Comics Alternative, Episode 183: Reviews of Love & Rockets: New Stories 8, Girl Crazy, and Blubber #2

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“At this point Gilbert is just f**cking with us”

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This week’s episode is a Hernandez-centric show. On it, the Two Guys with PhDs play a little catch-up with some of Gilbert and Jaime’s comics that have come out over the past few months. They begin with the latest installment of Love & Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics), and most of the tales in this volume continue what began in last year’s annual. In fact, both Andy and Derek feel that New Stories 8 can be best appreciated, and better understood, when read alongside its predecessor. Jaime’s contributions — the Princess Animus, Maggie and Hopey, and Tonta storylines — are fairly straightforward, although the guys aren’t entirely sure how Princess Animus will ultimately fit into the Love & Rockets world. (Is it similar to the Ti-Girls with Jaime playing around with the superhero genre again? Might Penny Century be involved in some way?) But things aren’t as clear-cut when it comes to Gilbert’s selections, all centered on Fritz in some way. Over the last two New Stories annuals, Gilbert has been mapping out a complex narrative concerning the B-movie star and her imitators, chock-full of unusual characters, many LoveRockets8-interiorof whom look alike…and purposefully so. The guys comment on the ways in which Gilbert is manipulating his sequential chronology and the general weirdness surrounding Fritz’s world. And given the labyrinthine nature of this current volume of Love & Rockets, Derek advocates for a much-needed Hernandez brothers wiki and challenges listeners to begin creating one. Next, they turn to the new edition of Girl Crazy (Dark Horse Books). This originally began as a three-issue miniseries published by Dark Horse in 1996 and then collected as a single volume the following year. But that book has been out of print for some time, and now the publisher is rereleasing this new hardbound edition to stand alongside other Dark Horse books by Gilbert, including Speak of the Devil, Citizen Rex (with his brother, Mario), Fatima: The Blood Spinners, Loverboys, and last year’s Grip: The Strange World of Men. Both Andy and Derek note that, with Girl Crazy, the story still holds up, and it’s yet another example of Gilbert’s no-holds-barred storytelling. At the same time, they point out that the art in Girl Crazy is noticeably different from his most recent style, with its detailed texturing and heavier inks. Finally, the guys wrap up with the second issue of Gilbert’s Blubber (Fantagraphics), a comic-book series that is a strange amalgamation of experimental storytelling and pornography. This is definitely not a title for those with tender sensibilities and who are easily offended. In fact, Derek and Andy point out that, for the most part, all the stories in this issue include a lot of sucking and f**king…and not only between humans. There are zombies, robots, and fantastical creatures involved, as well. It’s all weird, wacky, and fun, but after discussing Blubber #2 the Two Guys really feel like they need to take a shower.

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Episode 127: Reviews of Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 7, Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I, and The Other Side of the Wall

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Love and Death

On this week’s episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three exciting new titles. The first is the latest volume of the Hernandez brothers’ Love and Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics). It’s alway a fun show when the guys get to discuss works by Jaime and/or Gilbert, and they’re certainly in their element delving LoveRocketsNS7into the twists and intricacies of the Hernandez’s narrative worlds. There’s a lot to highlight in this Love and Rockets, but there are two matters that are particularly noteworthy. First, most of Jaime’s contributions revolve around triangle of Maggie, Ray, and Hopey. As the Two Guys point out, readers weren’t sure what to expect after the 2011 volume of the series, when Jaime wrapped up the “Love Bunglers” storyline. That narrative had a feeling of finality, almost as if the saga of Ray and Maggie was coming to some sort of conclusion. (There was a tiny glimpse of the characters in 2012’s Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 5, but that was more postscript than anything.) But in this most recent volume of the series, we get to see how Maggie and Ray are evolving after the latter’s traumatic accident. What’s more, Hopey is brought back into Jaime’s story world in a significant way, something we haven’t seen in years. The other major observation that the guys make concerns Gilbert’s pieces, mostly concerning Killer in Palomar and her relationship with her aunt Fritz. Much as in the previous volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories, Beto spins an elaborate tale surrounding Fritz, her b-movie career, and her mother Maria (which also links up with Gilbert’s standalone graphic novels, Maria M.), Terroristalthough this time the complication involves Fritz doppelgängers, wannabe actresses who emulate her work. Derek and Andy feel that Gilbert’s work has been rejuvenated with his return to Palomar, and this latest installment further convinces them of that. After a long discussion of Love and Rockets, the guys next turn to two new releases from Graphic Universe, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group. The first, Henrik Rehr’s Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I, is a fascinating account of the man, or the men, behind the assassination of Austro-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. While most of the book centers on Princip, his associations, and his evolution from an young student into a virulent Serbian nationalist, Rehr spends a significant amount of page space fleshing out the ill-fated Archduke, showing readers more of the man behind the historical persona. Indeed, one of Rehr’s major accomplishments in Terrorist is presenting his subject matters, Gavrilo Princip and Franz Ferdinand, as complex and truly rounded figures, leading readers to feel conflicted sympathies that challenge traditional textbook accounts of the assassination. OtherSideWallPerhaps even more significant, Rehr shows us the many intricacies underlying the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans that plague Europe to this very day. Derek and Andy wrap up their review show with a brief discussion of the other recent Graphic Universe book, Simon Schwartz’s The Other Side of the Wall. This is an autobiographical account of the author’s family as they attempt to emigrate from East Berlin in the 1980s, just a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In his account, Schwartz reveals his parents’ struggles against the loss of jobs, the alienation of family and friends, and the unremitting harassment of the Stasi. Along with Rehr’s more “fictional” Terrorist, Schwartz’s memoir is yet another example of how comics can effectively engage with history.

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Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 65: A Review of Love & Rockets: New Stories No. 6, Maria M.: Book One, and Pretty Deadly #1

“There’s more than one severed penis in this comic.”

MariaMThis week the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics review three new titles, and boy, are they geared up! They begin by looking at the Hernandez brothers’ latest issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics). Focusing first on Jaime’s contributions, they comment on how his narratives have evolved after the “Love Bunglers” storyline from issues number 3 and 4 of New Stories. They’re particularly interested in Jaime’s deeper exploration of the family of Vivian Solis, L&RNS6AKA Frogmouth, especially as it relates to Tonta and the reappearance of Angel Rivera (last seen in the “Ti-Girls Adventures”). Next, Andy and Derek delve into Gilbert’s contribution to the latest New Stories, spending a good deal of time doing close readings of the multiple narrative levels at work: the current story of Dora “Killer” Rivera’s visit to Palomar, the flashbacks to her deceased aunt and great-grandmother, and the films surrounding her great-grandmother, Maria. Here, the Two Guys bring up Gilbert’s new graphic novel, Maria M.: Book One (Fantagraphics), and how it plays off of so well the new Love and Rockets. They look at Maria M. not only as another installment of PrettyDeadlyFritz’s b-movie books — along with Chance in Hell, The Troublemakers, and Love from the Shadows — but also, and perhaps more significantly, as a point of convergence among the various generations of Luba’s family. While Andy feels that Maria M. is a kind of retelling of Poison River (one of the most significant storylines in the first volume of Love and Rockets), Derek sees it as more of a prequel or lead-up to that narrative. Finally, the guys look at the first issue of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos’s Pretty Deadly (Image Comics). They discuss the density of comic, while at the same time commenting on the decompressed nature of the series’ premise.

There is a lot packed into this episode, plenty of close and detailed readings, and you’re going to have to listen to this show multiple times in order to savor every drop of the Two Guys’ insights…for what they’re worth.

This week’s incidental music is brought to you by
Game Theory’s Lolita Nation

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