Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Review of The Arab of the Future, Books 1-3

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:02 – Being away in September
  • 00:05:21 – The Arab of the Future, books 1-3
  • 01:26:07 – Wrap up
  • 01:28:05 – Contact us

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Between Cultures

On this episode of the Euro Comics series, Pascal and Derek look at the first three books of Riad Sattouf’s series, The Arab of the Future. Each of these volumes is thick in content, giving the guys a lot to discuss. And while they do a bit of close reading in their discussion, much of what Pascal and Derek do is provide larger overviews, focusing on themes, narrative structures, aesthetic choices, and cultural contexts. In fact, Pascal had read each of these books originally in French — indeed, he is now in the middle of reading the fourth volume that is already available in France — so he provides some of the context that might escape American readers. Both of the guys are bowled away by this series, and they eagerly await the continuation of this graphic memoir…and other translated works by Sattouf.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Summer Pierre

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:37 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:33 – Interview with Summer Pierre
  • 01:19:14 – Wrap up
  • 01:20:13 – Contact us

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Musical Definitions

The Two Guys were first introduced to the work of Summer Pierre during June of 2017. At the time, they were wanting to do a special episode of The Comics Alternative devoted to self-published creators, and John Porcellino recommended to Derek that they check out the work of Summer Pierre. At the time her minicomic Paper Pencil Life was at its fourth issue, and so they went to her website to get the full run of the title up to that point. They were impressed by her art and storytelling, and since then, Derek has made it a point of following Summer’s work. She had told him last year in an email that she planned to have a new graphic memoir coming out from Retrofit in 2018, and at this week’s Small Press Expo that book will officially debut. All the Sad Songs is a moving account of the role of music in Summer’s life, from the creation of mix tapes to her performances as a musician, and how that music is linked to key moments with her various relationships and her growth as an artist. In many ways this book is a work of remembrance, but it’s not soaked in the kind of nostalgia that would come across as sentimental. On the contrary, Summer takes a hard look at herself during those times in her life, bearing herself in ways that, at times, may be a bit uncomfortable. But her story is authentic and speaks from the heart. In this interview, Derek talks with Summer about the genesis of this project, her experiences writing in long-form narrative, the role that music has played in her life, and the potential pitfalls in writing about her past in such an open and honest way. This is an interview that’s been a long time in coming, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Carol Tyler

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:34 – Introduction
  • 00:02:44 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:38 – Interview with Carol Tyler
  • 01:36:12 – Wrap up
  • 01:38:15 – Contact us

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Gear!

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek are excited to have Carol Tyler back on the podcast. Her new book Fab4 Mania has recently been released from Fantagraphics. It’s Carol’s memoir about her time growing up as a Beatles fan, covering the early years of the mop tops and especially The Beatle’s presence in America. As Carol reveals, she was a devotee from the very beginning, watching the group’s legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, their initial tour around the United States immediately after, the media and merchandising circus surrounding it, and the almost never-ending radio presence of four lads. And everything in the book leads up to the crescendo of The Beatles’ appearance at Comiskey Park on August 20, 1965, a concert that Carol excitedly attended. Fab4 Mania also covers the many excitements and challenges Carol faced in displaying her love of The Beatles, especially among friends and when it came to her Catholic school.

In her conversation with Gene and Derek, Carol talks not only the book, but her own personal recollections growing up during that time. They talk music of the time — where Carol disses by comparison other British groups such as Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and The Dave Clark Five — and Carol even DJs and sings for the guys. It’s definitely a memorable interview, one that Derek and Gene will not soon forget.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Sean Karemaker

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:23 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:03 – Interview with Sean Karemaker
  • 01:04:51 – Wrap up
  • 01:05:23 – Contact us

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Panoramic View

Sean Karemaker’s comics are a different kind of reading experience. He illustrates in a highly detailed textured style, and his stories flow in a dreamlike manner, free from the constrictions of sequential paneling. In fact, he creates many of his comics in a scroll-like manner, writing out his narratives across a broad horizontal field, and then later deciding how to break up his illustrations across pages. The result, as we find in his latest book Feast of Fields (Conundrum Press), is story whose unveiling reflects the process of memory, a sort of streaming of experience with a zig-zagging quality between past and present.  In this interview with Sean, Derek talks with his guest about this style of cartooning and especially the genesis of his latest book. It’s largely the story of his mother during her time in a Danish orphanage, but Sean contextualizes her narrative by placing it within his own life experiences and revealing what his mother’s past has meant to him. Derek also talks with Sean about his previous book from Conundrum, The Ghosts We Know, a collection of short pieces that are largely autobiographical in nature and provide a wonderful introduction to Karemaker’s style of comics storytelling.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Michael Kupperman

