Deconstructing Comics #551: R. Sikoryak


Robert Sikoryak is known for adopting the styles of various famous comics and mashing them up with classic literature, Donald Trump quotes, and even the iTunes user agreement. This week he talks with Koom how he chooses the specific pairings of comics titles and other content, why he didn’t want to do his book on Trump, what Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Schulz’s Peanuts have in common, getting inside the head of the creator whose work he’s parodying, and more.

 

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Comics Alternative, Episode 241: Reviews of Boundless and User

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Time Codes:

  • 00:01:23 – Introduction
  • 00:05:11 – Welcome new Patreon supporters!
  • 00:08:34 – Boundless
  • 00:44:55 – User
  • 01:16:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:17:43 – Contact us

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Reality Askew

This week on the review show Paul joins Derek in discussing two new recent releases. They begin with Jillian Tamaki’s Boundless, published by Drawn and Quarterly. This is a collection of nine short stories, most of which have been previously published in FrontierNobrow, and Hazlitt.net. The guys begin by discussing how Tamaki structures the contents, along with including new pieces, in order to give the collection visual and thematic coherency. Unlike her longer narratives Skim and This One Summer, both with her cousin Mariko, Tamaki tends to use the shorter storytelling forms to create pieces that are slightly askew and bend the reality that we know.

Next, Paul and Derek turn to Devin Grayson, John Bolton, and Sean Phillips’s User (Image Comics). This was originally published as a three-issue prestige-format miniseries through Vertigo Comics in 2001, but until now has never been collected in a single volume. User is the tale of a young woman finding refuge in a MUD, escaping the chaos that surrounds her real-life work and family. What makes the narrative notable is its handling of online interaction and gender identification, quite provocative at the time of its original publication. And while the guys appreciate what Grayson and company are doing, they note the slightly dated nature of this comic. As they point out, understanding the temporal context puts everything into perspective.

Comics Alternative, Episode 235: Reviews of Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero and the DC Hanna-Barbera Specials

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Time Codes:

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Reminiscing

This week Andy and Derek discuss five new titles. They start off with Michael DeForge’s latest book, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero (Drawn and Quarterly). While this is an unusual story, it’s nonetheless one of DeForge’s most conventional stories, at least when compared to many of his previous works. It’s an episodic narrative about its titular character, a multi-talented 49-year-old woman who moves to a Canadian national park to escape a scandal surrounding her rich father’s finances. There she befriends a bunny named Oatmeal, a moose lawyer who goes by the name “Lisa Hanawalt,” a love-struck eel, a “marked” young woman called Girl McNally, dumb geese, proxy ants, a bear chronicler, and the park’s wannabe reporter “Michael DeForge.” Did we mention that this is one of DeForge’s more conventional stories? This title began as a webcomic on Tumblr, and while people can still find the complete comic up and available, the guys strongly recommend that listeners get the new book to fully take in the physical, tactile experience.

Next, the Two Guys with PhDs turn to the four new Hanna-Barbera one-shots from DC Comics: the Adam Strange/Future Quest Special (by Mark Andreyko, Jeff Parker, and Steve Lieber), the Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special (Mark Russell, Rick Leonardi, and Scott Hanna), the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special (James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela, and Ariel Olivetti), and the Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits Special (Tony Bedard, Ben Caldwell, and Mark Morales). They both enjoy all four of the titles, although Derek has some reservations about the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits team-up, and Andy feels that the Green Lantern/Space Ghost one is a missed opportunity. But they spend about as much time discussing the short backups in these four specials, with Howard Chaykin’s Ruff ‘n’ Reddy being a standout. Is that any surprise

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Peter Bagge

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:25 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:45 – Interview with Peter Bagge
  • 01:35:33 – Wrap up
  • 01:37:22 – Contact us

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“Forever on the horizon, never out of sight”

The Two Guys are pleased to have Peter Bagge back on The Comics Alternative. His new book Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story comes out this week from Drawn and Quarterly. It is another in Bagge’s recent series of historical and biographical comics, following his brief biography of Isabel Paterson (appearing in Reason in 2010), Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story (2013), and Founding Father Funnies (2016). In this interview, Derek talks with Peter about the genesis of this project, what brought him to the writings and personality of Huston, the socio-political contexts surrounding Hurston’s work, and his research efforts in compiling the graphic biography. Fire!! is, in many ways, a companion piece to Woman Rebel, in that both focus on iconoclastic female figures, and their stories are told through an episodic, almost snap-shot, manner of narration. Although Peter and Derek spend the majority their time discussing Zora Neale Hurston, they also cover some of Peter’s other works, such as his Founding Father Funnies collection, last year’s Neat Stuff boxed set, and the possibilities of a similar treatment with Hate and other Bradley family stories.

