Derek first talked to Karl Stevens in February of last year, and during that discussion he had mentioned that he was working on a new project for Retrofit/Big Planet called The Winner, and now we have the book out, being released on May 23. The two discuss Karl’s new work, its very autobiographical quality — no masking any identities here — and it’s curious structure and fantastical interludes. But they also talk about Karls others works, as well, including the Xeric Award-winning Guilty (2004), his series of books that followed, all published by Alternative Comics — Whatever (2008), The Lodger (2010), and Failure (2013)– as well as his Penny strips that ran in the Village Voice between November 2016 and March 2017. Karl is wonderful guy to interview, as you’ll hear from the conversation.
Lately on The Comics Alternative‘s Kickstarter series, Derek has been focusing more on small presses that are currently crowdfunding their seasonal releases. (See previous shows devoted to Kilgore Books and Nix Comics.) And this weekend’s show is similar, highlighting the latest Kickstarter campaign from Retrofit Comics. On this episode, Derek talks with Jared Smith about efforts for funding their diverse array of 2018 titles.
This current Kickstarter campaign revolves around the 12 books they plan on releasing this year. Backers of this project can look forward to:
All the Sad Songs – Summer Pierre
Fashion Forecasts – Yumi Sakugawa
I Love You – Sara Lautman
John, Dear – Laura Lannes
Our Wretched Town Hall – Eric Kostiuk Williams
The Prince – Liam Cobb
Survive 300 Million 1 – Pat Aulisio
Survive 300 Million 2: Serpentine Captives – Pat Aulisio
The Troublemakers – Baron Yoshimoto
TRUMPTRUMP vol. 2: Modern Day Presidential – Warren Craghead III
Understanding – Becca Tobin
The Winner – Karl Stevens
In their conversation, Derek talks with Jared about some of the history of Retrofit Comics and its relationship with Big Planet Comics — in both its publishing and brick-and-mortar manifestations — their more recent efforts in manga, and, of course, the impressive roster of this year’s creators. As listeners of The Comics Alternative know, Retrofit/Big Planet is one of the Two Guys’ absolute favorite publishers…small press or otherwise. If you don’t already know about this publisher, then shame on you! All the more reason to back this campaign and get the 2018 releases from Retrofit Comics!
On this interview episode, Derek talks with Karl Steven about Penny, his current weekly/semiweekly strip appearing in The Village Voice. The two discuss this ongoing comic and its genesis, but they also talk about a variety of Karl’s other works. Of particular focus are the series of strips he created for the Boston Phoenix between June 2005 and November 2012. The earliest ones are collected in Whatever (Alternative Comics), and the later comics in two follow-up compilations, The Lodger (KSA Publishing) and Failure (Alternative Comics). In this way, Derek is able to talk with Karl about his distinctive realistic style and how he has evolved from a heavily reliance on crosshatching to a more simple, even softer approach. Along with this, Karl shares is aesthetic philosophy of naturalistic detail and how it differs strongly from that of creators such as Scott McCloud, Jessica Abel, and Matt Madden.
The guys also talk about Karl’s first book, the Xeric Award-winning Guilty. This effort is what put Karl Stevens on the map in 2005, and even today it serves as a wonderful introduction to his style. They also cover the artist’s efforts in the fine arts, including his highly informative Anatomy for Artists: A New Approach to Discovering, Learning and Remembering the Body(North Light Books), coauthored with Anthony Apesos. Karl also shares some information about The Winner, his new book that will be coming out this fall from Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics, and future plans to collect his and Gustavo Turner’s Succe$$ comics into book form.