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:18 – Setup of interview
  • 05:37 – Interview with Michael Kupperman
  • 56:33 – Wrap up
  • 58:16 – Contact us

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Clearing Out

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek are happy to have Michael Kupperman on the show to discuss his new book All the Answers, just out from Simon and Shuster’s  Gallery 13 imprint. Long-time fans of Kupperman will find a significant tonal shift from his earlier works such as Tales Designed to Thrizzle or Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret. This new book is an emotional and probing look at his father, Joel Kupperman, and his time as one of the famous Quiz Kids of the 1940s and 1950s. Throughout this memoir, Kupperman investigate his father’s history and attempts to understand how his time in the celebrity spotlight marked his life forever after…and at the same time, helped to determine his father’s future behavior and his family’s emotional trajectory. In this way, All the Answers serves not only as a way to understand his father, but as a means to grapple with Michael Kupperman’s own sense of self and how he relates to his own family. Over the course of their conversation, Gene and Derek talk with Michael about the research that went into his new book, the genesis of the project, his efforts in pursuing this extremely sensitive family history, and how All the Answers may be a stylistic turning point in his career.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Bill Schelly

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:29 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:08 – Interview with Bill Schelly
  • 01:06:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:06:40 – Contact us

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A Fan’s Life

There’s perhaps no better historian on American comics fandom than Bill Schelly. Having been a part of the zine scene in the 1960s and early 1970s, and starting when he was a teenager, Schelly worked with many of the movers and shakers within the fan community and published several fanzines of his own. In the early 1990s he returned to comics as a chronicler and as a historian, writing various overviews of comic fandom, and then later making his mark as a comics biographer, covering the lives of such creators as Joe Kubert, Otto Binder, John Stanley, and Harvey Kurtzman, the latter biography earning him a 2016 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. On this interview episode, Derek talks with Bill about his new book, Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom – the Whole Story, and his decisions to revise and expand this memoir from its original 2001 version released through TwoMorrows Publishing. This new edition of Sense of Wonder, published by North Atlantic Books, is significantly expanded, covers Schelly’s entire life up until now, and is written with a much more personal, and revealing, tone than the original. Bill discusses in detail his history in comics fandom and his growth as an editor and writer, as well as the personal milestones that have marked his life.

You can learn more about Bill Schelly and his work by checking out his website.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:34 – Welcoming Kristin LaLonde!
  • 00:06:25 – Setup of interview
  • 00:08:47 – Interview with Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman
  • 01:06:36 – Wrap up
  • 01:09:18 – Contact us

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Preparing

On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s interview series, Derek welcomes Kristin LaLonde. She is one of the cohost of The Secret Stacks podcast, and she has a particular interest in graphic medicine and comics that deal with health and end-of-life issues. Together, the two of them talk with Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman, the writer and illustrator of What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to Her Daughter (Bloomsbury Publishing). This is a book that the mother-daughter team worked on together, addressing the eventual death of Suzy and what advice she might want to give to Hallie before passing on. They talk with Kristin and Derek about the origins of this idea, the long incubation period, its evolution as a text from a personal project to something for a much broader audience, and how both mother and daughter collaborated on a subject matter that, while somber and ominous, was nonetheless was a necessary life-affirming exercise.

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, Manga: Reviews of Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and Platinum End

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Time Codes:

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Japanese Adam Sandler?

This month on The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek check out two very different titles. They begin with Kazuto Tatsuta’s Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics). This is a 500+ page account of the reconstruction and cleanup in the wake of 2011’s disaster in Fukushima. As the guys discuss, the text does two things at once: provides objective reportage of the situation surrounding Fukushima and reveals the author’s very personal experiences  in securing and maintaining his role in the cleanup efforts. While both guys enjoyed the book, perhaps Derek more than Shea, they nonetheless wondered about Tatsuta’s background as a mangaka — “Kazuto Tatsuta” is a nom de plume, so it’s difficult to determine any bibliography — and any potential agenda (if any) underlying this work.

