Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Review of Piero and The First Man

Time Codes:

  • 00:01:23 – Introduction
  • 00:04:25 – Better late than never
  • 00:05:54 – Piero
  • 00:40:32 – The First Man
  • 01:23:26 – Wrap up
  • 01:24:39 – Contact us



Pascal and Derek are back with the latest Euro Comics episode…the very late November show. They begin with Edmond Baudoin’s Piero (New York Review Comics). This is a fascinating and moving memoir — or better yet, a series of remembrances — from Baudoin and his relationship with his younger brother Pierre, or Piero. While the title and the story itself would lead one to believe that this is the story of Edmond’s younger brother, it’s actually a narrative that focuses on the author himself. Edmond, or Momon, as he’s called in the book, is at the center of this text, and he’s explored and defined within the context of his brother and their relationship, especially as it concerns art and illustration.

After that, the Two Guys turn to Jacques Ferrandez’s adaptation of Albert Camus’s The First Man (Pegasus Books). This isn’t the first time the guys have discussed Ferrandez’s adaptation. In July 2016, Derek and Gene looked at his graphic version of Camus’s The Stranger. This book is similarly moving, but in many ways denser and more pensive than the earlier adaptation. The First Man was the manuscript that Camus was working on at the time of his death, dying in a car accident. The unfinished work, and intended masterpiece, was finally published in the 1990s, but Ferrandez’s text doesn’t really feel like an uncompleted manuscript. This is quite a prose-heavy book, and philosophical in the way that Camus’s essays and fiction were thought-provoking. Derek and Pascal didn’t plan this when they chose these two books, but The First Man and Piero have a lot in common: thoughtful, pensive, and narratives scaffolded around memories and the past.


Comics Alternative, Episode 299: Reviews of Recent Comics about The Beatles

Time Codes:


Number 9, Number 9, Number 9…

This is a special episode of The Comics Alternative, in that Sterg and Derek focus only on recent comics about The Beatles. Both of the guys are huge Beatles fans, and you can tell how excited they are in discussing these texts. They begin with David Foenkinos, Corbeyran, and Horne’s Lennon: The New York Years (IDW Publishing), adapted from Foenkinos prose work on John Lennon. What makes this book stand out is that it’s primarily narrated in the first person through imagined therapy sessions that Lennon undergoes. In this way, the text becomes not only an insight into John Lennon’s psyche, but also a broad historical overview of The Beatles as a musical phenomenon.

After that they jump into Bill Morrison’s recent adaptation of Yellow Submarine (Titan Comics). This is a work that is as colorful and as elaborate as the 1968 animated film, and the guys are impressed by how faithful the book is to the film’s plot. The only thing you don’t get in Morrison’s text is the various musical interludes that you have in the animated film (of course), but even then Morrison does an affective job of implying the music as sort of a silent soundtrack. But all of the surreal visuals, the song references, and the many puns are there.

Next, they look at a new book just released through NBM, The Beatles in Comics. This is a collection of short essays and comics written by Michel Mabel and Gaet’s, and with illustrations by a variety of artists. Much like Lennon, this book provides a broad overview of The Beatles, and the chapters cover such topics as their time in Hamburg, Brian Epstein, when they met the queen, their playing Shea Stadium, the Ed Sullivan Show, the genesis of “Yesterday,” their decision to stop touring, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their time in India, Yoko Ono, the Paul Is Dead phenomenon, and the breakup of the band.

Finally, they discuss a new book that really isn’t about The Beatles, but uses the Fab Four as a significant backdrop. M. Dean’s I Am Young (Fantagraphics) is a series of stories about relationships and music, and the main storyline is the one that uses The Beatles. It’s the history of a relationship between Miriam and George, two young people who meet at a Beatles concert when the band first hit it big. M. Dean takes us through the course of this relationship, doing so with The Beatles as a nexus, with the two growing older and getting together, and growing apart, as The Beatles themselves mature and evolve.

One book that the Sterg and Derek do not discuss, but one they nonetheless highly recommend, is Carol Tyler’s Fab4 Mania (Fantagraphics). This work was released earlier this year, and the reason the guys don’t include it in their comics about The Beatles coverage is that Gene and Derek interviewed Carol back in July. As such, they spent a lot of time discussing that book, so the guys already focused on that text. Still, it’s another recent graphic novel about The Beatles, and it should stand alongside the other works that Sterg and Derek discuss in this episode.



Comics Alternative, On Location: The March Visit to Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

How Much Is Too Much?

