Comics Alternative, Episode 289: The August Previews Catalog

Witches and Adaptations

It’s that time again! It’s the beginning of the month, and the latest issue of the Previews catalog is out. And as they always do, the Two Guys meticulously go through the latest solicits, highlighting a variety of upcoming titles in Previews that they’re interested in or they think is worth considering. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on in the August catalog include:

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 288: Reviews of Five Recent #1 Issues

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Death and Zaftig Pig Girls

This is a special episode of The Comics Alternative, as it’s the guys’ sixth anniversary! The podcast began on August 1, 2012, and Paul and Derek discuss some of the things they’ve done over the past six years, the number of episodes they’ve published, the amount of interviews they’ve conducted, etc. It’s a celebratory time, and the Two Guys hope that listeners will join in on the celebration and chime in with some of their favorite moments from The Comics Alternative‘s past.

After a brief discussion of the podcast’s anniversary, Paul and Derek then leap into the episode’s core, a discussion of five recent #1 titles. They begin with Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds, the latest in Dark Horse Comics’ Berger Books imprint. The guys are fascinated by this first issue, not only with Nocenti’s multi-layered storytelling, but also with Aja’s signature art and design. They then look at the first issue of Tini Howard and Nick Robles’s Euthanauts, part of IDW Publishing’s Black Crown imprint. While they’re intrigued by the series’ premise, they’re not entirely sure if this is a successful #1 issue. There are confusing moments and, arguably, too many unanswered questions that dampen any desire to read on before the trade.

After that, Paul and Derek discuss two recent #1 titles from Image Comics. First, they look at Aleš Kot and Tradd Moore’s The New World, an intriguing futuristic narrative that juggles contemporary socio-political concerns along with a Romeo and Juliet-inspired storyline. They also review the first issue of Mirka Andolfo’s Unnatural, an erotic — but tasteful — anthropomorphic tale that was originally published in Italian and now is available as a limited series.

Finally, the guys wrap up with the first issue of Cullen Bunn and Jonas Scharf’s Bone Parish (BOOM! Studios). This appears to be a horror title — after all, that’s primarily what Bunn is known for — but as Paul and Derek point out, this first issue reads more as a crime mystery than it does horror. It’s an interesting premise, one that the guys are curious to see unfold.

So enjoy this week’s episode, and celebrate The Comics Alternative‘s sixth anniversary!

Comics Alternative, Episode 287: Reviews of Nowbrow 10: Studio Dreams, Love and Rockets Vol 4 #5, and Last Mountain #4 and #5

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“There’s a lot of hey being thrown here”

This week Paul and Derek discuss three unique titles that help define our understanding of what comics can be. They begin with a visual anthology that is, arguably, not a comic at all. Nobrow 10:Studio Dreams (Nobrow Press) is a series of 70 gorgeous illustrations by a variety of artists — all of whom have contributed to Nobrow publications in the past — that reveal their ideal studio space. The styles in this volume vary widely, but each illustration is a luxurious work that invites visual lingering.

After that the Two Guys turn to one of their favorites, the Hernandez brothers. The latest issue of Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics) is notable in that it wraps up Jaime’s ongoing storyline, “Is This How You See Me?” This narrative began back in the New Stories volumes, and in it Maggie and Hopey attend a Hoppers reunion that begins well, but then takes a darker turn for the two. Jaime also contributes a couple of shorter comics that revisit Maggie and Hopey in their younger days, another narrative thread we’ve seen in recent issues of Love and Rockets. Gilbert’s contribution, “Rosy,” is a long story about one of Fritz’s daughters who confronts her mother’s colored career and decides what it means to her.

Paul and Derek wrap up the episode by looking at the two latest issues of Dakota Mcfadzean’s minicomic Last MountainIssue #4 is a surreal look at the disturbing power of product iconography, where a little girl is terrorized by a cereal box mascot. Issue #5, “To Know You’re Alive,” can be read as a response to the previous issue in that it also concerns childhood and media, but from the perspective of a stay-at-home father. Unfortunately, both of these minicomic issues are sold out, but as the guys mention, listeners should definitely keep their eyes on Mcfadzean as he releases new material.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Nate Powell

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  • 00:00:23 – Introduction
  • 00:02:38 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:02 – Interview with Nate Powell
  • 01:19:33 – Wrap up
  • 01:22:26 – Contact us

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Coming (Back) Again

Paul and Derek are pleased to have Nate Powell back on the show. This time they talk with him about his new book Come Again, just released from Top Shelf Productions. They discuss the genesis of this project, the significance of the story’s setting, the unsteady balance between needs for personal isolation and the importance of community, and the narrative’s forays into the fantastic. Yet they also talk about several of Nate’s other works, including March, Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire, and Sounds of Your Name. But what comes out over the entire course of the conversation is the kind of fun these three guys have talking together. Can’t you just hear it?

