Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Blindsprings, Albert the Alien, and A Fire Story

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From the Ashes

On the November webcomics episode, Sean and Derek look at three very different titles. They begin with Kadi Fedoruk’s Blindsprings, a fantasy filled with magic and spirits, but one whose philosophical foundations are deeper than you may at first think. As the guys point out, the meticulous art is one of the highlights of this webcomic. After that, Sean and Derek turn to a lighthearted all-age series by Trevor Mueller and Gabo, Albert the Alien. Much like Blindsprings, this webcomic has been around since 2013, but there seems to be no foreseeable sign of story exhaustion. Finally, the guys look at a much more somber, and timely, completed webcomic, Brian Fies’s A Fire Story. This is a brief account of the author’s experiences in last month’s devastating California fires. The story is heart-wrenching, and Fies includes commentary and photographs to underscore the full extent of the tragedy.

Be sure to visit Brian Fies’s blog and click on the banners of his two books, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?. Your purchase of those works will help support Fies as he and his wife attempt to rebuild their lives.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Righteous, Zen and the Ephemeral, and American Barbarian

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Kirby Lives!

The Comics Alternative‘s monthly webcomics series is back, and for October Sean and Derek discuss three intriguing titles. They begin with Righteous, written by Kevin Sheller and with art by Joseba Morales and colors by Gab Contreras. This is a narrative with a curious premise: What would happen if suddenly, everyone decided to do the right thing? The story focuses on Daniel, a risk analyst who is “touched” by a mysterious entity and then realizes that his work demeans human life and decides to commit himself to helping others. And his attitude becomes infectious.

Next, the Two Guys discuss a very recent webcomic (beginning in May), Laurence Dea Dionne’s Zen and the Ephemeral. It’s the story of Moé, a young woman suffering from depression who decides to spend ten days at a meditation retreat. The narrative is in its early stages — as of this recording, we’re still in the first chapter — but it reveals the various experiences and feelings that Moé goes through as she becomes acclimated to the retreat and its other participants.

Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with an already completed webcomic, Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian. One of the first things that grabs the guys’ attention is the heavy influence of Jack Kirby on Scioli’s art. Both the character illustration and the kinetic action in the comic bear the stamp of the legend, and not in a derivative way. Scioli utilizes this influence in a way that propels the action forward, providing a story that is reminiscent of Kamandi and Conan the Barbarian. The guys spend a lot of time discussing Scioli’s art, but they also mention other webcomics on his website, such PrincessFinal Frontier, and his brand new biography of Jack Kirby.

 

 

Deconstructing Comics #562: Christopher Jones and Lucid

Chris Jones and Lucid

More Minneapolis comics creators!

Christopher Jones has done a variety of work for DC Comics (including The Batman Strikes and one story in Batman ’66) and other animation adaptations), a few things for Marvel, and Dr. Who comics for Titan. How did he break in, and why is so much of his work of a more “cartoony” nature?
Lucid is making her living from crowdfunding in support of her webcomic, Avialae, a “boy’s love” story with an emphasis on consensual couplings. She talks about how “living the dream” can sometimes be a double-edged sword.

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Gods Can’t Die, Kamikaze, and The Secret Life of Gitmo’s Women

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Slow Build

Sean and Derek are back with their monthly foray into the realm of webcomics. They begin with Z. Akhmatova’s Gods Can’t Die, a lavishly illustrated fantasy of adventure and self-discovery. This is a relatively young webcomic, beginning in April 2016, so readers can easily jump on board with its prologue and first chapter. It’s the story of Ena, born of both human and god, as she searches for her deity father and encounters other gods and creatures along the way. Next, they discuss Kamikaze, a futuristic dystopic tale created by Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper, and Havana Nguyen. Its teenage protagonist, Markesha Nin, is a lightning-fast courier making deliveries within competing corporate interests and trying to provide for her blind father. The guys can’t help but think of CW’s The Flash when discussing this series. Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with Sarah Mirk and Lucy Bellwood’s The Secret Life of Gitmo’s Women. This already-completed webcomic appears in the online magazine Narratively, and it presents the first-person accounts of two female naval veterans and their experiences at Guantanamo Bay. The conflict in their stories isn’t what you might expect, but instead have everything to do with the military’s (and our culture’s) patriarchal structures.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of the 2017 Eisner Award Nominees

