Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of 3×4, The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall, and Sheets

Time Codes:

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Boo!

On this episode of the Comics Alternative’s Young Readers show, Gwen is joined by her new co-host, Dr. Krystal Howard, an assistant professor in the Liberal Studies and English departments at California State University, Northridge. Krystal has been reading, writing about, and teaching children’s and YA comics for a number of years and has a particular interest in gender and comics studies. In 2017, Krystal’s essay “Gothic Excess and the Body in Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost” appeared in Gwen’s co-edited volume (with Michelle Ann Abate), Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults, and she has another comics-related essay, “Comics Grammar in Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Picture Book Collaborations” that is forthcoming in The Artistry of Neil Gaiman: Finding Light in the Shadows. Regular listeners to the Young Readers show will already know Krystal from her spot as a panelist last summer on a special roundtable that Gwen and Paul Lai hosted on the future of children’s and YA comics.

Before they begin discussing the books for this month’s show, Gwen and Krystal mention the wonderful contributions of Paul Lai, who has recently graduated with his doctorate from the School of Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley, and who has begun a new position as Director of UC Berkeley’s prestigious BE3 program, which stands for Berkeley Educators for Equity and Excellence. Paul intends to return to the Comics Alternative family from time to time as a podcaster, and Gwen and Krystal wish him the very best in his new role.

During the main portion of the show, Gwen and Krystal discuss three new releases: Ivan Brunetti’s 3 x 4, published last month by TOON Books and geared towards early elementary readers, and two Halloween-oriented middle grade graphic novels: Drew Weing’s The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall, which is the second in the Margo Maloo series from First Second books, and Brenna Thummler’s debut, Sheets, put out by Lion Forge’s Cubhouse imprint.

Both Krystal and Gwen found Brunetti’s 3 x 4 to be a great addition to the plethora of STEM-focused comics that have been published in the last five years, including First Second’s Science Comics series and Mike Holmes and Gene Luen Yang’s Secret Coders. Krystal praises Brunetti for his inclusion of a diverse and eclectic group of young people, and Gwen notes that for the detail-oriented child, every page offers up an opportunity to discover the many ways that the number 12 can be divided into sets!

Next, the two PhDs consider Drew Weing’s follow up to his highly successful first volume of the Margo Maloos series: The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall. Gwen appreciates Weing’s decision to continue focusing on the costs of gentrification, while Krystal notes that the inclusion of teenage characters adds a new dimension to the series.

Finally, Gwen and Krystal discuss the amazing debut by Brenna Thummler, Sheets (Lion Forge), which takes place in a lake resort town and focuses on the struggles of a young woman who has become the proprietor of her family’s laundromat, all while trying to fit in at middle school. Her interactions with Wendell, the ghost of an eleven-year-old boy, end up making life a lot better for both of them. Krystal points out Thummler’s attention to figural placement and atmospherics, and Gwen suggests that while some of the plot points might seem a little far-fetched, the novel holds together well and deals with class conflict in a manner that is also present in Weing’s Margo Maloo series.

In November, Gwen and Krystal will be back with another set of books to review, as well as 2018 best-of-list recommendations for our listener’s winter holiday celebrations.

Longbox Review: October 2018 Previews

October 2018 Previews

George and I go over the October 2018 Previews catalog for items shipping starting in December.

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com, chat with me @longboxreview on Twitter, and visit longboxreview.com. Please subscribe, rate, and review the show via Apple podcasts.

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Links:

Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Reviews of Luisa, Now and Then and Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine

Time Codes:

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Of Time and Travel

For their August show, Pascal and Derek look at two works whose creators may be largely unknown here in the states. They begin with Carole Maurel’s Luisa, Now and Then, one of the first books published as part of Humanoids’ new Life Drawn imprint. As the guys point out, this is a time-travel narrative where an individual confronts herself from another time. While this is a popular trope, Maurel gives it a different spin. Instead of time-traveling backwards, as found in most such narratives (e.g., Peggy Sue Got Married), in Luisa, Now and Then the movement is forward in time. This story is filled with intriguing scenarios, given the premise, and also a lot of humor. One could argue that it’s one of the best introductions to the Life Drawn imprint.

