Comics Alternative, Critical Takes: A Conversation with Keith Dallas and John Wells

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:11 – Introduction of new Critical Takes series, and setup of interview
  • 00:05:00 – Interview with Keith Dallas and John Wells
  • 01:12:11 – Wrap up
  • 01:12:47 – Contact us

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Expansions and Implosions

With this episode the Two Guys are starting a brand-new series on The Comics Alternative, one they’re calling “Critical Takes.” This will be an occasion series devoted to critical and scholarly works about comics. In the past, whenever they’ve talked with a comics scholar or historian on the show, they’ve included those in their Interview series, one where they primarily focus on comics writers and artists. But they wanted to spin off their focus on critical works with its own series. After all, and as the show’s tagline states, they’re “Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics,” so it’s only appropriate that the guys devote a series of episodes to the more theoretical, historical, and scholarly side of comics studies. Some of these shows, such as the current one, will be interviews with authors of critical texts that enlighten our understanding of the medium. Others may be general discussions or reviews of critical or scholarly texts, like the histories coming out from TwoMorrows Publishing or McFarland or the kind of scholarly works one will find through the University Press of Mississippi, Rutgers University Press, or Bloomsbury Academic. Unlike the regular monthly series, but similar to what you find with the guys’ interviews, these Critical Takes episodes will be released on no set schedule, but just whenever the shows are completed and can fit into The Comics Alternative‘s ever-expanding offerings.

And today the Derek starts off the new Critical Takes series with a conversation with Keith Dallas and John Wells. They are the authors of a new book from TwoMorrows Publishing, Comic Book Implosion: An Oral History of DC Comics Circa 1978. As the title suggests, this is an in-depth look at the events leading up to the DC Implosion of June 1978, the buildup of the Explosion that preceded it, and the effects and ramifications of the Implosion, as well as its impact on what at the time was the highly flawed distribution system. What makes this text unique is its construction. This is an oral history, and John and Keith have excerpted a variety of first-hand accounts from interviews, news stories, and fan publications of the time, stories from the insiders who personally witnessed and were even victims of the DC Implosion. These accounts are presented in such a way that they create a cohesive and compelling narrative of this moment in DC Comics history. Derek talks with Keith and John about the genesis of this project, some of the challenges they faced when doing their research, and their manner of chronicling comics history.

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Peter Normanton

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 04:13 – Interview with Peter Normanton
  • 55:17 – Wrap up
  • 55:53 – Contact us

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Horror in the UK

On past episodes of The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys have discussed comics fandom and zine culture quite often, although usually the context surrounds American fan activity. But as Derek points out in his conversation with Peter Normanton, he has little knowledge of fanzines outside of the states, particularly within the United Kingdom. That’s why Peter’s latest book, It Crept from the Tomb, was such an enlightening read. Normanton was the publisher and editor of the UK horror zine, From the Tomb, which began in 2000 and ran for over 20-some issues. Several years ago, he was approached by Roy Thomas about the possibility editing a collection from the pages of his horror zine, and the result was The Best of From the Tomb, which came out from TwoMorrows Publishing in 2012. And then more recently, John Morrow asked Peter about a second “best of” collection surrounding From the Tomb…and this request eventually became Peter’s newest release, It Crept from the Tomb. In his conversation with Peter Normanton, Derek talks with his guest about his time as an editor and publisher, the history of comics in in the UK, his love of the horror genre and comics fandom, and the many challenges he faced in putting out a fanzine over the years.

NOTE: Over the course of Derek’s conversation with Peter, they experienced occasional problems with the internet connection. Peter lives in northwest Britain, and at times the connection on Skype was sketchy. So apologies in advance for the several breaks and momentary silences that are noticeable on Peter’s track. Still, the gist of his comments comes through clearly, so please overlook any technical difficulties they may have had.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Mark Voger

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:28 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:47 – Interview with Mark Voger
  • 01:05:43 – Wrap up
  • 01:07:15 – Contact us

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“We didn’t need LSD. We had Quisp and Quake.”

On this interview episode, Derek talks with Mark Voger about his latest work, Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture. The book comes out this week from TwoMorrows Publishing, and during their conversation Mark discusses the roots of groovy culture that reach back to early twentieth-century modernism and jazz, and are even apparent in discoveries during nineteenth century. But most of the interview is spent talking about the flowering, so to speak, of this cultural trend from the mid-1960s into the early 1970s. Obviously Derek asks Mark about the comics of the time — Mike Sekowsky’s new Wonder Woman, Steve Ditko’s Hawk and Dove, Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Archie Comics’ Josie, and the underground comix of R. Crumb, Trina Robbins, Jay Lynch, Kim Deitch, and Denis Kitchen — but they also spend a lot of time discussing “groovy culture” in music, television, film, fashion, and art. Mark also briefly covers his previous book, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972, and the creative transition he made from the ghoulish to the psychedelic. These were the concurrent popular movements that largely defined his young life.

Be sure to visit Mark Voger’s website to learn more about his groovy work!

Comics Alternative Interviews: Michael Eury

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:09 – Interview with Michael Eury
  • 01:27:46 – Wrap up
  • 01:28:38 – Contact us

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“Wonderful, warm blanket of camp”

On this interview episode Derek talks with the Eisner Award-nominated editor-in-chief of Back Issue magazine Michael Eury. His new book Hero-a-Go-Go: Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters and Culture of the Swinging Sixties comes out from TwoMorrows Publishing next week, and the two discuss this project’s genesis and the significance of the camp cultural phenomenon. This text stands out because Eury doesn’t limit himself to just comics, but instead he looks at camp from a wider vista, revealing its convergence among television, film, toys, cartoons, music, and everyday consumable products. In Hero-a-Go-Go, readers will find in-depth discussions of such subjects as Metamorpho, The Inferior Five, Jerry Lewis comics, MonkeemaniaNot Brand Echh, Hanna-Barbera cartoonsHerbie the Fat Fury, Captain Action, the TV Green Hornet, M.F. Enterprise’s Captain Marvel, The Cowsills, JFK and LBJ in comics, the ill-fated Harvey Thrillers, and, of course, the Batman television series. As Michael reveals over the course of this interview, Hero-a-Go-Go is intended for diverse audiences, written as both an informed introduction and a chronicle for remembrance.