Comics Alternative, On Location: The August Visit to Collected Comics and Games

Listen to the podcast!

New Voices


This month for the on-location recording at Collected Comics and Games in Plano, TX, the discussion table is rather crowded. Derek is joined by many of the regular Collected customers — Craig, Matt, and Nick — but joining the conversation for the first time are Tristan, Chris, and Carrie, as well as Brian, the shop’s newest associate. The talk begins with Craig’s recounting of his own experiences at this year’s San Diego Comic-Com, but then it segues into a discussion of recent comics that folks have been reading. Some of those titles include Grant Morrison’s KlausDivinity IIBlack HammerBackstagersGiant Days, Voltron Legendary DefenderFight Club 2Black PantherWonder Woman, and various Brian K. Vaughan titles.  They also discuss several comics-related Netflix shows, DC’s upcoming Young Animal series, and writers in other media who have tried their hands in comics. Needless to say, this is a packed episode with a full table of participants and plenty of topics to go around.


Comics Alternative, On Location: The July Visit to Collected Comics and Games

Listen to the podcast!

Summertime, and the Readin’ Is Easy


Derek is back at his local shop, Collected Comics and Games in Plano, TX, to talk with customers and shop employees about the comics they’re reading. And for the month of July, the topic of conversation is summer reading. Many of the shop regulars are there, and store manager Sabrina and her associate, Stephanie, join in the discussion, as well. The conversation begins with DC Comics’ Rebirth titles and how the quality of those stories are resonating with the gang (most of which are Marvel die-hards). That discussion leads to talk about the seemingly endless string of Big Two events and how even publishers such as IDW are seeing the need to create crossover events of their own. Other summer reading for the Collected gang includes How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Jade Street Protection Services, BountyThrowawaysAction Man, and Heathen (which was discussed in May’s on-location episode). In addition, Sabrina also gives her take on some of the early releases she gets to read as shop manager — e.g., Briggs Land and Black Hammer — and Derek is appalled that at least one dedicated shop customer doesn’t even know what Fables is. As is usual with the monthly on-location episodes, there’s a lot of fun talk about a wide variety of comics, something to pique the interest of any Comics Alternative listener.

Much thanks to Freddy Ruiz for taking pictures!



Comics Alternative On Location: The May Visit to Collected Comics and Games

Listen to the podcast!

“This is a show of alliteration”


Derek is back at his local comic shop, Collected Comics in Plano, TX, to talk with customers and store employees about a variety of comics-related topics. Joining in the discussion are regulars Craig, Matt, and Chris, along with shop manager Sabrina and her assistant, Stephanie. As is usually the case with these on-location episodes, the core of the discussion is on mainstream comics — this is what most of the customers read, after all — so this is an opportunity for the podcast to cover ground that it normally doesn’t. The show begins with conversation over the various comics folks have come in to pick up, and this week the standout is DC Universe Rebirth #1. Derek asks everyone if they think Rebirth will change the way they think about DC, and for the most part, the guys are cautiously optimistic about the relaunch…or the rebranding, or the renumbering. Whatever label is being used for this event. And Stephanie proves herself to be a wealth of superhero history, mapping out how DC’s new universe will tap into and combine its previous incarnations. There’s also discussion of upcoming boxed sets of the March trilogy and the most recent books of Hip Hop Family Tree, the first issue of Satellite Falling, Natasha Alterici’s Heathen, Old Man Logan, Evil Ernie, and the wrap-up of Baker Street Peculiars. Sabrina, as shop manager, has retailer previews of Snotgirl #1 and Kim & Kim #1 that she’s excited about (although she can’t give much away). And there’s also impassioned debate on the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1  and its controversial revelation (warning: there are spoilers). All in all, it’s another rollicking romp through Comics Land with the Collected crowd, proving once again how vibrant this shop really is.



Comics Alternative On Location: The April Visit to Collected Comics and Games

Listen to the podcast!

