Comics Alternative, Episode 258: Our Fifth Annual Thanksgiving Show

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Pass the Pie


Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the folks at The Comics Alternative all gather around the virtual table to share what they are thankful for in terms of comics and comics culture. Pulling up a seat this year are Gwen, Paul, Sean, Gene, Edward, and Derek. Among the many things that they’re thankful for are

What more could one ask for in a holiday podcast episode? Well…maybe some pie.



Comics Alternative, Episode 251: The October Previews Catalog

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The Two Guys with PhDs have been on hiatus for a couple of months — as they explain in this episode, life matters prevented new episodes — but now the weekly review show is back…and with a vengeance. On this episode, Gene and Derek look through the October Previews catalog. There’s a lot packed into this month’s solicits, and the guys have their hands full. But Gene and Derek rise to the occasion and highlight a variety of upcoming titles from publishers such as:


Comics Alternative Interviews: Brian Cremins

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:35 – Setup of interview
  • 00:05:05 – Interview with Brian Cremins
  • 01:30:42 – Wrap up
  • 01:31:51 – Contact us


Child Is Father to the Man

On this episode of the interview series, the Three Guys with PhDs — Andy, Gene, and Derek — talk with Brian Cremins about his new book from the University Press of Mississippi Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia. During their conversation Brian discusses why he chose to focus specifically on the Big Red Cheese, what the comics meant to him growing up, and the superhero’s links to nostalgia. As he points out, Captain Marvel isn’t the most popular figure for critical or scholarly discussion, but the contexts surrounding the Fawcett property make it the perfect vehicle for the kind of analysis Brian wanted to bring. Gene, Andy, and Derek also ask their guest about the research that went into his book, the kind of archival investigations he conducted, the correspondences he struck up along the way, his efforts in securing a unique cover image, and his strategies for making this, in many ways, a very personal work.


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


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.



Comics Alternative Special: A Roundtable Discussion on Political Comics

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Just in time for the U.S. elections, Gene and Derek hold a roundtable discussion on political and propaganda comics. Joining them in the conversation are Richard Graham, author of Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s (Abrams ComicArts); Rafael Medoff, co-author (along with Craig Yoe) of Cartoonists against the Holocaust (Clizia Inc.); Kent Worcester, editor of Silent Agitators: Cartoon Art from the Pages of New Politics (New Politics Associates); and Fredrik Strömberg, the writer of Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History (St. Martin’s Griffin). The guys talk with their guests about the significance of political cartooning and what drew each of them into this particular avenue of scholarship. Most of their conversation concerns the history of the genre (at least in the United States) as well as the process behind the research. At the same time, they also focus on the current political moment and how, as several of the participants feel, most contemporary political cartoonists haven’t really met the challenge. The participants also share their thoughts on the impact of digital technology on the art form. In a heated political season signified by polemics and propaganda, it’s reassuring that you can turn to a Comics Alternative special episode providing you with the soothing comfort of…well, polemics and propaganda.

Learn more about this episode’s guests and their scholarship:


Richard Graham, Kent Worcester, Fredrik Strömberg, and Rafael Medoff (with Craig Yoe)


Comics Alternative, Episode 196: Reviews of The Stranger, Snotgirl #1, and Frontier #12

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An Episode of Discovery


On this week’s episode, the Two Guys with PhDs discuss three very different recent titles. They begin with the comics adaptation of Albert Camus’s The Stranger, written and illustrated by Jacques Ferrandez (Pegasus Books). Originally published in French 2013 — and translated by Sandra Smith — this is a graphic retelling of the absurdist classic. What is most notable about their discussion is that the guys are coming at this book from different perspectives of awareness. Derek knows the work of Camus very well, while Gene had never read the original novella. This leads them to slightly different interpretations of the story events as revealed through Meursault’s narration. And the guys’ experiential differences also come through in their readings of the text’s absurdist theme.

