Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Tom Hart

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:21 – Introduction
  • 00:03:12 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:32 – Interview with Tom Hart
  • 01:32:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:33:38 – Contact us

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Life Stories, Life Changes

On this interview episode, Sterg and Derek are excited to have Tom Hart back to discuss his new book, The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Tell Your Story, Change Your Life (St. Martin’s Griffin). Tom was on the podcast not quite three years ago to discuss his new memoir at the time Rosalie Lightning, but this time he’s returned to talk not so much about story content, but about the process of creating a graphic memoir. As he discusses with the Two Guys, Tom’s latest book is more instructional or how-to, covering the necessary steps in planning for, organizing, structuring, visualizing, and finalizing a memoir through the comics medium. In addition, he points out that the very project of writing and illustrating one’s own life story isn’t only about sharing a story with readers, but perhaps just as important, using the very process of creation as a way of revisiting, revisualizing, and even coming to terms with important life moments. Along the way Derek and Sterg talk with Tom about his other instructional texts, such as How to Say Everything and The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Creating Professional Comic Strips, his vast knowledge of the comics memoir genre, his new comic-strip project B. Is Dying, and his experiences teaching at and directing SAW, the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, FL.

Comics Alternative, Episode 301: Reviews of Che: A Revolutionary Life, The Lodger #1 & #2, and Die #1

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:32 – Introduction
  • 00:03:42 – Our first-ever live streaming recording
  • 00:07:13 – Thank you to new Patreon backers!
  • 00:09:33 – Che: A Revolutionary Life
  • 00:47:02 – The Lodger #1 & #2
  • 01:11:39 – Die #1
  • 01:34:22 – Wrap up
  • 01:38:05 – Contact us

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Going Live!

This is a very special episode of The Comics Alternative, in that it’s the guys’ very first live recording. That’s right, Sterg and Derek decided to record this week’s show via Google Hangouts. Yesterday — Tuesday, December 11 — they scheduled a live-streaming broadcast, and fans of the show could watch the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics record a show in real time. As Sterg put it on Twitter, “Come for the slow motion train wreck, but stay when it is instead a great talk about some recent comics!” And everything went off just fine.

On this episode they began with a discussion of Jon Lee Anderson and José Hernández’s Che: A Revolutionary Life (Penguin Press). This is graphic adaptation of Anderson’s 1997 biography of Che Guevara, and as the guys discuss, Hernández does an outstanding job of illustrating the broader life story of the famous revolutionary. After that they look at the first two issues of David and Maria Lapham’s The Lodger. This is the latest series from IDW’s Black Crown imprint, and Derek and Sterg note that it’s classic Lapham crime noir. In fact, this storyline could easily fit into the Stray Bullets series. Then they wrap up with a look at Kieron GIllen and Stephanie Hans’s Die #1 (Image Comics). This is a D&D-inspired fantasy narrative, and the guys frame this within the context of similar stories, such as Stephen King’s It, the Netflix series Stranger Things, and the first Jumanji movie.

Go to The Comics Alternative‘s YouTube channel if you want to see the recording of the guys’ live-streaming broadcast of this show!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Noah Van Sciver

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:15 – Introduction
  • 00:03:32 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:53 – Interview with Noah Van Sciver
  • 01:15:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:16:39 – Contact us

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All Over the Place

The Two Guys with PhDs are very happy to have back on the podcast Noah Van Sciver. He was first on the show back in March 2015, and a lot of things have changed with him since the guys last talked with Noah (and not just his growing of a mustache). Most significantly, his output has been through the roof! One of the things Sterg and Derek discuss with their guest is the sheer volume of his comics creation. Over the past six months alone he has released four different titles, and from a variety of publishers: Constant Companion (Fantagraphics), Blammo #10 (Kilgore Books and comics), One Dirty Tree (Uncivilized Books), and Fante Bukowski 3: A Perfect Failure (Fantagraphics). The guys talk with Noah about his work habits, his penchant for working with different publishers, his ability to juggle different projects at the same time, and his current work and what we can expect from him in the future. And of course, there is a lot of laughter in this episode. Noah is a humorous, and at time quite satirical, writer, yet the humor is often mixed with pathos, as we see not only his autobiographical comics, but most notably in his recent Fante Bukowski. This was a fun interview…and even more fun was had after they turned off the microphones and the guys hung out on Skype to talk about even more matters. Too bad that wasn’t captured for the show, but this new interview with Noah Van Sciver is definitely a highlight of Stergios and Derek’s year.

