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 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 Interviews: Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden

Time Codes:

  • 00:26 – Introduction
  • 03:02 – Setup of interview
  • 05:10 – Interview with Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden
  • 56:08 – Wrap up
  • 58:29 – Contact us

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Why Nancy…Again?

Gene and Derek are happy to have on the podcast Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. Their book How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels was released last fall from Fantagraphics Books. The authors are back on the circuit discussing their close reading of Ernie Bushmiller, but they took time to talk with the Two Guys about their landmark work. Over the course of the conversation, Mark and Paul reveal their history reading the Nancy strip, their original “How to Read Nancy” essay and the book that grew from there, the educational function of their detailed analysis, the work — research, technological, and otherwise — that went into this project, and, of course, there’s the August 8, 1959 comic strip itself that comes under such meticulous scrutiny. Over the course of 44 steps, Paul and Mark pick apart this Nancy strip with painstaking detail. But How to Read Nancy also includes a thorough biography overview of Ernie Bushmiller, multiple appendixes that provide abundant cultural and aesthetic context, and a “Do It Yourself” section where readers can apply the analytical skills they learn from the text. This is a must-read for every student of comics, creators and critics alike.

A big THANK YOU to Craig Yoe, who actually planted the idea for this interview and became its chief encourager!

Comics Alternative, Episode 275: The April Previews Catalog

“It’s all about the dollars”

Gene and Derek are back for another look at the current month’s Previews catalog. This one may not be as long an episode as last month’s Preview show — which clocked in at just under three hours — but it’s nonetheless hefty. (Well…actually, it is almost as long as the March show.) They begin this week by discussing the new changes appearing in Previews beginning in April. They point out the additions of BOOM! Studios and Dynamite Entertainment in the premiere publishers section, prominently displayed in the front of the catalog; the reorganizations of solicits in a new manga section; the shake-up of what had been the book section; the flip arrangement with the toy and merchandise sections; and next month’s departure of DC Comics’ solicitations into their own supplemental catalog. After that, and several cynical comments (primarily from Derek), they get into the nitty gritty of the April Previews catalog, highlighting a variety of titles from such publishers as:

Comics Alternative, Episode 274: Reviews of Why Art?, Infidel #1, and Vampironica #1

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:30 – Introduction
  • 00:03:12 – Welcoming new Patreon supporters, and more listener mail!
  • 00:14:29 – Why Art?
  • 00:42:19 – Infidel #1
  • 00:58:55 – Vampironica #1
  • 01:13:58 – Wrap up
  • 01:15:53 – Contact us

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“Another episode of Gene’s forced connections”

This week Gene and Derek discuss three different titles that may or may not be connected (you’ll have to ask Gene). They begin with Eleanor Davis’s Why Art? (Fantagraphics Books). Going into this reading, the guys thought that the book might be more on the expository or critical side. However, they quickly discovered Davis’s unique approach in combining humor, storytelling, and aesthetic analysis. After that they check out the first issue of Infidel (Image Comics), written by Pornsak Pichetshote and with art by Aaron Campbell. This is a curious combination of horror and the dynamics of intolerance, and the first issue raises a variety of questions that start off the series with good story momentum. The Two Guys with PhDs conclude with another horror title, Greg and Megan Smallwood’s Vampironica #1. Although in the tradition of Archie Comics’ other recent horror titles, this first issue doesn’t have the same impact on the guys as did Afterlife with Archie or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Still, the art and premise are an attention-grabbing setup.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with John Porcellino

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:50 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:21 – Interview with John Porcellino
  • 01:21:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:23:19 – Contact us

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Despecking

Gene and Derek are excited to have John Porcellino back on the podcast. His new book From Lone Mountain has just been released by Drawn and Quarterly, and John talks in depth about the time in his life covered in this collection, as well as the process of pulling all of these experiences together. The book collects King-Cat Comics & Stories #62-#68, released between 2003-2007. The Two Guys ask John about the evolution of his compositional strategies, the role that place and landscape play in his comics, how both prose and illustrations function for self-exploration, his thoughts on punk and the DIY aesthetic, and how his comics serve as a release for, as well as a reflection of, the many changes in his life. This isn’t the first time John P. has been on The Comics Alternative — he came on for an interview around the release of issue #76 of King-Cat Comics & Stories — and the guys certainly hope that this isn’t his last visit.

And be sure to check out John’s online store, Spit and a Half. There you can find not only his King-Cat Comics & Stories, but also a variety of other mini- and indie comics by other creators, as well!