Next, Gene and Derek look at Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung’s Snotgirl #1 (Image Comics). This is O’Malley’s first monthly series, and the guys were expecting a lot from this title. While both appreciate Hung’s art, they’re not entirely sure what to make of the story…at least, yet. At times it seems as if O’Malley is trying too hard to capture a particularly younger voice. And this is strange, coming from the creator of the Scott Pilgrim series. For example, both Derek and Gene are unsure of the story’s emphasis on the “hipness” of blogging. On the one hand this premise seems passé, but on the other hand the guys wonder if O’Malley is just establishing a tone that he will critique in subsequent issues. Ultimately, while the guys are intrigued by this inaugural issue, they’re nonetheless going to adopt a “wait and see” attitude and discover how the story unfolds.

The final segment of the episode is devoted to the latest issue of Frontier, the quarterly monograph series of new talent from Youth in Decline. Kelly Kwang is the artist of the most recent release, #12, a non-linear narrative surrounding a game called Space Youth Cadets. This isn’t so much of a story as it is an exploration of the contexts surrounding such a game: what powers certain characters have, their storyworld, their clothing and accoutrements, and the designs that would distinguish the game in the public eye. Kwang’s black-and-white art is both intricate and intimate, revealing a closeness with technology and social networking. Derek and Gene also say a few words about Frontier #6, Emily Carroll’s issue that has just recently come back into print, and about the Frontier series as a whole.



Comics Alternative Interviews: Evan Dorkin, Pt. 2

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“I don’t have a successful record of making people happy”


The Two Guys are back with the second half of their marathon interview with Evan Dorkin. This installment picks up where yesterday’s segment left off, in a discussion of the Beasts of Burden series. Derek asks if this Dark Horse title has become a defining work of Evan’s, if he’s now DorkinSketchknown as the “Beasts of Burden guy” instead of the “Milk and Cheese guy.” And Evan goes on to share some information on the next comic in the series, What the Cat Dragged In, and his continued working relationship with Jill Thompson. Also in this half, the conversation gets more superhero-y, with Evan discussing his work with DC’s World’s Funnest and Bizarro Comics and his creation of Fight-Man for Marvel. He also expresses his unfiltered thoughts on current superhero fan culture, including the ridiculous premises surrounding Peter Parker’s Aunt May — “I almost married Doctor Octopus. That’s how fucked up my life is” — and the unlikely reality of today’s box office hits: “Shit, it’s Ant-Man. I’m paying money to see Ant-Man…Fucking Ant-Man!” Along the way the guys also talk about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic BookSpace Ghost Coast to Coast, Yo Gabba Gabba!Milk and Cheese, and the new Stela project with Sarah Dyer (his wife), Calla Cthulhu. There is a lot packed into this part of the conversation, and, when set alongside yesterday’s first half, it is the longest interview in the history of The Comics Alternative. And that’s just dorkalicious!

Be sure to listen to the first half of the Evan Dorkin interview!


Comics Alternative Interviews: Evan Dorkin, Pt. 1

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“I don’t want to know how Batman’s equipment works…and I don’t mean his junk”


Have you ever listened to an interview on The Comics Alternative and thought, “That was good, but I wish the Two Guys had talked longer with their guest?” If so, then this conversation will scratch that itch…and more. In this episode Gene and Derek have the pleasure of talking with Evan Dorkin, and getting much more than they bargained for. In fact, the interview lasted over two hours and forty-five minutes, so the guys decided devildadwebto break up the conversation over two episodes. In this first half of the interview, Derek and Gene talk with Evan about The Eltingville Club, released last month from Dark Horse Books — and reviewed by the guys a few weeks ago — and how his experiences with comics culture all fed into the stories. Along with this, they discuss the pilot of Welcome to Eltingville and the twists and turns of creating the animation during the early days of Adult Swim. The guys also begin talking with Evan about his and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden series and how this has become one of his career-defining works. (They continue their conversation on Beasts of Burden in the second half of the interview.) And they learn, much to their excitement, that Evan would like to bring back his wild series, Dork, in some manner. As you might expect in an interview with the creator of Milk and Cheese, hilarity abounds. The guys point out that this is not only the longest interview they’ve ever conducted, but also one packed with the most laughs. Among other topics, you’ll hear Evan talk about the absurdities of convention culture, the sheer idiocy of Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy — “the Trump of animation” — and his complete disregard for Batman’s gadgets. Plus, he berates Derek for not remembering the role of Ecto-1 in the last Eltingville Club story. What more could you want in a podcast interview?

