Comics Alternative, Episode 196: Reviews of The Stranger, Snotgirl #1, and Frontier #12

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An Episode of Discovery


On this week’s episode, the Two Guys with PhDs discuss three very different recent titles. They begin with the comics adaptation of Albert Camus’s The Stranger, written and illustrated by Jacques Ferrandez (Pegasus Books). Originally published in French 2013 — and translated by Sandra Smith — this is a graphic retelling of the absurdist classic. What is most notable about their discussion is that the guys are coming at this book from different perspectives of awareness. Derek knows the work of Camus very well, while Gene had never read the original novella. This leads them to slightly different interpretations of the story events as revealed through Meursault’s narration. And the guys’ experiential differences also come through in their readings of the text’s absurdist theme.

Next, Gene and Derek look at Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung’s Snotgirl #1 (Image Comics). This is O’Malley’s first monthly series, and the guys were expecting a lot from this title. While both appreciate Hung’s art, they’re not entirely sure what to make of the story…at least, yet. At times it seems as if O’Malley is trying too hard to capture a particularly younger voice. And this is strange, coming from the creator of the Scott Pilgrim series. For example, both Derek and Gene are unsure of the story’s emphasis on the “hipness” of blogging. On the one hand this premise seems passé, but on the other hand the guys wonder if O’Malley is just establishing a tone that he will critique in subsequent issues. Ultimately, while the guys are intrigued by this inaugural issue, they’re nonetheless going to adopt a “wait and see” attitude and discover how the story unfolds.

The final segment of the episode is devoted to the latest issue of Frontier, the quarterly monograph series of new talent from Youth in Decline. Kelly Kwang is the artist of the most recent release, #12, a non-linear narrative surrounding a game called Space Youth Cadets. This isn’t so much of a story as it is an exploration of the contexts surrounding such a game: what powers certain characters have, their storyworld, their clothing and accoutrements, and the designs that would distinguish the game in the public eye. Kwang’s black-and-white art is both intricate and intimate, revealing a closeness with technology and social networking. Derek and Gene also say a few words about Frontier #6, Emily Carroll’s issue that has just recently come back into print, and about the Frontier series as a whole.