Comics Alternative for Young Readers: A Discussion of the Nominees for the 2018 Eisner Awards for the Early Readers, Kids, and Teens Categories

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:31 – Introduction
  • 00:03:19 – Setup of the discussion
  • 00:05:04 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Early Readers category 
  • 00:51:47 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Kids category
  • 01:31:45 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Teens category
  • 02:20:32 – Wrap up
  • 02:26:03 – Contact us

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Putting on the Evening Gown and Tuxedo

On this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul detail the three categories of the Eisner Awards that focus on children and teens:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • The Dam Keeperby Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi (First Second/Tonko House)
  • Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
  • Louis Undercover, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi)
  • Monstressby Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Spinningby Tillie Walden (First Second)

In addition to reviewing each nominated text, the duo refers listeners to The Comics Alternative archives for the shows that reference these nominees: Good Night, Planet by Liniers; Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez; The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi; and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

Paul and Gwen use this episode to launch a general discussion of age designations and categorization of children’s and YA comics, and they reference the art of Bolivian painter and lithographer Graciela Rodo Boulanger, whose depiction of children resembles that found in Campbell Whyte’s Home Time. So, won’t you pour yourself a chilly beverage, kick back, and give a listen to the two PhDs — more on Paul’s recent doctoral graduation from University of California-Berkeley will appear in the June podcast — for a rundown of this year’s Eisner nominees.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:58 – Interview with Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson
  • 01:03:26 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:32 – Contact us

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If You’re Going to San Francisco

First Second has recently published The City on the Other Side, a historically based fantasy written by Mairghread Scott and with art by Robin Robinson. Gwen and Derek talk with the creators about their new book, the genesis behind the concept, and their decision to base their narrative in San Francisco. This is a compelling story that should have wide appeal, and not only with younger readers. Over the course of the conversation, Mairghread and Robin share their experiences researching various cultures’ folklore (upon which many of the figures are based), the importance of character design, their methods of collaboration, and the significance of maps.

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of The Dragon Slayer and The Lost Path, and a Discussion of the Children’s Comics-Related Book Market

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Hurling Children over Cliffs

In this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul review two new releases, both of which have a connection to folklore and fairy tales: Jaime Hernandez’s The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America from Toon Graphics, and Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path from Lion Forge Comics’ children’s imprint, Cub House. Additionally, Paul and Gwen discuss Brian Hibb’s “Tilting at Windmills #268: Looking at BookScan 2017,” an overview of comics sales that demonstrates that the children’s and YA market continues to grow and that young people are getting comics in a variety of venues, from direct distribution at comics shops to major booksellers to Comixology.

In Part I of the show, Paul and Gwen embark on a detailed discussion of The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America, a text that includes three short tales, “The Dragon Slayer” and “Tup and the Ants,” both written and drawn by Jaime Hernandez, and “Martina Martínez and Pérez the Mouse,” a collaboration between children’s author Alma Flor Ada and Hernandez. The text begins with a short essay, “Imagination and Tradition,” by noted author F. Isabel Campoy that helps to contextualize the various fairy tales, or “cuentos” that have emerged from the diverse oral and literary traditions, which Campoy terms “a unique blend of Old World and New, spanning a continent across many geographic boundaries and cultures.” Campoy mentions specifically the Catholic, Jewish, Arab, and Moorish influences upon the Spanish, whose tales then encountered those of indigenous peoples from “the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and other Native American cultures.” At the end of the text, Campoy and Ada provide context for the three folktales, as well as a bibliography, and information on the authors. The editors at Toon Graphic have released a paperback Spanish language edition of the text, La Matadragones: Cuentos de Lationoamérica,” and Paul mentions the value of these books in dual language classrooms.

Gwen and Paul then consider the way that The Dragon Slayer fits into Jaime Hernandez’s long and storied career, and they mention both the humor inherent in the stories and the way that Hernandez’s characteristic clear line style conveys characters’ feelings and reactions. The fact that all three tales feature strong women is something that Paul highlights, noting that these tales provide a much-needed emphasis on girls and women who stand up for themselves and serve as problem solvers.

