Comics Alternative, Episode 258: Our Fifth Annual Thanksgiving Show

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Pass the Pie

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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.

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Comics Alternative, Episode 252: Reviews of Spinning, Love and Rockets, Vol. 4 #3, and Slots #1

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On the Ice, in the Casino

On this week’s episode of The Comics Alternative, Paul joins Derek in discussing three exciting new titles. They begin with Spinning, Tillie Walden’s new book and her initial release for First Second. What makes this work stand out from her previous comics, such as The End of Summer and I Love This Part, is that it is an outright memoir. This is a coming-of-age narrative, and Walden uses her history of competitive ice skating as a scaffolding for her life story. There’s a lot in this memoir about her chosen sport, but Spinning is much more than a book about skating. In it, we see Walden’s key relationships, her search for a mother figure, and her coming out to family and friends.

Next, the guys check out the latest issue of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics). In this issue, the third in the magazine-sized fourth volume, both Jaime and Gilbert continue the storylines they had begun in the earlier New Stories annuals. Gilbert gives us the further adventures of Fritz, her daughters, and the Fritz wannabes, while Jaime returns to his Princess Anima story and the Hoppers punk reunion. What most strikes both Derek and Paul, however, are the two short pieces early in the issue where Jaime visits the young Maggie and Hopey in 1979. The guys hope there is more on the teenage locas in future issues.

Finally, the Two Guys wrap up by discussing the first issue of a new series from Image Comics, Dan Panosian’s Slots. This is the story of Stanley Dance, a former boxer and antihero who does what he can to get by. It takes place in Las Vegas, and both Paul and Derek are struck by how Panosian’s art, as well as his storytelling style, captures the loose and freewheeling feel of the gambling capital. They’re impressed by this first issue and plan to continue with this series.

Comics Alternative, Episode 236: Reviews of What Parsifal Saw, Love and Rockets #2, and Redneck #1

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Land of Hopey and Glory

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.

Comics Alternative, Episode 218: Reviews of Love and Rockets #1, Garden of the Flesh, and The One Hundred Nights of Hero

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Testicle Jones

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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.

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Comics Alternative, Episode 183: Reviews of Love & Rockets: New Stories 8, Girl Crazy, and Blubber #2

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“At this point Gilbert is just f**cking with us”

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This week’s episode is a Hernandez-centric show. On it, the Two Guys with PhDs play a little catch-up with some of Gilbert and Jaime’s comics that have come out over the past few months. They begin with the latest installment of Love & Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics), and most of the tales in this volume continue what began in last year’s annual. In fact, both Andy and Derek feel that New Stories 8 can be best appreciated, and better understood, when read alongside its predecessor. Jaime’s contributions — the Princess Animus, Maggie and Hopey, and Tonta storylines — are fairly straightforward, although the guys aren’t entirely sure how Princess Animus will ultimately fit into the Love & Rockets world. (Is it similar to the Ti-Girls with Jaime playing around with the superhero genre again? Might Penny Century be involved in some way?) But things aren’t as clear-cut when it comes to Gilbert’s selections, all centered on Fritz in some way. Over the last two New Stories annuals, Gilbert has been mapping out a complex narrative concerning the B-movie star and her imitators, chock-full of unusual characters, many LoveRockets8-interiorof whom look alike…and purposefully so. The guys comment on the ways in which Gilbert is manipulating his sequential chronology and the general weirdness surrounding Fritz’s world. And given the labyrinthine nature of this current volume of Love & Rockets, Derek advocates for a much-needed Hernandez brothers wiki and challenges listeners to begin creating one. Next, they turn to the new edition of Girl Crazy (Dark Horse Books). This originally began as a three-issue miniseries published by Dark Horse in 1996 and then collected as a single volume the following year. But that book has been out of print for some time, and now the publisher is rereleasing this new hardbound edition to stand alongside other Dark Horse books by Gilbert, including Speak of the Devil, Citizen Rex (with his brother, Mario), Fatima: The Blood Spinners, Loverboys, and last year’s Grip: The Strange World of Men. Both Andy and Derek note that, with Girl Crazy, the story still holds up, and it’s yet another example of Gilbert’s no-holds-barred storytelling. At the same time, they point out that the art in Girl Crazy is noticeably different from his most recent style, with its detailed texturing and heavier inks. Finally, the guys wrap up with the second issue of Gilbert’s Blubber (Fantagraphics), a comic-book series that is a strange amalgamation of experimental storytelling and pornography. This is definitely not a title for those with tender sensibilities and who are easily offended. In fact, Derek and Andy point out that, for the most part, all the stories in this issue include a lot of sucking and f**king…and not only between humans. There are zombies, robots, and fantastical creatures involved, as well. It’s all weird, wacky, and fun, but after discussing Blubber #2 the Two Guys really feel like they need to take a shower.