Be sure to check out Peter Bagge’s other appearances on The Comics Alternative:

Comics Alternative Interviews: Joe Ollmann

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Of Human Bondage

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:04:00 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:20 – Interview with Joe Ollmann
  • 01:21:27 – Wrap up
  • 01:22:58 – Contact us

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On this interview episode, Andy and Derek talk with Doug Wright Award-winner Joe Ollmann, whose new book, The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, comes out this week from Drawn and Quarterly. Joe starts off by introducing William Seabrook and his writings, since this is a historical literary figure that most listeners have probably never heard of before. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time discussing the ups and downs of Seabrook’s career and speculating on why he’s not more notable than he is. With a background in yellow journalism, Seabrook became a famed adventurer and travel writer who befriended a who’s who of early twentieth-century literati, including Thomas Mann, Aldous Huxley, Gertrude Stein, Sinclair Lewis, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Aleister Crowley. As Joe points out, he was famously known at the time, not only as a writer, but as a cultural progressive, a cannibal, a bondage enthusiast, and the man who popularized zombies. What fascinates Ollmann most about this colorful figure is Seabrook’s upfront attitudes about himself, refusing to hide the more salacious sides of his personality. At the same time, this cavalier manner may have contributed to his notorious alcoholism, tragically revealed in his memoir, Asylum, and a condition that stifled his career and helped lead to his eventual death. The guys have a great time talking with Joe about his 10+ years in researching and writing this biography, the differences between writing this book and his previous ones (all fictions), and the dynamics of visually narrating the life of such a controversial and conflicted character.

Joe is also writing about his experiences with The Abominable Mr. Seabrook on The Paris Review!

And read Derek’s previous interview with Joe Ollmann for The Comics Alternative blog.

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Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Reviews of Equinoxes and Clear Blue Tomorrows

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Time and Tide

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:17 – Setting up Pedrosa and Vehlmann
  • 00:08:08 – Equinoxes and other Pedrosa titles
  • 00:51:14 – Clear Blue Tomorrows and other Vehlmann titles
  • 01:26:01 – Wrap up
  • 01:29:12 – Contact us

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It’s the first Euro Comics episode of the new year, and Edward and Derek use the occasion to focus on the work of two contemporary French creators, using their latest books as springboards into their larger bodies of work. They begin with Cyril Pedrosa’s Equinoxes (NBM Publishing), a novelistic examination of life purpose and the uses we make of art in creating meaning. The text comprises four alternating storylines that become more enmeshed as the narrative progresses, combining comics with prose passages in establishing its contemplative tone. But Edward and Derek also bring in discussions of Pedrosa’s earlier works in translation, including Three Shadows (First Second), Hearts at Sea (Dupuis/Europe Comics) and Portugal (Dupuis/Europe Comics).

Next, the Two Guys examine Clear Blue Tomorrows, written by Fabien Vehlmann with art by Ralph Meyer and Bruno Gazzotti (Cinebook). This book is basically a series of science-fiction or fantastic stories brought together by a broader narrative frame: a time traveler from a dystopian future tasked with ghost writing stories for the would-be tyrant in hopes of changing the man’s occupational trajectory. It’s a curious spin on the “killing Hitler” sci-fi trope, though narratively reminiscent of One Thousand and One Nights. The guys also discuss several of Vehlmann’s other works, including Last Days of an Immortal (Archaia), Beautiful Darkness (Drawn and Quarterly), and the all-age series Alone (Cinebook). There’s a lot packed into this episode…and so many reading ideas!

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Comics Alternative, Episode 215: Our Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Show

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Giving Thanks in a Dark Time; Or, Steve Ditko’s Impending Death

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For this year’s Thanksgiving show, there are seven seats at the table, making this the most populated episode in the podcast’s history. Andy K. and Derek are joined by their fellow cohosts Gwen, Andy W., Gene, Sean, and Edward to discuss what they are thankful for in the world of comics. (Shea and Paul couldn’t join in on the fun, unfortunately, but they were there in spirit.) Among the various things they’re thankful for are

So pull up a chair, strap on the bib, pass the gravy, and settle into the warm, cozy goodness of The Seven People with PhDs Talking about Comics. And remember: the tryptophan will kick in later.

ForbiddenWorldsThanksgiving

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Sarah Glidden

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What Is Journalism?

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Time Codes:

  • 0:00:24 – Introduction
  • 0:02:23 – Setup of interview
  • 0:03:30 – Interview with Sarah Glidden
  • 1:06:53 – Wrap up
  • 1:08:11 – Contact us

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On this interview episode, Andy and Derek are pleased to have Sarah Glidden as their guest. Her new book, Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, comes out this week from Drawn and Quarterly, and the guys talk with Sarah about this work as well as her previous book, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, a new edition of which has also been recently released. They begin by asking Sarah about the differences between, as well as the confluence of, memoir and journalism in her comics, and that speculative tone discussion sets the stage for the rest of the interview. The author goes into detail when sharing her philosophy of writing, and she provides a thorough history surrounding the context of the Rolling Blackouts and its differences from her earlier work.

