On this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Gwen and Derek moderate a roundtable discussion on comics for children and young adults. Joining them in the conversation are Karly Marie Grice and Joe Sutliff Sanders, both contributors to the brand new book coedited by Gwen, Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults: A Collection of Essays (University Press of Mississippi). Over the course of the roundtable, both Joe and Karly present the research they conducted for the collection — the aesthetics of children’s digital comics and contesting narratives in Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints, respectively — but the core of the discussion centers on the current state of children’s and adolescent comics, the scholarship surrounding it, questions of demographics, and the pedagogical challenges facing educators when framing the medium.
Gwen’s coeditor, Michelle Ann Abate, had planned on joining the roundtable discussion, but due to technical difficulties she was unable to do so.
Just in time for the U.S. elections, Gene and Derek hold a roundtable discussion on political and propaganda comics. Joining them in the conversation are Richard Graham, author of Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s (Abrams ComicArts); Rafael Medoff, co-author (along with Craig Yoe) of Cartoonists against the Holocaust (Clizia Inc.); Kent Worcester, editor of Silent Agitators: Cartoon Art from the Pages of New Politics (New Politics Associates); and Fredrik Strömberg, the writer of Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History (St. Martin’s Griffin). The guys talk with their guests about the significance of political cartooning and what drew each of them into this particular avenue of scholarship. Most of their conversation concerns the history of the genre (at least in the United States) as well as the process behind the research. At the same time, they also focus on the current political moment and how, as several of the participants feel, most contemporary political cartoonists haven’t really met the challenge. The participants also share their thoughts on the impact of digital technology on the art form. In a heated political season signified by polemics and propaganda, it’s reassuring that you can turn to a Comics Alternative special episode providing you with the soothing comfort of…well, polemics and propaganda.
Learn more about this episode’s guests and their scholarship:
In celebration of International Podcast Day 2016, Derek participates in a roundtable discussion with fellow comics podcasters, including John Siuntres of Word Balloon, Chris Marshall of Collected Comics Library, and John Mayo of Comic Books Page. The four of them talk extensively about their experiences in podcasting, the challenges of working with publishers and creators within the industry, their particular niche interests in comics podcasting, how their shows have evolved over the years, and their “wish lists” for growing as a podcast. Not only do the guys discuss the many facets of podcasting specifically about comics, they also share insights about podcasting as a social media platform.
Find out more about International Podcast Day and how you can help promote podcasting worldwide. And be sure to share your thoughts on social media using #PodcastDay.
The guys are back with their third annual Thanksgiving show. This a special episode of The Comics Alternative where Andy, Derek, and other cohosts get together to discuss what they’re thankful for in the world of comics and comics culture. This year both Andy W. and Gene are able to join in, so for this special holiday week you get a special episode with extra stuff: FourGuys with PhDs Talking about Comics! Among the various things Gene, Derek, Andy, and Andy are thankful for are
small-press publishers (like Kilgore, Uncivilized, Youth in Decline, AdHouse, Conundrum, Koyama, etc) who provide them with material for their podcasts,
Chris Marshall of Collected Comics Library, who provided us with 17 years of insightful comics analysis (and whose podcast the guys will miss),
Gwen, Shea, and Sean for helping on the various monthly podcast series,
and our Patreon supporters who have helped make 2015 a successful year!
Much like the yams with melted marshmallows served during Thanksgiving, this is an episode that you can pass around to friends and loved ones and taking a generous portion and then savoring the smooth, creamy goodness of every bite (byte?). There’s plenty to go around. And if you’re listening to this podcast in a non-US location, you can appreciate this episode knowing that Thanksgiving is more than just gratuitous Pilgrim references and obscene gluttony; it’s also middle-aged guys with advanced degrees sitting around and talking about comic books.
The Two Guys are back with another special episode of The Comics Alternative, and, just in time for the new school year, this time they hold a roundtable discussion on teaching comics. Joining them are Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith. They, along with Paul Levitz, are the coauthors of The Power of Comics: History, Form, and Culture (Bloomsbury Academic), the first real textbook devoted to comics that was just recently released in its second edition. In fact, Derek begins the conversation by asking Matt and Randy about their experiences pulling together the project, some of the challenges they faced creating a comics-centered textbook, and what kind of feedback they have received from instructors using it. But the conversation soon transitions into a larger discussion of comics in the classrooms, e.g., strategies for teaching, the hard choices when creating syllabi, negotiating student expectations, reading lists and text availability, assignments that reflect the medium, and course focus on specific comics topics. All four of the discussants have taught comics many times over the year, and each brings to the conversation their unique experiences and recommendations. Whether you are an educator with years of teaching graphic novels under your belt, an instructor contemplating teaching comics for the first time, a student who’s always wanted to read this kind of material in the classroom, a pedagogical theorist curious about the potential of the medium, or just a reader who’s interested in serious comics talk, this is an episode has something for you.
Randy Duncan and Matt Smith, in both their teacherly and heroic guises.
Occasionally The Comics Alternative will feature a special episode devoted to a specific comics-related topic, and on this show, the Two Guys focus on issues surrounding libraries and comics. This subject matter is particularly appropriate, given the fact that Andy Wolverton is a public librarian working extensively with comics and graphic novels in Anne Arundel County, MD. So the guys decided to invite other librarian-educators on the podcast for a lively roundtable discussion on the topic. Joining them are Carol Tilley, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Robert G. Weiner, a humanities librarian at Texas Tech University. On this special episode they discuss a variety of issues surrounding comics and libraries, including labeling and categorization — e.g., Is the term “graphic novel” more advantageous for cataloging? — the challenge of hybridized texts, community outreach and comics, the interaction between the classrooms and libraries, explicit content and censorship, the issue of canon formation, librarians as comics curators, mainstream versus “alternative” comics acquisitions, and the role of librarians as comics educators. And this is just the tip of the discussion iceberg. As the discussants demonstrate, this is indeed a rich topic, and there are so many other facets that they didn’t have the time to touch upon. But what they do cover is truly thought-provoking, presenting ideas and posing questions that could easily lead to another such roundtable.
