Comics Alternative, Episode 207: Reviews of The Lost Work of Will Eisner, Libby’s Dad, and Blubber #3

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“It is a liquidy issue”

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This week on The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three new titles that are quite different in tone. They begin with The Lost Work of Will Eisner, a collection of Eisner’s earliest known professional comics. This began as a Kickstarter campaign last year from Locust Moon Press, and just last week the book went on sale to the general public. The collection is made up of two serial strips, the pantomime gag comic Uncle Otto and the espionage adventure Harry Karry. While they do talk about the former, it’s Harry Karry that interests the guys more. They spend a lot of time discussing some of the problems of that action-packed strip — e.g., its racist caricatures and its abrupt shift in narrative direction and art style — and how it can be read as a testing ground for what Eisner would later do in The Spirit.

Next, the Two Guys turn their attention to Eleanor Davis’s Libby’s Dad. This is one of the latest books from Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics, a publisher that has become a favorite of the show. This is a straightforward and deceptively simple short story about a young girls’ pool party and sleepover. The power behind this tale is Davis’s ability to focalize the action through her teenage female narrator and to do so in a detached and non-judgmental manner.

Finally, Derek and Andy discuss a much less innocent text. Gilbert Hernandez’s Blubber #3 (Fantagraphics) is, in many ways, more explicit and more potentially offensive than the previous issue, which the guys discussed back in April. And back then they thought that issue #2 was “worse” than the first. So what is it about Hernandez’s obscene free-for-all that keeps drawing the guys’ attention? Perhaps they are just on board for everything Hernandez does. Perhaps they see Beto as a happy First Amendment rebel. Perhaps they are mesmerized by Hernandez’s attempts to out-Crumb Robert Crumb. Or perhaps Andy and Derek are just two warped sickos who get their jollies talking about offensive comics for the podcast. You decide.

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Comics Alternative, Episode 165: A Publisher Spotlight on Locust Moon Press

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How High the Moon

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One of the things that has defined 2015 for The Comics Alternative has been the number of Publisher Spotlights it’s presented — seven, up until today. (Click HERE for a link to previous spotlights!) This week, the Two Guys are back with their eighth and final spotlight of the year, one on the fall releases out of Locust Moon Press. They begin their critical focus with a brief interview Derek conducted with Josh O’Neill, the publisher of Locust Moon Press. In that conversation, Josh shares the background and history of Locust Moon, first as a bookstore (which will be closing its doors early next year) and then as a publisher with an impressive catalog. They also discuss the press’ success with Kickstarter, including last year’s campaign with Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream and the current efforts with The Lost Work of Will Eisner. After that, Andy and Derek get into the nitty gritty of the show, a discussion of Locust Moon’s fall releases. They begin with Prometheus Eternal, a short collection of stories inspired by Rubens’s famous painting, Prometheus Bound. This work was created in collaboration with the LocustMoonPressPhiladelphia Museum of Art and including work by such creators as Grant Morrison, Paul Pope, Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Farel Dalrymple, Yuko Shimizu, and David Mack. Next, the guys turn to another collection, this one the sixth issue of Quarter Moon. The theme to this issue is “Impractical Cats,” and with cat-related contributions from a variety of creators including Farel Dalrymple, Tia McClelland, Mike Sgier, Lisk Feng, Jim Comey, Gregory Benton, J.G. Jones, Dean Haspiel, Jeremy Baum, and a host of others. Following that discussion, they look at Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo’s Shaman, a satiric and inventive mashup of superheroes, the supernatural, and humor. Neither Andy nor Derek were aware of Shaman before this spotlight episode — they completely missed Kahn’s Kickstarter from earlier this year — but now they’re totally on board and look forward to more of this series, because it’s funny as hell. Finally, the guys wrap up with a long discussion of Little Nemo’s Big New Dreams, a joint effort with Françoise Mouly’s TOON Graphics. This is a smaller, more affordable, and more holdable, version of the broadsheet-sized Dream Another Dream, including more than thirty strips from the Eisner Award-winning collection. And like the aforementioned Prometheus Eternal and Quarter Moon collections, this TOON book is chock-full of impressive contributors, including Art Spiegelman, Craig Thompson, Carla Speed McNeil, Mark Buckingham, Roger Langridge, Box Brown, R. Sikoryak, Jim Rugg, Yuko Shimizu, Gerhard…and the list goes on. In fact, you could even see today’s show as the most creator-packed episode that the Two Guys have ever recorded.