Next, Derek and Pascal check out Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine, written and drawn by the sisters Anaële and Delphine Hermans (Lion Forge). This is an epistolary travelogue, the story of Anaële’s 10-month stay in Bethlehem volunteering for a youth organization. She and Delphine corresponded during the Anaële’s sojourn, and then Delphine used her sister’s letters as a basis for her art. It’s an intriguing concept, but as Pascal points out, there are potential problems in the visual representation, given the fact that the artist wasn’t the one experiencing the time in Palestine and Israel. As a result, there are several unanswered questions imbedded in the narrative. There are various contexts that weren’t addressed (apparently) in Anaële’s original letters, so those are absent in the text.

Wayne’s Comics Podcast #337: Gene Ha

Mae, Lion Forge, Gene Ha

Not every artist can write well, but in Episode 337, I talk with Gene Ha, an accomplished artist who is doing an excellent job with both the writing and art on Mae, now being released by Lion Forge Comics. We talk about issue #7, which has just been released, and the collected edition of the first six issues as well! He discusses that transition from artist to writer/artist as well as the characters in Mae and what the future holds for this wonderful book! To keep up with Gene, be sure to check out his website here! For more on Lion Forge, go to their website here! I highly recommend this superb title!

 

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

Time Codes:

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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.

Comic News Insider Episode 836 – Call the Kwong!

Comic News Insider: Episode 836 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Reviews: Encounter #1, Eternity Girl #1, New Mutants: Dead Souls #1, Vampironica #1

By popular demand, Emmy Potter comes back 2 weeks in a row to co-host! She and Jimmy chat about that little Avengers: Infinity War trailer & the facial hair that lies within. News includes: Ava DuVernay is directing a New Gods film, Dark Horse Comics is publishing 2 Incredibles 2 comics. DC Comics will publish a bi-weekly Justice League comic starting in June and more! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!

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Episode 264: Our Favorite Comics of 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:14 – Contexts and caveats
  • 00:11:32 – Our favorite comics of 2017
  • 02:09:06 – Wrapping up our favorites, and honorable mentions
  • 02:13:52 – Contact us

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And the Winner Is…

Paul and Derek are back with The Comics Alternative‘s annual “Favorites” episode. This is where the Two Guys share what they consider to be the best comics of the past year. Usually this year-end show is released as the very last regular review episode of each year, but this time around the guys had to postpone the recording due to family issues. But we’re not far from the end of 2017, and Paul and Derek wanted to get the show out in as timely a manner as possible. So here you have it, the Two Guys’ 10 favorite titles of 2017:

Paul’s Top 10 of 2017

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Derek’s Top 10 of 2017

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The Honorable Mentions…These Titles Almost, but Just Didn’t Quite, Make It onto Each Guy’s List

For Paul

For Derek

Comics Alternative Interviews: Katie Green

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:04 – Setup of interview
  • 05:16 – Interview with Katie Green
  • 56:39 – Wrap up
  • 58:06 – Contact us

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Art and Struggles

On this interview episode, Paul and Derek talk with Katie Green about her recent graphic memoir Lighter Than My Shadow, released last month from Lion Forge’s Roar imprint. The Two Guys reviewed the book a couple of weeks ago, but they were so moved by Green’s story that they wanted to have her on the podcast to talk about her work. This insightful conversation adds more context and texture to Katie’s memoir, and she shares her struggles in narrating her various traumatic experiences, her art background and its translation into memoir comics, and her desires to reach others, specifically younger readers, who may similarly suffer from eating disorders and sexual abuse.

Be sure to check out the Lighter Than My Shadow website, and especially this cool promotional video:

 

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 253: Reviews of Lighter Than My Shadow, Now #1, and The Family Trade #1

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Time Codes:

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Hungry for Art

This week Paul and Derek take on three exciting new titles. They begin with a moving memoir from UK creator Katie Green, Lighter Than My Shadow (Roar-Lion Forge). In this work, Green reveals the eating disorders she struggled with as a young girl and into adulthood. Growing up obsessive-compulsive, Green chronicles how this condition contributed to her anorexic behavior, later evolving into problems with binging. Green also narrates her many attempts to address these problems with various doctors and therapists, the most notorious of whom ends up sexually abusing her…providing even more obstacles to her recovery. The guys are impressed by Green’s honesty and storytelling abilities — particularly taken by her art and the visual metaphors she employs throughout — although toward the end of their conversation about this title, they wonder if perhaps the memoir could have been streamlined just a little. This is a 500+ page text, after all.

