Comics Alternative Interviews: Jason Lutes

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:26 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:50 – Interview with Jason Lutes
  • 01:20:31 – Wrap up
  • 01:21:13 – Contact us


Stones, Smoke, and Light

Jason Lutes began his Berlin series in the spring of 1996, with plans to publish his ambitious project over a 24-issue run. Over the years, he pared down the number of issues to 22, and the last of those was released in March of this year. Earlier this month, Drawn and Quarterly released a complete single-volume edition of Berlin, clocking in at over 550 pages, as well as a third volume of the series, City of Light, for those who had already gotten the previous two collections, City of Stones and City of Smoke, and didn’t want to get the completed series in just one volume.

Berlin is a massive narrative with an ensemble cast. It takes place in that volatile city during the last days of the Weimar Republic, 1928-1933, when Germany was struggling with its economy and war reparations, and a variety of political factions — in particular, the Communist Party and the National Socialist Workers Party — were vying for power. Lutes’s story primarily focuses on the lives of Kurt Severing, a world-weary journalist, and Marthe Müller, an uncertain art student moving to Berlin and longing to define herself in this newly adopted city. But there are a variety of other characters, as well, and Lutes even peppers his fictional cast with several historically based figures, including the jailed journalist Carl von Ossietzky, Joseph Goebbels, Josephine Baker, and, yes, Adolf Hitler himself. The result is an expansive narrative that not only captures the Weimar culture at the time, but also explores individual desires and unpredictable relationships in the midst of political and economic upheaval. In his interview with him, Derek talks with Jason about the origins of the series, the amount of research that went into the project, how the city of Berlin became a point of inspiration, the various challenges he faced maintaining such an ongoing series for over 20 years, and where Jason’s artistic ambitions may take him next.

Comics Alternative, Episode 272: Reviews of Babylon Berlin, The True Death of Billy the Kid, and The Highest House #1

Time Codes:



This week Gene and Derek discuss three recent titles, all of which concern mysteries. They begin with Babylon Berlin (Titan Comics), Arne Jysch’s comics adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s noir prose novel. It takes place in 1929 Berlin and set in the Weimar Republic, with all of its historical and cultural contexts embedded within. The guys are very impressed with Jysch and Kutscher’s narrative, and they spend a lot of time not only discussing the work as an example of crime noir, but also the issues involved in adapting a text from one medium to another (including the recent Netflix series).

Next, they look at Rick Geary’s latest efforts, The True Death of Billy The Kid (NBM Graphic Novels). This began as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, and in many ways it follows the format of Geary’s true crime comics. Indeed, both Derek and Gene are big fans of Geary’s art and his handling of the history and research surrounding infamous deeds. This is not a biography of Billy the Kid, but true to the book’s title, it focuses on the days that lead up to the death of this legendary figure.

Finally, the Two Guys turn their attention to The Highest House #1 (IDW Publishing). Released in conjunction with the French publisher Glénat Editions, this brings back together Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Yuko Shimizu, the creative team that brought us The Unwritten. This story is more of an overt fantasy than the previous series. The inaugural issue sets a solid foundation for Carey’s world building, and as both Gene and Derek observe, the larger album format allows a full display of Gross’s marvelous art.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Julia Wertz

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:39 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:29 – Interview with Julia Wertz
  • 01:10:16 – Wrap up
  • 01:12:40 – Contact us


Screw Cronuts!

On this interview episode, Paul and Derek are pleased to have Julia Wertz on the podcast. Her new book, Tenements, Towers and Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City, came out earlier this month from Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers. As the subtitle suggests, this is a different kind of history, a guide to the Big Apple’s present as well as its past, investigating its architecture, its businesses, its facades, its entertainment venues, and the many colorful figures who have populated its boroughs. The guys talk with Julia about how different this book is from her previous works — e.g., Drinking at the MoviesThe Infinite Wait and Other StoriesFart Party — which are primarily autobiographical. For this project, the author considered herself an urban explorer, forgoing the inward gaze and focusing instead on the city that she called home between 2007 and 2016. Tenements, Towers and Trash includes a variety of stories that compose its past, and punctuating the text is a series of before-and-after illustrations of storefronts and city blocks that underscore New York’s ever-changing nature. This isn’t a nostalgic look back at what once had been, but a chronicle of a dynamic urban space in the process of becoming. And of course, the book has more than its share of Julia’s poignant, even laugh-out-loud, humor.

