This week on The Comics Alternative, Andy Wolverton and Derek review three more new titles. First, they look at another great book from SelfMadeHero, Frederik Peeters’s Aama, Vol. 1: The Smell of Warm Dust. This is the first of a multi-volume series from this innovative Swiss creator. The Guys discuss Peeters’s skills at world-building and his ability to get inside and flesh out his protagonist, Verloc Nim. Next they take a look at two new #1 issues: David Lapham’s Stray Bullets: Killers (Image Comics) and Jason Starr and Andrea Mutti’s The Returning (BOOM! Studios). They spend quite a bit of time discussing the return of Stray Bullets, starting with the big new Uber Alles edition — which collects the original 40 issues of Stray Bullets, plus the recent conclusion of its last story arc in issue #41 — and then moving onto the new Killer arc. They place the new title in context of the entire series and draw out similarities between it and the earlier comics. Finally, they flip through The Returning, reading it as a different twist on undead narratives. While they recognize the premise as fairly common, they hold out hope that Starr and Mutti will take their mini-series in a unique direction.
This week Gene and Derek review two new books (both translations from the French) and the first issue of a new series. They begin with David Prudhomme’s Rebetiko (SelfMadeHero), a narrative centered around a day in the lives of five rebetes, musicians who were a part of the Greek folk music subculture in the 1920s and 1930s. The characters are outcasts, living on the fringe because of their love of rebetiko — often called “Greek blues” — and treated as immoral influences. Prudhomme uses the music and the lifestyle as a structuring device for his narrative. The Two Guys then turn to Pachyderme (SelfMadeHero), Frederik Peeter’s surreal, dreamlike story of a woman who is searching — searching for her husband, whom she believes to have been in an accident; searching for her young female piano student, who elicits in her some sort of hidden passion; and searching for her own sense of self as a fully realized woman. The result is a free-flowing, associative story that seems to turn back on itself and resists closure. If you appreciate Charles Burns’s dislocated and defamiliarizing narratives, you’ll really enjoy Pachyderme. Finally, Derek and Gene discuss the first issue of Erik T. Johnson’s series, The Outliers (Panelvision Productions/Alternative Comics). Beginning almost two years ago as a Kickstarter campaign, this is Johnson’s adventure story of a speech-impaired boy who is able to see creatures living on the periphery of human consciousness, or outliers, that others cannot perceive. The guys are impressed by all three of the titles they discuss and heartily recommend that listeners run out to get these comics. This week is truly an alternative comics feast!
NOTE ABOUT THE EPISODE: Approximately 35 minutes into the show, there is a little technical difficulty with the recording. There is a two- or three-second lag between what Gene is saying and what Derek is saying, and at times it sounds as if one is talking on top of the other. We apologize for this minor problem, but the gist of the guys’ commentary is still understandable and clearly intact.