A Matter of Time


Another month, and another visit to Collected Comics and Games in Plano, TX. For the April on-location episode, the topic is open, so Derek talks with customers and employees about whatever comics-related matters come to mind. Sabrina, the shop’s manager, begins by discussing the preparations she’s making for Free Comic Book Day, and then she gives a rundown of the DC Retailer Roadshow event she attended last week. There, Dan Didio, Jim Lee, and various marketing folk at DC shared their plans for the new Rebirth, explaining the upcoming titles, the creators behind them, and the fact that this is definitely not a reboot. From there the folks sitting around the chat table go on to share their lack of attention to DC titles, although they do have more of an interest in the DC properties that have made their ways to television and animation. They also spend a good bit of time talking about Archie Comics and how that world has been undergoing transformations, from the more au courant trends in the new Archie and Jughead titles, to the Predator and Sharknado crossovers, to the more macabre Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Also, Derek is surprised that no one knows about the old Groovie Goolies cartoon.) The recent Eisner Award nominations comes up as a discussion topic, but no one in the shop seems much interested in discussing them. But, of course, since it’s Wednesday, everyone talks about the new comics that have just come out and what they’ve come into the shop specifically to pick up. And that’s a lot of comics. As becomes a running theme throughout this episode, there is just isn’t enough time to read and watch everything worth reading and watching.


Comics Alternative On Location: Discussing Comics “Returns” at Collected Comics and Games

Listen to the podcast!

“That’s a naked ass right next to my kid’s face”


Derek is back at his local comic book shop, Collected Comics and Games in Plano, TX, and this month he’s talking with customers and employees about returns. This is not about customers being unhappy with their purchases and then coming back into the shop to demand their money back. By “returns,” Derek is referring to the various titles, characters, and events that are making reappearances after years of silence or of being out of currency. This is an appropriate topic because over the past year there have been a number of works that have come back or that have been reassertion themselves in new forms. For example, they get the conversation going, surprisingly enough, with a discussion of Bob Fingerman’s Minimum Wage, which came back through Image Comics last year. The people who were there to talk with Derek — Krystle, Shea, Craig, Matthew, and Michael — were divided on this title, with some appreciating it, some not liking it, and one or two not even knowing what it is. But the conversation soon turns to more popular mainstream books that have been reappearing on the shelves, such as the new Star Wars comics published through (and returning to) Marvel. This leads to a brief discussion among the participants of other Marvel characters who are once again getting more panel space, such as Howard the Duck. While almost everyone there likes Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones’s new series, Derek is the odd man out because Howard’s heavy-handed insertion into the Marvel Universe is not to his liking, and he sees the new premise as an easy and predictable ploy. But they discuss other returns as well, such as the Big Two’s return to universe-altering events, Convergence and Secret Wars; old titles coming back after Convergence but with very different creators, such as Gene Luen Yang (Superman), Ming Doyle (Constantine: The Hellblazer), and Sonny Liew (Dr. Fate); AiT/Planet Lar’s Astronauts in Trouble coming out from Image (although Derek can’t remember the title, for some reason); reprints of famous underground comix coming out in (expensive) collections from Fantagraphics; and more terror from Junji Ito in the form of Fragments of Horror and the new deluxe edition of Gyo. Of course, there are a lot of returns that the guys didn’t get around to discussing — David Lapham’s Stray Bullets from last year, the recently announced second issue of Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer, and old characters coming back to the Valiant universe — but there’s only so much you can pack into an on-location show before the shop has to close.


And be sure to return next month for another on-location show during Free Comic Book Day!