Wayne’s Comics Podcast #248 With Travis Horseman From ‘Amiculus’

Wayne Hall, Wayne’s Comics, Travis Horseman, Amiculus, Secret History, history, historical, graphic novel, Kickstarter, Romulus, Rome, Procopius, Orestes, Odoacer, Valerius, Atilla, barbarians

This week, I talk with Travis Horseman, who’s brought together a terrific series of graphic novels called Amiculus: A Secret History. We discuss how he brought this powerful story about the collapse of Western Rome to life, just who the characters are in this historical tale, and what he has in mind for the future of the character as well as his work! First up, though, is his current Kickstarter project that you can support! It’s going on now at this link, and he needs your help to bring the concluding volume to life! For more information about this series, go to his website here. These books come highly recommended by yours truly, so don’t miss this engaging conversation and the books that bring to life an important part of history, and does it in a gripping way!


Weird Science DC Comics Weird Comics History Podcast Ep. 9: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars


This week Chris (@AceComics) and Reggie (@reggiereggie) have some secrets to share…about the landmark comics event from 1984, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars! First, a mention of the actual first event from Marvel Comics that happened two years earlier. Then, a discussion about the secret origins of the Secret Wars event and a run-down of every issue in the series! After the break, we take a look at the aftermath of Secret Wars and its lasting impact on the Marvel Universe and comics publishing as a whole, running down some of the biggest events from Marvel and DC from 1985 until today! It’s a shocking episode with many twists and turns that are largely wiped away at the very end! Have a listen!

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin

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The Pen and Government Man


Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:42 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:56 – Interview with Nate Powell
  • 01:10:11 – Interview with Andrew Aydin
  • 02:12:26 – Wrap up
  • 02:13:57 – Contact us


On this interview show, Andy and Derek do something different. They talk with both Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, the artist and coauthor of the recently completed March trilogy (Top Shelf Productions), but instead of interviewing both creators together, the guys talk with them separately and then combine the two recordings into one long episode. So in this show, over two hours and fifteen minutes long, you’ll hear about the genesis and the creative turns that went into the March books from both the artist’s and the writer’s perspectives. Nate and Andrew also discuss their time working with Congressman John Lewis, his wealth of experiences from the Civil Rights Movement, and the creative choices that each of them had to make when representing those events. For example, Nate explains the challenges that faced him when illustrating the unspeakable violence, and Andrew describes his strategies for scripting the chronology of the congressman’s young life. Both guests also share a few words about current projects they have underway and what we can expect from them post-March.



Arc Reactions – 43 – Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth

We cover Deadpool – Merc With A Mouth this month. This is a story where Deadpool is hired to retrieve his own zombified head and of course it doesn’t go smoothly. This 13-issue series is from 2009-2010 and involves time travel, the Savage Lands, and a blimp.

Talking points



Depection of women (19:27)
Plot (54:53)



Humor (1:03:56)
Homage covers (1:11:20)



Deadpool (1:13:20)


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

As mentioned in the episode

Episode 34 – The Wake

Episode 35 – Billy Love Nibbles

Darth Jar Jar Theory

I was unable to find the link to the specific article I read about the Jason Todd as the Joker theory that I mentioned in the episode.

Our next podcast will be our review of the Deadpool film on February 14th. Our next Bat Books For Beginners episode will be Joker’s Last Laugh on February 16th.