Comics Alternative, Episode 286: The July Previews Catalog

Getting Up on Soapboxes

Happy Independence Day! It’s the beginning of the month, so it’s time for another look at the latest Previews catalog. On this episode, Paul and Derek highlight many of the upcoming titles solicited in July. And this is a long episode, running for just over 3 hours and 20 minutes, so strap in and get ready for a long ride.

First, they begin the episode by sharing a variety of listener correspondences they’ve received over the past week…and there are a lot of them. Then they jump into the July Previews. They start with the offerings for this October’s Halloween ComicFest, and then they turn to the catalog proper. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are:

 

Comics Alternative, Episode 285: Another Publisher Spotlight on Koyama Press

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“It’s compelling, but I’m not sure why I’m so compelled”

The Two Guys with PhDs are back with another publisher spotlight, this one focusing on the spring releases from Koyama Press. (In fact, this is the third spotlight on Koyama, with the guys having previously discusses their seasonal releases in April 2015 and May 2017.) All of these books debuted at TCAF last month, and Paul and Derek indulge in exciting discussions of these six new releases.

They begin with Jessica Campbell’s XTC69, a wild science fiction narrative about gender relations and female empowerment. It serves as a great companion piece to her earlier Koyama book, Hot or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists. After that they discuss the largely wordless text, Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters. As with his previous work, Mighty Star and the Castle of Cancatervater, A. Degen challenges the boundaries of storytelling, and Paul and Derek have fun attempting to decipher the text. And it says something that, compared with the work of A. Degen, Michael DeForge’s latest book A Western World is understandable and more “traditional.” This is a collection of various DeForge stories, some of them previously published in his Lose series, and it would serve as a great introduction to the creator’s style.

Next, they focus on the latest installment of Ben Sears’s Double+ world, The Ideal CopyFollowing 2016’s Night Air and last year’s Volcano Trash, this book has Plus Man and Hank out of work as treasure hunters and having to take temporary jobs as caterers…and while doing so inadvertently discovering adventure. Perhaps the most abstract and narratively challenging work of the bunch, Michael Comeau’s Winter’s Cosmos, is a curious mix of media, photography and illustration. Its the offbeat story of two space travelers on a mission, each with varying degrees of seriousness and dedication. Paul and Derek wrap up their Koyama Press spotlight with a discussion of Fiona Smyth’s Somnambulance. This is the longest text of the bunch, and it’s a fascinating retrospective of Smyth’s comics from the 1980s to present day. For those unfamiliar with this creator’s comics, Somnambulance is the perfect overview.

 

 

Episode 283: The June Previews Catalog

Derek’s Design Gripe

Paul and Derek are back with another look at the latest Previews catalog. And for the month of June, they find a variety of fascinating title…and several of which they even resist mention on mic, in the interests of keeping the show containable and relatively short. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are:

Comics Alternative Episode 282: Reviews of Sabrina, The Unsound, and The Last Siege #1

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“We’re not about the cool factor. We’re about the cool analysis”

On this episode, Paul and Derek discuss Nick Drnaso’s Sabrinba, Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole’s The Unsound, and Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood The Last Siege #1.

Their conversation his great! Although be warned, there may a couple of spoilers on this show…or least semi-spoilers.

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: A Discussion of the Nominees for the 2018 Eisner Awards for the Early Readers, Kids, and Teens Categories

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:31 – Introduction
  • 00:03:19 – Setup of the discussion
  • 00:05:04 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Early Readers category 
  • 00:51:47 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Kids category
  • 01:31:45 – Nominees in the Best Publication for Teens category
  • 02:20:32 – Wrap up
  • 02:26:03 – Contact us

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Putting on the Evening Gown and Tuxedo

On this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul detail the three categories of the Eisner Awards that focus on children and teens:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • The Dam Keeperby Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi (First Second/Tonko House)
  • Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
  • Louis Undercover, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi)
  • Monstressby Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Spinningby Tillie Walden (First Second)

In addition to reviewing each nominated text, the duo refers listeners to The Comics Alternative archives for the shows that reference these nominees: Good Night, Planet by Liniers; Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez; The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi; and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

Paul and Gwen use this episode to launch a general discussion of age designations and categorization of children’s and YA comics, and they reference the art of Bolivian painter and lithographer Graciela Rodo Boulanger, whose depiction of children resembles that found in Campbell Whyte’s Home Time. So, won’t you pour yourself a chilly beverage, kick back, and give a listen to the two PhDs — more on Paul’s recent doctoral graduation from University of California-Berkeley will appear in the June podcast — for a rundown of this year’s Eisner nominees.

