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
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.
The Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics are back with another fun conversation, this time with artist I. N. J. Culbard. They talk with him about his latest book, The King in Yellow (SelfMadeHero), a graphic adaptation of Robert W. Chambers’s macabre collection of stories originally published in 1895. To be more specific, Culbard actually takes the first four stories from Chambers’s original work, the ones that reference the notorious fictional play referenced in the title — “The Repairer of Reputations,” “The Mask,” “In the Court of the Dragon,” and “The Yellow Sign” — and adapts those. As Ian reveals, he attempts to stay true to the spirit of the original, while at the same time making creative changes that will more fully bring out the stories’ tone and present them in more of a thematic whole. In fact, Derek suggests that Ian has actually made The King in Yellow better by giving it more structural cohesion, using the four stories in such a way that the book becomes short-story cycle, or more appropriate to the medium, a graphic cycle. The guys spend a lot of time discussing the new book, the artist’s storytelling choices, and especially Culbard’s larger philosophy on adaptation and comics. However, they also explore a variety of Ian’s earlier works, including his ongoing adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft narratives (of which we can expect more in the near future), his many collaborations with both Ian Edgington and Dan Abnett, and his solo work from last year, Celeste. If you aren’t previously familiar with the work of I. N. J. Culbard, then this is your chance to get introduced to one of the best adapters, and best artists, working in comics today.