For the March on-location recording at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find in Charlotte, NC, the topic of discussion is comics adapted into movies and television series (especially superhero properties), and if we’re about to reach the point of oversaturation. Joining Derek in the conversation are shop customers Zyg, Jack, Jesse, Erica, and Christian. All of them are fans of superhero film and TV, and each brings a unique perspective to the discussion. And, as expected, everyone varies in their opinions on how much is too much when it comes to superhero adaptations. Among the various movies and series they discuss are Black Panther, the Iron Man seriesWatchmen, The CrowJustice League, Tim Burton’s Batman, Gotham, the various Netflix series, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They also talk about non-superhero comics adaptations such as LuciferiZombie, Ghost World, and, of course, The Walking Dead. And toward the end of their conversation, everyone expresses her or his own wish list of other properties that could be adapted into television series or films.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass


On this weekend’s Kickstarter episode, Derek talks with Barron Bell and Koi Turnbull about their campaign The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass. It’s a graphic adaptation of the memoir, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and it’s the first of three planned volumes on Douglass’s life.

The North Star is a dramatic retelling of three pivotal moments in Frederick Douglass’s story, bringing to life the legendary figure’s efforts as an abolitionist, a businessman, a politician, and a man of faith. There are a variety of reward levels, some of which underscore this project’s goal as an educational tool.

Support these noble intentions by backing this Kickstarter campaign. And learn more about the work of Barron Bell and Koi Turnbull.

Sample Art



Comics Alternative, Euro Comics: Reviews of Moby Dick and The Interview

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:36 – Catching up
  • 00:05:04 – Moby Dick
  • 00:48:50 – The Interview
  • 01:18:18 – Wrap up
  • 01:18:58 – Contact us


Pasteboard Masks

This month on the Euro Comics series, Edward and Derek discuss two black-and-white narratives, one an adaptation of a classic text and another an offbeat tale of aliens and relationships. They begin with Christophe Chabouté’s rendering of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (note the lack of hyphen in the title), released earlier this year from Dark Horse Books. After mentioning many of the earlier comics adaptations of the great American novel — and there are a lot — they plunge into Chabouté’s handling, highlighting some of the differences from the earlier versions. Both cohosts come from two very different perspectives in their analyses, since Derek is very familiar with the original novel and Edward has not yet read it. As such, their approaches are varied and multifaceted.

Next, they turn to the latest translation of Manuele Fior, The Interview (Fantagraphics). This is a markedly different kind of story from 5,000 km Per Second, a book that Gwen and Derek reviewed last year. As Edward points out, the draw of The Interview isn’t so much the story, but its tone or the affect generated by the text. This is a tale about relationships, and Fior’s art deftly expresses the subtitles and complications that underlie all of our interactions. You may come away from this book with a feeling of uncertainly and irresolution, but that seems to be a part of Fior’s project.



Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Sam and Fuzzy, Ulysses Seen, and Biome

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This month on the webcomics series, Sean and Derek delve into three tonally different titles. They begin with Sam Logan’s long-running Sam and Fuzzy. This is a series that has been around since 2001, starting off as a gag strip in Logan’s college’s student newspaper and then becoming a webcomic in 2002. The creator diligently keeps his Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule of publication, and with almost fifteen years behind it, that’s a substantive webcomic. In fact, the Two Guys discuss the intricacies of its storylines, the expansion of its cast, and the evolution of Logan’s art. One would be hard pressed to find a webcomic with a more dynamic history, and the guys try their best to cover as many points as possible.

Next, Derek and Sean’s discussion takes a decidedly literary turn with Ulysses Seen, a webcomic adaptation of James Joyce’s masterpiece. Illustrated and adapted by Robert Berry, this is a project that attempts to capture the novel it the fullest sense. This is no mere graphic Cliff Notes version of Ulysses, but one that tries to represent Joyce’s voice and style. Accompanying the webcomic proper are analytical blog postings by Mike Barsanti, contextualizing the story and explicating its many facets. This is certainly an ambitious endeavor — it even has its own app in the iTunes store — although the guys do note the webcomic’s biggest weakness: its design. It’s not easy to navigate the website and find your way around, and there are too many duplicate pages or links to nowhere. What’s more, the webcomic doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2011 or 2013 (it’s not easy to determine each page’s publication date), and the adaptation is only up to Episode Five: The Lotus Eaters. But if you’re a fan of the classic and have patience, then Ulysses Seen can be worth the wait.