Next, the duo talks about Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path, a vibrant adventure story that includes references to classic fairy tales, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Gwen notes the text’s similarity to other contemporary comics in which young people pass through to a magical land where conflict is brewing – she mentions specifically Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson’s recently released The City on the Other Side (First Second) as an example, while Paul praises the text’s style, from the gorgeous water color page-length spreads to the black and white sketches, which are rich in detail and artistry.

The show concludes with Paul and Gwen discussing the rise in hybrid comics, as well as implications that they have drawn from reading Brian Hibb’s latest report on comics sales.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor

Time Codes:

  • 00:26 – Introduction
  • 03:15 – Setup of interview
  • 04:11 – Interview with Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor
  • 51:00 – Wrap up
  • 52:16 – Contact us

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Gothic Tintin

On this interview episode, Gwen and Derek talk with the creative team behind Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter, a new book out from First Second. Both Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor share their experiences conceiving the premise, their process of collaboration, and their hopes to further explore this fantastical world. Scarlett Hart is the story of the titular protagonist who carries on in her deceased parents’ footsteps, keeping her city free of monsters. With the help of her steadfast assistant Napoleon, she hunts down big nasties while trying to stay one step ahead of her nemesis, fellow monster hunter Count Stankovic. Over the course of their conversation, Marcus and Thomas discuss their love of weird monsters and young adventure narratives, combining these passions to create what they refer to as a “gothic Tintin.”

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of The Prince and the Dressmaker and Speak: The Graphic Novel

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Art and Perceptions

Gwen and Paul are back with another Young Readers episode. For February, they discuss two recent publications, both that explore how perceptions, for better or for worse, figure into our lives. They begin with Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second), a fairy tale-like narrative focusing on romance, identity, and creativity. Next, they look at Speak: The Graphic Novel (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), a comics adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson’s young adult novel Speak. Illustrated by Emily Carroll, it’s a story of a young high school outcast who uses art to confront the hardships that have kept her on the margins.

Comics Alternative, Episode 267: The February Previews Catalog

Super!

Gwen and Derek are back with another Previews episode. And since February is Super Bowl time, in the super spirit of that super day they present a super long show. That’s right, there were so many titles that the two wanted to highlight this month, that this episode inadvertently turned into (we think) the longest Previews show ever recorded on The Comics Alternative. History in the making, or an annoyingly long experience? You decide. Among the many comic books and graphic novels that Gwen and Derek highlight are:

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 261: Reviews of Generation Gone, Vol. 1, Assassinistas #1, and Love and Rockets IV #4

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Time Codes:

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Hackers, Assassins, and Locas

This week Gwen and Derek take a look at three recent and exciting titles. They begin with the first trade collection of Aleš Kot and André Lima Araújo’s Generation Gone (Image Comics). This initial volume establishes the premise of the intriguing series. The story focuses on three hackers who attempt to get into government systems, are discovered, and “infected” with genetic codes that give them supernatural powers. Gwen points out that, in some ways, this narrative is reminiscent of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, although as Derek mentions, Kot and Araújo’s world isn’t anything post-apocalyptic. This first volume introduces what promises to be an engaging series and whets readers’ appetites for what may follow.

Next, the Two People with PhDs Talking about Comics turn to the first of two Hernandez-infused comics covered this week. The first is Gilbert Hernandez and Tini Howard’s Assassinistas #1, part of IDW Publications’ and Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint. The debut issue introduces us to three former assassins, two of which — at least as far as we know — have left that life and are attempting to “go legitimate” and live a normal life. However, drama erupts when one of the team, Charlotte “Scarlet” La Costa, has her son kidnapped, bringing another team member, Octavia “Red October” Price, back into a life she thought she had left behind her. And what of the third member of this one-time trio, Rosalyn “Blood” Diamond?  Both of the cohosts enjoyed this title, although the paratextual material in the back of this issue, commentary from editor Shelly Bond, is a bit conspicuous and doesn’t add much.

