Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Jules Feiffer

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:16 – Setup of interview
  • 04:20 – Interview with Jules Feiffer
  • 58:54 – Wrap up
  • 59:26 – Contact us

blkfade

Accidental Noir

In 2014 Jules Feiffer published Kill My Mother (Liveright Publishing), a noir crime narrative set in 1933 — and then later moving forward into 1943 — involving not only hard-boiled characters, but also their exploits within the entertainment industry. Feiffer followed that up in 2016 with Cousin Joseph, the second book in what was now projected as a trilogy. That graphic novel is, in many ways, a prequel to the earlier book. Taking place in 1931, readers are introduced to police detective Sam Hannigan, a figure who looms largely over Feiffer’s recent run. His spirit is likewise prevalent in the new graphic novel, The Ghost Script. With this book, Feiffer wraps up his series, which he has called an “accidental noir trilogy.” In this interview, Derek talks with Feiffer about the “accidental” nature of his writing and how the idea for a trilogy came into play. They also discuss his writing style, where, curiously enough, Feiffer sees himself as both instigator and observer to what unfolds under his pen. Over the course of their conversation, Feiffer meditates on his love of noir fiction and films, the challenges he faced in writing this trilogy, and the overriding influences of such legends as Milton Caniff and, especially, Will Eisner. He also discusses the impact of 1950s red scare and the blacklist, which is the temporal setting of The Ghost Script, what that time meant to him as a young writer, and how those politics are not entirely alien to us today. The guys had the pleasure of talking to Feiffer back in 2014 when Kill My Mother was released, so it’s only appropriate that Derek talk with him again upon the completion of his noir trilogy.

Comics Alternative, Episode 197: Reviews of Cousin Joseph, Bounty #1, and The Paybacks #1

Listen to the podcast!

Mercenaries

Episode197-banner

This week on The Comics Alternative podcast, those funky PhDs, Andy and Derek, discuss three recent titles revolving around the mercenary side of crime fighting. They begin with Jules Feiffer’s Cousin Joseph (Liveright Publishing), the second in a planned trilogy of noir-tinged graphic novels. It is the follow up to 2014’s Kill My Mother, a text that Feiffer discussed with the Two Guys in a previous interview. The events in Cousin Joseph predate those of the earlier book, making it a sort of prequel. In fact, many of the major players in Kill My Mother make appearances in this new work. Most notable are the characters Elsie and Annie, whose husband/father Sam becomes the central figure in the current narrative. Derek and Andy note the fact that Cousin Joseph is a more tightly constructed, and even a more ambitious, work than its predecessor, especially in its engagements with the sociopolitical matters of its setting.

Next, the guys look at the first issue of a new series by Kurtis Wiebe and Mindy Lee. Bounty (Dark Horse Comics) is a futuristic adventure focusing on the exploits of two anticorporate criminal sisters who eventually become bounty hunters. Almost from the beginning, the guys compare this title to Wiebe’s Rat Queens, but both Andy and Derek feel that the first issue in this new series lacks the humor and cohesion of the earlier comic. Indeed, there were parts of the story that were unclear — some of it due to writing, and some because of the its visual perspectives — and the exposition at the very beginning unintentionally compounded this confusion. Nonetheless, the premise shows promise, and Mindy Lee’s art went a long way in carrying the narrative forward.

Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with another first issue…sort of. The Paybacks #1, written by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal, with art by Geoff Shaw, is part of Heavy Metal’s new initiative to produce monthly ongoing series, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this title. Last year Dark Horse published the series’ first narrative arc, four issues recently collected in a trade, and now this recent manifestation picks up where the earlier one left off. Derek and Andy set a context by discussing the Dark Horse series and then segue into the new issue. The transition between publishers is seamless, with Cates and Rahal sustaining the humor and action of their high concept. But what really gets the guys’ attention is Shaw’s art, with its detail of character expression and more realistic flourishes. Andy and Derek comment that if The Paybacks is the kind of story we can expect coming out from Heavy Metal Comics, then we might just have a publishing endeavor similar to AfterShock on the horizon.

Paybacks-interior

blkfade

Comics Alternative Interviews: Jules Feiffer

“We said things that made Jules Feiffer laugh”

Feiffer

On this Veteran’s Day, the Two Guys salute one of the most talented, and certainly the most satirical, men to serve in the U.S. military: Jules Feiffer. They talk with him about his latest book, and his first graphic novel, Kill My Mother (Liveright), and about his decision to write within the noir/crime genre. KillMyMotherDerek and Andy are particularly curious about the artist’s interest in classic film noir, his handling of fast and smart dialogue, and his use of a cinematic technique to tell his story. They spend a good deal of time asking Feiffer about the evolution of the narrative and the ways his characters unfolded during the creative process. Kill My Mother is set in the 1930s and early 1940s, and Feiffer reveals to the guys — and much to their surprise — that this is just the first in a planned trilogy of stories. The next book, Cousin Joseph, will be a prequel to the recent graphic novel, and then the third will take place during the McCarthy era and deal with the blacklist. Along the way they discuss Tantrum — a “novel-in-pictures,” not a “graphic novel” — the impetus behind the classic The Great Comic Book Heroes, his experiences writing for film and the theater, and his relationship with Will Eisner and his time on The Spirit. This is a great interview, and Andy and Derek are grateful for the time that Jules gave to them. Plus, they’re excited because this is the first time they’ve ever had a Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winner on the show!

 

This episode’s incidental music is brought to you by
Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 7: The Crime Scene

Interview Image - Feiffer