It’s a semi-tradition that when the Eisner Award nominations are announced, Derek and Andy are there to discuss them. So on this special episode of The Comics Alternative, the guys get together to deliberate over this year’s nominees, what kind of patterns they discern, and what surprise choices there may be. Joining them on the show is noted comics journalist and former Eisner Award-winner, Tom Spurgeon. Together they look over the list of nominees that was released just last week and try to figure out what is going on with the choices. They begin by looking at the bigger picture, giving their takes on any possible direction or pattern coming from this year’s judges. Both Andy and Derek comment on the fact that both DC and Marvel — and mainstream superhero comics, in particular — seem to be getting slightly more love than they have in recent years, with properties such as Ms. Marvel, Rocket Raccoon, Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, and various Batman and Spider-Man titles getting the nod. Tom is pleased with some heavy hitters, such as Sergio Aragonés and Charles Burns, who are up for awards, yet at the same time he’s glad that there are brand-new faces that could shake up some of the stolid categories. The guys also note that many of the nominees have been covered on The Comics Alternative podcast and blog, wondering if the creators appreciate the fact that they’re benefiting from what Andy has called the “Comics Alternative bump.” In fact, every single entry in the Best Graphic Album – New category was reviewed on either the podcast or blog over the past year! Even though he has been a past recipient of the prize, Tom wonders if there’s any logic to having a Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism, since, it seems to him, it’s an award for creators giving a prize to someone who merely watches the medium. It would be like the Oscars giving an award to Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, or IMDB for their reporting. Derek tacks in a completely different direction, uncomfortable with the Eisners lumping all forms of media together and wondering if perhaps they should break up the periodical/journalism award into at least a couple of different categories. The guys also observe some notable absences from this year’s selection. For example, and unlike previous years, Dark Horse Presents is nowhere to be found on the list. And why is something like Superior Foes of Spider-Man nominated in the Best Humor Publication category while unique and intelligently funny titles such as God Hates Astronauts, Punks: The Comic, and Eel Mansions are not? (Are the judges’ sense of humor that predictable?) And then there are the kinds of discussions that have been coming up on the podcast in years past, such as issues in defining the Best Publications for Teens category, the growing presence of webcomics on the list, possible trends in the Best Scholarly/Academic Work category, and the juggernaut presence of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. There is a lot to pick through in this year’s nominations, the good as well as the not-so-good, and the Two Guys with PhDs are happy that Tom Spurgeon could join them to share in the conversation.
The Two Guys with PhDs are back with their annual Thanksgiving show. But this time there are threeguys involved. Derek and Andy K. are joined by Andy W. — the first time all three of them have been on the same show! — and together they all share the many things they are thankful for in comics and comics culture. The topics range broadly from the International Comic Arts Forum, to the wealth of classic comics archive editions, to new translations of European comics, to critical series from non-academic publishers, to the appearance of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity(finally!!), to the Previews catalog, to the growth of graphic novels collections in libraries, to Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe, to smaller comics publishers that get relatively little attention, to the Marchseries and other historically minded books. In particular, though, the guys are thankful to the listeners of the podcast who chime in with opinions, join the discussion on the forum, and help support The Comics Alternative through Patreon. This show couldn’t really be done without them.
So slice an extra piece of that pumpkin pie, dollop out the whipped cream, sit back, and enjoy the warm homestyle goodness of this week’s episode.
This episode’s incidental music is brought to you by
various turkey-related songs. Gobble gobble!
You’ll definitely find treats, and not tricks, on this special episode of The Comics Alternative. Derek and Gene take their annual look at the various comics being releases specifically for Halloween or published to coincide with the season. They begin with what is probably their favorite of the lot — at least Derek’s favorite — Richard Corben’s new book, Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead (Dark Horse). They point out that while this is an October release, the majority of the stories collected in this volume originally appeared as either single issues or in Dark Horse Presents over the past two years. This is yet another series of Poe adaptation from the great Corben, following his early work for Creepy and Eerie — and most recently collected in Creepy Presents Richard Corben — and Marvel’s Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe. (For more about Corben’s work on Poe, specifically commentary on the adaptations found in the new book, check out Derek’s recent interview with the artist.) Next the Two Guys turn to a new, fun book from Zac Gorman, Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers (Oni Press). This is based on the popular roleplaying game, Costume Questwith which neither Gene and Derek are familiar. But that doesn’t stop them from enjoying this all-age comic.
Another week, another Fast Five. Picks include Super Dinosaur: Origin Special #1 (Image), Uncanny X-Force #10 (Marvel), 28 Days Later #23 (BOOM! Studios), Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 (DC), and Science Dog Special #2 (Image).
Christmas Craptaculars come but once a year! The Freaks have collected a bunch of your Christmas letters and sent them to Santa at the North Pole, along with a whole case of apricot brandy! Tremble in fear as SANTA HIMSELF reads them LIVE! It’s all here — Santa, music, laughs, nostalgic and tender Yuletide sentiments, and plenty of moments guaranteed to traumatize your children. Seriously, don’t let them within fifty feet of this thing!