Andy Hirsch is back on the podcast, and this time he talks with Gwen and Derek about his new book, Science Comics: Dogs: From Predator to Protector. This is the next volume in First Second’s important Science Comics series, one that uses comics to educate both younger readers and adults. In fact, Gwen and Derek spend a lot of time asking Andy his illustrative strategies for taking complex concepts and making them understandable to a broader audience. There is a lot of science packed into this book, and not all of it specifically devoted to canines. But Andy uses colorful charts and graphs, as well as particularly effective storytelling conventions, to present his dense subject matter. Guiding the reader through all of this information is Rudy, the lovable mixed-breed narrator who, in many ways, functions as a stand-in for Andy Hirsch himself. Over the course of the interview, Derek and Gwen talk with their guest not only about the new book, its genesis, and Andy’s growing association with First Second, but they also share their own love of and histories with dogs, making this episode of the interview series somewhat of a canine lovefest.
In the first of two on-location interview episodes recorded at this year’s HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, Derek talks with a variety of artists, writers, and editors. Some of these are creators with whom Derek was already familiar, some have even talked on the podcast before, and some are are new discoveries. In this show you’ll hear brief discussions with Ben Sears (author of Volcano Trash), Abby Howard (The Last Halloween), Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner (Shirtless Bear Fighter), Andy Hirsch (Science Comics: Dogs), Matthew David Smith and Jeremy Massie (Amazing Age), Tyler Chin-Tanner (Broken Frontier), Sam Costello (Split Lip Comics), and Thom Zahler (Time and Vine).
Stay tuned over the next week for other episodes generated at this year’s HeroesCon!
Gwen and Andy are back with something different for the Young Readers edition of The Comics Alternative: their very first publisher spotlight on First Second Books. The Two People with PhDs have looked at many First Second books in the past, but this time they’re looking at the publisher’s fall selections. (Since they covered Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack in their August show, Gwen and Andy give it just a brief mention here, but you should definitely check it out!) They begin with Andy Hirsch’s Varmints, a wild adventure set in the Old West with sister and brother Opie and Ned, searching for the man who shot their ma. If you like Western stories filled with action, action, and more action, this is the book for you. (And don’t miss the Comics Alternativeinterview with Andy Hirsch!)
Next, they turn to Quirk’s Quest: Into the Outlands by Robert Christie and Deborah Lang, an exploration adventure with the crew of the H.M.S. Gwaniimander under the command of Captain Quenterindy Quirk. Quirk’s voyage quickly meets with a near disaster as his crew discovers a land of deadly giants, a valley of weird creatures, and a sorceress who may or may not have the crew’s best interests in mind. Christie and Lang’s characters may look like something out of a Jim Henson production, but the world they’ve created is unique and compelling.
Eric Orchard’s Bera the One-Headed Troll is yet a different type of quest story, this one featuring the titular troll and her owl companion Winslowe as they discover an abandoned human baby on their pumpkin patch island. Everyone seems to want the child for their own nefarious purposes, but Bera is determined to keep the baby safe from mermaids, witches, and a creature called Cloote, the former head witch of the Troll King. Orchard’s wonderfully bizarre illustrations combine with masterful storytelling that’s filled with humor and depth.
Finally, the Two People with PhDs look at The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing, the story of a young girl who’s a “monster mediator,” someone who patrols the streets of Echo City for trolls, ogres, and ghosts. And they’re all afraid of her! (Note: Sean and Derek discussed the online version of this series in the June webcomics episode.)Andy and Gwen both agree that Margo Maloo is a spectacular story, but it’s so much more. It’s also a book that works on multiple levels touching on the fears, prejudices, and anxieties of us all. First Second is a treasure trove of great books and Gwen and Andy hope that you’ll want to read them all!
The Two Guys with PhDs (Talking about Comics) are happy to have Andy Hirsch as their guest. Actually, Andy has been on the podcast a number of times before, but usually for short interviews at on-location events. But now, for the first time, Andy Hirsch sits down with Derek and Andy for a sustained episode-long conversation. Most of their discussion centers on Andy’s brand new book, Varmints, just out from First Second. Andy shares the genesis of the premise and how he first began mapping out his characters in a series of self-published minicomics. The guys also talk about the all-age focus of Varmints and how a publisher like First Second is the perfect platform to reach a broader audience. But they also discuss Andy’s other works, such as the recently-completed Baker Street Peculiars (co-created with Roger Langdridge), his work on Garfield, and even his earlier miniseries, The Royal Historian of Oz (along with Tommy Kovac). Andy Hirsch is a long-time friend of show, so this interview is more like a coming home than an introduction.