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:02:55 – Webcomics news: The Library of Congress’ Web Comics Web Archive
  • 00:11:24 – Trying to make sense of the Eisner Awards’ “Best Web Comic” and “Best Digital Comic” categories
  • 00:30:37 – The Middle Age
  • 00:44:30 – On Beauty
  • 00:56:54 – Helm
  • 01:08:27 – On a Sunbeam
  • 01:32:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:34:14 – Contact us

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Definitionally Challenged

For the June webcomics episode, Sean and Derek take a close look at the webcomics nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards. Before they do that, though, they have to determine exactly which titles are actually webcomics and which are not. If this sounds strange, that’s because this year the people behind the Eisner Awards have separated “Best Digital Comics” and “Best Webcomic” into two completely different categories — which is a good thing — but in doing so they have ill-defined the criteria to where there are digital comics mixed in the “Best Webcomic” category and webcomics in the “Best Digital Comic” category. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be any clear distinctions between the two…which was the problem in previous years when webcomics and digital comics were unfortunately clumped into the same category. Sean and Derek discuss in detail the problems underlying this year’s categorization, and they offer advice for next year’s judges and hope that in the future there will be a much more precise understanding of what a webcomic actually is.

After that, they begin discussing the real webcomics that are scattered between the “Best Webcomic” and “Best Digital Comic” categories. There are five in all, and in this episode they discuss Steve Conley’s The Middle Age and Christina Tran’s On Beauty (both nominated for “Best Webcomic”), as well as Jahanzeb Hasan and Mauricio Caballero’s Helm and Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam (inexplicably nominated under “Best Digital Comic”). Anne Szabla’s Bird Boy was also nominated as a webcomic, but since the guys discussed that title on a previous webcomics episode, they spend their time talking about the other nominees. And as the guys reveal, there is a reason why these four titles are nominated for an Eisner Award this year. They’re all well-written, keenly drawn, and ambitious in what each endeavors to accomplish. Both Sean and Derek wish this year’s webcomics creators, despite the appropriateness of the categories for which they’re nominated, the best of luck when the announcements are made at next month’s SDCC!

Trekker Talk Episode 26: Rites of Passage Part 2

In Trekker Talk Episode 26 we discuss Part 2 of Rites of Passage by Ron Randall. We also share our thoughts about the new Wonder Woman movie and read your listener feedback.

Promo #1: Soundtrack Alley

Promo #2: The Quarter-Bin Podcast

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Thank you for listening and please consider leaving a review to help promote the show!

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Isle of Elsi, Late Bloomer, and Carriers

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Eisner Award nominees announced
  • 00:10:04 – Isle of Elsi
  • 00:47:30 – Late Bloomer
  • 01:09:44 – Carriers
  • 01:31:32 – Wrap up
  • 01:32:31 – Contact us

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Very Punny

Sean and Derek are back with your monthly dose of webcomics analysis. Before they jump into their reviews, however, they spending a little time discussing the recent announcement of this year’s nominees for the Eisner Awards. The guys will devote next month’s episode to the actual webcomics nominated, so they don’t go into much detail this time, but they do mention the big news that the judges have tried to distinguish “webcomics” from “digital comics”…albeit rather ineptly. Tune in next month for more in-depth discussion on this matter!

But for May, Sean and Derek already have plenty to consider. They begin with Alec Longstreth’s Isle of Elsi, an all-age fantasy with a penchant for word play. Both of the guys are bowled away by this webcomic, one of the most impressive that they’ve discussed on the show. Not only are the art and storytelling top-notch, but the design of the website is a big draw, as well. (And while you’re at it, check out the Two Guys’ 2014 interview with Longstreth.)

Next, they turn to another webcomic from Webtoons, Late Bloomer. Written and drawn by Zealforart (AKA Tiffany Woodall), this is a shōjo-inspired romance about a young woman with a flower bud growing out of her belly, a family condition that can only be overcome with her being “deflowered.” Yes, it is quite an unusual premise.

Finally, Derek and Sean wrap up with Lauren R. Weinstein’s Carriers. This completed webcomic was originally published in five parts on the Nautilus website, and it received an Ignatz Award nomination in 2015 for the “Outstanding Online Comic” category. It’s a sobering look at being a carrier of cystic fibrosis and what means for young couples wanting to start a family.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Conceptual Heist, Ménage à 3, and Smash: Monstrous

