Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Sock: The Comic Book

Footwear Crimefighter!

For this week’s Kickstarter show, Derek talks Rickman about his current campaign Sock: The Comic Book. It’s the (largely) wordless story of an unlikely hero displaced from his companion in the laundromat, and going at it on his own as a crimefighter.

Sock will be a 32-page black-and-white comic book, one that will be appropriate for all ages. Rickman describes the origins of Sock this way:

The idea came to me during the 1999 San Diego Comic Con while at the pool with friends after a day at the show. The conversation turned toward the weirdest comic characters we knew. Flaming Carrot, The Tick, Ed the Happy Clown, Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, were all tossed about. The question was asked: what would be the wackiest thing to make into a comic? As my feet dangled in the water I glanced toward my shoes and saw my socks. I reached for my sketchbook (always next to me) and “SOCK” was born.

Offbeat, wacky, wordless, all-ages, lost laundry…what’s not to like? Be sure to check out Sock: The Comic Book, and see exactly what happens when your socks go missing.

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Alison McCreesh

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:18 – Interview with Alison McCreesh
  • 01:04:09 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:44 – Contact us

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Life North of 60

Readers of Alison McCreesh’s 2015 work, Ramshackle: A Yellowknife Story, know about the draw northern climates has on her and the love she has for pioneer-like exploration. In her new book, Norths: Two Suitcases and a Stroller around the Circumpolar World, released last month from Conundrum Press, Alison ramps up those affections. It’s an account of her six-month trip to circumpolar regions and her time in four art residencies in Finland, Russia, Greenland, and Iceland, all above the 60thParallel. Traveling with her partner Patrice and her son Riel, Alison kept a diary of her experiences in the form of postcards that she sent off almost daily to friends and supporters who had agreed to back her project. The result is a unique travelogue, in sequential postcard form, of her exploration of northern climates, her experiences at the various residencies, and her attempts at trying to balance life, work, and family. Norths is an engaging hybrid text, and in this interview episode, Derek has an insightful talk with Alison about her process, her love of travel writing, and whether or not she considers the new book a work of comic art.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Kriota Willberg

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:58 – Interview with Kriota Willberg
  • 01:15:16 – Wrap up
  • 01:16:21 – Contact us

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Good Pus, Bad Pus

The Two Guys talk with a lot of comics creators about their craft, their ideas, and their passions. But they never really talk with them about their health. On this interview episode, Gene and Derek have as their guest an artist who is all about health and well-being. Kriota Willberg, whose new book Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists (Uncivilized Books) was released last month, discusses her experiences in health care, her years as a massage therapist, and how it all informs her creative trajectory. Draw Stronger is a text targeted to visual artists who work within fine and detailed contexts, and it provides helpful means to avoid pain and address the kind of physical practices that will best nurture creativity. The book is divided into three sections, revealing the basics of creative self-care, exercises that target a variety of body movements, and useful first aid to address stress and pain while waiting to visit a health professional. Over the course of their conversation, Kriota discusses the genesis of this project in her minicomics, the ways in which humor informs her approach, the vast research that went into this guide, and how her work in bioethics has impacted her comics.

Comics Alternative, Episode 280: Reviews of The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Young Frances, and A Walk through Hell #1

Time Codes:

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A Comfortable Fogginess

On this episode of the podcast, Paul and Derek look at three new releases that, while all compelling readings, are vastly different in style and narrative approach. They begin with Chris Reynold’s The New World: Comics from Mauretania, recently released from Gallery 13. This is a collection of Reynold’s Mauretania comics published beginning in the 1980s. This volume was designed by Seth, and he also provided a brief and insightful note at the end of the text. Neither Paul nor Derek had encountered any of the Mauretania stories before, and they’re sorry that they hadn’t read Reynolds any sooner. The narratives are dreamlike and random in their coherency, and while making any sense of their meaning and action can be an exercise in frustration, they are strangely some of the most compelling comics the guys have read this year.

Next, the Two Guys turn to a creator whom they’ve read and loved before, but not by his current name. Both Paul and Derek are big fans of the series Pope Hats, authored by Ethan Rilly, an anagram of Hartley Lin. In Young Frances (AdHouse Books), Lin is now using his real name and collects issues #2, #3, and #5 of his defining series. The text presents the story of Frances Scarland, a young legal clerk whose efficiency and competency are admired by those around her, but who nonetheless wonders if she’s just drifting through life without purpose. Her best friend, Vickie, is impulse and more scattered, yet talented enough to find a lead role acting in a hit television crime drama. This is yet another example of “verite dessinée” storytelling, a favorite of Derek’s and Paul’s.

