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Marvel at the Naked Spine!
Can it be true? Are the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics actually doing yet another publisher spotlight? Are they gluttons for punishment? Are their eyeballs going to fall out from all of the reading? Maybe so, but if their orbs do drop out of their heads, they’ll do so while gazing at some of the great books coming out of Top Shelf Productions. In this episode, you’ll hear Andy and Derek talking about the publisher’s summer and fall releases, including:
Before they get into the titles themselves, Derek shares a brief interview he conducted with Chris Staros, the publisher of Top Shelf. They talk about the origins of Top Shelf, the authors who have helped define their line, and their recent acquisition by IDW Publishing. Then, it’s on to the books! The guys begin with a discussion of Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus Omnibus, Vol. 1. This is the first of two behemoth books collecting all of Campbell’s Bacchus stories, complete with the titular god of wine and revelry, Joe Theseus, Hermes, the Stygian Leech, and the guys’ favorite, the Eyeball Kid. After that, Derek and Andy revisit a comic that they first discussed almost two years ago, Chris Sheridan’s Motorcycle Samurai. Back in January of 2014, they looked at the first two issues of the digital series, but this time they focus on the first completed narrative arc. The guys point out some of the differences between the two versions, digital and hardcopy, while at the same time highlighting many of he strengths in Sheridan’s storytelling. The next book they cover, Julian Hanshaw’s Tim Ginger, turns out to be one of their favorite books of the year. Both Andy and Derek point out the ambitiousness of this narrative, both thematically and visually, especially given the book’s compressed format. Indeed, Andy wonders if perhaps there was too much that Hanshaw was attempting to take on. Jennifer Hayden’s The Story of My Tits is where they go after that. This is an autobiographic tale of the author’s bout with breast cancer. But the book is much more than a personal cancer narrative. It is also Hayden’s account of her important life relationships, both with her loved ones and with her breasts as they relate to self-image. Next, the Two Guys turn to a completely different kind of book, Troy Little’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Like the original, this is a wild ride, and Little’s composition brings out the surreal and even frightening quality of Thompson’s narrative. The guys note that Little does what Ralph Steadman does in his illustrations for the 1972 book, without being derivative in any way, and that this is a more approachable version that Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film. Finally, the guys wrap up with a book that is not yet out but will soon be, Ray Fawkes and Vince Locke’s Junction True. This is a disturbing science fiction tale that doesn’t seem that unrealistic at all. In fact, its thematic focus on body enhancement and media exhibitionism is not too far from the culture in which we currently reside. One could even read Junction True metaphorically as a cautionary tale…or one of contemporary gothic horror.