Comics Alternative, Episode 273: Reviews of Bizarre Romance, The Ballad of Sang #1, and Gideon Falls #1

Time Codes:

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“Good squishy sounds”

On this week’s review episode, Gene and Derek discuss three recent, and very different, titles. They begin with Bizarre Romance (Abrams ComicArt), an unusual “graphic novel” written by Audrey Niffenegger and with art from Eddie Campbell. The various stories that compose this collection are both comics and prose-centric pieces, and all of the selections have something to do with relationships in an off-kilter manner. Next, they look at Ed Brisson and Alessandro Micelli’s The Ballad of Sang #1 (Oni Press). Inspired by 1970s and 1980s kung fu and action films, this first issue in the series introduces us to a young mute street fighter who becomes a fugitive and must fend for himself. Finally, Gene and Derek wrap up with the latest comic from Jeff Lemire, Gideon Falls #1. With art by Lemire’s stalwart collaborator, Andrea Sorrentino — they had previously worked together on Green Arrow and Old Man Logan — this is a dark and moody narrative that points to what will become a fascinating monthly series. As Lemire writes in the brief essay that closes out this first issue, Gideon Falls is the realization of a couple of story ideas that the writer has contemplated since his days as a film student.

Also, as the Two Guys share during their “listener mail” segment, English professor and dedicated listener Meghan Sweeney has set up a GoFundMe campaign that aspires, in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, to get copies of John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s March trilogy into the hands of teens who might not otherwise have access to them. Please go fund this idea, and help spread the word!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Ho Che Anderson

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:45 – Setup of interview
  • 00:06:17 – Interview with Ho Che Anderson
  • 01:12:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:14:51 – Contact us

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Are You Sitting Comfortably?

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek talk with Ho Che Anderson about his new book Godhead, coming out next week from Fantagraphics Books. This is a work of speculative fiction involving corporate culture and its attempts to communicate with God. It’s an ambitious narrative that zeroes in on the juncture of religion, technology, and capitalist greed. The book is the first of two volumes exploring this futuristic world, and it’s a project that Anderson has been developing for years. The guys talk extensively with their guest about the genesis of and the creative process underlying Godhead, but they also ask about his larger body of work and its sheer diversity, from the erotic I Want to Be Your Dog, to the five-issue series (along with Wilfred Santiago) Pop Life, to the text he’s perhaps best known for, his graphic biography of Martin Luther King. Both Gene and Derek have been big fans of Anderson’s comics for years, and they’re excited to finally get him on the podcast. Listen up and learn!

Comics Alternative, Episode 272: Reviews of Babylon Berlin, The True Death of Billy the Kid, and The Highest House #1

Time Codes:

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Mysteries

This week Gene and Derek discuss three recent titles, all of which concern mysteries. They begin with Babylon Berlin (Titan Comics), Arne Jysch’s comics adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s noir prose novel. It takes place in 1929 Berlin and set in the Weimar Republic, with all of its historical and cultural contexts embedded within. The guys are very impressed with Jysch and Kutscher’s narrative, and they spend a lot of time not only discussing the work as an example of crime noir, but also the issues involved in adapting a text from one medium to another (including the recent Netflix series).

Next, they look at Rick Geary’s latest efforts, The True Death of Billy The Kid (NBM Graphic Novels). This began as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, and in many ways it follows the format of Geary’s true crime comics. Indeed, both Derek and Gene are big fans of Geary’s art and his handling of the history and research surrounding infamous deeds. This is not a biography of Billy the Kid, but true to the book’s title, it focuses on the days that lead up to the death of this legendary figure.

Finally, the Two Guys turn their attention to The Highest House #1 (IDW Publishing). Released in conjunction with the French publisher Glénat Editions, this brings back together Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Yuko Shimizu, the creative team that brought us The Unwritten. This story is more of an overt fantasy than the previous series. The inaugural issue sets a solid foundation for Carey’s world building, and as both Gene and Derek observe, the larger album format allows a full display of Gross’s marvelous art.

Comics Alternative, Episode 271: The March Previews Catalog

Mischievous Two-Headed Mummy-Chimp

It’s the first of the month, and that must mean that it’s time once again to look at the latest Previews catalog. For the month of March, Gene and Derek step up to the plate to take a swing at the many solicitations, highlighting what they consider the most notable upcoming titles. In fact, there’s so much to choose from, that this month’s Previews episode is an extra-long show…running for almost three hours! Are the Two Guys up to the challenge? Do they heroically take on an unwieldy  amount of material, or do they unnecessarily extend what could have been covered in a more manageable hour and a half? Listen to the episode, and you decide. And while doing so, you’ll discover many new comic books and graphic novels such as those published by:

 

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 270: A Publisher Spotlight on kuš!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:47 – Thanks to Holly English!
  • 00:05:07 – The 2017 releases from kuš!
  • 01:36:29 – Wrap up
  • 01:38:00 – Contact us

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kuštraveganza or kušapalooza?

