the creative duo about their previous work together, Turncoat, and any potential future plans to utilize the webcomics platform.

 

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: What Now, Bruno?

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An Artist’s Dilemma

On this week’s Kickstarter episode, Derek talks with Bruno Oliveira about his project What Now, Bruno? This is an autobiographical work exploring what can happen to a comics artist once he’s established himself in the industry. Bruno has broken into the field, illustrating for such publishers as IDW (Drones), Arcana (Space, MN), and, most recently, Marvel Comics (Amazing Spider-Man Annual, Gwenpool Holiday Special, and Mosaic, among other titles). But now that he’s on his way, how does he manage his work and juggle the necessities in life? What Now, Bruno? is a humorous exploration of that dilemma.

This Kickstarter will end on December 7, so be sure to visit Bruno’s page, see what it’s all about, and back his campaign!

As an extra added bonus, if you discover What Now, Bruno? through this Comics Alternative episode, then contact Bruno directly and tell him that you found out about the project through the podcast. If you do, and you back him at a level that includes a physical comic, Bruno will include an exclusive print in your order!

Sample Art

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 257: A Publisher Spotlight on Conundrum Press

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Memoirs, Nightmares, and Bananas

This week on The Comics Alternative Andy and Derek return to one of their favorite publishers, Conundrum Press, for their next publisher spotlight. They had previously released a similar episode on Conundrum two and a half years ago, and they wanted to do so again with their fall 2017 releases. The six titles under discussion vary in style and topic, although the first three books the guys review are all memoirs: Lorina Mapa’s Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me, Michael Nybrandt and Thomas Mikkelsen’s Dreams in Thin Air, and David Collier’s Morton: A Cross-Country Rail Journey. After that they turn to James Cadelli and his first graphic novel, Getting Out of Hope, and then the surreal story collection Mister Morgen by Croatian poster artist Igor Hofbauer. Finally, Andy and Derek conclude with one of their favorite of the fall releases, The Collected Neil the Horse, by Arn Saba (now Katherine Collins). This is a classic black-and-white comic from the early 1980s that definitely deserves this kind of attention.

The closing music of this episode, in fact, is created by Collins for Neil the Horse!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Mark Voger

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:28 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:47 – Interview with Mark Voger
  • 01:05:43 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:15 – Contact us

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“We didn’t need LSD. We had Quisp and Quake.”

On this interview episode, Derek talks with Mark Voger about his latest work, Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture. The book comes out this week from TwoMorrows Publishing, and during their conversation Mark discusses the roots of groovy culture that reach back to early twentieth-century modernism and jazz, and are even apparent in discoveries during nineteenth century. But most of the interview is spent talking about the flowering, so to speak, of this cultural trend from the mid-1960s into the early 1970s. Obviously Derek asks Mark about the comics of the time — Mike Sekowsky’s new Wonder Woman, Steve Ditko’s Hawk and Dove, Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Archie Comics’ Josie, and the underground comix of R. Crumb, Trina Robbins, Jay Lynch, Kim Deitch, and Denis Kitchen — but they also spend a lot of time discussing “groovy culture” in music, television, film, fashion, and art. Mark also briefly covers his previous book, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972, and the creative transition he made from the ghoulish to the psychedelic. These were the concurrent popular movements that largely defined his young life.

Be sure to visit Mark Voger’s website to learn more about his groovy work!

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Reviews of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and The Green Hand and Other Stories

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Post-Natal Returns

After having to readjust for a few major life changes — including a new baby for first-time parents! — Edward and Derek are back with the monthly Euro Comics series. For November they discuss two graphic biographies devoted to early twentieth-century artists as well as a collection of surreal and experimental fiction. They start with Carlos Sampayo and Jose Muñoz’s Billie Holiday (NBM Publishing), a text that fully utilizes the somber, even noir uses of black-and-white (Muñoz’s art was an inspiration for Frank Miller’s Sin City, after all). Originally published by Fantagraphics in 1993, this work provides a skeletal overview of Holiday’s life and career, both its artistic highs and its drug-filled lows.

A much more detailed graphic biography is Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller’s Josephine Baker. Published by SelfMadeHero, this is an extensive look at Baker’s life and includes encyclopedic back matter that supplements the narrative. This is a more conventional biography than the one on Billie Holiday, a chronological accounting from a more objective, detached point of view. Perhaps most notable is the fact that Edward, himself, did the translation of this text (although not the back matter). As such, he provides insightful behind-the-scenes information about the preparation of this album, its editorial handling of sensitive racial issues, and the dynamics involved in the art of translation.