Comics Alternative On Location: A Discussion of the Year in Review at Collected Comics

Looking Back at Favorites


It’s almost the end of the year, and Derek is back for one last 2014 visit to his local comic shop, Collected, in Plano, TX. As he usually does every month, he talks with the shop’s employees and customers about the kind of comics that they’re reading, what is catching their interests, and what comics news most excites them, but this CollectedDec2014-1month the focus is on everyone’s favorite titles of 2014. Derek asks everyone sitting around the podcast table — Shea, Krystle, Shaun, Craig, Nick, and Matthew — about what they consider to be the most outstanding comics of the past twelve months. And the candidates vary widely, ranging from single-issue comic books to original graphic novels, from superhero to manga, from pop-culture adaptations to literary graphic fiction, and from webcomics to those coming from Kickstarter campaigns. Some of the titles that folks highlight during the show include Tooth and ClawSecondsThe WrenchiesNijigahara HolographMultiversity: Pax AmericanaRat Queens, Edge of Spider-VerseBleeding HeartLittle Nemo: Return to SlumberlandThe Shadow HeroEye of Newt, Michael Moorcock’s Elric, Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne, Through the Woods, Adventure Time, and Squidder. They also discuss some of their biggest comics disappointments of the year, speculate on the titles they’re looking forward to in 2015, and even learn that Krystle prefers drugs, candy, and weiners in her comics. As usual, you don’t know what to expect from the guys at Collected, but you are guaranteed fun talk about a variety of great books. And much thanks to Freddy Ruiz, the store’s manager, for pulling everyone together!


The Shop Is Hoppin’!


Freddy and Shea Dance Away Their 2014 Memories

Freddy and Shea Dance Away Their 2014 Memories, as Chris Ware’s BUILDING STORIES Lovingly Watches over Them

This episode’s incidental music comes to us through the
holiday obscura discovered by Andy Cirzan!


Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 81.2: Interviews with Creators on FCBD 2014

Illustrative Examples


Part two of The Comics Alternative‘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 Time comics, 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:


This episode’s incidental music is brought to us by
Camper Van Beethoven’s Telephone Free Landslide Victory

Episode 81-2 Image


Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 81.1: Free Comic Book Day 2014

“We are not Marvel’s keeper”

On this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek is on location at Collected Comics in Plano, TX, talking with customers, cosplayers, and critical readers during Free Comic Book Day 2014. Joining him via the wonders of Skype (and despite some sound issues) is Andy Wolverton, who, unfortunately, was unable to take part in FCBD at his own local shop, Third Eye Comics, in Annapolis, MD. Instead, he joins in the FCBD activities from a distance, enjoying the fun virtually. He and Derek discuss the activity surrounding them at Collected Comics, talk with customers to find out what FCBD titles they’re getting, get the lowdown on local cons from gorgeous cosplayers, and plunge into recent comics news with friends of the show. The Two Guys had a lot of fun on Saturday, and some of their guests included a great guy named Rocky and his family, and also:


Superfan and Friend of the Show, Laura Rogers!


Dallas Fan Girl, Laura Gasera!


and Krystle “Selina Kyle” Starr (seen here with Derek “The Hat” Royal)!

Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed for all. So be sure to listen to this year’s coverage of Free Comic Book Day!

Episode 81-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 80.1: Our April Visit to Collected Comics

Freddy, the Recommender


Derek is back at his local shop, Collected Comics in Plano, TX, to discuss comics with the folks who frequent their aisles. Joining him this month are the assistant store manager, Freddy Ruiz, and loyal Collected customer and good friend of the shop, Laura Rogers. Together they cover a variety of topics and titles — from Garth Ennis’s violence to Brian K. Vaughn’s imagination, from individual buying habits to customer trends, from Star Wars to Big Trouble in Little China — and have a fun time doing so. They’re even joined by store employee Sabrina Smith, who is usually gun-shy when it comes to a podcasting microphone. She shares her experience with various disturbing comics, including the upcoming Itty Bitty Bunnies In Rainbow Pixie Candy Land. So sit back, get out your comic-book wish list, and join everyone at Collected in their audio romp through current comics-dom.

