Comics Alternative, Episode 306: Reviews of Now #5, Criminal #1, and Scratcher #1-3

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“Anthropomorphic food is fun”

On this episode of the podcast Sterg and Derek look at three exciting titles. They begin with Now#5, the latest in Fantagraphics’ outstanding comics anthology series. As the guys point out, they’re dedicated to discussing every issue of Nowthat is released, and this one is chock-full of comicy goodness. Although all of the contributions in this issue are intriguing, some of the most notable that the guys discuss are those by Eroyn Franklin, Walker Tate, DRT, Ana Galvañ, DW, Maggie Umber, and especially Walt Holcombe.

And although Derek and Sterg spend the vast majority of their time discussing this anthology — there’s a lot to take in — they also look at two other titles. One of those is most recent incarnation of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal(Image Comics). In the new series’ first issue, the protagonist is one familiar to Criminal enthusiasts, Teeg Lawless. But there are other manifestations of Brubaker and Phillips’ world that are imbedded within. After that they look at the first three issues of Scratcher, John Wald and Juan Romera’s self-published horror title that takes place at a tattoo parlor. This is actually a work that its writer alerted the guys to, and they’re glad that he did.

Comics Alternative, Episode 305: Reviews of The Unknown Anti-War Comics, Love and Rockets IV #6, and LaGuardia #1 & #2

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Ploptastic!

On this episode, Sterg and Derek discuss three recent titles that run the gamut from sci-fi to political to slice-of-life (or what the Two Guys prefer to call  verite dessinée). They begin with the latest collection from Craig Yoe, The Unknown Anti-War Comics(IDW Publications/Yoe Books). This is a volume devoted to classic Charlton Comics stories from the 1950s and 1960s — most probably written by Joe Gill — that have a peaceful message to deliver. One of the highlights of this collection is the art of Steve Ditko. After that, the guys jump into the latest issue of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics Books). Both Derek and Sterg highlight what they particularly like about this specific issue, but they also speculate on the current career trajectories of Gilbert and Jaime and even on what they see as some of the “excesses” of each brother. Finally, the guys wrap up with a discussion of the first two issues of Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford’s LaGuardia(Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books). In fact, this is an appropriate title to bookend the episode, along with Charlton anti-war stories. Both Sterg and Derek are intrigued by the premise of this limited series, but at the same time they feel that there’s something missing from the first two issues, which is half of the four-issue run. Is the narrative too decompressed? Lacking enough exposition? Regardless, both guys want to read on and see where Okorafor and Tana end with their timely story.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection and Dementia 21

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Cycling Nonsense

On this manga episode, their last of 2018, Shea and Derek look at two recent works of manga that are actually quite similar in a number of ways. They begin with Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection(VIZ Media). This isn’t the first time, by far, that the guys have discussed Junji Ito’s horror work, and whereas they’ve been less impressed with some of his more recent translations, they are more enthusiastic about this current collection. The standout story is Ito’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic romance, which takes up almost half of the text. But the other stories in this collection, specifically the Oshikiri cycle ones, are gripping, as well.

After that the Two Guys check out a wild example of manga, Shintaro Kago’s Dementia 21 (Fantagraphics). While both Derek and Shea had heard of Kago, until now they really hadn’t read any of his works. This book, the first in a two-volume series from the publisher, is a collection of 17 stories that surround the escapades of Yukie Sakai, a young home healthcare aide. Her assignments to a variety of elderly patients all turn out surreal, taking her into mind-blowing adventures that are hilarious as they are nonsensical (and even metafictional, in some cases). Kago’s manga has been described as ero guro nansensu, although in this collection there is more nansensu than there is ero guro. (For the latter, listeners are referred to another translated collection of Kago’s, Super-Dimensional Love Gun, from Fakku Books.)

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 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 299: Reviews of Recent Comics about The Beatles

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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.

 

 

Deconstructing Comics #613: “My Favorite Thing is Monsters”

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a horror-movie-influenced graphic novel set against the tumult of the U.S. in the 1960s. What’s stunning is that it’s the first published work for Emil Ferris, but it’s very accomplished. Kumar and Emmet review.

Deconstructing Comics site

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.

Longbox Review Podcast: October 2018 Previews

October 2018 Previews

George and I go over the October 2018 Previews catalog for items shipping starting in December.

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com, chat with me @longboxreview on Twitter, and visit longboxreview.com. Please subscribe, rate, and review the show via Apple podcasts.

Thanks for listening!

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Deconstructing Comics #604: Ho Che Anderson and “Godhead”

Godhead

Why does Ho Che Anderson, who has had several projects (including his latest, Godhead) published by Fantagraphics, call himself a “failed” comics creator? What does he wish he’d done differently, early in his career? In this episode, he talks to Koom about going to art school vs. making your comics mistakes in public (and how Frank Miller succeeded despite doing the latter), Godhead, his film work, and more.

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative, Episode 287: Reviews of Nowbrow 10: Studio Dreams, Love and Rockets Vol 4 #5, and Last Mountain #4 and #5

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“There’s a lot of hey being thrown here”

This week Paul and Derek discuss three unique titles that help define our understanding of what comics can be. They begin with a visual anthology that is, arguably, not a comic at all. Nobrow 10:Studio Dreams (Nobrow Press) is a series of 70 gorgeous illustrations by a variety of artists — all of whom have contributed to Nobrow publications in the past — that reveal their ideal studio space. The styles in this volume vary widely, but each illustration is a luxurious work that invites visual lingering.