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ComicsVerse Podcast Episode 80: AYA – LIFE IN YOP CITY

In the West, there are few topics of conversation more rife with generalities, prejudices, and fear than that of Africa—especially sub-Saharan Africa. How easy it is for us to make a vaguely ridiculous, generalized statements about the Earth’s second largest and second most populous continent without fear of scrutiny! Racism, the legacy of colonialism, and the pervasive, disfiguring, narratives attached to this legacy has bred an easy sort of ignorance about the histories, cultures, and day-to-day lives of the people(s) who call the African continent their home. Aya of Yop City offers a wonderful response to (or perhaps a reprieve from) the monolithic narratives that crowd our perceptions about “Africa.”

LISTEN: Want more Gabby Beans podcasts? She hosts an episode on the graphic novel INCOGNEGRO!

Written by Marguerite Abouet and drawn by Clément Oubrerie, this colorful, refreshing, and vibrant comic follows the adventures (and many misadventures) of the eponymous character and her two best friends as they navigate adolescence. The story takes place in Yopougon-Koute, which is a large suburb of Abdijan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. We enter the story at a particularly interesting point in the history of the Ivory Coast. Set in the 1970’s, Aya and her friends are living during the time of the “Ivorian Miracle,” a time at which there was a thriving middle class and unparalleled wealth and opportunities. Theirs is a moment of burgeoning freedom, and a large part of the fun of this book is watching as the young women contend with the values of their parents and elders while forging their own identities in a rapidly changing social and economic landscape.

HEAR: ComicsVerse is committed to doing podcasts on graphic novels! We discuss and interview SUPERMAN writer, Gene Luen Yang’s opus, AMERICAN BORN CHINESE in this podcast!

Just as the main characters in “Aya” face issues that range from the most superficial teenage spats, to questions of their aspirations being limited by their gender, so too did our discussion range from larger sociopolitical realities evinced by the nuanced characters and stories in the book, to the pert and twinkling humor throughout. Helmed by our fearless leader, Justin Alba, our wonderful cast relived our teenage years while confronting our own biases and pre-conceived notions about “African” stories. Bintu Conteh, Columbia grad and arts administrator/producer at-large offered her fruitful insights as a student of history and culture, as well as a person of Sierra-Leonean descent. The effulgent Amna Pervez (who introduced Justin to this book), also provided personally relevant anecdotes interspersed with laser-sharp political and literary analysis. ComicsVerse writer and intern, Tim O’Reilly proved to be an incredibly insightful reader and thinker in this, his first ever podcast!

If you’re in the mood for a witty, subtle, and enlightening read, be sure to pick up Aya of Yop City. In the mean time, enjoy the podcast!

For your convenience, this podcast is also available on iTunes!

Download The ComicsVerse Podcast on iTunes

source: https://comicsverse.com/episode-80-aya-life-yop-city/

Comics Alternative Interviews: Zach Worton

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Dark Places

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In this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s interview series, Derek talks with Zach Worton about his new book, The Search for Charley Butters, just out from Conundrum Press. This is the second in a planned trilogy, and one beginning with last year’s The Disappearance of Charley Butters. As Zach describes it, this is a black comedy about depression and the way this condition manifests itself in isolation, addiction, and failed friendships. The narrative runs along two parallel tracks, one about the titular character, a painter from the 1950s who becomes an eccentric recluse, and the other about the present-day Travis who becomes obsessed with Butters’s story as revealed in his diaries. This obsession begins to break down the relationships in Travis’s life, and as the story unfolds he finds himself going to a personal dark place that is not entirely dissimilar from that the artist’s. Zach talks with Derek about origins of this project, his reasons for serializing it over three volumes, and his rough plans for wrapping it up with next year’s The Death of Charley Butters.

The guys also discuss Zach’s first book, The Klondike, a completely different kind of narrative that episodically chronicles the gold rush that shook the Yukon during the last part of the nineteenth century. Zach shares his experiences researching the book and how it helped define him, for awhile at least, as a cartoonist of Canadian history and personages (similar to the way people read David Collier or how some may have defined Chester Brown after Louis Riel). They also discuss Zach’s other current project, The Weird World of Lagoola Gardner (a horror-inspired tale that will be released around Halloween), his love of old drive-in movie theaters, and his band, Zorton and the Cannibals. And, interestingly enough, it’s with a group of musicians that the Charley Butters trilogy begins!

Find out more about this creator at Zach Worton’s Crust Club!