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 On Location: Teaching Comics through a Historical Context Panel at HeroesCon 2015

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Historic Talk


This panel recording originally appeared on the Dollar Bin podcast. A big THANK YOU goes to Adam and Shawn Daughhetee and the rest of the Dollar Bin crew for making this recording at the con and for allowing The Comics Alternative to share it with its listeners.


Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 84: Reviews of Andre the Giant, Shackleton, and Southern Bastards #1

Shoeshine Boy

AndreOn this episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three new titles, and boy, do they have great time! They begin with Box Brown’s new graphic biography from First Second, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. While neither of the Two Guys are big professional wrestling fans, they did grow up in an era where Andre the Giant was a significant cultural figure, covered in news programs, Shackletonstarring in films and television series, and appearing on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman. Next they look at another historically based comic, also published by First Second: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey, by Nick Bertozzi. This work focuses on the expedition that Ernest Shackleton took to the South Pole between 1914 and 1916, intending to traverse the Antarctic on foot. As the guys point out, this is another of Bertozzi’s comics about historical explorers, a previous title being 2011’s Lewis and Clark (also from First Second). Finally, Derek and Andy wrap up SouthernBastardswith a fun discussion — beginning with references to a dog taking a dump — of the new series from Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Southern Bastards (Image Comics). Both of the guys are familiar with the Southern setting serving as the backdrop of this comic — Derek is from Charlotte, NC, and Andy has been living in South Carolina for a number of years — and they can relate to where the two Jasons are going. Derek, in particular, is excited to see Aaron back on a creator-owned, non-superhero title, and both are enthusiastically on board for what appears to be another great Image series.

This episode’s incidental music is brought to us by
T-Bone Burnett’s The True False Identity

Episode 84 Image

Comics Alternative Interviews: Nathan Hale

“Underpants on the brain.”

NathanHaleOn this episode of The Comics Alternatives Interviews, Andy W. and Derek talk with Nathan Hale, a writer/illustrator and the genius behind the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series from Amulet Books. They begin with Nathan’s brand new volume about World War I, Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, and the meticulous work that went into it. As the Two Guys point out, this is perhaps Nathan’s most ambitious book to date, not only in terms of the intricate and detailed art, but also because of its vast sweep of political and military history. They ask the Treatiesauthor about his unique narrative frame — the historical figure, Nathan Hale (no relation to the author), about to be hanged as a spy, yet with a complete knowledge of American history due to strange flying history book —  and the way he applies it to all of the books in the NHHT series, including One Dead SpyBig Bad Ironclad!, and Donner Dinner Party. The guys have a great time talking with Nathan about his work, asking him about his writing habits, his background in children’s picture books, his strategies in writing for an adolescent audience, and his responsibilities as a researcher and educator. So put on your historical thinking cap, plug in your podcast-listening device, and enjoy this conversation with Nathan Hale.

This episode’s incidental music is brought to you by
They Might Be Giants Vs. McSweeney’s

Interview Image - Hale

Arc Reactions – 18 – Watchmen Part 3

We take our final look deep into the classic tale of The Watchmen from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. We had a blast researching and talking about this in depth tale. Join us for a double length episode as we try to cover the rest of our talking points.

Talking points


Sub-plots and did they add to the story for you (0:30)

Very much a cold war era book (25:55)

Philosophical question: Who makes the world? (Issue 4) (46:48)

Is this comic ‘adult’ for the sake of being ‘adult’? (58:40)

Watchmen is credited with starting several things (1:14:50)


Character study


Orig. Silk Spectre (1:20:00)

Silk Spectre II (1:22:27)

Doctor Manhattan (1:25:20)

Night Owl (1:30:22)

Rorschach (1:34:31)

Ozymandias (1:41:05)

Fate of Hooded Justice and Cap Metro (1:51:46)

Daniel and Hollis discussing their times as Night Owl (1:54:19)



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



Our next podcast will be on May 25th and we will be covering Days of Future Past.


The intro music was composed by longzijun and can be found on youtube here:


Contact us with any feedback or suggestions you may have:

Twitter:   @arcreactionspod



We look forward to hearing form you and thanks for listening.

