Comics Alternative for Young Readers: Reviews of Hippopotamister and Camp Midnight

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This month’s show includes a review of two recently released graphic novels, John Patrick Green’s Hippopotamister (First Second) and Steven T. Seagle and Jason Adam Katzenstein’s Camp Midnight (Image Comics), as well as interviews Andy conducted at the first-ever Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Public Library Comic Con, held on May 14. At this event, Andy had the chance to speak to a number of young readers, as well as their parents, about their favorite comics and about their own work as budding comics creators.

At the beginning of the podcast, Andy reads an email that comics writer Samuel Teer wrote to him and Gwen regarding their October 2015 review of Veda: Assembly Required (Dark Horse), an all-ages comic that he wrote in collaboration with artist Hyeondo Park and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick. Samuel was kind enough to thank the two for their positive review of the book and mentioned that the two people with PhDs gave him some helpful suggestions for future works. (Glad to oblige, Samuel! Keep those great comics coming!)

First up in the review segment is Hippopotamister, a title that both Gwen and Andy can say three times fast and recommend three times over. This graphic novel for younger readers provides a humorous, carefully-crafted story about the way that two friends, Red Panda and Hippo, enter into the “human world” in order to find jobs, after their city zoo falls into disrepair. Red Panda, who leaves the enclosure first and returns with tales of his exciting forays into the world of work, Hippo_Interiorencourages his friend to join him, but he cautions, “amongst the humans you can no longer be just a hippopotamus. You must become…HIPPOPOTAMISTER!” What follows is a tour through occupations that help Hippopotamister and Red Panda figure out their natural talents. Of course, complications arise on these friends’ paths to self-understanding and a regular paycheck, but both end up finding work that suits them well.

In addition to praising the color work of Cat Caro, Andy highlights one of the funniest splash pages in the comic that depicts Hippopotamister’s invention of a new hairstyle entitled “The Hippopompadour.” Gwen loves the whimsy of that scene and notes that, in addition to creating vibrant splash pages, Green excels at planting small details across the entire graphic novel that are clearly put there for the amusement of adult or middle grade readers. For instance, the restaurant where Red Panda and Hippopotamister try their hand at being sous chefs is called “Trattoria Della Bestia,” a name that draws a fine line between those animals that prepare the food versus those who serve as the meal. Andy and Gwen also point out the effectiveness of Green’s images in moving the narration along. As Andy puts it, a beginning reader could figure out the action of the story, even if s/he couldn’t read all of the words, yet the wordplay throughout the comic underscores the fine balance that Green achieves in his comics artistry.

Next, Gwen and Andy discuss Camp Midnight, a collaboration between longtime friends Steven T. Seagle, a TV writer/producer and comic-book author, and Jason Adam Katzenstein, a cartoonist whose work regularly appears in The New Yorker. Their colorful and sophisticated all-ages comic follows Skye Sullivan, a disgruntled tween, who boards the wrong bus and ends up at a summer camp where everyone but her new friend, Mia, sheds their daytime human exteriors in order to reveal their true monster identities. At first, Skye wants nothing more than to head back home, but she finds herself drawn to Griffin, a boy worthy of “cute guy alerts,” and she wants to figure out why Mia is also something of an outcast at Camp Midnight.

Both Gwen and Andy comment on the powerful, saturated colors employed throughout the comic, as well as the realistic depiction of all of the joys and pitfalls of living away from home with a group of kids who are all too eager to form cliques and exclude outsiders. Like Hippopotamister, Skye learns a great deal about herself and then uses that knowledge to help a good friend. Gwen and Andy highly recommend Camp Midnight to tweens and teens, alike, though adults may also enjoy the coy humor and fantastic line style that carries across the text.