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Review of Piero and The First Man

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:23 – Introduction
  • 00:04:25 – Better late than never
  • 00:05:54 – Piero
  • 00:40:32 – The First Man
  • 01:23:26 – Wrap up
  • 01:24:39 – Contact us

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Remembrances

Pascal and Derek are back with the latest Euro Comics episode…the very late November show. They begin with Edmond Baudoin’s Piero (New York Review Comics). This is a fascinating and moving memoir — or better yet, a series of remembrances — from Baudoin and his relationship with his younger brother Pierre, or Piero. While the title and the story itself would lead one to believe that this is the story of Edmond’s younger brother, it’s actually a narrative that focuses on the author himself. Edmond, or Momon, as he’s called in the book, is at the center of this text, and he’s explored and defined within the context of his brother and their relationship, especially as it concerns art and illustration.

After that, the Two Guys turn to Jacques Ferrandez’s adaptation of Albert Camus’s The First Man (Pegasus Books). This isn’t the first time the guys have discussed Ferrandez’s adaptation. In July 2016, Derek and Gene looked at his graphic version of Camus’s The Stranger. This book is similarly moving, but in many ways denser and more pensive than the earlier adaptation. The First Man was the manuscript that Camus was working on at the time of his death, dying in a car accident. The unfinished work, and intended masterpiece, was finally published in the 1990s, but Ferrandez’s text doesn’t really feel like an uncompleted manuscript. This is quite a prose-heavy book, and philosophical in the way that Camus’s essays and fiction were thought-provoking. Derek and Pascal didn’t plan this when they chose these two books, but The First Man and Piero have a lot in common: thoughtful, pensive, and narratives scaffolded around memories and the past.

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Vols. 1 & 2 and Mob Psycho 100 Vol. 1

Time Codes:

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Manga Style?

On this episode of The Comics Alternative/s manga series — the November show, albeit a little late — Shea and Derek take a look at two series that give us a varied understanding of the medium. They begin with the first two volume’s of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon Eternal Edition (Kodansha Comics). This is a classic shojo series from the 1990s, and as the guys discuss, it’s something that they’ve heard about for years, but it’s not a title that they actually read. Both Derek and Shea are quite surprised with the story, in that it’s quite different from what they expected…and in a good way. The guys discuss Takeuchi’s visual style, the complex layering of her story elements, and the fantastical tone of the narrative, among other aspects.

After that, the Two Guys check out One’s Mob Psycho 100, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Manga). This is the latest translated manga from the creator of One-Punch Man, which Shea and Derek discussed on the September 2015 show. Both enjoy this new (for English speakers) series, and it stands out from One-Punch Man in that One does both the writing and the art. In fact, they spend a bit of time discussing One’s aesthetic, the art’s “flatness” and simplicity. Some may not appreciate the style, but both of the guys are taken by not only One’s storytelling abilities, but his illustrations, as well. They do mention in one long storyline the narrative seemed to drag, but other than that, it’s a title, along with the new editions of Sailor Moon, that the guys heartily recommend.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Conor Stechschulte

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:15 – Introduction
  • 00:03:15 – Setup of interview
  • 00:05:06 – Interview with Conor Stechschulte
  • 01:15:57 – Wrap up
  • 01:17:44 – Contact us

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A Good Kind of Disturbing

On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s interview series, the Two Guys have the pleasure of talking with Conor Stechschulte. The third volume of his ongoing series, Generous Bosom (Breakdown Press), was released in the spring, and Sterg and Derek have an enlightening conversation with Conor about this narrative. While in the first two parts the story was flowing in one discernible direction, more or less, it takes a strange and disturbing turn in the third part. The guys talk with their guest about this narrative trajectory and what it may portend. And as they intuit from the latest installment of Generous Bosom, there are more surprises in store. They also talk with Conor about his other comics, The Amateurs (which was reviewed on the podcast in June 2014), his self-published work, his relationship with his UK publisher, and his inclusion in last year’s volume of Best American Comics. This interview has been a long time in coming, and the guys make the most of it.

Be sure to check out Conor’s band, Lilac, and the sounds they make!

Comics Alternative, Episode 300: The December Previews Catalog

Celebrate 300!

It’s the first of a new month, and that must mean that the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics will be looking at the latest Previews catalog. This is a rather long episode — going for almost three hours — so you get your money’s worth! But what makes this show extra special is that it’s the 300th episode of The Comics Alternative‘s weekly review show. As Derek points out, there are over twice as many episodes of the podcast that have been released since August 2012, accounting for the many interviews, specials, and the various monthly shows, but with the regularly weekly review shows, they’ve now reached a notable milestone. For December, Sterg and Derek discuss a variety of  publishers and titles solicited in Previews such as:

Webcomics: Reviews of Grass of Parnassus, Lavender Jack, and Take the A Train

Time Codes:

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Platform Variety!

On the November webcomics episode — albeit a little late — Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics…especially different when it comes their hosting platforms. They begin with Stuart and Kathryn Immonen’s Grass of Parnassus. This is a unique science fiction narrative that is relatively new, starting in September this year, with an intriguing storyline (what there is so far) and incredible art. But what is additionally notable about this webcomic is that it’s being hosted on Instagram. This is the first time the guys have discussed an Instagram-based webcomic, and Sean and Derek spend a bit of time discussing the pros and cons of this platform.