But there IS more to this interview. Be sure to return tomorrow for the second half!



Comics Alternative, Episode 175: Reviews of The Eltingville Club, Cry Havoc #1, and The Dark and Bloody #1

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Process and Paratext


This week on The Comics Alternative Gene and Derek focus on the funny, the poignant, and the creepy. They begin with Evan Dorkin’s The Eltingville Club (Dark Horse Books), a nice hardbound edition that collects all of the Eltingville Club stories published over the past twenty years. This is Dorkin’s twisted, and at times acerbic, love letter to geek and collecting culture. Bill, Josh, Pete, and Jerry make up the Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club, and their antics are as hilarious as they are painful to read. This is because Dorkin cuts to the bone of fandom, and readers will probably recognize these scenarios and contexts from their own lives. Indeed, in a short essay toward the end of the volume, Dorkin himself admits that many of the stories are based on his fan-obsessed experiences growing up, as well as on the darker side of the culture he’s witnessed as a creator. Yet as uncomfortable as these stories can get at times, they are some of the funniest comics you’ll read all year. What else would expect from the creator of Milk and CheeseDork, and Dick Wad of the Mega-Vice Squad? Next, the guys take a look at Cry Havoc #1, written by Simon Spurrier with art by Ryan Kelly (Image Comics). This is the start of what appears to be a unique take on the werewolf narrative. At least this is what Derek and Gene think might be the case. They’re not entirely sure, because this DarkBloodySamplefirst issue leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and not necessarily in a good serial-driven way. As the guys discuss, there are parts of this story that are a bit confusing but whose uncertainty will probably be addressed with the completion of the first narrative arc. The creators even saw fit to annotate this #1 issue, which raises additional questions about the story’s ability to stand on its own. Still, Kelly’s art is worth the price of admission, and the series’ use of multiple colorists, each creating a different mood, makes this a title worth watching. Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski’s The Dark and Bloody #1. This is the beginning of a new Vertigo Comics series, the first since the publisher launched its twelve next-wave titles back in the fall (and for an in-depth look at those series, check out episode 170). Derek, in particular, likes this inaugural issue, feeling that it does a good job of setting up the premise with just the right amount of story tease. By contrast, Gene isn’t as enamored of the issue and feels that this isn’t the kind of Vertigo comic he had once grown to love (and admittedly, Gene hasn’t been keeping up with the publisher in quite a while). Much like Cry Havoc, this is also another monster tale with, as of now, an ambiguous and ill-defined terror. And, in an offbeat way, it’s the perfect companion to Dorkin’s Eltingville Club, a book with its own kind of monstrosities.


The outro music to this episode is the “Welcome to Eltingville” theme by The Aquabats!


Comics Alternative Interviews: Tom Hart

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Gene and Derek start off the week presenting a powerful interview with Tom Hart. His new book, Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir, is being released this week from St. Martin’s Press, and it’s an honest and heartrending work. It chronicles the days following the unexpected death of Tom’s daughter, Rosalie, as he and his wife anguished over the loss and tried to make sense of RL-Coverwhat had happened. In addition to their grief and feelings of emptiness, they also had to continue struggling with the frustrations of the mundane, such as trying to sell their apartment in New York. It’s a story about putting the pieces of your life back together, reflected in large part through the structure of Tom’s narrative. Gene notes the images that bind the scenes together, such as the visual prominence of circles, and Derek believes the Rosalie Lightning reads much like poetry with its associative, non-linear linking of emotions and memories. The guys also use the opportunity to talk with Tom about his other work, such as his Hutch Owen comics and his educational efforts. In fact, they talk a good deal about the Sequential Artists Workshop that Tom founded in 2012 in Gainesville, Florida, as well as the online course he offers on graphic memoir writing…an endeavor that largely grew out of his own experiences documenting his loss. As the guys point out in this episode, Rosalie Lightning an important new book from Tom, one that is sure to resonate beyond the comics and graphic novels community of readers.