Finally, Derek and Gwen wrap up by discussing the latest issue of Love and Rockets IV (Fantagraphics). This fourth issue picks up with the various storylines that both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have established going back to the previous Love and Rockets annuals. For Jaime, this means continuing the Princess Animus and Isle narratives, as well as giving us glimpses into both Maggie’s and Hopey’s pasts growing up in Hoppers. And then there’s Derek’s favorite part of this issue, a two-page focus on Ray that follows up on the events in The Love Bunglers. Gilbert’s contributions gives us a brief glimpse into Killer’s career choices, but there is also a Pipo storyline where this foundational character tries to come to terms with a relationship she once had in Palomar. In fact, in extended flashbacks, we’re taken back to “classic” Palomar and characters we haven’t seen for quite a while. But as Derek points out, one of the most striking things about this issue is that we see little of Fritz…and no mention at all of any Fritz imitators. A rarity in recent Love and Rockets issues!

Comics Alternative, Episode 260: The January Previews Catalog

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Panda Issue?

Happy New Year from The Comics Alternative! To help bring in 2018, Gwen and Derek are back to meticulously go through the January Previews catalog, providing recommendations and insights on a variety of upcoming titles. This month’s catalog is jam-packed with great solicits, so many, in fact, that this becomes an extra-long episode. They begin by looking at the various offerings announced for this year’s Free Comic Book Day, and then they move on to the catalog proper. Among the many comic books and graphic novels that Gwen and Derek highlight are:

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of Good Night, Planet, The Dam Keeper, and Misfit City, as Well as a Look Back at 2017

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Time Codes:

  • 00:31 – Introduction
  • 03:51 – Greetings and apologies
  • 05:36 – Good Night, Planet
  • 13:15 – The Dam Keeper
  • 24:59 – Misfit City
  • 39:30 – A look back at 2017 in young reader comics
  • 56:56 – Wrap up
  • 57:25 – Contact us

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New and Review

It’s the end of the year, and for their December episode of the Young Readers series, Gwen and Paul discuss three exciting titles as well look back at the past year’s releases. They begin by discussing Liniers’s Good Night, Planet, part of Françoise Mouly’s TOON Books series. After that they look at Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi’s The Dam Keeper, recently released from First Second. Then they wrap up with a comic-book series, Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith,‎ Kurt Lustgarten,‎ and Naomi Franquiz’s Misfit City (BOOM! Box).

They also take a look back at 2017, where both Gwen and Paul discuss what they consider the best of comics of the year for young readers.

Comics Alternative, Episode 259: Reviews of Bad Mask, Evolution #1, and Doctor Radar #1

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Time Codes:

  • 00:01:26 – Introduction
  • 00:03:48 – Post-Thanksgiving digestion
  • 00:05:07 – Bad Mask
  • 00:30:41 – Evolution #1
  • 00:46:48 – Doctor Radar #1
  • 01:03:06 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:36 – Contact us

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Mystery!

On this week’s episode Gwen and Derek discuss three recent releases that, while all being quite different, nonetheless share a common theme of mystery. They start off with Jon Chad’s Bad Mask (BOOM! Box), a multimedia project that explores perspective and interpretation. With its various components in multiple print formats — comic book, trading cards, newspaper tabloid, mainstream news magazine, business reports, etc. — it’s an intelligent exploration of how we define “hero.” Next, the Two PhDs Talking about Comics explore the first issue of Evolution (Image Comics). This is a different kind of comic in that it’s written by four authors…and the result is solid and far from fragmented. James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson contribute to the story, with Joe Infurnari providing the art. Finally, Gwen and Derek look at Noël Simsolo and Bézian’s Doctor Radar #1 (Titan Comics). This is a translation that taps into the crime noir genre, expertly done and perhaps the highlight of the week.

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 258: Our Fifth Annual Thanksgiving Show

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Pass the Pie

thanksgiving2016

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.

ForbiddenWorldsThanksgiving

 

Episode 255: The November Previews Catalog

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“You can’t beat good-looking snow”

On this month’s Previews episode, Gwen and Derek join forces to highlight the various November solicits that strike their fancy. In fact, this is Gwen’s first time doing a Previews show, but she comes across as an old hand and suggests some wonderful upcoming titles that are sure to resonate with listeners. But first, the Two Academics Talking about Comics send out a BIG thank you to two dedicated — and two very talented — listeners, Holly English and Marc Casilli. Both have recently shared copies of their own self-published comics, and Gwen and Derek give them a shout-out and discuss how impressed they are with the issues. After that they announce The Comics Alternative‘s brand new Slack channel, inviting listeners to join up and take part in the discussion community. But after these announcements, they get to the heart of this week’s Previews episode. Among the comics and graphic novels Gwen and Derek recommend are:

Be sure to visit the websites of both Holly English and Marc Casilli and discover their wonderful art and comics!
And remember, check out The Comics Alternative‘s new Slack channel!

