Look who Tim (center) ran into in Columbus: Derf Backderf(My Friend Dahmer, Trashed),Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter), Stephen Bissette (Swamp Thing, Tyrant), and Craig Fischer (English professor and occasional contributor to The Comics Journal)! (Click the photo to enlarge!)
In this episode, Tim talks to Steve and Craig about their summer research tour that brought them to Columbus and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, and how it relates to Steve’s revival of his ’90s comics biography of a Tyrannosaurus rex, Tyrant!
Fantagraphics is a comics publisher that got by on a shoestring for decades, in service of its mission to prove that comics could be equally as literary and adult as film, novels, or any other storytelling medium. Eventually, Fantagraphics’ flagship publication, The Comics Journal, became the go-to magazine for reviews of noteworthy comics and hard-hitting interviews of their creators.
After more than a decade of work, Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean have published (through Fantagraphics, of course) a history of the company, called We Told You So: Comics as Art. This week Tom, himself the former Managing Editor of The Comics Journal, is here to talk about Fantagraphics and the work and decisions that went into writing its history.
FLASHBACK! Richard Thompson passed away on July 27, 2016. As his strip Cul de Sac ended four years ago, Tom Spurgeon joined Tim to bid it a fond farewell, and this week we re-present that episode in memory of Thompson.
We discuss some favorite moments of Cul de Sac, compare it with other classic strips such as Peanuts, examine what Thompson (and any other relatively new creator of newspaper strips) was up against as technology and economics teamed up against print media, and — Hey! Watch out for the UH-OH BABY!!
Alvin Buenaventura, who died last month at age 39, was a guy with a great eye for unusual art, and he had a large impact on the comics publishing world. He’s perhaps best known for publishing a $125 comic, the 16” x 21” tome Kramers Ergot 7 (shown)! This week Tom Spurgeon joins Tim to discuss Alvin’s impact.
Originating out of the same ’80s black-and-white/anthropomorphic boom that brought us the Ninja Turtles, Usagi Yojimbo is one of the few comics of that batch that are still going today. Stan Sakai’s work combines historical drama, understated violence, light comedy, and even some explanations of 17th century Japanese culture — and he can pack a surprising amount of story into a few pages. Tom Spurgeon joins Tim and Kumar to talk about the long-eared samurai.
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.
Our frequent guest Tom Spurgeon this time sits for an interview with Tim, discussing his childhood interest in comics; his lousy pre-Comics Journal job & how he got into TCJ; the Top 100 comics of the 20th Century issue (and why nothing by Dave Sim made the list); his new job, organizing an annual comics festival with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; the controversy over a certain recent Batgirl cover; and more.
One of the most highly-regarded English-language strips of all time is George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat,” featuring the odd love/hate triangle of Krazy, Ignatz, and Officer Pupp. Why was Krazy so gender-ambiguous? How did Herriman’s (somewhat mysterious) racial background influence the strip? Tim and Kumar discuss this and much more.
From 1942 to 1966, many of the Donald Duck comic books published by Dell Comics were written and drawn by Carl Barks. Like most comic book creators at the time, his name was unknown; the Duck comics were all credited to Walt Disney. Fans only knew that his work was by the GOOD duck artist. Barks created Scrooge McDuck and many of the other duck characters that are taken for granted as part of Disney canon today.
What made Barks the standout Duck artist? Were they meant to be satirical, or simply enjoyable stories? Tim, Kumar, and Tom Spurgeon discuss Barks’ work, particularly the Fantagraphics volume “Lost in the Andes.”
Recently asked on our Facebook group: What would you do if you controlled Marvel and/or DC? This led to another question: How can comics, particularly in the US, gain a larger audience?
No one’s really sure of the answer to the second question, but its a good springboard for podcast discussion of comics evangelism and the state of the industry in general. What role will digital comics play? In the first installment of an occasional series, Tim bounces these questions off our friend Tom Spurgeon.
If you’re old enough to remember pre-Internet days (like us geezers who make this podcast), you remember how new comics creators used to get known. No Web comics, Tumbler, podcasts, etc. Like John Porcellino, they hit the “zine” scene, announcing themselves through Factsheet Five and getting placement in a few comics shops. Porcellino’s King-Cat, with its accounts of his pets, his dreams (the sleeping kind), amusing anecdotes, and occasional fiction, drew notice in the comics world for the way it eloquently fed the reader’s life back to him, making note of things the reader might have missed. Drawn & Quarterly is releasing selected King-Cat comics in hardcover; Tim, Kumar, and special guest Tom Spurgeon discuss the first collection, King-Cat Classix.
As Richard Thompson’s strip Cul de Sac ends, Tom Spurgeon joins Tim to bid it a fond farewell. We discuss some favorite moments, compare it with other classic strips such as Peanuts, examine what Thompson (and any other relatively new creator of newspaper strips) has been up against as technology and economics team up against print media, and — Hey! Watch out for the UH-OH BABY!!
In episode #300, we took a look at the sometimes wacky and cartoony Love & Rockets work of Jaime Hernandez. This week, Tim and Kumar are again joined by Tom Spurgeon to look at the somewhat darker, more violent and yet rather hard-to-pin-down work of Gilbert Hernandez in his stories of (or, sometimes merely tangentially related to) the isolated Mexican village of Palomar.
The series Love & Rockets, featuring individual works by the Hernandez brothers, started in 1981 as a self-published magazine, but was quickly picked up by Fantagraphics. Over the last 30 years, the brothers’ work has continued to develop & astound. This week Tim and Kumar take a look at the Love & Rockets work of Jaime Hernandez, with special guest (and former Fantagraphics employee) Tom Spurgeon!