Finally, Derek and Edward wrap up with very different kind of work, Nicole Claveloux’s The Green Hand and Other Stories (New York Review Comics). In addition to its longer titular story, the collection includes seven other Claveloux short comics that vary in style and narrative conventionality. All of the pieces are dreamlike, even psychedelic in nature, originally appearing in Métal Hurlant or through Les Humanoïdes Associés between 1979 and 1980. With an introduction by Daniel Clowes and an interview with “Green Hand” co-creator Edith Zha, this is collection that serves as a great introduction to the often-overlooked Claveloux.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: LAAB Magazine #0: Dark Matter

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Crossroads of Identity and Culture

This week Derek talks with Ronald Wimberly, Josh O’Neill, and Maëlle Doliveux about their Kickstarter project LAAB Magazine #0: Dark Matter. Published by Beehive Books, this will be a tabloid-sized newspaper annual filled with comics, interviews, artwork, cultural criticism, and writings on identity as played out in popular culture. This inaugural #0 issue will include

  • An interview with musician and actor Saul Williams 
  • A conversation with graphic artist Trenton Doyle Hancock
  • James Romberger on Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • A discussion with the poster artist Alexandra Bell
  • A critical analysis of George Lucas’s THX 1138
  • Ronald Wimberly’s visual tribute to Sun Ra
  • A review of BLACK, the new comic from Black Mask Studios
  • Over a dozen pages of comics and illustration by Ronald Wimberly
  • …and much more!

 

Be sure to visit the LAAB Kickstarter page, see what Ronald is up to, and back this project by Friday, December 1. And learn more about the exciting publications coming out through Josh and Maëlle’s Beehive Books!

Sample Art

 

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

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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 Interviews: Joseph Remnant

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:33 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:45 – Interview with Joseph Remnant
  • 01:18:05 – Wrap up
  • 01:19:38 – Contact us

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Growth

Derek is pleased to have Joseph Remnant on the podcast. His new book, Cartoon Clouds, was released last month from Fantagraphics. This is a graphic novel in the truest sense, a work of fiction that explores the nuances of relationships, defining yourself, and growing apart from those with whom you were once close. As Joseph reveals, this is a narrative that began in serial installments on a website he once maintained with Noah Van Sciver, but it soon developed into something more complex and ambitious. Most of the interview is devoted to Cartoon Clouds, but Derek also asks his guest about his comic-book series Blindspot and his illustration work with Harvey Pekar. Along the way Joseph talks about his contribution in the upcoming second issue of Now, and he hints at some of the new work he currently has underway.

Joseph will be at CAB, Comic Arts Brooklyn, this coming weekend. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and tell him hello and that you heard him on The Comics Alternative!

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Blindsprings, Albert the Alien, and A Fire Story

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From the Ashes

On the November webcomics episode, Sean and Derek look at three very different titles. They begin with Kadi Fedoruk’s Blindsprings, a fantasy filled with magic and spirits, but one whose philosophical foundations are deeper than you may at first think. As the guys point out, the meticulous art is one of the highlights of this webcomic. After that, Sean and Derek turn to a lighthearted all-age series by Trevor Mueller and Gabo, Albert the Alien. Much like Blindsprings, this webcomic has been around since 2013, but there seems to be no foreseeable sign of story exhaustion. Finally, the guys look at a much more somber, and timely, completed webcomic, Brian Fies’s A Fire Story. This is a brief account of the author’s experiences in last month’s devastating California fires. The story is heart-wrenching, and Fies includes commentary and photographs to underscore the full extent of the tragedy.

Be sure to visit Brian Fies’s blog and click on the banners of his two books, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?. Your purchase of those works will help support Fies as he and his wife attempt to rebuild their lives.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: SCI: The Jewish Comics Anthology, Vol. 2

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For the second episode of The Comics Alternative‘s new Kickstarter series, Derek talks with Andy Stanleigh and Steven Bergson about their project, SCI: The Jewish Comics Anthology, Vol. 2. This book will be released by Alternate History Comics (of which Andy is the publisher), and it will follow Steven’s first volume of The Jewish Comics Anthology, also published by AH Comics. What will distinguish this second collection is that each of the retellings from Jewish history, legend, and myth will be set in a science-fiction setting. Contributors to this anthology will include

  • Ty Templeton (Batman, Spiderman, The Simpsons)
  • Rachel Pollack (Doom Patrol)
  • Bill Sienkiewicz (Daredevil, X-Men, Batman)
  • Neil Kleid (X-Men Unlimited, Tales From the Crypt)
  • Adam Gorham (Rocket, X-Files/TMNT, Dead Drop)
  • Weshoyot Alvitre (The Boys Who Became Hummingbirds)
  • Joe Infurnari (The Bunker, Evolution)
  • David Mack (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Fight Club)
  • Katherine Piro (The Chaste Maid)
  • Michael Netzer (Batman, Superman)
  • Clifford Meth (Comic Book Babylon, Heroes and Villains)
  • Jake Allen (Kings and Canvas)
  • Keith Grachow (Concrete Martians, Saltwater)
  • Liat Shalom (A Grave Matter)
  • Shane Kirshenblatt (Dorothy Gale: Journey to Oz, Bleeding Tree)
  • Trina Robbins (The Legend of Wonder Woman, Chicagoland)
  • and more!