Comics Alternative, Episode 281: Reviews of James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner and NOW #3, as Well as a Look at the 2018 Eisner Award Nominations

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Modern and Different

This week Paul and Derek review two recent releases, and they also take the time to discuss this year’s Eisner Award nominations. They start off with Alfonso Zapico’s James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner – A Graphic Biography (Arcade Publishing). Originally published in Spanish, this is a look at the life of the famous Irish modernist, covering not only his accomplishments as a writer, but his family and personal relations, as well. As the guys discuss, Zapico’s text provides a general outline of the major events and relationships in Joyce’s life, but as with most comics-based biographies, the interiority of the subject is limited. At the same time, this is a well-paced and even detailed look at the author of Dubliners and Ulysses, with Zapico presenting a very human portrait of a writer most may only know from a critical distance.

After that, the Two Guys check out the latest issue of NOW, the Fantagraphics anthology edited by Eric Reynolds. This has become an ongoing obligation of The Comics Alternative, covering each issue of this anthology as it’s released. (Paul and Derek discussed NOW #1 last fall, and then Gene and Derek looked at NOW #2 back in January.) The latest collection brings together several artists contributing to previous issues — e.g., Noah Van Sciver, Eleanor Davis, and Dash Shaw — but also a variety of creators who are not only new to the anthology, but brand new to both Paul and Derek, as well. In fact, this is one of the things they enjoy about NOW, its diversity and the editor’s dedication to exposing the work of little-known comics artists. Some of the most notable pieces in this third issue are from contributors outside of North America, including Marcello Quintanhila (Brazil), Anne Simon (France), and Roberta Scomparsa (Italy).

The guys wrap up this week’s show with a discussion of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations. Paul and Derek do not make any predictions, nor do they second-guess the award judges or speculate as to internal dynamics about which they had no way of knowing. What they do discuss are the various creators and publishers under nomination, any trends or tendencies they can possibly discern from this year’s selections, the process of categorization and definition within the industry, and the sheer number of current nominees, artists and texts, that were actually discussed on The Comics Alternative.

Comics Alternative, Episode 280: Reviews of The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Young Frances, and A Walk through Hell #1

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A Comfortable Fogginess

On this episode of the podcast, Paul and Derek look at three new releases that, while all compelling readings, are vastly different in style and narrative approach. They begin with Chris Reynold’s The New World: Comics from Mauretania, recently released from Gallery 13. This is a collection of Reynold’s Mauretania comics published beginning in the 1980s. This volume was designed by Seth, and he also provided a brief and insightful note at the end of the text. Neither Paul nor Derek had encountered any of the Mauretania stories before, and they’re sorry that they hadn’t read Reynolds any sooner. The narratives are dreamlike and random in their coherency, and while making any sense of their meaning and action can be an exercise in frustration, they are strangely some of the most compelling comics the guys have read this year.

Next, the Two Guys turn to a creator whom they’ve read and loved before, but not by his current name. Both Paul and Derek are big fans of the series Pope Hats, authored by Ethan Rilly, an anagram of Hartley Lin. In Young Frances (AdHouse Books), Lin is now using his real name and collects issues #2, #3, and #5 of his defining series. The text presents the story of Frances Scarland, a young legal clerk whose efficiency and competency are admired by those around her, but who nonetheless wonders if she’s just drifting through life without purpose. Her best friend, Vickie, is impulse and more scattered, yet talented enough to find a lead role acting in a hit television crime drama. This is yet another example of “verite dessinée” storytelling, a favorite of Derek’s and Paul’s.

The guys conclude this episode by looking at the first issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka’s A Walk through Hell (AfterShock Comics). A mix of horror and crime, this first issue establishes the premise of the series but does so in a way that poses a variety of questions. In fact, both Paul and Derek feel as if this first issue ended almost too quickly — a sense that they’ve gotten with other AfterShock first issues — although there is enough in this inaugural installment to have them wanting to come back to the series. In this first issue, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor work a recent race-related killing while at the same time investigating the disappearance of two fellow officers. What they stumble onto, and we never get a sense of what that is, is apparently something so horrific that even the most hardened law enforcers are unable to live with what they saw.

