This week the Two Guys give you a double shot of recent Fantagraphics books. They start off with a discussion of Ron Regé Jr.’s What Parsifal Saw, his followup to 2012’s The Cartoon Utopia(the paperback edition of which has also just been released by Fantagraphics). This is the first time that Andy and Derek have covered one of Regé’s books on The Comics Alternative — they’ve discussed his comics before, but only as part of an anthology — and they point out how his art requires a different way of reading. After that, they look at the latest issue of Love and Rockets. The guys never miss an opportunity to discuss what the Hernandez brothers are up to, and in this second issue of the new series they see how both Gilbert and Jaime are continuing the storylines they began in the last couple of Love and Rockets: New Stories annuals. Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with the latest title from Donny Cates, Redneck #1 (Image Comics). With wonderful art by Lisandro Estherren, this is a contemporary vampire story set in East Texas (and not far from Derek). Both feel that this is a successful first issue, but Andy points out that the structure feels similar to what Cates has been doing in God Country and The Paybacks.
Reviews: Adam Strange Future Quest Special #1, Booster Gold Flinstones Special #1, Green Lantern Space Ghost Special #1, Suicide Squad Banana Splits Special #1, X-Men Prime #1, Sleepy Hollow season finale, The Walking Dead season finale
Jon Hoche is back to co-host in this very lengthy episode! Jimmy went to MoCCA Fest over the weekend and gives his recap. He got 4 great interviews from the likes of Penelope Bagieu, Falynn Koch, Julia Alekseyeva and Matthew Loux. You’ll hear his great chat with Penelope in this episode! They talked about her recent book from First Second called California Dreamin’, some of her past/upcoming work, how she’s a drummer in a band, her dislike of erasers and more! Such a fantastic interview that you’ll be sure to enjoy. News includes: Gerard Way ensures that more Doom Patrol is coming, a Beetlejuice musical is in the works, Joss Whedon may write/direct/produce a solo Batgirl film, Seth Rogen is set to bring Robert Kirkman’s Invincible to film, a new Invader Zim, Scott Snyder explains Dark Nights: Metal and more! Come back later this week to hear a MoCCA Fest interview special with Julia and Matthew. And then hear the interview with Falynn in next week’s regular format show! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!
As listeners of The Comics Alternative know, Andy oversees the annual Sumter Comic Arts Symposium every spring, and this year is no different. And this time, not only has he organized the entire event, but he also took time out of his duties to interview several of the creators who appeared at the symposium. First, he speaks with Sophie Goldstein and Carl Antonowicz at the local Waffle House — the sound quality isn’t ideal, but the breakfast ambience is palpable — and then he conducts an interview with Jeremy Whitley, talking primarily about his recent work with Marvel Comics.
Andy and Derek are glad to have as their guest Josh Bayer. He is one of the creative minds behind Fantagrahic’s new retro-superhero series, All Time Comics. This line kicked off in March with its first issue, All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1, and in April they’ll release All Time Comics: Bullwhip #1, soon to be followed by issues devoted to other characters in its universe, Atlas and Blind Justice. Josh talks with the Two Guys about the genesis of this project and his collaboration with his filmmaker brother, Samuel. He also shares his experiences in working with Herb Trimpe on the Crime Destroyer issue — the last art by this comics legend — and with Ben Marra, who provides the inks. The latter also provided the pencils on Bullwhip, along with Al Milgrom on inks. Over the course of their conversation, the guys discuss the strange retro feel of the series, one that is more of a heartfelt and sincere tribute and not a campy send up. Nonetheless, All Time Comics already has its share of wacky villains, including The Misogynist, Raingod, and the Time Vampire. Derek and Andy also talk with Josh about his recent efforts to support the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in light of recent political events, taking a cue from Sarah Glidden…and then going even further.
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 Reasonin 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:
This week’s episode is an exploration of surrealism and fantasy, and one guaranteed to both fascinate and disturb you. It begins with a discussion of Max Andersson’s The Excavation (Fantagraphics). As the Two Guys with PhDs point out, this is a book that has been years in the making, and parts of it had originally appeared in other outlets, including Andersson’s short-lived Death and Candy series. Derek enjoyed this book, as he does other works by Andersson, although Andy was less charitable in his assessment. He feels that the dream-like meandering of The Excavation ends up leading to nowhere, that there isn’t much in the way of overt themes, and that it’s too much like other indie comics discussed on the podcast.
