On this episode Sterg and Derek check out two new anthologies, as well as a recent incarnation of Dick Tracy. They begin with Scratches #2, a comics and art anthology curated by Joost Swarte (and distributed in the Americas by Conundrum Press). They actually spend the majority of the episode discussing this collection, which includes mostly European artists. After that they eagerly jump into the latest issue of Eric Reynold’s Now. This is Fantagraphics’ exciting anthology that began last year. In this issue we see work by, among others, Walt Holcombe, Cynthia Alfonso, Roman Muradov, Tommi Parrish, Theo Ellsworth, Rebecca W. Kirby, and David Alvardo. Finally, they wrap up with Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #1, the first in a four-issue limited series. Written by Lee and Michael Allred, and with art by Rich Tommaso, this is (to some degree) an updated handling of Dick Tracy in that the legendary detective is fighting crime in the current day. But although temporal setting is contemporary, the issue still has the feel of a classic comic-strip narrative, including big-presence villains, a detective with many tricks up his sleeve, and a storyline that at times seems outrageous…but in a good way. The Two Guys really hope that this Dick Tracy has a long life well after the limited series.
It’s the first of the month, so it’s time to look at the latest Previews catalog! What’s more, this is Sterg’s very first Previews show, and Derek honors this occasion with much fanfare. As listeners have come to expect from the monthly Previews shows, this episode goes long. In fact, it goes extra long, and in many ways this becomes a trial by fire for Sterg as a new cohost. But he rises to the occasion, providing solid and tireless recommendations of upcoming titles. For October, the Two Guys with PhDs discuss a variety of publishers and titles such as:
Image Comics – Die #1, Prodigy#1, Hardcore#1, and Street Angel Pentathlon
Queer Women in Space, or Women in Space Who Are Queer?
Sterg and Derek are happy to have Tillie Walden back on the podcast. (She was originally on The ComicsAlternative in June 2015, her very first podcast interview!) Her latest book, On a Sunbeam, will be released next week from First Second. This narrative actually began as a webcomic — one that was nominated for an Eisner Award last year, and one that is still available online — but now it will be available in print. The Two Guys talk with Tillie about the process of creating On a Sunbeam and its importance as a webcomic, the science fiction scaffolding around which the narrative is constructed, and how this work compares to some of her earlier books. In fact, much of the conversation is focused on the kind of fantastical stories Tillie spins out, with flying fish planes and cats large enough to ride on. The guys also ask her about last year’s Spinning, the winner of a 2018 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, and the creative shifts she had to make with this outright autobiography. Over the course of their conversation, Tillie shares her experiences growing as a storyteller, her large and dedicated fanbase, the almost improvisational nature of her writing, and her discomfort being pigeonholed primarily as a writer for teens or as a lesbian creator.
This week Sterg and Derek discuss three fascinating and genre-spanning titles. They begin with Lisa Hanawalt’s Coyote Doggirl (Drawn and Quarterly). As the guys point out, this is a humor-infused story that engages with the western genre. Both Derek and Sterg mention that while they appreciate Hanawalt’s off-beat sense of humor, they haven’t been big fans of her past books, in that they weren’t so much narrative comics as they were illustrated works of humor. But Coyote Doggirl is more of a “traditional” comic, with sequential panels and a discernible storyline. The premise is more or less simple, but that’s part of the charm of this text. And the humor!
Next, the Two Guys with PhDs turn to Emi Gennis’s Baseline Blvd., released earlier this year from Kilgore Books and Comics. This actually began as a webcomic back in 2015, but it was published in hardcopy as part of Kilgore’s Kickstarter campaign for their 2018 releases. Where many of Gennis’s comics have been profiles or biographies, this latest book is more autobiographical in nature. As the guys point out, there is a silent elegance about this work, and Gennis packs a lot of story — and emotion — into her brief narrative.
The guys then wrap up the episode by looking at Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Cemetery Beach #1 (Image Comics). Sterg observes that this seems to be a typical Ellis narrative — and “typical” in a good, demonstrative way — and both of the guys comment on Howard’s art. In fact, much of this first issue is carried by the illustrations. In all, it’s a successful first issue. This seven-issue sci-fi series has a lot of promise, and both Derek and Sterg look forward to seeing where the creators take their premise.
This week The Comics Alternative gets a new cohost: Stergios Botzakis! And on his maiden voyage, Sterg becomes an integral part in discussions of three unique titles. He and Derek begin with A Contract with God: Curator’s Collection (Dark Horse Books-Kitchen Sink Books). This classic of Will Eisner’s is reproduced in two beautiful volumes, one with the original pencils and another with the inks. This slipcased edition is a first for the podcast, as the Two Guys have never discussed anything like an Artist’s Edition or a Legacy Edition. As such, Sterg and Derek not only go through the specifics of Eisner’s four stories, but they spend a lot of time talking about process, Eisner’s original intentions, and the various insightful essays included in this two-volume set.
After that the Two Guys with PhDs turn to Liz Suburbia’s Egg Cream #1. The digital version of this was just made available to those who supported Czap Books’ Kickstarter campaign last year (and the print version will debut at MoCCA next spring). The core of this issue is the first installment of Suburbia’s Sacred Heart, Vol. 2 – Livin’ in the Future, a follow-up to her 2015 work, Sacred Heart. Sterg and Derek set a context by discussing the earlier book, then they explore the contours of the new work and how it expands upon the initial presentation of Suburbia’s broader narrative.
The guys wrap up with the first two issues of Howard Chaykin’s Hey Kids! Comics! (Image Comics). Both Sterg and Derek are fans of Chaykin’s work, although it’s been a long time since his comics were discussed on the show. This is a satiric look at the history of the American comic-book history, and the guys spend some time looking at Chaykin’s analogs to DC and Marvel as well as to such figures as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Matt Baker, among many others. They also focus on the ways in which Chaykin structures his story, skipping around in time and representing a broad temporal overview, and they speculate on what Chaykin may be up to in his most recent project.