After that the Two Guys turn to one of their favorites, the Hernandez brothers. The latest issue of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics) is notable in that it wraps up Jaime’s ongoing storyline, “Is This How You See Me?” This narrative began back in the New Stories volumes, and in it Maggie and Hopey attend a Hoppers reunion that begins well, but then takes a darker turn for the two. Jaime also contributes a couple of shorter comics that revisit Maggie and Hopey in their younger days, another narrative thread we’ve seen in recent issues of Love and Rockets. Gilbert’s contribution, “Rosy,” is a long story about one of Fritz’s daughters who confronts her mother’s colored career and decides what it means to her.

Paul and Derek wrap up the episode by looking at the two latest issues of Dakota Mcfadzean’s minicomic Last MountainIssue #4 is a surreal look at the disturbing power of product iconography, where a little girl is terrorized by a cereal box mascot. Issue #5, “To Know You’re Alive,” can be read as a response to the previous issue in that it also concerns childhood and media, but from the perspective of a stay-at-home father. Unfortunately, both of these minicomic issues are sold out, but as the guys mention, listeners should definitely keep their eyes on Mcfadzean as he releases new material.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Carol Tyler

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:34 – Introduction
  • 00:02:44 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:38 – Interview with Carol Tyler
  • 01:36:12 – Wrap up
  • 01:38:15 – Contact us

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Gear!

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek are excited to have Carol Tyler back on the podcast. Her new book Fab4 Mania has recently been released from Fantagraphics. It’s Carol’s memoir about her time growing up as a Beatles fan, covering the early years of the mop tops and especially The Beatle’s presence in America. As Carol reveals, she was a devotee from the very beginning, watching the group’s legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, their initial tour around the United States immediately after, the media and merchandising circus surrounding it, and the almost never-ending radio presence of four lads. And everything in the book leads up to the crescendo of The Beatles’ appearance at Comiskey Park on August 20, 1965, a concert that Carol excitedly attended. Fab4 Mania also covers the many excitements and challenges Carol faced in displaying her love of The Beatles, especially among friends and when it came to her Catholic school.

In her conversation with Gene and Derek, Carol talks not only the book, but her own personal recollections growing up during that time. They talk music of the time — where Carol disses by comparison other British groups such as Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and The Dave Clark Five — and Carol even DJs and sings for the guys. It’s definitely a memorable interview, one that Derek and Gene will not soon forget.

Comic News Insider Episode 853 – TCAF: Fantagraphics Special Pt 2 w/ Ho Che Anderson/Tommi Parrish!

Comic News Insider: Episode 853 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Jimmy went to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) over the weeekend and got a ton of great interviews! In this episode, he talked to Ho Che Anderson and Tommi Parrish. Ho talks about his new sci-fi/action adventure book Godhead. And Jimmy brings up Ho’s older Milestone Comics work Wise Son and they even go off on Legion of Superheroes tangent! Tommi talks their new book The Lie and How We Told It as well as some of their artistic influences over the years. Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!

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Comics Alternative, Episode 281: Reviews of James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner and NOW #3, as Well as a Look at the 2018 Eisner Award Nominations

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Modern and Different

This week Paul and Derek review two recent releases, and they also take the time to discuss this year’s Eisner Award nominations. They start off with Alfonso Zapico’s James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner – A Graphic Biography (Arcade Publishing). Originally published in Spanish, this is a look at the life of the famous Irish modernist, covering not only his accomplishments as a writer, but his family and personal relations, as well. As the guys discuss, Zapico’s text provides a general outline of the major events and relationships in Joyce’s life, but as with most comics-based biographies, the interiority of the subject is limited. At the same time, this is a well-paced and even detailed look at the author of Dubliners and Ulysses, with Zapico presenting a very human portrait of a writer most may only know from a critical distance.

After that, the Two Guys check out the latest issue of NOW, the Fantagraphics anthology edited by Eric Reynolds. This has become an ongoing obligation of The Comics Alternative, covering each issue of this anthology as it’s released. (Paul and Derek discussed NOW #1 last fall, and then Gene and Derek looked at NOW #2 back in January.) The latest collection brings together several artists contributing to previous issues — e.g., Noah Van Sciver, Eleanor Davis, and Dash Shaw — but also a variety of creators who are not only new to the anthology, but brand new to both Paul and Derek, as well. In fact, this is one of the things they enjoy about NOW, its diversity and the editor’s dedication to exposing the work of little-known comics artists. Some of the most notable pieces in this third issue are from contributors outside of North America, including Marcello Quintanhila (Brazil), Anne Simon (France), and Roberta Scomparsa (Italy).

The guys wrap up this week’s show with a discussion of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations. Paul and Derek do not make any predictions, nor do they second-guess the award judges or speculate as to internal dynamics about which they had no way of knowing. What they do discuss are the various creators and publishers under nomination, any trends or tendencies they can possibly discern from this year’s selections, the process of categorization and definition within the industry, and the sheer number of current nominees, artists and texts, that were actually discussed on The Comics Alternative.