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Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 83.1: Talking with Creators at Fan Expo’s Dallas Comic Con

Talk from the Floor

dallas-comic-conFor this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek is back at the Dallas Comic Con talking with a variety of artists, writers, publishers, and even animation voice actors. Among his guests are Yanick Paquette (artist on the new Swamp Thing), Jimmy Palmiotti (creative force, behind Harley Quinn and Painkiller Jane), Joe Eisma (artist on Morning Glories), Andy Hirsch (illustrator of GarfieldAdventure Time, and Regular Show), Robert Wilson IV (artist on Knuckleheads), Tim Harris (publisher/creator of Renegade Comics), Don Rosencrants (production manager of Literati Press), Shada-RoyalJeremy Shada (the voice of Finn on the Adventure Time cartoon), and Man of Action Studios creators Steven T. Seagle (creator behind Imperial, House of SecretsAmerican Virgin), Joe Kelly (writer of I Kill GiantsBang! Tango!, and Douglas Fredericks and the House of They), and Duncan Rouleau (artist behind The Nightmarist and The Great Unknown). There was a lot of activity and a lot of fun talk. And now you can experience the con vicariously by plugging into this podcast episode!

Be sure to visit the websites and Twitter pages of:

A very special thank you to Sophie Birdwell and Marc Bullard, who, as our press liaisons, showed us the layout of the floor, introduced us to many in Artist Alley, and literally took us behind the scenes for some special moments. And another big thank you to Joe Kelly, who gave Derek a signed copy of his wonderful book for adolescents, Douglas Fredericks and the House of They.

This episode’s incidental music is brought to you by
Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast

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Comic News Insider Episode 495 – The Return of Mighty Joe G!

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Comic News Insider: Episode 495 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Reviews: Bela Lugosis Tales From The Grave #4, BloodShot #0, Genie the Genius #1, Kiss Kids #1

Original co-host/CNI founder/old & now new roommate Joe Gonzales returns to the podcast! Jimmy moved back in w/ his old roomie and forced him to co-host. No escape now, Joe. They briefly chat about the move and that Joe may co-host a bit more occasionally since they are only a room away now. Jimmy also gives some love to the Kickstarter for one of his favorite webcomics, The Zombie Hunters. News includes: Ben Affleck is the new Batman, Justice League Canada is happening up north, Lobo gets a makeover, Marvel Experience show till tour U.S., and Dark Horse teases new Firefly/Serenity comics/products. As always, listener feedback, Top 3 and more. Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love!

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Comic Timing – Episode 104: Megacon and Emerald City

Coast to coast coverage here on Comic Timing, as Brent attends Megacon in Orlando, while Ian heads to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle! Brent and Ian share their thoughts on both cons at the beginning of the show, then they head into the interviews conducted during the weekend by both hosts. These interviews are with:

1) G. Willow Wilson, writer/creator of Air
2) Wayne Cordova (Radio Wayne, M.I.M.E.S.) and Andrew Charipar (artist of awesomeness)
3) Eric Trautmann, writer of The Shield, JSA vs. Cobra, and many more
4) Steven T. Seagle, writer of American Virgin, one fourth of Man of Action Studios (Ben 10, Generator Rex)
5) Travis Earls and Sean Cummings of Doombox Comics
6) Mike Norton, artist of Green Arrow/Black Canary, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, The Waiting Place, and many other things
7) Bryan Deemer, Peter Rios, Brian “Pants” Christman, and Adam Murdough in the background, all of Comic Geek Speak
8 ) John Aegard, creator of The Comfort Guide
9) Pat Loika, the man that everyone knows. Oh, he’s an artist too (check out Blacklisted)!
10) Mandy, Brent’s fiancee
11) Adam Withers and Comfort Love, creators of The Uniques, and The Uniques Tales (which is written and drawn by their many buddies)

Check it all out, and enjoy! And we’ll be back for Episode 105 for a regular episode of Comic Timing.

CT Picks for May are:

BIRDS OF PREY #1
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
AVENGERS #1
SECRET AVENGERS #1
SPIDER IRON MAN WAR #1 (OF 3)

You can e-mail the show at comictiming@gmail.com, and please vote for us at Podcast Alley and give us your reviews over on iTunes. And of course, if you can, please donate to the HERO Initiative effort if you can. Every little bit helps!

Until next time, thanks for listening, and thanks for downloading!