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Episode 127: Reviews of Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 7, Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I, and The Other Side of the Wall

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Love and Death

On this week’s episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three exciting new titles. The first is the latest volume of the Hernandez brothers’ Love and Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics). It’s alway a fun show when the guys get to discuss works by Jaime and/or Gilbert, and they’re certainly in their element delving LoveRocketsNS7into the twists and intricacies of the Hernandez’s narrative worlds. There’s a lot to highlight in this Love and Rockets, but there are two matters that are particularly noteworthy. First, most of Jaime’s contributions revolve around triangle of Maggie, Ray, and Hopey. As the Two Guys point out, readers weren’t sure what to expect after the 2011 volume of the series, when Jaime wrapped up the “Love Bunglers” storyline. That narrative had a feeling of finality, almost as if the saga of Ray and Maggie was coming to some sort of conclusion. (There was a tiny glimpse of the characters in 2012’s Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 5, but that was more postscript than anything.) But in this most recent volume of the series, we get to see how Maggie and Ray are evolving after the latter’s traumatic accident. What’s more, Hopey is brought back into Jaime’s story world in a significant way, something we haven’t seen in years. The other major observation that the guys make concerns Gilbert’s pieces, mostly concerning Killer in Palomar and her relationship with her aunt Fritz. Much as in the previous volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories, Beto spins an elaborate tale surrounding Fritz, her b-movie career, and her mother Maria (which also links up with Gilbert’s standalone graphic novels, Maria M.), Terroristalthough this time the complication involves Fritz doppelgängers, wannabe actresses who emulate her work. Derek and Andy feel that Gilbert’s work has been rejuvenated with his return to Palomar, and this latest installment further convinces them of that. After a long discussion of Love and Rockets, the guys next turn to two new releases from Graphic Universe, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group. The first, Henrik Rehr’s Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I, is a fascinating account of the man, or the men, behind the assassination of Austro-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. While most of the book centers on Princip, his associations, and his evolution from an young student into a virulent Serbian nationalist, Rehr spends a significant amount of page space fleshing out the ill-fated Archduke, showing readers more of the man behind the historical persona. Indeed, one of Rehr’s major accomplishments in Terrorist is presenting his subject matters, Gavrilo Princip and Franz Ferdinand, as complex and truly rounded figures, leading readers to feel conflicted sympathies that challenge traditional textbook accounts of the assassination. OtherSideWallPerhaps even more significant, Rehr shows us the many intricacies underlying the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans that plague Europe to this very day. Derek and Andy wrap up their review show with a brief discussion of the other recent Graphic Universe book, Simon Schwartz’s The Other Side of the Wall. This is an autobiographical account of the author’s family as they attempt to emigrate from East Berlin in the 1980s, just a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In his account, Schwartz reveals his parents’ struggles against the loss of jobs, the alienation of family and friends, and the unremitting harassment of the Stasi. Along with Rehr’s more “fictional” Terrorist, Schwartz’s memoir is yet another example of how comics can effectively engage with history.

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