Next, they delve into the first issue of American Gods, a series from Dark Horse Comics that’s adapted from Neil Gaiman’s popular novel. Scripted by P. Craig Russell, and with art by Scott Hampton, this inaugural issue does a good job at establishing the premise and making the story assessable to those who have never read Gaiman’s original novel (and both Derek and Andy have not). However, the guys do have a little problem with the heavy-handed and spoiler-filled synopsis inserted on the first page of the comic book.
And finally, the Two Guys wrap up with Kurtis J Wiehe and Owen Gieni’s Rat Queens #1 (Image Comics). This is the first issue in the series’ second volume, and while both of the guys see the economic logic of a new #1 issue, Derek wonders about the narrative necessity of this publishing move. Nonetheless, both Andy and Derek are fans of the first iteration of Rat Queens, and they both feel that the first issue in its second volume is an effective jumping on point that could satisfy new readers.
Dan Clowes’ 2016 graphic novel Patience has elements of science fiction, mystery, and psychedelia. It’s an interesting mix, but… was the sci-fi part really necessary? Kumar and Dana give it their usual thorough review.
On this week’s episode the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics do deep dives into two recent, and very different, publications. They begin with Chynna Clugston Flores’s Scooter Girl, just released from Image Comics. This is a brand new color edition of a six-issue black-and-white series originally published by Oni Press is 2003-2004, and then collected as a trade in 2004. Derek describes this it as an adult Archie, and throughout their discussion the guys make reference to the series that Chynna Clugston Flores is perhaps best known for, Blue Monday. As is evident in the recent publication, her writing is heavily infused with music and pop references — specifically, mod culture and the mod revival during the 1970s and early 1980s — and her art has a manga flair. As Andy and Derek point out, much of the appeal of Scooter Girl is the author’s ability to take a milieu out of time and set it in a time and place where in never really existed.
Next, the Two Guys spend a lot of time discussing Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1(Fantagraphics). This is a phenomenal new work from an artist that neither Andy nor Derek knew about until the release of Resist!, to which Ferris contributed a story. The range and depth of this narrative is truly impressive, and as the guys make clear, it’s a text that requires serious research and sustained analysis. The storytelling is ambitious and multilayered, its engagement with identity and marginalized cultures is sophisticated, its art style is unlike any other, and its treatment of late 1960s horror culture is thematically resonant. In short, this is one of the most astounding works that Derek and Andy have encountered so far this year. However, as much as the guys agree on this book’s significance, they disagree on what constitutes the narrative’s turning point. On one occasion in their discussion, Derek describes a particular illustration that Andy feels is a spoiler and could potentially diminish the emotional impact of the story. Derek disagrees, and the guys go back and forth over role of Ferris’s art in establishing the text’s climax (or climaxes). As their debate demonstrates, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is a richly textured work that should generate future analysis. And the guys eagerly await the second volume, which is due out in the fall.
Andy and Derek have the pleasure of talking with Miriam Libicki whose latest book, Toward a Hot Jew, was released late last year from Fantagraphics. This is a collection of various graphic essays that Miriam has written over the years, a style of writing she describes as a comics form of gonzo journalism. The guys talk with her about these various pieces and their mix of reportage, autobiography, and expository analysis. They also discuss Miriam’s autobiographical series Jobnik!, which concerns her experiences serving in the Israeli army. Most of the talk revolves around Miriam’s writing, but at times the conversation becomes more academic and speculative, in many ways reflecting the tone found throughout Toward a Hot Jew.
It’s our Best of 2016! And just like last year, Jimmy sits down with The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald and good pal Jon Hoche to go over their 2016 favorites in comic books, TV and film. They didn’t read or watch everything released that year, so it’s just the Best of what they did read/watch. Fun discussions on great comics, their creators, TV shows, films, actors and more. What were your favorites last year? Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!