To find out more about Tom’s work, visit his website. And also check out the Sequential Artists Workshop.



Comics Alternative, Episode 169: The January Previews Catalog

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“I’m all about the old-timey”


Welcome to January! As the guys do at the beginning of every month, they use this time to discuss the solicits in the latest Previews catalog. And there’s a lot packed into the January issue, starting with a rundown of the 50 titles that will be featured this coming Free Comic Book Day. Gene and Derek are particularly looking forward to the FCBD comics coming out from Fantagraphics, Archie Comics, First Second Books, Image Comics, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, VIZ Media, and Nobrow. After that brief detour, they get into the catalog proper, highlight upcoming releases from publishers such as

All in all, Gene and Derek have a fun time thumbing through the January Previews catalog, making their checklists for comics they want to read, titles they’d like to discuss on the podcast, and creators they want to interview in the coming year.


Comics Alternative Interviews: Once Again, It’s Time for Craig Yoe

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Happy New Yoe!


It’s a brand new year, and for their very first podcast episode of 2016, the guys have as their guest the great Craig Yoe! This may become a tradition on The Comics Alternative, having Craig start off the new year, much as they did in 2015. In fact, this is the fifth interview appearance that Craig has made on the podcast (not counting the brief segment recorded at HeroesCon last year). Usually when the Yoemesiter comes on the show, he has one or two new books to discuss. But this time around there are a whopping six titles recently released from Yoe Books and IDW Publishing! It’s all that Gene and Derek can do to keep up with everything that Craig and his production editor/wife, Clizia Gussoni, are putting out.


They begin with a discussion of the five year anniversary of Yoe Books, which Craig actually celebrated last year. When he appeared on the show back in January of 2015, Craig discussed the coming year and what he had in store for the anniversary celebration. So Derek and Gene talk with him about the success of the first five years and about plans for the next five. Then they jump into a discussion of the many Yoe Book releases we’ve experienced over the past couple of months, beginning with Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales. This is a beautiful book, going above and beyond the usual standards we’ve come to expect from Yoe and IDW, and the guys begin by asking their guest about the production work that went into this volume. Craig also shares his love of Walt Kelly and his experiences collecting the material which originally appeared in Dell’s Fairy Tale Parade between 1942 and 1946. Next, the guys ask Craig about his latest additions in his Chilling Archives of Horror Comics series, Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House (curated and introduced by Michael H. Price) and The Complete Voodoo, Vol. 1 (which includes an introduction by Mike Howlett, who has previously appeared on the podcast). They discuss the sheer weirdness that was Voodoo, a pre-code horror title from Farrell Publications, and the fetishism apparent in the Fiction House volume. Craig points out that Jumbo Comics, part of the Fiction House line, was known for its buxom women in compromised positions, and that the selections from its “Ghost Gallery” sections (collected in the Fiction House book) provide plentiful examples of “headlight comics.” Gene and Derek also talk with Craig about the latest collected editions of his ongoing series, Haunted HorrorVol. 3: Pre-code Comics So Good, They’re Scary and Weird Love, Vol. 2: That’s the Way I Like It!, as well as his upcoming three-issue miniseries, Haunted Love. It just gets weirder and weirder with Craig Yoe…and that’s why the guys keep inviting him back on the podcast!


Be sure to check out The Yoe Tube on YouTube for fun videos and music…the latter of which is included in this episode!


Comics Alternative, Episode 163: Our Third Annual Thanksgiving Show

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Stewed and Stuffed?