Next, the Two Guys look at a brand new anthology from Fantagraphics, Now #1. Edited by Eric Reynolds, this collection of diverse and experimental comic art brings to mind Fantagraphics previous anthology, Mome (which both Derek and Paul dearly miss). In fact, the guys begin their discussion of Now by referencing the earlier anthology, with Paul feeling that the latest efforts are more experimental than Mome, while Derek see it as more similar to the previous series. The only difference is number of new and/or unfamiliar creators in Now (and, Derek argues, such was also the case several years ago with Mome). Some of the standouts in this first issue of Now are Dash Shaw’s “Scorpio,” Gabrielle Bell’s “Dear Naked Guy…,” Sammy Harkham’s “I, Marlon,” Malachi Ward and Matt Sheean’s “Widening Horizon,” and especially Noah Van Sciver’s “Wall of Shame” (for Derek, the best of the collection). But the guys are also impressed, and at times curiously confused, by the contributions from creators that are new to them, such as Sara Corbett, J.C. Menu, Antoine Cossé, and Kaela Graham. But as Paul and Derek argue, the entire issue of Now is compelling and works successfully as an anthology. They can’t wait until the second issue, due for release in January.

Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with a discussion of Justin Jordan, Nikki Ryan, and Morgan Beem’s The Family Trade #1 (Image Comics). This is another example of the kind of world-building often found at Image, and it’s the story of a neutral territory in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Float, ruled by the descendants of the ship captains that originally founded the realm — called the Clans — and the Family, descendants of the hands who had worked for the captains. This first issue opens with the protagonist, Jessa Wynn, attempting to assassinate Stagger Berghardt, a Trump-like charismatic demagogue who appeals to the base instincts of the citizens of the Float. She bungles the assassination, but her efforts put into motion a series of encounters that will propel the narrative into the next issues. Both Derek and Paul are impressed by this first issue, especially Beem’s art, and both plan on remaining on board for the rest of the series.

Columbus Comics Corner Episode 41: NCBW 7/5/17

Ryan and Allen are back to discuss and rank this week’s picks. Allen reads his first Deathstroke comic book. Deathstroke turns a new leaf and forms his own vigilante team. How long can that last for? Plus Cloudia & Rex break the norm. Thanks for listening!

Intro (0:00), Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again #1 (2:13), Cloudia and Rex #1 (11:10), Deathstroke #21 (22:09), Champions #10 (33:10), Rankings (42:27), Honorable Mentions (52:35), Episode 42 Preview (55:37)

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Email: columbuscomicscorner[at]gmail.com

Comic News Insider Episode 724 – NYCC Recap w/ Si Spurrier/Brian Pulido/Melody Often/Legacy Rising!

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Comic News Insider: Episode 724 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Reviews: Cage Vol 3 #1, Jessica Jones #1, Midnighter and Apollo #1, Shade The Changing Girl, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Luke Cage

Jimmy is still recovering from NYCC along with everyone else so he flies solo this week against his better judgement. He gives his New York Comic Con recap and talks about the massive coverage he got while there. In this episode, you’ll hear Jimmy interview Simon Spurrier (The Spire/Doctor Who/Weavers), Brian Pulido (Coffin Comics/Lady Death/La Muerta), Melody Often (Trinidot) and the creators at Legacy Rising. News includes: James Olsen will become Guardian on Supergirl, The Wasp will be joining the team in the Avengers 4 film, Lion Forge Comics announces a new superhero line, Hayley Atwell will return to Agent Carter in animated form, Super Sons is comiung from DC Comics focusing on Damien Wayne/Jonathan Kent, Ms America will finally get her own series at Marvel, Archie Comics will be publishing comics that will tie into the Riverdale live action series and more! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!

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