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Concentrate

This month Sean and Derek offer a genre buffet of webcomics goodness. They begin with Jay D’Ici and Matt G. Gagnon’s Conceptual Heist, a heist narrative with a unique science fiction twist. As the guys reveal, the story is solid, and the black-and-white art, accentuated with a monochromatic blue, suggests a noir tone. After that they discuss a highly popular webcomic that has been around since 2008, Gisele Lagace and David Lumsdon’s Ménage à 3. Derek and Sean describe this as a cross among Strangers in ParadiseArchie, and the TV series Three’s Company…but more suggestive and explicit than the latter. While the guys can see the appeal of this thrice-weekly strip, they nonetheless feel that reading its various narrative arcs over a more concentrated time period — as opposed to experiencing this story as its pages are released — doesn’t necessarily work in the webcomic’s favor. Finally, the guys wrap up with fun completed webcomic from Chris A. Bolton and Kyle Bolton, Monstrous. This is a mini-story within their Smash world, one that the Bolton brothers completed between their earlier work, Smash: Trial by Fire, and the next Smash book that will be published through Candlewick Press.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Great McGonagall, Sufficiently Remarkable, and The Boston Metaphysical Society

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An Historic(al) Episode

For March, Sean and Derek check out three very different webcomics. They begin with Roger Langridge’s The Great McGonagall, a biographical treatment of William “Topaz” McGonagall, known historically as the worst poet in the world. This is a very new webcomic, having begun in January 2017, and in it Langridge takes an already cartoonish figure and plays it up for even more humor. As the guys point out, the artist’s style is perfect for this kind of send up.

Next, Sean and Derek turn their attention to Sufficiently Remarkable, Maki Naro’s ongoing look at the struggles of a young artist trying to get by in New York City. Naro is one of the former contestants of Strip Search — much like Abby Howard, whom the guys discussed back in October — and, in fact, is how he first gained Sean’s attention. As Derek reveals, this is a reality-based drama of interpersonal relationships, but one that struggles at times with the occasional pull into gag-strip formulas.

Finally, and after a brief check in with Jim McClain about the progress of his and Paul Schultz’s Poe and the Mysteriads, the guys round out the episode with a discussion of The Boston Metaphorical Society. Written by Madeleine Holly-Rosing and with art by Emily Hu, this is a steampunk-inspired narrative surrounding the paranormal investigations of a former Pinkerton agent, his uniquely talented colleagues, and the scientific exploits of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Houdini. This is the second webcomic of the month that mines history for its content, although unlike Roger Langridge’s cartoon biography, this one uses the past as a springboard for its fantastical flourishes.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Specialists, Hominids, and The Last Saturday

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February Fun

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Setup of episode
  • 00:03:50 – The Specialists
  • 00:32:17 – Hominids
  • 01:01:33 – Checking in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz
  • 01:16:16 – The Last Saturday
  • 01:38:20 – Wrap up
  • 01:39:52 – Contact us

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For the month of February, Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics. They begin with Al Fukalek and Shawn Gustafson’s The Specialists, an alternate history superhero narrative set in the mid-1940s, with an undefeated Germany flexing its might with its own team of superpowered individuals, Die Übermenschen. The United States fights back with The Specialists, a diverse collection of heroes that is, at times, more propaganda than powered.

Next, the guys look at what is arguably the highlight of this month’s episode, Jordan Kotzebue’s Hominids. This fantasy adventure is set in world populated by varied creatures, the central of which are a race of jungle dwellers. This is a tale with complex moral undertones, but whose message isn’t overbearing or preachy. Plus, Kotzebue’s art is outstanding.

After a brief check-in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz — their Poe and the Mysteriads was launched just last month — Sean and Derek turn to the last webcomic of the month. Chris Ware’s  The Last Saturday appeared in The Guardian during the last half of 2014 and into September 2015, and the guys discuss the ways in which Ware employs the webcomic format. In fact, they both feel that this story never really utilizes the unique qualities of the platform. We could get the same effect in print. Still, this is an engaging narrative whose topic and style should be familiar to any Chris Ware fan.

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Trekker Talk Episode 23: City of the Dead

In Trekker Talk Episode 23 we discuss the story City of the Dead featuring Ron Randall’s Mercy St Clair in an adventure with Karl Kesel’s Johnny Zombie. We also share your feedback in Trekker Transmissions and talk about an exhibit of classic Art Deco cars.

 

Promo #1: Marksmess Podcasts

Promo #2: Straight Outta Gallifrey

 

 

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Thank you for listening and please consider leaving a review to help promote the show!

