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

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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.

Comics Alternative, Episode 210: Reviews of Black Eye #3, Ancestor, and Frontier #13

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Extraordinary

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:30 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Catching up with Paul
  • 00:04:38 – Black Eye No. 3
  • 00:46:40 – Ancestor
  • 01:12:38 – Frontier #13
  • 01:37:37 – Wrap up
  • 01:38:55 – Contact us

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On this week’s review episode, Paul joins Derek to discuss three titles that are certainly out of the ordinary. They begin with Black Eye No. 3, an anthology edited by Ryan Standfest, the publisher of Rotland Press. This is a first for The Comics Alternative in a couple of different ways. It is the first time the Two Guys are reviewing a Rotland Press title, but more significantly, this is the first time they have discussed a crowd-funded book before the campaign’s completion. And listeners are strongly encouraged to back this project on Indiegogo. Calling itself “the anthology of humor and despair,” Black Eye is a series devoted to short, offbeat comic stories, illustrations, and prose pieces, although in the current (and final) volume there is a noticeable absence of the latter. Both Derek and Paul recognize several of the contributors in this anthology — including Joan Cornellà, Martin Rowson, Eric Haven, David Lynch, Julia Gfrörer, Onsmith, and Alejandro Jodorowsky — but much of the joy in this volume comes from discovering the work of newer creators. And there is a lot of talent here, so be sure to help fund this Indiegogo campaign!

Next, the guys check out a more conventional work, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward’s Ancestor (Image Comics). Although “conventional” might be a stretch here. Originally serialized in the anthology Island, this is a futuristic, or perhaps an alternate-world, narrative exploring our relationship with networked technologies and the potential consequences of complete creative freedom. As the guys point out, the story takes an unexpected turn in the final chapter, ultimately walking a fine line between paradise and dystopia.

Paul and Derek wrap up this week’s show with a look at the latest in Youth in Decline’s quarterly monograph series, Frontier. This thirteenth issue showcases the work of Richie Pope and is titled “Fatherson.” As the guys point out, it’s a poignant and idiosyncratic meditation on fatherhood, specifically African American fatherhood. In fact, Derek and Paul discuss the racial specificity of the text, while at the same time observing that the story is not bound by ethnic contexts. Pope is primarily known as an illustrator — his work has appeared in the The New York Times, The AtlanticScientific American, and The New Yorker, among other titles — but this issue of Frontier aptly demonstrates his abilities in sequential storytelling.

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