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Andy Hirsch

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Time Codes:

  • 00:25 – Introduction
  • 02:55 – Setup of interview
  • 04:20 – Interview with Andy Hirsch
  • 57:15 – Wrap up
  • 59:51 – Contact us

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Acorn Flipper

Andy Hirsch is back on the podcast, and this time he talks with Gwen and Derek about his new book, Science Comics: Dogs: From Predator to Protector. This is the next volume in First Second’s important Science Comics series, one that uses comics to educate both younger readers and adults. In fact, Gwen and Derek spend a lot of time asking Andy his illustrative strategies for taking complex concepts and making them understandable to a broader audience. There is a lot of science packed into this book, and not all of it specifically devoted to canines. But Andy uses colorful charts and graphs, as well as particularly effective storytelling conventions, to present his dense subject matter. Guiding the reader through all of this information is Rudy, the lovable mixed-breed narrator who, in many ways, functions as a stand-in for Andy Hirsch himself. Over the course of the interview, Derek and Gwen talk with their guest not only about the new book, its genesis, and Andy’s growing association with First Second, but they also share their own love of and histories with dogs, making this episode of the interview series somewhat of a canine lovefest.

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of A Different Pond, Swing It, Sunny, and Pashmina

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Time Codes:

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Perspectives

On this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers podcast, Gwen and Paul discuss three comics that run the gamut from early readers up to teens.

First on deck, they discuss Bao Phi and Thi Bui’s A Different Pond (Capstone Young Readers), a children’s hybrid picture book/comic that focuses on a bonding moment between a young boy and his father.

Then, Gwen and Paul talk about Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm’s sequel to last year’s acclaimed Sunny Side-Up, Swing It, Sunny (Graphix), which sees preteen Sunny trying to figure out why her older brother has changed so much.

Finally, the Two Academics Talking about Comics look at a middle/grade…or maybe YA text, Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina (First Second), about a young immigrant who tries to gain a deeper understanding of her mother’s past in India.

Also, Gwen and Paul have a special segment for this month’s episode, as Paul’s daughter tells us about her thoughts after reading two of our books, Swing It, Sunny and Pashmina.

 

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: A Roundtable Discussion on Contemporary Issues in Children’s and Young Adult Comics

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:06 – Roundtable discussion with Charles Hatfield and Krystal Howard
  • 01:25:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:27:49 – Contact us

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Talking It Out

For this Young Readers show, Paul and Gwen change things up a bit by hosting a roundtable on the state of children’s and YA comics with two amazing scholars: Dr. Charles Hatfield, professor in the department of English at California State University, Northridge, and his new college, Dr. Krystal Howard, an assistant professor who is dual appointed in English and Liberal Studies.

The conversation in this month’s episode includes a number of timely topics, including the way scholars define children’s and YA comics, the challenges and benefits of teaching children’s comics, and the exciting formal aspects of comics, as well as other categories, such as verse novels.

Charles had just returned from the San Diego Comic Con, and he shared a list of sessions that were held in conjunction with SDCC at the San Diego Public Library, as well as commentary on this year’s nominees in the three award areas devoted to young readers: Best Publication for Early Readers, Best Publication for Kids, and Best Publication for Teens.

Another rich topic for discussion among the panelists was the portrayal of children in comics written for adults. Recent releases mentioned in this regard included Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Nick Drnaso’s Beverly, and Brecht Evens’ Panther. Recommended children’s texts that seem to be breaking conventions include Eric Orchard’s Bera, the One-Headed Troll, Drew Weing’s The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, and favorite texts to teach included Luke Pearson’s Hilda series, Barry Deutsch’s Hereville series, and Lewis/Aydin/Powell’s March series, among others.

If listeners have been looking for a good list of must-read children’s and YA comics, this roundtable delivers on that count.