The Grawlix Podcast #37: Old Tom’s Blue Mold Abduction

This episode the Grawlix Podcast goes on a post-apocalyptic Nordic adventure with the return of Webcomic Recommendations and Stand Still, Stay Silent. They then get divided in a way that has never happened before with the long overdue Invisibles Book 1 review. The show wraps up with a Doctor Who: Return of Doctor Mysterio Christmas Special discussion. Enjoy!

Show Notes and Links

INTRO

00:00:00 – Intro/Greetings

00:01:05 – CGI Dead Actors

IN-HOUSE NEWS

00:04:04 – Upcoming Episodes, Embracing the New Schedule

WEBCOMIC RECOMMENDATION

00:07:11 – Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg

FEATURE COMIC REVIEW

00:15:51 – Invisibles Book 1: Say You Want a Revolution

TV TALK

00:44:36 – Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (Christmas Special)

OUTRO

00:54:25 – Letters Page, Upcoming Episodes (Reprise)

00:58:12 – Outro


The Grawlix Podcast Links

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of King of the Unknown, Cosmic Dash, and Freedman

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Elvis Has Left the Building

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Catching up after the holidays
  • 00:04:07 – Listener mail!
  • 00:08:18 – King of the Unknown
  • 00:33:42 – Cosmic Dash
  • 01:12:16 – Checking in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz
  • 01:27:36 – Freedman
  • 01:52:51 – Wrap up
  • 01:53:45 – Contact us

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It’s a new year, and the webcomics guys are back to discuss three intriguing webcomic titles. They begin with Marcus Muller’s King of the Unknown, an unusual take on the King of Rock and Roll. You thought he was dead? Well, he’s actually alive and kicking (and eating), but now he’s working in the shadows as a paranormal investigator. This is a weird and offbeat title that both Sean and Derek can’t recommend enough, but it’s an ongoing webcomic that hasn’t been updated since 2013. There are indications that Muller will return to the story this year, but in the meantime, introduce yourself to the 30 pages that are already available.

After that, Sean and Derek take a look at Cosmic Dash by David Davis. The premise is not dissimilar to that of another webcomics the guys discussed, Sean Wang’s Runners, but this one is more lighthearted and includes a larger ensemble cast. In fact, the guys spend a lot of time talking about the ensemble nature of the webcomic and how Davis does an outstanding job of providing supplementary material in the way of detailed character descriptions, maps, timelines, design guides, and lore pages.

Then, after the guys check in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz — their new webcomic Poe and the Mysteriads launches this month! — they wrap up the episode with a discussion of an already completed webcomic, Peter Quach’s Freedman. This is a short story, only 23 pages, but it’s an outstanding example of a tightly written and impactful narrative. As the title suggests, the tale concerns ex-slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War, with one in particular who has difficulty freeing himself from the past. The guys also discuss some of Quach’s other short pieces on his website, including the hilarious I Am a Racist (and So Can You). It’s a story that certainly resonates as we approach the dark days of the Trump administration.

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Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Theatrics, The Monster Under the Bed, and Demonology 101

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Monster Cheesecake

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:27 – Introduction
  • 00:04:11 – Listener mail!
  • 00:12:12 – Theatrics
  • 00:40:55 – The Monster Under the Bed
  • 00:58:11 – Checking in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz
  • 01:16:17 – Demonology 101
  • 01:41:47 – Wrap up
  • 01:43:19 – Contact us

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For their last webcomics episode of 2016, Sean and Derek discuss three titles that were completely new to both of them. They begin with Theatrics, Neil Gibson’s period drama set in 1920s New York. With art by Leonardo Gonzales and Jan Wijngaaard on colors, Theatrics is the story of popular Broadway actor who must find another line of work after he’s physically disfigured due to a brutal mugging. Next, they turn to Brandon Shane’s The Monster Under the Bed, a Romeo and Juliet-inspired romance between human and monster. As the guys point out, the art style has an all-age or “innocent” feel to it, but Shane’s penchant for occasional nudity and cheesecake illustration may not be to all readers’ liking. And then Derek and Sean wrap up with Faith Erin Hicks’s Demonology 101. This is a very early work from a creator who has been making quite a name for herself in print — e.g., Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, and The Nameless City — and the guys focus not only on the story, but on the webcomic as a touchstone of Hick’s artistic growth.

The Two Guys also check in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz about their soon-to-be-launched webcomics, Poe and the Mysteriads…although Paul is unable to join in due to a winter cold. Nonetheless, Jim catches the guys up on what has been happening with the webcomic’s development, including new art and the creators’ various plans for their January 1st debut. Be sure to check in at the first of the new year at http://mysteriads.com. And visit their Facebook page for more details!

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