Comics Alternative, Episode 279: The May Previews Catalog

“It whets my appetite, and I don’t know what the hell it’s about”

This week, Paul and Derek take an extensive look at the May Previews catalog. In fact, their look is so extensive that their discussion evolves into an extra-long episode, spanning almost three hours! (Then again, listeners of the podcast probably are used to these long Previews episodes.) The Two Guys begin by sharing listener mail, and then they make a few comments about some of the changes Diamond has made to their catalog over the past couple of months. After that, they jump into the nitty gritty of the episode, highlighting a variety of solicitations that catch their eye this month. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are:

Comics Alternative, Episode 278: Reviews of Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus, Death or Glory #1, and Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1

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Difference Is Good

This week Paul and Derek focus on three titles that are strikingly different in nature. They begin with Maximilian Uriarte’s Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus: The World’s Most Popular Military Comic Strip (Little Brown and Company). This is a hardbound volume of the entries included on Uriarte’s webcomic, and it collects strips published between January 2010 and December 2016, most of what you’ll find on the site. Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus also include the strips published in the Marine Corps Times. Although the guys know next to nothing about military (specifically Marine) life, they approach this text on its own terms and with a full awareness of its intended audience.

Next, they look at Rick Remender and Bengal’s Death or Glory #1 (Image Comics). Both of the guys marvel over Bengal’s art, pointing out that the visuals are what largely drive the narrative in this first issue. But both are also fans of Remender’s work, and as Paul points out, this new title bears many of his stylistic stamps. This is a title that has a lot of promise, and it’s yet another Remender series for the guys to keep up with.

Finally, Paul and Derek discuss something never before covered on The Comics Alternative: a title from Black Mask Studios. The first issue in Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3’s Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans has recently been released, and the guys speculate on this ancillary tale in the Black storyworld. Although Paul is familiar with this universe, this is Derek’s first foray into Black. As the guys discuss, this is an action-packed first issue, although at times a bit chaotic. Some of this confusion, in fact, may be due to the visuals. Nonetheless, it’s a title worth checking out.

Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of The Dragon Slayer and The Lost Path, and a Discussion of the Children’s Comics-Related Book Market

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Hurling Children over Cliffs

In this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul review two new releases, both of which have a connection to folklore and fairy tales: Jaime Hernandez’s The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America from Toon Graphics, and Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path from Lion Forge Comics’ children’s imprint, Cub House. Additionally, Paul and Gwen discuss Brian Hibb’s “Tilting at Windmills #268: Looking at BookScan 2017,” an overview of comics sales that demonstrates that the children’s and YA market continues to grow and that young people are getting comics in a variety of venues, from direct distribution at comics shops to major booksellers to Comixology.

In Part I of the show, Paul and Gwen embark on a detailed discussion of The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America, a text that includes three short tales, “The Dragon Slayer” and “Tup and the Ants,” both written and drawn by Jaime Hernandez, and “Martina Martínez and Pérez the Mouse,” a collaboration between children’s author Alma Flor Ada and Hernandez. The text begins with a short essay, “Imagination and Tradition,” by noted author F. Isabel Campoy that helps to contextualize the various fairy tales, or “cuentos” that have emerged from the diverse oral and literary traditions, which Campoy terms “a unique blend of Old World and New, spanning a continent across many geographic boundaries and cultures.” Campoy mentions specifically the Catholic, Jewish, Arab, and Moorish influences upon the Spanish, whose tales then encountered those of indigenous peoples from “the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and other Native American cultures.” At the end of the text, Campoy and Ada provide context for the three folktales, as well as a bibliography, and information on the authors. The editors at Toon Graphic have released a paperback Spanish language edition of the text, La Matadragones: Cuentos de Lationoamérica,” and Paul mentions the value of these books in dual language classrooms.

Gwen and Paul then consider the way that The Dragon Slayer fits into Jaime Hernandez’s long and storied career, and they mention both the humor inherent in the stories and the way that Hernandez’s characteristic clear line style conveys characters’ feelings and reactions. The fact that all three tales feature strong women is something that Paul highlights, noting that these tales provide a much-needed emphasis on girls and women who stand up for themselves and serve as problem solvers.

Next, the duo talks about Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path, a vibrant adventure story that includes references to classic fairy tales, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Gwen notes the text’s similarity to other contemporary comics in which young people pass through to a magical land where conflict is brewing – she mentions specifically Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson’s recently released The City on the Other Side (First Second) as an example, while Paul praises the text’s style, from the gorgeous water color page-length spreads to the black and white sketches, which are rich in detail and artistry.

The show concludes with Paul and Gwen discussing the rise in hybrid comics, as well as implications that they have drawn from reading Brian Hibb’s latest report on comics sales.

Comics Alternative, Episode 277: Reviews of Von Spatz, Skyward #1, and Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1

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Up in the Air

This week Paul and Derek discuss Anna Haifisch’s Von Spatz (Drawn and Quarterly), Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett’s Skyward #1 (Image Comics), and Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1 (Dark Horse Comics).