ARP – 17 – Watchmen Part 2

We dive into the deep end of dissecting the classic story The Watchmen by Alan Moore. Please listen to part 1 first so you get the summary of the story as we started right where we left off last time. There will not be live tweeting this week as I will be out of town and cannot guarantee that I will be near a computer.


Talking points



Gibbons on the plot of Watchmen (0:29)



Technology (3:40)

Real superheroes drove people to want Pirate comics (6:09)

Deterioration over time (7:53)

The use of cancer as a scary thing (13:39)

Non-linear storytelling (16:24)

Supplemental materials (19:37)

What happens after Watchmen? (24:20)



Overall (58:49)
If you would like to download the episode, right click and Save As



Our next podcast will be our review of The Amazing Spider-man 2 on May 4th.


The intro music was composed by longzijun and can be found on youtube here:


Contact us with any feedback or suggestions you may have:






We look forward to hearing form you and thanks for listening.

ARP – 16 – Watchmen Part 1

Dylan and John tackle the classic DC Comics story by Alan Moore. Join them on this 3-part journey into the nooks and crannies of this deep story. In this episode we cover the interesting facts and historical references contained within the text and images. We had a blast researching and thinking about this story.



If you would like to download the episode as an MP3, right click and Save As


Our next podcast will be April 27th and we will be releasing Part 2 of Watchmen.


The intro music was composed by longzijun and can be found on youtube here:

Contact us with any feedback or suggestions you may have:


Email –

We look forward to hearing form you and thanks for listening.

Zone 4 #254: Real World Events in Comics

The crew is back with some general talk and headlines, including Quicksilver’s costume in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the new Fantastic Four costumes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and more.

Then it’s on to the main topic, discussing the use of real world events in comics. The guys each give an example of such an occurrence, and then create their own!

Finally, the guys wrap things up with some announcements.

Sponsor of the Week

If you’d like to sponsor an episode of Zone 4, go here for details, or email us. If you’d like to donate to the show (one-time or monthly) see details here.

You can now find Zone 4 on as well!

This Week’s Links and Topics

Empire 25 Covers

Fall of the First Family

Stan Lee Wants More Superheroes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Walt Simonson Taking Sabattical from Mainstream Comics

Baron Von Strucker Cast in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Phoenix Books

Vatican Assassin Graphic Novel

Mike’s ComiXology Releases

New World Navigation

Top Cow Talent Hunt

River City Comics Expo

Independent Creators Expo (I.C.E.)

Singularity: The Rise of the Posthumans

New Babel Books

Comic Frontline

Dark Avenger INC

Zone 4 Top 5 for 1/22/14

ARP – 10 – Knightfall part 3

We have a treat for you today. This is a double issue. Enjoy a 100-minute spectacular for the conclusion of the Knightfall story arc from DC Comics. In this story we see the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman, but not all is back to normal in Gotham City.


Talking points

  • Notes section
  • Possible racial slur (32:25)
  • Bad things
  • Catwoman portrayal (43:04)
  • Different art styles in the same book (45:43)
  • Story inconsistencies (49:19)
  •  Good things
  • Bat family working together (1:02:09)
  • Nightwing (1:04:40)
  • Faster Pacing Than Part 2 (1:12:34)
  • Fallout from Azrael as Batman (1:15:04)
  • Miscelaneous
  • Azrael (1:18:18)
  • Bruce Wayne’s new costume (1:39:12)
  • The setting (1:42:17)

If you would like to download the MP3, right click and Save As:

ARP – 10 – Knightfall part 3.mp3


We will be taking a break for the holidays. We know that everyone is busy during this time of year and so are we. We will be back in the beginning of 2014 with more great stories for you to experience with us.

Our next podcast will be  January 5th and it will be Age of Ultron.


The intro music was composed by longzijun and can be found on youtube here:


Contact us with any feedback or suggestions you may have:

We look forward to hearing form you and thanks for listening.