The guys conclude this episode by looking at the first issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka’s A Walk through Hell (AfterShock Comics). A mix of horror and crime, this first issue establishes the premise of the series but does so in a way that poses a variety of questions. In fact, both Paul and Derek feel as if this first issue ended almost too quickly — a sense that they’ve gotten with other AfterShock first issues — although there is enough in this inaugural installment to have them wanting to come back to the series. In this first issue, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor work a recent race-related killing while at the same time investigating the disappearance of two fellow officers. What they stumble onto, and we never get a sense of what that is, is apparently something so horrific that even the most hardened law enforcers are unable to live with what they saw.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Michael Kupperman

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:18 – Setup of interview
  • 05:37 – Interview with Michael Kupperman
  • 56:33 – Wrap up
  • 58:16 – Contact us

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Clearing Out

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek are happy to have Michael Kupperman on the show to discuss his new book All the Answers, just out from Simon and Shuster’s  Gallery 13 imprint. Long-time fans of Kupperman will find a significant tonal shift from his earlier works such as Tales Designed to Thrizzle or Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret. This new book is an emotional and probing look at his father, Joel Kupperman, and his time as one of the famous Quiz Kids of the 1940s and 1950s. Throughout this memoir, Kupperman investigate his father’s history and attempts to understand how his time in the celebrity spotlight marked his life forever after…and at the same time, helped to determine his father’s future behavior and his family’s emotional trajectory. In this way, All the Answers serves not only as a way to understand his father, but as a means to grapple with Michael Kupperman’s own sense of self and how he relates to his own family. Over the course of their conversation, Gene and Derek talk with Michael about the research that went into his new book, the genesis of the project, his efforts in pursuing this extremely sensitive family history, and how All the Answers may be a stylistic turning point in his career.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: The 2018 Eisner Awards Nominees for Best Webcomic

Time Codes:

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Getting It Right This Time?

After a month’s hiatus — and due to an accident that Sean suffered (although he’s recovering now!) — the Two Guys are back with their latest webcomics episode. And since it’s Eisner Awards season, Sean and Derek decided to discuss the nominees for this year’s Best Webcomic category. As listeners may remember, last year the guys were quite critical of the Eisner Awards judges. While they finally took the long-overdue step in separating webcomics from digital comics, they nonetheless seemed to have no clear understanding of what defined a webcomic. They included webcomics in the Best Digital Comic category, and digital comics in the Best Webcomic category. This year, the judges seemed to have correctly understood the distinctions, although Sean and Derek still have questions as to the parameters and qualifications as to the choices and decision-making process. Then again, theirs may not be to wonder why, but to discuss critically the webcomics under consideration. And the guys have a fruitful discussion concerning this year’s nominees:

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Skullduggery, Issue 2

Perry Mason Meets Disney

This week on the Kickstarter show, Derek talks with Jason Beirens about his current campaign for the second issue of his series, Skullduggery.

Jason calls Skullduggery a “legal fiction,” a Disney-inspired crime narrative that is less police procedural and more based in the courtroom. His previously Kickstarted first issue of Skullduggery is described as

the beginning of a look into a double homicide of two known criminals by Judge Stewie Sponte, his assistant Maggie P.I. (a magpie) and his owl. Other characters come into play, two street smart tough guys, brothers Vinnie and Berg De Novo. Lastly, Whimsy Noir, as every detective story needs a dame, right?

Populated by anthropomorphic figures, curious criminals, and unusual courtroom proceedings, this will be a fully colored story worth checking out. And there’s even a reward level where you can get not only the second, but also the first issue, of Jason’s Skullduggery the series so as to get the entire story up to this point. Head on over to #2 campaign and see what it’s all about!