In the first of four episodes created at this year’s HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, Andy and Derek talk with a variety of artists, writers, and editors. Well…Derek talked with everyone. By his own admission, Andy was a little lazy, sitting back and letting Derek do all of the work with the microphone. Regardless, the result is a series of brief interviews with diverse creators, some who have been on the podcast before (such as Andy Hirsch and Ryan Browne) and others whose work the guys have just discovered. On this episode you will hear conversations with
This week on the podcast, Gwen and Derek look at three very different recent titles. They begin with Carlos Giménez’s Paracuellos. The original first two volumes of this comic, published in Spain in 1977 and 1982, have now been collected into a single-volume English translation (by Sonya Jones) and published by IDW’s EuroComics imprint. The Paracuellos strips are Giménez’s autobiographical look at his time in several of the Social Aid “homes” that were a part of Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain. As Gwen and Derek reveal, the stories are stark and heartbreaking, and Giménez presents a difficult environment where oppression and apathy (at least in the context of the adults) shape young and vulnerable lives. They discuss not only the socio-political atmosphere of Paracuellos, but also Giménez’s stylistic strategies for rendering this world. Next, the Guy and Gal with PhDs Talking about Comics look at two #1 issues just released this month: Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch’s The Baker Street Peculiars(KaBOOM! Studios) and Jimmie Robinson’s Power Lines (Image Comics). The former is of particular interest to them, since Andy Hirsch is a friend of the show. This is the first of a four-issue series about a group of young outsiders who team up with whom appears to be Sherlock Holmes in 1930s London. The setup to this story is action-packed and exudes adventure, and Hirsch’s art brings out both the dynamism and the fun that this narrative has to offer. Power Lines is a different take on race relations in the United States, and, in many ways, it’s a very timely premise. A young African American male goes with his tagger friends into a white middle-class neighborhood, only to find himself a embroiled in some mysterious centuries-old power from which he cannot extricate himself. (Sort of like race in America?) Both Gwen and Derek like where Robinson seems to be going with the story, but they nonetheless wonder if he may be unexpectedly stepping into some ethnically tinged traps. However, the ambition is clearly there, and both cohosts are curious where Robinson’s story will eventually lead.
Also, the guys announce that The Comics Alternative is now available through Spotify! So if you consume your audio through that service, then definitely listen to the podcast that way!
A very special thank you to Sophie Birdwell and Marc Bullard, who, as our press liaisons, showed us the layout of the floor, introduced us to many in Artist Alley, and literally took us behind the scenes for some special moments. And another big thank you to Joe Kelly, who gave Derek a signed copy of his wonderful book for adolescents, Douglas Fredericks and the House of They.
Part two of The ComicsAlternative‘s coverage of Free Comic Book Day 2014. In this episode, Derek visits a couple of his local shops, Madness Games and Comics and Collected, both in Plano, TX, where he takes the opportunity to interview several creators at the shops for FCBD. First, he talks with illustrator and designer, Matthew Warlick. Derek had interviewed Matthew previously at last October’s Dallas Comic Con when he was there with the rest of the crew from Space Gun Studios, but this time around he talks with the artist one-on-one. Next, the Guy with a PhD Talking about Comics heads over to his home shop, Collected, to talk with several other artists and writers. There he finds Chad Ettelbrick, creator of the new beef-filled zombie comic, Bovine. Derek also talks with Garfield illustrator and good friend of the show, Andy Hirsch. The past year has been big for Andy — working on Adventure Timecomics, doing more covers, expanding his presence at Kaboom! — and he talks about many of these experiences amidst the chaos of FCBD. Next, Derek speaks with an artist new to the biz, Jajo Rice, about his aspirations within the industry and his ideas for new comics. Finally, he shares words with Eddie Medina, a Dallas-based artist and designer who is also a podcaster! (In fact, Eddie was at Collected with Cole Houston, of the JediCole Universe, recording an on-location FCBD episode, as well.)
Be sure to visit the professional websites and Facebook pages of:
To celebrate this year’s Halloween ComicFest, the Two Guys with PhDs (talking about comics) paid another visit to Collected Comics in Plano, your one-stop-shop for everything thrilling and chilling! Gene and Derek were joined by Collected’s co-owner Brent Irwin, comics artist and friend of the show, Andy Hirsch, and Andy’s “Bob’s Burgers” companion, Natalie Khan. It was truly a ghoulish experience, made more so by the mayhem surrounding everyone during the podcast recording. Amongst crowds of customers, face-painted patrons, kids with loud toys, and Yu-Gi-Oh card players breaking tables, the Two Guys and their guests talked about the free Halloween ComicFest comics, recent horror-related titles, Andy’s work on Adventure Time and Regular Show comics, the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons in the ’70s and ’80s, comics and library community outreach efforts, contentious definitions of the “graphic novel,” Dell and Gold Key TV show-based comics, Gene’s challenge to keep up with new weekly comics, and Derek’s disturbing revelation that his favorite Halloween costume experience was when he was dressed as a baby, complete with diaper, pacifier, and nippled bottle. Despite the latter obstacle, everyone had a fun time, and they managed to end the episode before the Yu-Gi-Oh hoard descended upon them. Experience the fun on this latest supplemental show!