After their focus on real-world disaster, the guys move into the realm of fantasy. Platinum End (VIZ Media) is a current shōnen series from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the same team behind Bakuman and Death Note. The second English-language volume was just released this month, so the guys have enough story under their belts to get a secure feel for the art and narrative. As Derek explains, the premise appears a little on the hokey side, at least at first, but as things develop the story begins to take on a life of its own, one that soon hooks you. Much of this is because of Obata’s style, but there are also larger thematic issues that make this title worth exploring. The guys discourse over the text’s theological import, its engagement with gender identity, and its satiric commentary on contemporary popular culture. This is definitely a series that both Shea and Derek will continue reading.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Carol Tyler

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You’ll Never Know

soldiers-heart-coverLast week at Small Press Expo, Derek had the opportunity to sit down with Carol Tyler for a one-on-one interview. Her book from last year, Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter’s Memoir (Fantagraphics) was up for a 2016 Ignatz Award in the “Outstanding Graphic Novel” category. Derek talked with Carol about the book’s nomination and about the impact her memoir has had on her own life since its publication. They spend a good deal of time talking about the current state of veteran’s affairs, the debilitating effects of PTSD, and how Soldier’s Heart both has and hasn’t resonated within the veteran’s community. Carol also discusses the current projects she has underway, including a follow up (sort of) to her father’s story and a project documenting the days leading up to her attending The Beatles concert at Comiskey Park in August 1965. As she tells Derek, in that work she’ll be channelling her inner 13-year-old-girl self. This is a moving and, at times, a deeply personal interview, one that reflects the sheer impact of Carol Tyler’s writing.

Derek with Carol Tyler. Photo taken by Joe Sacco.

Derek with Carol Tyler. Photo taken by Joe Sacco.

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin

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The Pen and Government Man

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:42 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:56 – Interview with Nate Powell
  • 01:10:11 – Interview with Andrew Aydin
  • 02:12:26 – Wrap up
  • 02:13:57 – Contact us

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On this interview show, Andy and Derek do something different. They talk with both Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, the artist and coauthor of the recently completed March trilogy (Top Shelf Productions), but instead of interviewing both creators together, the guys talk with them separately and then combine the two recordings into one long episode. So in this show, over two hours and fifteen minutes long, you’ll hear about the genesis and the creative turns that went into the March books from both the artist’s and the writer’s perspectives. Nate and Andrew also discuss their time working with Congressman John Lewis, his wealth of experiences from the Civil Rights Movement, and the creative choices that each of them had to make when representing those events. For example, Nate explains the challenges that faced him when illustrating the unspeakable violence, and Andrew describes his strategies for scripting the chronology of the congressman’s young life. Both guests also share a few words about current projects they have underway and what we can expect from them post-March.

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ComicsVerse Podcast Episode 65: Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME

Ah, FUN HOME. Of all of the graphic novels out there, this is one of the all-stars. If you haven’t read it, someone you know probably has. You may have noticed it on the syllabus of any number of literature classes. You may even have heard of the Tony-Award winning musical that was directly adapted from it. Yet under all the mega-hype and adulation, there is real, unfiltered power in FUN HOME.  For all of its award-winning façade of academia and popularity (it was considered “Best Book of the Year” by over 22 publications!), at the core of FUN HOME’s power is its refreshing honesty and its unrelenting, yet subtle, emotion, the praises of which we here at ComicsVerse have only added to in this podcast.

LISTEN: Want podcasts on more graphic novels like FUN HOME? The gang gets into Craig Thompson’s BLANKETS!

The artistic and literary brainchild of Alison Bechdel, creator of comic strip, DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR, FUN HOME finds itself in the extended medium of the graphic novel, the medium of choice for many a graphic autobiography. FUN HOME is a story of discovery, both of the self and of her family history. It is also a tale of exploration; Bechdel does not finish her autobiography with any set convictions or beliefs—only questions, which arguably is what makes the graphic novel relatable to so many readers who are themselves struggling with explorations of their own identities.

HEAR: More discussion of love and sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s SHORTCOMINGS!

Bechdel handles the toughest topics: sexuality, mental health, suicide, and family dynamics, with the ease and subtlety of the art itself, which is delivered in a melancholic slate blue. By the nature of the autobiographical beast, we also talk a lot about Bechdel herself in this podcast, along with the links between her artistic style and the content of the work: a beautiful alchemy of ingredients that result in deft parallels and allusions that hint at her literary background. Analyzing FUN HOME is always a special treat because there’s always more to the richness of Bechdel’s work. Listeners to the podcast, snap on your headphones, turn up your speakers, and indulge in that richness as well.