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Comics Alternative, Manga: Finishing Up Monster, Othereworld Barbara, and Other Manga Series

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:33 – Setting up the episode
  • 00:04:17 – More listener mail!
  • 00:06:49 – Completing Monster
  • 00:49:03 – Completing Otherworld Barbara
  • 01:14:28 – Completing other manga series
  • 01:26:25 – Wrap up
  • 01:27:47 – Contact us

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Completion

On this episode of the monthly manga series — the April show, actually, albeit late — Shea and Derek revisit some of the titles that they had previously discussed. They talk about these series now that they have more volumes under their belts, and in some cases, have completed the entire series. The first of these that they discuss is Naoki Urasawa’s Monster (VIZ Media), a title that they first discussed in their July 2015 episode. The last volume of the English-language Perfect Editions was released in summer of 2016, and both Shea and Derek explore their experiences finishing up the series. As they reveal, Urasawa has a penchant for vast, multi-leveled narratives, filled with a wide cast of characters, and the guys discuss this style of storytelling, its thrills as well as its challenges.

Next, they turn to the completion of a story they first discussed on the September 2016 manga episode, Moto Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara (Fantagraphics). The second volume of this series was published in August of last year, and the guys revisit Hagio’s storyworld and its wrap-up. As they mentioned on their earlier episode, this is a complex, even vertiginous, narrative that involves dreamscapes, multiple narrative levels, and time interplay. Both of them appreciate Hagio’s conclusion, although at times they wonder about the story’s lapses into sentimentalism, and if the various narrative threads may not be a bit unwieldy.

Finally, the guys discuss other manga series that they’ve been keeping up with, even completing, individually. For Shea, that includes ONE and Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man and Yusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom, both published by VIZ Media. Derek waxes enthusiastically about Inio Asano’s Goodnight Punpun (VIZ Media), Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero (Dark Horse Manga), and Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kodansha Comics).

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Bill Schelly

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:29 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:08 – Interview with Bill Schelly
  • 01:06:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:06:40 – Contact us

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A Fan’s Life

There’s perhaps no better historian on American comics fandom than Bill Schelly. Having been a part of the zine scene in the 1960s and early 1970s, and starting when he was a teenager, Schelly worked with many of the movers and shakers within the fan community and published several fanzines of his own. In the early 1990s he returned to comics as a chronicler and as a historian, writing various overviews of comic fandom, and then later making his mark as a comics biographer, covering the lives of such creators as Joe Kubert, Otto Binder, John Stanley, and Harvey Kurtzman, the latter biography earning him a 2016 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. On this interview episode, Derek talks with Bill about his new book, Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom – the Whole Story, and his decisions to revise and expand this memoir from its original 2001 version released through TwoMorrows Publishing. This new edition of Sense of Wonder, published by North Atlantic Books, is significantly expanded, covers Schelly’s entire life up until now, and is written with a much more personal, and revealing, tone than the original. Bill discusses in detail his history in comics fandom and his growth as an editor and writer, as well as the personal milestones that have marked his life.

You can learn more about Bill Schelly and his work by checking out his website.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Zach Worton

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:14 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:00 – Interview with Zach Worton
  • 00:59:46 – Wrap up
  • 01:00:27 – Contact us
  • 01:01:46 – “Gotta Get You Outta My Head,” by Zorton and the Cannibals

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Self-Destruction and Tiki Bars

Zach Worton was last on the podcast about two years ago, around the time of the publication of the second volume in his Charley Butters series, The Search for Charley Butters. On that interview show, Zach discussed the development of his storyline and what to expect in the third and final volume of the series, The Death of Charley Butters. As fate would have it, Zach and his publisher, Conundrum Press, decided to hold off on publishing the third stand-alone installment, and instead, put out the entire series in one complete volume. The result is The Curse of Charley Butters, just released last month, and including the first two Charley Butter stories and what would have been the third. In fact, this complete collection reads as a tight, cohesive narrative, and getting all of the Charley Butters installments in one nice volume is definitely the way to read this story. In this interview Derek talks with Zach about the genesis of his project, the challenges involved in its serialization, the stark nature of the storytelling, and the experience of taking his protagonist down an ever-darkening downward spiral. Zach also discusses his other new work, The Weird World of Lagoola Gardner, a magazine-sized comic whose tone is completely different from Charley Butters, looser, more comedic, and reminiscent of the kind of free-wheeling garage band- and tiki-influenced publications of the late 1960s.