Finally, the guys wrap up with an already completed webcomic, Adam Szym’s Biome. This is a short piece that can be found at Szym’s website Good Show Sir, along with a number of his other comics. This webcomic stands out for intricacy of art and especially its design for reading. Sean points out that it employs some of Scott McCloud’s ideas behind the “infinite canvas,” and Derek feels that the reading experience is similar to what you will find with Study Group Comics. But however you approach it, this highly stylized work, with its fantastical tone and sci-fi leanings, is standout example of what webcomics are capable of.



Arc Reactions – 55 – Velvet 1-10

We discuss the first 10 issues of Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. This female led spy story is set in a very realistic environment and focuses on a retired agent who must use her spy skills to solve a mystery.

Talking points

Is Velvet a Ms. Male character? (11:18)

Velvet’s approach to Marina (21:51)

A More Realistic Spy Story (36:16)

The plot (42:44)

The world is very real (50:28)

Naration (55:47)

Continuation past this story (1:04:41)

Letters Pages (1:07:16)

If you would like to download the episode, right click and Save As



As mentioned in the episode

BBFB 142 – Bruce Wayne, Murderer?

Deadpool film

Winter Soldier film

BBFB 141 – Catwoman: Dark End of the Street

Cosplay artist who painted her body like comic book characters

Our next podcast will be our coverage of the Suicide Squad (film) on August 7th. Our next Bat Books For Beginners episode will be Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty on July 19th.

We would like to thank Packie Wambaugh for recording our intro and outro music for us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact us with any feedback or suggestions you may have and subscribe to us on your favorite platform:

Comics Alternative Interviews: I. N. J. Culbard

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“The benefit of hindsight”

CulbardThe Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics are back with another fun conversation, this time with artist I. N. J. Culbard. They talk with him about his latest book, The King in Yellow (SelfMadeHero), a graphic adaptation of Robert W. Chambers’s macabre collection of stories originally published in 1895. To be more specific, Culbard actually takes the first four stories from Chambers’s original work, the ones that reference the notorious fictional play referenced in the title — “The Repairer of Reputations,” “The Mask,” “In the Court of the Dragon,” and “The Yellow Sign” — and adapts those. As Ian reveals, he attempts to stay true to the spirit of the original, while at the same time making creative changes that will more fully bring out the stories’ tone and present them in more of a thematic whole. In fact, Derek suggests that Ian has actually made The King in Yellow better by KingInYellowgiving it more structural cohesion, using the four stories in such a way that the book becomes short-story cycle, or more appropriate to the medium, a graphic cycle. The guys spend a lot of time discussing the new book, the artist’s storytelling choices, and especially Culbard’s larger philosophy on adaptation and comics. However, they also explore a variety of Ian’s earlier works, including his ongoing adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft narratives (of which we can expect more in the near future), his many collaborations with both Ian Edgington and Dan Abnett, and his solo work from last year, Celeste. If you aren’t previously familiar with the work of I. N. J. Culbard, then this is your chance to get introduced to one of the best adapters, and best artists, working in comics today.



Deconstructing Comics #314: Tiny Comics, Novel Manga, and Manga Translation for India

Okashi na FutariBrian John Mitchell talks about his Kickstarter project to fund the making of his matchbook-sized comics. Two of these books involved a collaboration with Dave Sim!

Rook Bartly” (US Air Force active duty member Jason) tells us about “Okashi na Futari”, the Japanese novel series whose author has hired him to draw a manga version of the story.

Then, Kumar returns to tell us about a couple of his recent manga translation projects, “Stupid Guy Goes to India” (which landed him an interview in the March 25 Mumbai Sunday Mid-Day, pg 38-39) and Osamu Tezuka’s “Adolf”.

All this, plus the announcement of the winning “what do you like about Deconstructing Comics” entry!

Deconstructing Comics site

Follow Tim on Twitter | Facebook group

Two True Freaks! Episode 182 – Star Wars Monthly Monday #29


Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to experience Star Wars AS YOU HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED IT BEFORE! In the TWO TRUE FREAKS THEATRE OF THE MIND! Using state of the art technology, The Freaks bring you the first two chapters of the novelization of STAR WARS in full FREAK-O-PHONIC STEREO! Marvel at the EPIC SPACE BATTLES! Quiver and SOIL YOURSELF IN FEAR at the auditory presence of the EVIL LORD OF THE SITH! Chuckle at the bumbling antics of ARTOO DEETOO AND C3PO! Wince at the awkward, whiny pubescence of young LUKE SKYWALKER! STRAP ON YOUR HEADPHONES! Yes, we PROMISE things will be back to normal next month!



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