The guys are back with their third annual Thanksgiving show. This a special episode of The Comics Alternative where Andy, Derek, and other cohosts get together to discuss what they’re thankful for in the world of comics and comics culture. This year both Andy W. and Gene are able to join in, so for this special holiday week you get a special episode with extra stuff: Four Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics! Among the various things Gene, Derek, Andy, and Andy are thankful for are

  • small-press publishers (like Kilgore, Uncivilized, Youth in Decline, AdHouse, Conundrum, Koyama, etc) who provide them with material for their podcasts,
  • Chris Marshall of Collected Comics Library, who provided us with 17 years of insightful comics analysis (and whose podcast the guys will miss),
  • Fantagraphics and their Complete Peanuts series,
  • the many great projects they’re backing on Kickstarter,
  • the relatively new Librarians Assemble! podcast,
  • this year’s comics-related museum exhibits,
  • special collections, such as the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and the Comic Art Collection at Michigan State, as well as the librarians who manage them,
  • Dean Mullaney, Craig Yoe, Chris Staros, and the incredibly helpful folks at IDW Publishing — Dirk, Rosalind, and Mike — who go out of their way to keep the guys informed and supplied,
  • Chicago and the comics-related opportunities it provides,
  • creators like Joe Ollmann, Tim Lane, and Seth, who have been very generous with their time this past year and participated in email interviews for the blog,
  • fun Marvel properties, such as Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the new Jessica Jones series on Netflix,
  • Gwen, Shea, and Sean for helping on the various monthly podcast series,
  • and our Patreon supporters who have helped make 2015 a successful year!

Much like the yams with melted marshmallows served during Thanksgiving, this is an episode that you can pass around to friends and loved ones and taking a generous portion and then savoring the smooth, creamy goodness of every bite (byte?). There’s plenty to go around. And if you’re listening to this podcast in a non-US location, you can appreciate this episode knowing that Thanksgiving is more than just gratuitous Pilgrim references and obscene gluttony; it’s also middle-aged guys with advanced degrees sitting around and talking about comic books.


Comics Alternative, Episode 159: Halloween Comics 2015

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“A heaping helping of horror”


It’s the scary season, and as they’ve done for the past couple of years, Gene and Derek talk about some of this year’s Halloween specials and seasonal horror titles. In this episode you’ll hear the Two Guys with PhDs discuss:

Derek and Gene spend much of their time discussing their favorite book of the week, the latest volume of Haunted Horror. There are a lot of spooky and just plain weird titles in this collection — case in point: “Ghost from Mars” — and the guys could have easily spent the entire episode talking about Craig Yoe’s latest effort. But they have a lot of ground to cover, so they move on from there to the other offerings. Titles such as Upside DownMonsterjunkiesAdventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular, and Spongebob Comics are perfect for those younger readers getting ready to go trick or treating…or, in the case of Spongebob, even for those older readers staying in and giving out the candy. The guys also discuss the pros and cons of seasonal titles that are part of an ongoing storyline — for example, this Halloween’s Adventure Time and Grimm Fairy Tales — and the attraction of certain issues, such as The Goon: Theatre Bizarre and All Hallows’ Eve, that easily stand on their own outside of any series continuity. And then there are seasonal titles such as Zombies vs. Cheerleaders and Gold Digger, for which Gene and Derek feel at a total lost. Still, the guys have a good time talking about this year’s Halloween comics, even if they don’t understand them all.



Comics Alternative, Episode 155: International Podcast Day 2015

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Get Listening!


Today, September 30, is International Podcast Day! To celebrate the occasion the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics get together with some of the other cohosts of the show, Gwen Tarbox, Andy Wolverton, and Gene Kannenberg, Jr., to talk about podcasts and podcasting. As such, they don’t necessarily focus on comics podcasts — although podcasts about comics comes up often during the discussion — but instead, they share their insights and experiences concerning a wide variety of podcasts. For example, everybody begins by recounting the first podcasts they ever listened to, or what brought them to the medium. They also discuss how they discern podcasts in terms of topic, content, hosting, and sound quality. And of course, each shares the various podcasts she or he currently listens to on a regular or semi-regular basis…and how and when they listen to them. They even discuss their work on The Comics Alternative and how their experiences as podcasters have affected the way they listen to (and critique) other podcasts. But overall, everyone has a great time getting together — the first time more than three cohosts appear on the same show! — and talking about a medium that has increasingly become a part of their lives. So sit back, fire up that listening device of choice, and enjoy the fun that is The Comics Alternative celebrating International Podcast Day.