Webcomics: Reviews of Grass of Parnassus, Lavender Jack, and Take the A Train

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Platform Variety!

On the November webcomics episode — albeit a little late — Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics…especially different when it comes their hosting platforms. They begin with Stuart and Kathryn Immonen’s Grass of Parnassus. This is a unique science fiction narrative that is relatively new, starting in September this year, with an intriguing storyline (what there is so far) and incredible art. But what is additionally notable about this webcomic is that it’s being hosted on Instagram. This is the first time the guys have discussed an Instagram-based webcomic, and Sean and Derek spend a bit of time discussing the pros and cons of this platform.

After that they focus on Lavender Jack, a webcomic hosted on Webtoon and written and illustrated by Dan Schkade. It’s an engaging crime/intrigue webcomic that reminds the guys of both The Scarlet Pimpernel and Batman. A unique combination! It’s the story of a wealthy socialite who dons a costume to cover his identity, and then goes about exposing the hidden crimes of prominent, powerful, and corrupt citizens in the city. This is also a relatively new webcomic, starting in June, and although there are already 24 episodes (as of this recording), there are still a number of mysteries that are yet to be answered.

Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with an already completed webcomic, M. Dean and Z. Akhmetova’s Take the A Train. This is a relatively short narrative, but what makes it stand out — in addition to the incredible art — is that each half of the story is hosted on Dean’s and Akhmetova’s sites, respectively. This is the first time the guys have discussed a webcomic that was a collaborative endeavor in this manner. The webcomic is based on Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s classic song, and both creators focus on young protagonists in the middle of the 20th century who are fascinated with Ellington and his historic relationship with The Savoy in Harlem.

Comics Alternative, Episode 299: Reviews of Recent Comics about The Beatles

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Number 9, Number 9, Number 9…

This is a special episode of The Comics Alternative, in that Sterg and Derek focus only on recent comics about The Beatles. Both of the guys are huge Beatles fans, and you can tell how excited they are in discussing these texts. They begin with David Foenkinos, Corbeyran, and Horne’s Lennon: The New York Years (IDW Publishing), adapted from Foenkinos prose work on John Lennon. What makes this book stand out is that it’s primarily narrated in the first person through imagined therapy sessions that Lennon undergoes. In this way, the text becomes not only an insight into John Lennon’s psyche, but also a broad historical overview of The Beatles as a musical phenomenon.

After that they jump into Bill Morrison’s recent adaptation of Yellow Submarine (Titan Comics). This is a work that is as colorful and as elaborate as the 1968 animated film, and the guys are impressed by how faithful the book is to the film’s plot. The only thing you don’t get in Morrison’s text is the various musical interludes that you have in the animated film (of course), but even then Morrison does an affective job of implying the music as sort of a silent soundtrack. But all of the surreal visuals, the song references, and the many puns are there.

Next, they look at a new book just released through NBM, The Beatles in Comics. This is a collection of short essays and comics written by Michel Mabel and Gaet’s, and with illustrations by a variety of artists. Much like Lennon, this book provides a broad overview of The Beatles, and the chapters cover such topics as their time in Hamburg, Brian Epstein, when they met the queen, their playing Shea Stadium, the Ed Sullivan Show, the genesis of “Yesterday,” their decision to stop touring, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their time in India, Yoko Ono, the Paul Is Dead phenomenon, and the breakup of the band.

Finally, they discuss a new book that really isn’t about The Beatles, but uses the Fab Four as a significant backdrop. M. Dean’s I Am Young (Fantagraphics) is a series of stories about relationships and music, and the main storyline is the one that uses The Beatles. It’s the history of a relationship between Miriam and George, two young people who meet at a Beatles concert when the band first hit it big. M. Dean takes us through the course of this relationship, doing so with The Beatles as a nexus, with the two growing older and getting together, and growing apart, as The Beatles themselves mature and evolve.

One book that the Sterg and Derek do not discuss, but one they nonetheless highly recommend, is Carol Tyler’s Fab4 Mania (Fantagraphics). This work was released earlier this year, and the reason the guys don’t include it in their comics about The Beatles coverage is that Gene and Derek interviewed Carol back in July. As such, they spent a lot of time discussing that book, so the guys already focused on that text. Still, it’s another recent graphic novel about The Beatles, and it should stand alongside the other works that Sterg and Derek discuss in this episode.

 

 

Comics Alternative, On Location: Talking with Creators at SPX 2018, Pt. 1

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Small Is Good!

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This past weekend, Derek attended Small Press Expo in North Bethesda, MD. While there, he interviewed a variety of creators, some of whom he didn’t even know, about their recent releases and their upcoming projects. In this, the first of two on-location shows recorded at SPX, Derek talks with 15 different creators, with each brief interview lasting anywhere from 4 to about 17 minutes. Among the writers/artists/editors Derek talks with are Mike Freiheit, Madeline McGrane, Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman, Karl Christian Krumpholz, Max de Radiguès, Ryan Holmberg, Scott Roberts, Nathan Gelgud, M. Dean, Emi Gennis, Alex Nall, Ash Thomas and Sara Guzman, and Ellen Lindner.