Comics Alternative, Episode 279: The May Previews Catalog

“It whets my appetite, and I don’t know what the hell it’s about”

This week, Paul and Derek take an extensive look at the May Previews catalog. In fact, their look is so extensive that their discussion evolves into an extra-long episode, spanning almost three hours! (Then again, listeners of the podcast probably are used to these long Previews episodes.) The Two Guys begin by sharing listener mail, and then they make a few comments about some of the changes Diamond has made to their catalog over the past couple of months. After that, they jump into the nitty gritty of the episode, highlighting a variety of solicitations that catch their eye this month. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are:

Comics Alternative Interviews: Pat Palermo

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:41 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:04 – Interview with Pat Palermo
  • 01:06:50 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:33 – Contact us

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Art and Life

Pat Palermo is an artist and Xeric Award-winning cartoonist living and working in Brooklyn. In fact, the intersection of “living and working” is the subject matter of his new series coming out from AdHouse Books, LIVE/WORK. The first issue of this magazine-sized comic came out last month, and it’s an ensemble narrative concerning the exploits of New York artists as they try to make their marks in the art world, while at the same time worrying about their living arrangements. In this episode of the interview series, Derek talks with Pat about the origins of his new series, how it began as a self-published endeavor, the autobiographical links embedded among his ensemble cast, and his thoughts on writing in a more realistic or slice-of-life mode – what’s been called before on The Comics Alternative, verite dessinée. Along the way Pat discusses his own non-comics art endeavors, his Galveston Diary Project, and the ways in which his work in fine arts informs his cartooning…and vice versa.

Comics Alternative, On Location: FCBD at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

Discoveries

For the May on-location episode, Derek is back at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find for Free Comic Book Day. This is a big occasion, and business at Heroes was bustling and crowded, with customers lining up to get in as early as 5:30 am. In fact, this show was recorded outside of the shop where things were less chaotic. Joining Derek was Zyg (who has become a regular at these on-location shows), David, Adam, Jake, and Emily. Everyone talks about the various FCBD titles and which ones they’re particularly drawn to, but they also discuss other comics-related topics, such as the recent Avengers movie, the kind of comics that they’re currently reading, and upcoming titles that they’re particularly looking forward to.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: The Secret Voice, Vol. 1

A Psychedelic Fantasy Epic

Derek talks with Zack Sot0 about his Kickstarter project The Secret Voice, Vol. 1. Zack describes it as “as psychedelic fantasy epic” filled with psychic warrior monks, wild kung fu magic battles, monsters, and even a bit of romance.

Over the coals of their conversation, Zack discusses the origins of The Secret Voice in a minicomic, its development as a webcomic and then a comic book, and its maturation as a book-length narrative. The creator describes the premise this way:

Doctor Galapagos, a goggled, bandaged mystery man is just one of many agents of the ineffable Red College that we meet in the pages of The Secret Voice. Doctor Galapagos is our hero, our mystic battle man on the spot. He seems wildly capable of facing any and all hand to hand combatants. But Dr. G isn’t just battling hundreds of angry trolls or brigands all at once, he’s also fighting an unseen, unknown, psychic menace. He’s finding his grip on reality becoming more and more tenuous, just when he needs it the most.

There are a variety of reward levels to choose from, as well, including not only the book — in both digital and hardcopy format — but swag, original art, and prints. This is a fun story that the Two Guys have discussed on a past episode of the webcomics series, so you know it’s worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Back The Secret Voice, Vol. 1!

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Hazel Newlevant

Time Codes:

  • 00:25 – Introduction
  • 02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 03:38 – Interview with Hazel Newlevant
  • 53:01 – Wrap up
  • 53:31 – Contact us

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Freedom of Choice

Hazel Newlevant is an artist and editor, known for their graphic novella Sugar Town, which they call “a queer poly rom-com,” as well as Tender-Hearted, winner of the 2017 Ignatz Award for outstanding minicomic. In 2016 the Two Guys discussed Hazel’s edited collection, Chainmail Bikini, an anthology of comics by and about women games released in 2016, and for which Hazel served as editor. Earlier this year they have had two other collections where they served as co-editor: Puerto Rico Strong, released in March by Lion Forge, and Comics for Choice: Illustrated Abortion Stories, History, and Politics, an anthology of comics about abortion and reproductive rights published by Alternative Comics. During this interview, Derek talks with Hazel primarily about Comics for Choice, but they also discuss some of their other work as well, including their many efforts as an editor within the comics industry.