Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at SPX 2018, Pt. 2

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More Good Smallness

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Last weekend Derek attended the Small Press Expo, which is held every September in North Bethesda, MD. At the event, he talked with a variety of artists who tabled there. This is the second of two on-location shows featuring these brief interviews, the first being released earlier this week. These short conversations range from around 6 minutes to 23 minutes in length, and while most were recorded on the floor of the convention, some were conducted outside on the hotel’s patio. The creators Derek talked with on this episode include Jennifer Hayden; Fernando De Peña, Rodrigo Vargas, and Coni Yovaniniz; Ellen Forney; Miss Lasko-Gross; Michael DeForge; Evan Dahm; Ben Costa and James Parks; Ivy Atoms; M.S.  Harkness; Maritsa Patrinos; and Maransa Harmon and Eric Taylor.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Jennifer Hayden

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“The story is uppermost”

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Jennifer Hayden comes to The Comics Alternative to talk about her new book, The Story of My Tits, released last month by Top Shelf Productions…just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She discusses with Derek the context surrounding the memoir and, along with that, the story of becoming an artist and comics creator. As Andy and Derek pointed out a couple of weeks ago in their spotlight on Top ShelfJennifer-Hayden-photo-1200px by Jen DavisThe Story of My Tits much more than a breast cancer survivor narrative. It’s a chronicle of Hayden’s relationship with her breasts, from childhood and into maturity, and what they meant to her sense of self. At the same time, it’s a story of binding relationships and how cancer in many forms had effected her family. These various narrative threads come together to create a deeply personal account of life under the influences of disease, adversity, and self-image. Jennifer also discusses the eight-year journey of writing this memoir, and how along the way she discovered graphic novels, met fellow artists (such as Dean Haspiel), became a contributor to Act-I-Vate, and created a series of other comics such as Underwire and Rushes. In addition, she talks with Derek about her philosophy of storytelling, her style of creating comics (pen-to-paper, only), and the reaction The Story of My Tits has been receiving.

Be sure to check out Jennifer’s website as well as her blog, Goddess Comix, where you can find the latest updates on what she’s up to. 

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Comics Alternative, Episode 161: A Publisher Spotlight on Top Shelf Productions

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Marvel at the Naked Spine!

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Can it be true? Are the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics actually doing yet another publisher spotlight? Are they gluttons for punishment? Are their eyeballs going to fall out from all of the reading? Maybe so, but if their orbs do drop out of their heads, they’ll do so while gazing at some of the great books coming out of Top Shelf Productions. In this episode, you’ll hear Andy and Derek talking about the publisher’s summer and fall releases, including:

Before they get into the titles themselves, Derek shares a brief interview he conducted with Chris Staros, the publisher of Top Shelf. They talk about the origins of Top Shelf, the authors who have helped define their line, and their recent acquisition by IDW Publishing. Then, it’s on to the books! The guys begin with a discussion of Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus Omnibus, Vol. 1. This is the first of two behemoth books collecting all of Campbell’s Bacchus stories, complete with the titular god of wine and revelry, Joe Theseus, Hermes, the Stygian Leech, and the guys’ favorite, the Eyeball Kid. After that, Derek and Andy revisit a comic that they first discussed almost two years ago, Chris Sheridan’s Motorcycle Samurai. Back in January of 2014, they looked at the first two issues of the digital series, but this time they focus on the first completed narrative arc. The guys point out some of TopSelfLogothe differences between the two versions, digital and hardcopy, while at the same time highlighting many of he strengths in Sheridan’s storytelling. The next book they cover, Julian Hanshaw’s Tim Ginger, turns out to be one of their favorite books of the year. Both Andy and Derek point out the ambitiousness of this narrative, both thematically and visually, especially given the book’s compressed format. Indeed, Andy wonders if perhaps there was too much that Hanshaw was attempting to take on. Jennifer Hayden’s The Story of My Tits is where they go after that. This is an autobiographic tale of the author’s bout with breast cancer. But the book is much more than a personal cancer narrative. It is also Hayden’s account of her important life relationships, both with her loved ones and with her breasts as they relate to self-image. Next, the Two Guys turn to a completely different kind of book, Troy Little’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Like the original, this is a wild ride, and Little’s composition brings out the surreal and even frightening quality of Thompson’s narrative. The guys note that Little does what Ralph Steadman does in his illustrations for the 1972 book, without being derivative in any way, and that this is a more approachable version that Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film. Finally, the guys wrap up with a book that is not yet out but will soon be, Ray Fawkes and Vince Locke’s Junction True. This is a disturbing science fiction tale that doesn’t seem that unrealistic at all. In fact, its thematic focus on body enhancement and media exhibitionism is not too far from the culture in which we currently reside. One could even read Junction True metaphorically as a cautionary tale…or one of contemporary gothic horror.

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