This week Gene and Derek focus a critical spotlight on the Latvian publisher kuš! This is a press that the vast majority of listeners are probably unaware of — indeed, neither of the Two Guys knew about kuš! until about three years ago — and that’s a shame. They produce incredible comics from artists that span the globe. And as Gene points out, there’s really no such thing as a “kuš! style.” The sheer variety of visual approaches that can be found in kuš! publications is truly astounding.

Since kuš! publishes so many comics, Derek and Gene have decided to limit their discussion to just those titles the press released in 2017. But even that is a challenging volume of output. Last year kuš! put out four of their š! anthologies, four kuš! mono volumes, and sixteen issues in the mini kuš! series. As the guys point out multiple times during this episode, there’s no way to thoroughly discuss every single title that came out in 2017, but they do their best to cover as much ground as possible, and in hopes of giving listeners incentive to check out the wonderful releases from this publisher.

Here is a complete list of kuš! releases from 2017, including the month of publication:

  • mini kuš! #47 “Sutrama” by Daniel Lima, January
  • mini kuš! #48 “Nul” by Olive Booger, January
  • mini kuš! #49 “Call of Cthulhu” by Martin Lacko/ H. P. Lovecraft, January
  • mini kuš! #50 “Spectacular Vermacular” by Mathilde Van Gheluwe, January
  • š! #27 “BFF,” February
  • Brume by Amanda Baeza, kuš! mono #2, February
  • mini kuš! #51 “Mirror Stage” by Jaakko Pallasvuo, April
  • mini kuš! #52 “Acquisition” by Cátia Serrão, April
  • mini kuš! #53 “Yellow” by Līva Kandevica, April
  • mini kuš! #54 “Bad Ball” by Samplerman, April
  • An Exorcism by Theo Ellsworth, kuš! mono #3, April
  • š! #28 “Scandal!,” April
  • š! #29 “Celebration,” July
  • mini kuš! #55 “Valley” by GG, August
  • mini kuš! #56 “A Friend” by Andrés Magán, August
  • mini kuš! #57 “Eviction” by Evangelos Androutsopoulos, August
  • mini kuš! #58 “Night Door” by Patrick Kyle, August
  • mini kuš! #59 “Share The Love” by Paula Bulling / Nina Hoffmann, October
  • mini kuš! #60 “His Last Comic” by Noah Van Sciver, October
  • mini kuš! #61 “Jonah 2017” by Tomasz Niewiadomski, October
  • mini kuš! #62 “Daughter” by Aidan Koch, October
  • š! #30 “Brooklyn,” November
  • Fenix by Zane Zlemeša, kuš! mono #4, November
  • Fearless Colors by Samplerman, kuš! mono #5, November

Be sure to visit the kuš! website and check out their many releases. Better yet, subscribe!

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 269: Reviews of The Lie and How We Told It, Abbott #1, and Punks Not Dead #1

Time Codes:

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That ’70s Podcast

This week Gene and Derek discuss three fascinating titles…and with a ’70s twist! They begin with Tommi Parrish’s The Lie and How We Told It (Fantagraphics). Both had encountered Parrish’s work previously in the first two issues of the Now anthology, but this is the first long-form narrative from them that the guys have read. This is an intriguing work that begs for multiple readings and provides much discussion fodder. After that, Gene and Derek turn to two recent #1 issues. Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä’s Abbott (BOOM! Studios) is a crime noir story set in the early 1970s, and with a curious injection of horror. Punks Not Dead, the latest from IDW’s Black Crown imprint, is a wild tale from David Barnett and Martin Simmonds, one that mixes punk sensibilities with what appears to be X-Files-like undercurrent.

Comics Alternative, Episode 268: Reviews of Recent Romance Comics

Time Codes:

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Built for Love

It’s Valentine’s Day, and this week the Two Guys with PhDs are doing something they’ve never done before: devote an entire episode to recent romance comics. And this year, there are quite a number of new comics devoted to love and relationships…and with curious twists. And speaking of twists, they begin their show by discussing the first two issues of the new Image Comics series, Twisted Romance. This is a four-issue anthology published weekly throughout the month of February, and in issues #1 and #2 we see comics contributions from the creators Alex de Campo, Katie Shelly, Sarah Horrocks, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Meredith McClaren, with short prose offerings from Magen Cubed and Vita Ayala. From there they go to Death of Love #1 (Image Comics), written by Justin Jordan with art by Donal Delay. Much like Twisted Romance, this is a skewed look at love — and this one includes assholes and drugs.