Fantagraphics is a comics publisher that got by on a shoestring for decades, in service of its mission to prove that comics could be equally as literary and adult as film, novels, or any other storytelling medium. Eventually, Fantagraphics’ flagship publication, The Comics Journal, became the go-to magazine for reviews of noteworthy comics and hard-hitting interviews of their creators.
After more than a decade of work, Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean have published (through Fantagraphics, of course) a history of the company, called We Told You So: Comics as Art. This week Tom, himself the former Managing Editor of The Comics Journal, is here to talk about Fantagraphics and the work and decisions that went into writing its history.
This week the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics check out three recent titles, including the latest contributions from the Hernandez brothers. They begin with Love and Rockets #1 (Fantagraphics), the launch of the brothers’ new (fourth) series that will appear quarterly and in magazine-sized format. This kind of presentation harkens back to the original run of Love and Rockets beginning in the early 1980s. Andy and Derek are quick to point out that, while the format may have changed, the storytelling picks up where the Love and Rockets: New Stories annual left off. Jaime continues his previous storylines surrounding Princess Animus, Vivian’s half-sister Tonta, and, perhaps most notable, Maggie and Hopey’s punk reunion. With Gilbert, it’s the always evolving and convoluted Fritz saga, with even more Fritz imitators to keep track of.
And on the topic of Beto…The next book under discussion is his Garden of the Flesh(Fantagraphics). This is Gilbert’s treatment of the Book of Genesis, although with less fidelity than Robert Crumb has demonstrated. As you might expect, there’s a lot of explicit content, something that you might find in his Blubber series. In fact, the guys note that what we have with Garden of the Flesh is the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Noah and the flood…but with a lot of money shots.
Finally, Andy and Derek turn to Isabel Greenberg’s The One Hundred Nights of Hero (Little Brown). This is her follow up to 2014’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, and everything is set in the same storyworld. Here we find the return of god/creator BirdMan and his children Kid and Kiddo. And as with Greenberg’s first book, the overriding theme in The One Hundred Nights of Hero is storytelling. This time around, however, that theme is linked directly to female empowerment and sisterhood. With more than a tip of the pen to One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Greenberg’s tale demonstrates not only how worlds are created through language, but the dynamics underlying the control of those worlds.
Reviews: The Circle #1, Motor Crush #1, Reggie and Me Vol 2 #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1
Jimmy is joined in studio again by co-Hoche-st with the most, Jon Hoche! Jimmy’s birthday did not go as planned but he appreciated your wishes! He also attended the awesome Warner Bros. Holiday Media Mixer and got to hang with some of his favorite publicists. News included: Dragon Ball Super will air in January, A Duck Tales reboot is coming next year, Archie Comics will release 4 special one-shots, Gypsy will come to The Flash TV show, Pokemon Go releases new monsters, Fantagraphics is getting into the superhero game, R.L. Stine will write Man-Thing, and DC Comics is teaming up some of their heroes with ones from Hanna-Barbera. Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!
Derek and Andy are excited to have as their guest the great Drew Friedman. His new book More Heroes of the Comics comes out this week from Fantagraphics, and the guys use this opportunity to finally have him on the podcast. Both have been big fans of Drew’s work since they discovered it back in the heydays of Spy magazine, and after listening to how much fun the artist was on an early episode of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, Andy and Derek knew they had to get Drew on their show. And now with the release of the new book, they have the opportunity!
The guys talk with Drew about this second installment in the Heroes of the Comics series and how it’s both a continuation of, yet quite different from, the previous volume. Drew shares the decision-making process of inclusion, the art of portraiture, and the actual genesis of this series as a whole. This, in some ways, is similar to Friedman’s earlier Old Jewish Comedian series, although there the artist set out to capture the entertainers in their later years, and with little text accompanying the portraits. In the Heroes of the Comics books, Drew pays tribute to both personage and context, as well as including brief biographical material on each artist. And in this second volume, Drew is specifically focused on very marginal figures in early comics history. Plus, their are anecdotes and laughs galore.
After listening to this interview, be sure and check out and support “Vermeer of the Borscht Belt,” a Kickstarter campaign currently going on for a full-length documentary about Drew Friedman. Why should you do this? Because Chico needs the money!
Giving Thanks in a Dark Time; Or, Steve Ditko’s Impending Death
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