Download The ComicsVerse Podcast on iTunes

source: http://comicsverse.com/episode-65-alison-bechdels-fun-home/

homepage: http://comicsverse.com

Comics Alternative Interviews: Tom Hart

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Circles

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Gene and Derek start off the week presenting a powerful interview with Tom Hart. His new book, Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir, is being released this week from St. Martin’s Press, and it’s an honest and heartrending work. It chronicles the days following the unexpected death of Tom’s daughter, Rosalie, as he and his wife anguished over the loss and tried to make sense of RL-Coverwhat had happened. In addition to their grief and feelings of emptiness, they also had to continue struggling with the frustrations of the mundane, such as trying to sell their apartment in New York. It’s a story about putting the pieces of your life back together, reflected in large part through the structure of Tom’s narrative. Gene notes the images that bind the scenes together, such as the visual prominence of circles, and Derek believes the Rosalie Lightning reads much like poetry with its associative, non-linear linking of emotions and memories. The guys also use the opportunity to talk with Tom about his other work, such as his Hutch Owen comics and his educational efforts. In fact, they talk a good deal about the Sequential Artists Workshop that Tom founded in 2012 in Gainesville, Florida, as well as the online course he offers on graphic memoir writing…an endeavor that largely grew out of his own experiences documenting his loss. As the guys point out in this episode, Rosalie Lightning an important new book from Tom, one that is sure to resonate beyond the comics and graphic novels community of readers.

To find out more about Tom’s work, visit his website. And also check out the Sequential Artists Workshop.

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ComicsVerse Podcast Episode 57: BLANKETS by Craig Thompson

At ComicsVerse, we have talked before about BLANKETS by Craig Thompson when it was featured as a topic in a podcast on our ‘Comics We’re Thankful For’ series. Still, we felt there was more to peel back and discover about this moving story. That’s why we have picked up this beautifully illustrated book once again. In this podcast, we dive deep into this ground-breaking graphic novel. Discussing the book are Kathy Wisneski, (Ms.) Jamie Rice, Chris Massari, Brian Delpazo, Angela Yih and me, Chris Galvin, in my very first ComicsVerse podcast!

BLANKETS is an autobiographical look at Thompson’s life, his slow drift away from his Christian upbringing and his first love, Raina. This thought-provoking story of an awkward teen and the lessons he learns along the way deals with themes of love, loss, art, hope, faith, and family. The story poses some tough questions without offering easy answers, yet it offers an eye-opening look at life and perspective.

Our discussion of this book led us to reflect and share upon our own experiences of love, faith, religion and relationships with our families while growing up. One of the biggest draws of the story is the author’s relationship with Raina, a girl he builds a relationship with before spending two weeks with her and her family. We looked at how Thompson perceived her versus how she actually was in reality. As an artist, he uses his art to express his feelings about her and at times creates this heavenly creature that cracks under scrutiny. BLANKETS is an honest look at Thompson’s life and the difficult truths he learns along the way. His art style in telling this story is beautiful, told in whimsical inks. He uses no color, which only makes the story more involving.

But don’t just take my word for it. Listen and make your own mind up! Leave us a few comments, and please post this around the web!

For your convenience, the ComicsVerse Podcast is also located on iTunes:

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source: http://comicsverse.com/episode-57-the-best-comics-youve-never-read-craig-thompsons-blankets/
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Deconstructing Comics #450: “My Friend Dahmer”

My Friend DahmerHow would you feel if someone you went to high school with showed up on the news as a murderer? That’s what happened to the cartoonist Derf Backderf, who was acquainted with future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer when they were teenagers in the ’70s.

Backderf looks back on this experience, and the warning signs missed by all, in his 2011 graphic novel My Friend Dahmer. It’s more than just a memoir — Backderf did a lot of research and includes a lot of things he had no way of knowing about when they happened back in the ‘70s. Matching up his own Dahmer experiences with information that came to light after Dahmer’s arrest makes for a book that’s both chilling and thoughtful, and one that Kumar and Tim couldn’t put down! This week, our review.

Deconstructing Comics site