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Comics Alternative, Episode 187: Reviews of Panther, Mae #1, and The Walking Dead: The Alien

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Reading Portals

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The Dynamic Doctoral Duo is back for another action-packed episode promising thrills and chills! This time, Gwen and Derek begin by discussing Brecht Evens’s  Panther (Drawn and Quarterly), a book that gives a first impression of innocence but then becomes darker and increasingly disturbing as the story develops. Gwen is a scholar of children’s literature, and she points out that Evens follows many of the tropes found in picture books, and his style — what you’d find in his earlier works, The Wrong Place and The Making Of — may even lead readers to see this as one. But she argues that Panther is anything but a text for younger readers. Evens’s penchant for watercolor and his borderless panel style make this a most sophisticated narrative, one with no easy answers and ending in ambiguity.

Next, Derek and Gwen transition into yet another portal narrative, Gene Ha’s Mae #1 (Dark Horse Comics). In this new creator-owned series, which began last year as a Kickstarter, the titular character’s older sister, Abbie, has discovered a way into another world and often absents herself from her family. But Abbie’s fantastical getaway begins to insert itself into the mundane world, initiating events that are sure to carry the  homebody Mae into unexpected adventures. This is Ha’s first attempt at both writing and illustrating in a longer narrative form, and it’s a series that both cohosts plan on returning to in the months to come.

Finally, the two wrap up by doing something that has not yet been done on The Comics Alternative: reviewing a Walking Dead title. As much as Derek enjoys the popular comic-book series and the TV show, they’ve just never had the opportunity to discuss a beginning point or something standalone from Kirkman and Allard’s franchise. But this time, they have: Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s one-shot, The Walking Dead: The Alien. This is available on the creators’ Panel Syndicate website, and as with the other titles you’ll find there — e.g., The Private Eye and Barrier — this is a pay-what-you-want comic. Gwen does not have much history with The Walking Dead, and she’s not a fan of zombie narratives, so she brings a unique perspective to the discussion…and likes what she reads. And as Derek points out, this is a title that will resonate with avid Walking Dead fans and at the same time can hold up outside of any larger narrative context. As if we needed any addition reason to love the creative team of Vaughan and Martin.

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Deconstructing Comics #452: Joe Matt’s “The Poor Bastard”

poorbastardJoe Matt was one of ‘The Toronto Three’ in the 90’s; he was a no-holds barred autobiographical cartoonist who, with his friends Chester Brown and Seth, ushered in the first wave of Drawn and Quarterly work. Matt drew attention for his sense of humor as well as exposing the depraved corners of his life, including porn addiction, excessive cheapness, and an increasingly destructive relationship with his girlfriend Trish. Kumar and Koom discuss The Poor Bastard and reflect about encountering Matt’s work, the interaction between real life and representation, and the connection between humor and depravity.

LINK: Did the woman Frankie was modeled after demand to be left out of Joe’s comic?

Deconstructing Comics site

Deconstructing Comics #130: “Scott Pilgrim” and “Paul Has a Summer Job”

FLASHBACK! Tim and Brandon review of two Canadian coming-of-age comics: The first three volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series, and “Paul Has a Summer Job” by Michel Rabagliati.

Listen carefully, because later this month, Tim and Cassey will discuss the entire series, and Tim’s take on it has changed…

ALSO: Give today to the Deconstructing Comics pledge drive!

Originally published June 2, 2008

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Deconstructing Comics #423: Rutu Modan: Emotional depth, tight plots

Exit WoundsIsraeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan has won acclaim for her books Exit Wounds (2007) and The Property (2013), both of which are so tightly plotted, with a number of twists and turns, that Tim and Kumar find them difficult to review spoiler-free. What’s remarkable, though, is the emotional depth in books that are so plot-driven, as well as their social commentary on Israeli society, how violence there has become banal, and the popularity of Jewish tours of Polish sites of the Holocaust. With all this going for the books, we simply have to talk about them! (With few spoilers!)

Deconstructing Comics #339: “King-Cat”: The Mundane, Re-observed

kingcatIf you’re old enough to remember pre-Internet days (like us geezers who make this podcast), you remember how new comics creators used to get known. No Web comics, Tumbler, podcasts, etc. Like John Porcellino, they hit the “zine” scene, announcing themselves through Factsheet Five and getting placement in a few comics shops. Porcellino’s King-Cat, with its accounts of his pets, his dreams (the sleeping kind), amusing anecdotes, and occasional fiction, drew notice in the comics world for the way it eloquently fed the reader’s life back to him, making note of things the reader might have missed. Drawn & Quarterly is releasing selected King-Cat comics in hardcover; Tim, Kumar, and special guest Tom Spurgeon discuss the first collection, King-Cat Classix.

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