After that they focus on Lavender Jack, a webcomic hosted on Webtoon and written and illustrated by Dan Schkade. It’s an engaging crime/intrigue webcomic that reminds the guys of both The Scarlet Pimpernel and Batman. A unique combination! It’s the story of a wealthy socialite who dons a costume to cover his identity, and then goes about exposing the hidden crimes of prominent, powerful, and corrupt citizens in the city. This is also a relatively new webcomic, starting in June, and although there are already 24 episodes (as of this recording), there are still a number of mysteries that are yet to be answered.

Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with an already completed webcomic, M. Dean and Z. Akhmetova’s Take the A Train. This is a relatively short narrative, but what makes it stand out — in addition to the incredible art — is that each half of the story is hosted on Dean’s and Akhmetova’s sites, respectively. This is the first time the guys have discussed a webcomic that was a collaborative endeavor in this manner. The webcomic is based on Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s classic song, and both creators focus on young protagonists in the middle of the 20th century who are fascinated with Ellington and his historic relationship with The Savoy in Harlem.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Katriona Chapman

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:14 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:59 – Interview with Katriona Chapman
  • 01:06:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:15 – Contact us

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Travels and Travails

Katriona Chapman first came to our attention through her work at Avery Hill Publishing. She works in marketing there, and back in summer of 2015 she introduced Tillie Walden. Tillie’s first book, The End of Summer, had just been released, and Kat worked was instrumental in setting up an interview with the very young artist. But over the subsequent year, we’ve come to know Kat as more of an artist herself. She had done a lot of illustration work for children’s books, but it was her self-published comic, Katzine, that specifically caught our attention. In fact, we had discussed Katzine in a special episode from last year, where we looked at self-published comics. In one of the later issues of Katzine she mentions working on her first book, an autobiographical work centered on her travels in Mexico. Last month that book, Follow Me In, was released by Avery Hill. This is a fascinating travelogue about her experiences touring Mexico, it’s diverse regions, its many ruins, and its vibrant cultures. As you’ll hear in this interview, Kat doesn’t only write about her experiences touring in this new book, but she also explores her problematic relationship with her companion as well as her own efforts as an artist. As such, Follow Me In is much more than a travelogue. It’s an account of a young artist undergoing new experiences and using those to grow as a creator and to define her art.

Comics Alternative, Episode 299: Reviews of Recent Comics about The Beatles

Time Codes:

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Number 9, Number 9, Number 9…

This is a special episode of The Comics Alternative, in that Sterg and Derek focus only on recent comics about The Beatles. Both of the guys are huge Beatles fans, and you can tell how excited they are in discussing these texts. They begin with David Foenkinos, Corbeyran, and Horne’s Lennon: The New York Years (IDW Publishing), adapted from Foenkinos prose work on John Lennon. What makes this book stand out is that it’s primarily narrated in the first person through imagined therapy sessions that Lennon undergoes. In this way, the text becomes not only an insight into John Lennon’s psyche, but also a broad historical overview of The Beatles as a musical phenomenon.

After that they jump into Bill Morrison’s recent adaptation of Yellow Submarine (Titan Comics). This is a work that is as colorful and as elaborate as the 1968 animated film, and the guys are impressed by how faithful the book is to the film’s plot. The only thing you don’t get in Morrison’s text is the various musical interludes that you have in the animated film (of course), but even then Morrison does an affective job of implying the music as sort of a silent soundtrack. But all of the surreal visuals, the song references, and the many puns are there.

Next, they look at a new book just released through NBM, The Beatles in Comics. This is a collection of short essays and comics written by Michel Mabel and Gaet’s, and with illustrations by a variety of artists. Much like Lennon, this book provides a broad overview of The Beatles, and the chapters cover such topics as their time in Hamburg, Brian Epstein, when they met the queen, their playing Shea Stadium, the Ed Sullivan Show, the genesis of “Yesterday,” their decision to stop touring, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their time in India, Yoko Ono, the Paul Is Dead phenomenon, and the breakup of the band.

Finally, they discuss a new book that really isn’t about The Beatles, but uses the Fab Four as a significant backdrop. M. Dean’s I Am Young (Fantagraphics) is a series of stories about relationships and music, and the main storyline is the one that uses The Beatles. It’s the history of a relationship between Miriam and George, two young people who meet at a Beatles concert when the band first hit it big. M. Dean takes us through the course of this relationship, doing so with The Beatles as a nexus, with the two growing older and getting together, and growing apart, as The Beatles themselves mature and evolve.