Following that, Gene and Derek discuss one more recent release from Image Comics, Tee Franklin and Jenn St-onge’s Bingo Love. This is a unique LGBT narrative that focuses on the relationship of older citizens. While intended for teen readers, this is a graphic novel that can be appreciated by all ages. After that they visit, once again, the wacky world of Craig Yoe and his partner Clizia Gussoni. Weird Love, Vol. 6: So This Is Love! (IDW Publishing/Yoe Books) is the latest collection of their Weird Love series, classic romance stories from the 1950s and 1960s that not only appear warped to our contemporary eyes, but were probably strange to their original audiences. And finally, the guys wrap up their special Valentine’s Day episode with an offering from DC Comics, Young Monsters in Love. Much like last October’s DC House of Horror, this is an extra-long seasonal anthology issue written and drawn by a who’s who of DC creators. Included are stories focusing on, among others, Swamp Thing, Man-Bat, Raven, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Solomon Grundy, Deadman, the Creature Commandos, and (one of the guys’ favorites) Monsieur Mallah and the Brain.

Love is definitely in the air this week!

Comics Alternative, Episode 266: Reviews of Red Winter, Motherlands #1, and The Archies # 4

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:30 – Introduction
  • 00:003:11 – We get significant listener responses!
  • 00:07:41 – Red Winter
  • 00:32:46 – Motherlands #1
  • 00:50:03 – The Archies #4
  • 01:14:34 – Wrap up
  • 01:15:39 – Contact us

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Here We Come, Walking Down the Street…

This week Gene and Derek discuss, yet again, three diverse titles. They begin with Anneli Furmark’s Red Winter (Drawn and Quarterly). It’s the the first in a trilogy of graphic novels, although this is Furmark’s first work translated into English. The narrative is set in the late 1970s and centers on two lovers struggling with complicating relationships, both marital and political. Each chapter focuses on a particular character involved in the drama, and Furmark’s presentation is both contemplative and tonally provocative. The guys eagerly await further Furmark translations coming from Drawn and Quarterly.

Next, the Two Guys check out the first issue of a new Vertigo Comics miniseries, Motherlands, written by Si Spurrier and with art by Rachel Stott. This is a sci-fi, futuristic story of a middle-age multi-dimensional bounty hunter, Tabitha Tubach, trying to earn a living, while at the same time struggling with her past and a mother who marked it (and not for the better). And as if familial matters couldn’t get more any more trying, the end of this inaugural issue brings additional complications with the emergence of Tabitha’s sibling, Bubbsa.

Gene and Derek wrap up this week’s show with Alex Segura, Matthew Rosenberg, and Joe Eisma’s The Archies #4. It’s unusual that the guys review an issue of a series beyond the first one or two issues, but this is a special case. The focus of The Archies #4 is a musical group near and dear to both Derek and Gene, The Monkees. That’s right, Davy, Mickey, Peter, and Mike meet The Archies…which is not as unusual as you might think. After all, both groups have been perceived as “fictions,” both have been categorized as bubblegum pop, both inadvertently find themselves in weird dilemmas, and both have a history with Don Kirshner. Hey hey…

Episode 265: Reviews of The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head, Days of Hate #1, and Vinegar Teeth # 1

Time Codes:

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Darkness, Cthulhu, and the Alt-Right

On this week’s review episode, Gene and Derek discuss recent titles that are quite varied in tone and narrative approach. They begin with  David Gaffney and Dan Berry’s The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head (Top Shelf/IDW Publishing). This is a somewhat surreal, and dark, look at a young woman and her various relationships with men. The memories of these encounters are something she apparently cannot let go of, and this is represented deftly through the metaphor of rooms and psychological compartmentalization. The guys like the fact that the story ends ambiguously — and with happy elves, no less! — but they’re not too sure what to make of the sudden shift in point of view about two thirds of the way through.

The Two Guys follow this with a very timely new title. Days of Hate #1, written by Aleš Kot and with art by Danijel Žeželj (Image Comics), is set in the year 2022, a time after some sort of civil war takes place in the US — we’re not sure yet of the details surrounding this conflict — and it apparently has resulted, or perhaps even caused by, the rise of extremist or alt-right groups in America. In this inaugural installment, we’re introduced to several characters on various ends of the political spectrum, some of which have intermingled and contentious pasts. There are many questions set up and left unanswered in this first issue, but that doesn’t detract from the intrigue and motivation to continue on with the series.

And what better way to follow up a story on the alt-right than a discussion of monstrous Lovecraftian mayhem? This is exactly what you’ll find in Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey’s Vinegar Teeth #1 (Dark Horse Comics).It’s a strange and wacky tale revolving around a schmucky, but effective, cop named Artie Buckle. An undercover assignment he’s on is almost ruined when a Cthulhu-like creature pierces his world’s dimension, with the unlikely result that the city’s mayor makes this creature a police officer and assigns him as Artie’s partner. What transpires is the beginning of a weird buddy cop story with interdimensional, and narratively warped, potential.