To back this project, and to learn more about the many rewards levels, visit their Kickstarter site, or head on over to the Alternative History Comics website.

 

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle

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Bad Luck Is for the Birds

On this interview episode, Derek talks with Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle on the publication of their new book, I, Parrot (Black Balloon-Catapult). This is a graphic novel in the truest sense, a work of fiction, about a middle-aged woman who’s prone to bad luck. She stumbles upon a bird-sitting job, caring for an aviary of exotic, rare, and very expensive parrots, and despite the help of her boyfriend and her young son, falls prey to a series of misfortunes that lead to unintended, yet not entirely tragic, consequences. Both Deb and Beth share their experiences working together on this project, the collaborative rhythm they established, and how their previous creations reflect on this graphic novel. This is Deb’s first work in comics, having previously established a career as a writer of prose fiction. And while Beth’s experiences in comics art is more extensive, this is her first effort in “adult” long-form graphic narrative. Derek also asks his guests about their other current projects and any possible plans to collaborate on future projects.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Katie Green

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Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:04 – Setup of interview
  • 05:16 – Interview with Katie Green
  • 56:39 – Wrap up
  • 58:06 – Contact us

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Art and Struggles

On this interview episode, Paul and Derek talk with Katie Green about her recent graphic memoir Lighter Than My Shadow, released last month from Lion Forge’s Roar imprint. The Two Guys reviewed the book a couple of weeks ago, but they were so moved by Green’s story that they wanted to have her on the podcast to talk about her work. This insightful conversation adds more context and texture to Katie’s memoir, and she shares her struggles in narrating her various traumatic experiences, her art background and its translation into memoir comics, and her desires to reach others, specifically younger readers, who may similarly suffer from eating disorders and sexual abuse.

Be sure to check out the Lighter Than My Shadow website, and especially this cool promotional video:

 

 

Episode 255: The November Previews Catalog

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“You can’t beat good-looking snow”

On this month’s Previews episode, Gwen and Derek join forces to highlight the various November solicits that strike their fancy. In fact, this is Gwen’s first time doing a Previews show, but she comes across as an old hand and suggests some wonderful upcoming titles that are sure to resonate with listeners. But first, the Two Academics Talking about Comics send out a BIG thank you to two dedicated — and two very talented — listeners, Holly English and Marc Casilli. Both have recently shared copies of their own self-published comics, and Gwen and Derek give them a shout-out and discuss how impressed they are with the issues. After that they announce The Comics Alternative‘s brand new Slack channel, inviting listeners to join up and take part in the discussion community. But after these announcements, they get to the heart of this week’s Previews episode. Among the comics and graphic novels Gwen and Derek recommend are:

Be sure to visit the websites of both Holly English and Marc Casilli and discover their wonderful art and comics!
And remember, check out The Comics Alternative‘s new Slack channel!

 

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.

Comics Alternative, Manga: A Discussion of Horror Manga 2017

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“There’s a lot of greasy ooze in this text”

Shea and Derek are back with their second manga episode of the month! On this show, they discuss several horror manga that will get you in the mood for Halloween tomorrow. As they did last year, the Two Manga Guys are both thrilled and chilled with by introducing listeners to a variety creepy titles, some older and some brand new. They begin with Katsuhiro Otomo’s Domu: A Child’s Dream (Dark Horse Manga), a story that is probably the least horrific of those discussed, but it’s nonetheless one of the guys’ favorites on this episode. As the guys point out, it’s a shame that Otomo’s canonical Akira tends to overshadows other impressive efforts such as Domu. After that they look at a markedly different kind of horror manga, Hideshi Hino’s Panorama of Hell (Blast Books). This is a very violent and blood-filled work, so if you have a weak reading constitution, this might be a challenge for you. After that they cover the three-volume Mail, written and drawn by Housui Yamazaki (Dark Horse Manga). As Derek describes, this is a “lighter” narrative compared to some of the others discussed, but one that nonetheless has them wanting more.

From there Shea and Derek turn to a favorite creator of theirs, Junji Ito. However, his latest graphic cycle, Dissolving Classroom (Vertical Comics) is definitely not what they have come to expect from the horror mangaka. Somewhat similar to Fragments of Horror, which the guys discussed last year, Ito relies a little too heavily on over-the-top graphics at the expense of any bedrock terror. But the guys are more impressed with Gou Tanabe’s H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories (Dark Horse Manga), an adaptation of three classic Lovecraft stories. In addition to the titular reference, Tanabe also presents manga versions of “The Temple” and “The Nameless City.” Finally, Shea and Derek discuss Neo Parasyte M (Kodansha Comics), the latest anthology inspired by Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, which ran between 1988 and 1995. Including contributions from a wide variety of creators, this volume is similar to last year’s Neo Parasyte F, which the guys discussed on the 2016 manga horror episode. However, they enjoyed this anthology even more than last year’s.