One book that the Sterg and Derek do not discuss, but one they nonetheless highly recommend, is Carol Tyler’s Fab4 Mania (Fantagraphics). This work was released earlier this year, and the reason the guys don’t include it in their comics about The Beatles coverage is that Gene and Derek interviewed Carol back in July. As such, they spent a lot of time discussing that book, so the guys already focused on that text. Still, it’s another recent graphic novel about The Beatles, and it should stand alongside the other works that Sterg and Derek discuss in this episode.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 298: Our Sixth Annual Thanksgiving Show

Gathering Together for Comics

thanksgiving2016Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Sterg and Derek gather around the ol’ podcasting dinner table to share some of the creators, publishers, locales, and and concepts they’re thankful for this year . Among the many things they mention are

  • the plentitude of comics today
  • Inio Asano’s new series, Dead Dead Deamon’s Dededede Destruction
  • Charles Forsman
  • VIZ Media’s new Perfect Editions of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys
  • The Nib
  • New York Review Comics
  • comics-centric cons
  • TwoMorrows Press
  • Craig Yoe
  • publishers who use Kickstarter to get their seasonal works out
  • Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, The Comics Experience, and other great local comic shops
  • the completion of Jason Lutes’s Berlin
  • review copies
  • creators who are kind and warm individuals
  • students who are researching the way people consume and interpret comics

So give thanks this year, and read some great comics!

ForbiddenWorldsThanksgiving

Comics Alternative, Episode 297: Reviews of DC Comics before Superman, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, and Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1

Time Codes:

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Heroes, Pre- and Post-

This week Sterg and Derek check out three intriguing, yet very different, titles. They begin with Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson’s DC Comics before Superman: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s Pulp Comics (Hermes Press). This is a collection of comics written or inspired by the writing of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and an overview of the pre-Superman history of the publisher. After that they look at Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (Image Comics), the latest noir narrative in their Criminal series. And then the guys wrap up with Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s return to their Umbrella Academy world.

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Review of The Arab of the Future, Books 1-3

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:02 – Being away in September
  • 00:05:21 – The Arab of the Future, books 1-3
  • 01:26:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:28:05 – Contact us

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Between Cultures

On this episode of the Euro Comics series, Pascal and Derek look at the first three books of Riad Sattouf’s series, The Arab of the Future. Each of these volumes is thick in content, giving the guys a lot to discuss. And while they do a bit of close reading in their discussion, much of what Pascal and Derek do is provide larger overviews, focusing on themes, narrative structures, aesthetic choices, and cultural contexts. In fact, Pascal had read each of these books originally in French — indeed, he is now in the middle of reading the fourth volume that is already available in France — so he provides some of the context that might escape American readers. Both of the guys are bowled away by this series, and they eagerly await the continuation of this graphic memoir…and other translated works by Sattouf.

Webcomics: Reviews of The Zombie Hunters, Kim Reaper, and Nothing Is Forgotten

Time Codes:

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Zombies, Reapers, and…Some Sorta Thing

On this, the Two Guys’ annual Halloween webcomics episode, Sean and Derek discuss three horror-related titles, each of which is quite different one from the other. They begin with Jenny Romanchuk’s The Zombie Hunters, a story that has been serialized since 2006. This is a post-apocalyptic narrative that centers on a group of zombie hunters who are themselves infected by a virus that could possibly turn them into the undead, should they die a natural death. After that they look at Kim Reaper, a relatively new webcomic created by Sara Graley, and one that could arguably be described as a horror romcom. Finally, they discuss Ryan Andrews’s Nothing Is Forgotten, a somewhat short but nonetheless powerful story about a young boy who buries his father the same day he stumbles upon a lair of some ill-defined and mysterious creature.

 

Episode 296: Reviews of Scratches #2, Now #4, and Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #1

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Anthologies and a Classic Cop

On this episode Sterg and Derek check out two new anthologies, as well as a recent incarnation of Dick Tracy. They begin with Scratches #2, a comics and art anthology curated by Joost Swarte (and distributed in the Americas by Conundrum Press). They actually spend the majority of the episode discussing this collection, which includes mostly European artists. After that they eagerly jump into the latest issue of Eric Reynold’s Now. This is Fantagraphics’ exciting anthology that began last year. In this issue we see work by, among others, Walt Holcombe, Cynthia Alfonso, Roman Muradov, Tommi Parrish, Theo Ellsworth, Rebecca W. Kirby, and David Alvardo. Finally, they wrap up with Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #1, the first in a four-issue limited series. Written by Lee and Michael Allred, and with art by Rich Tommaso, this is (to some degree) an updated handling of Dick Tracy in that the legendary detective is fighting crime in the current day. But although temporal setting is contemporary, the issue still has the feel of a classic comic-strip narrative, including big-presence villains, a detective with many tricks up his sleeve, and a storyline that at times seems outrageous…but in a good way. The Two Guys really hope that this Dick Tracy has a long life well after the limited series.