Comics Alternative Interviews: Arlen Schumer

Or, Gil Kane Punches Revisited

ArlenSchumerOn this interview episode, Andy and Derek are pleased to have as their guest Arlen Schumer. His book, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art, has recently been released in a beautiful, new revised edition from Archway Publishing. It originally came out in 2003 as a softcover, with a hardbound companion that included an extra section, but in this revised edition Schumer includes all the material from the longer hardbound release, but with brighter images and cleaner type. The result is a unique visual experience, a text on comics art history in the form of a coffee table book. As the guys point out in their discussion, this is the kind of book that every comics aficionado will want to get, and the perfect gift for anyone unfamiliar with the medium but interested in the many forms of American art. The Two Guys kick off the conversation by asking Arlen how he defines the Silver Age, and he argues that while everyone can agree that it began in 1956 with the publication of Showcase #4, the era ended in 1970, a watershed year that inaugurated the way we read comics today. Then they get into the particulars of the book, Arlen’s chapter-by-chapter visual study of legends Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams. They SilverAgeSchumerspend quite a bit of time discussing the work of Infantino, Colan, and Adams (one of Arlen’s favorites), but the artist they spend the most time exploring is Gil Kane. In fact, on the topic of Kane’s art — specifically, the way he rendered punches — Andy is able to flex his superhero acumen in ways he normally doesn’t on the podcast. The guys also talk with Arlen about the creators he didn’t have the room to explore in the book, many of whom receive some attention in the final “More Masters” chapter of the book: Murphy Anderson, Wally Wood, John Buscema, Nick Cardy, and Curt Swan. In many ways, this is a departure for The Comics Alternative, a podcast devoted to non-mainstream, non-superhero comics, but given the significance of this book as both a work of art and a necessary critical/historical text, the guys just had to have Schumer on their show.

Be sure to visit Arlen’s website, where you can find out more about his art, writing, and lectures, and where you can order your copy of his book!


Interview Image-Schumer

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About Derek Royal

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.) New shows become available every Wednesday…much like the comic books you get. Episodes feature reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, spotlights on various creators and their oeuvre, roundtable discussions with prominent critics and scholars in the field, and interviews with the artists and writers who make all of this possible. Along the way, Andy and Derek will talk about the various books that they are reading; the many pop cultural references that, for better or worse, inform their lives; and the unpredictable (and inexplicable) weirdness that seems to creep into each episode. In essence,The Comics Alternative podcast is brilliantly simple: Two guys with PhDs talking about comics.

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