This episode’s incidental music is brought to us by
Jack Johnson’s To the Sea

Episode 80-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 71.1: Our January Visit to Collected Comics

“A punch to Batman’s nads”

It’s a new year and a new visit to Collected Comics in Plano, TX! This month Derek swings by the shop to talk with Collected’s co-owner, Brent Erwin, and his store employees Shea Hennum and Freddy Ruiz. It’s a general comics talk, with the topics varying wildly. And things get weird at times. They begin by discussing the recent renovations of the shop’s interior, and that eventually leads to a conversation on future plans and Free Comic Book Day. After that, all bets are off. Freddy talks about graphic violence and steampunk overload, Shea focuses on gay porn comics and Batman’s nads, Derek gripes about the Disney corporation and Marvel’s money-grabbing gimmicks, and Brent voices his wariness of IDW, his recipe for superhero continuity, and his love of sugary breakfast cereals. Everyone has a fun time…and now you too can enjoy the nougaty goodness of their conversation!

This episode’s incidental music is brought to us by
The Best of the Talking Heads

Episode 71-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 66.1: A Discussion of the Year in Review at Collected Comics

Looking Back at 2013

For this month’s on-location show, Derek heads back to Collected Comics in Plano, TX, to talk with Shea Hennum and other shop employees about the past year in comics. The conversation begins with a look at some of the highlights from 2013, the best titles to come out of the year, movies and television programs based on comics, and some of the most memorable publishing events — or just events, in general — in comics. Shea and Derek also discuss some of the trends they saw developing over the past twelve months, including the impressive output of such major creators as Paul Pope and Gilbert Hernandez. Without turning too negative, they also mention some of the disappointments or lackluster moments from 2013, but then they counterbalance that with their hopes for new things that will be coming out in 2014. This is the perfect show to set the stage for Andy and Derek’s much-anticipated end-of-the-year episode, where they will share what they consider to be the best titles in 2013.

This episode’s incidental music comes to us through the
holiday obscura discovered by Andy Cirzan!

Episode 66-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 62.1: Talking Comics at Collected Comics

Things and Stuff


The Comics Alternative is back for its monthly on-location show at Collected Comics in Plano. Joining Derek on this episode is Collected employee and good friend of the show, Shea Hennum. This month there is no particular theme or specific topic of discussion, so the guys engage in general comics talk. Shea and Derek discuss the things that they’re reading, the titles that have been released over the past couple of weeks, and what to look forward to in the months to come. Shea is particularly excited about recent releases, and he waxes over the many titles that now make up his “to read” list. As always, it’s a fun time talking at Collected Comics in Plano, so come listen to the episode and experience the joy.

Episode 62-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 58.1: Celebrating Halloween ComicFest at Collected Comics

Fear and Rabid Yu-Gi-Oh Players

hcf_logoTo 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 NatalieAndyoutreach 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!

This week’s incidental music is brought to you by
Televisions’s Greatest Hits, Halloween Hootenanny, and
The 2 Tone Collection: A Checkered Past

Episode 58-1 Image

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 57.1: Discussing Horror Comics at Collected Comics

Scary Stuff!

HorrorComicsIt’s time once again for our monthly on-location show at Collected Comics in Plano, TX. This month the discussion theme is horror comics, a perfect topic for the Halloween season. On this show, Derek is joined once again by Shea Hennum as well as the shop’s assistant manager, Freddy Rick, the resident expert on all things horror. (Another store employee, Sabrina, even makes a brief vocal appearance on the podcast, sharing her uncanny love of vikings and cheese.) Among the many horror titles they discuss are The Walking Dead, Hellboy, Rachel Rising, EC’s New Trend line from the 1950s (including Tales From the CryptThe Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror), RevivalWeird War Tales, Richard Corben’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptationsSwamp ThingHack/Slash, Locke and Keyalmost anything by Steve Niles, and the pre-Code comics that Craig Yoe collects in his many volumes.

So get your freaky fright on for this ghoulish installment of The Comics Alternative podcast!

This week’s incidental music is brought to you by
They Might Be Giants

Episode 57-1 Image