Derek talks with Zack Sot0 about his Kickstarter project The Secret Voice, Vol. 1. Zack describes it as “as psychedelic fantasy epic” filled with psychic warrior monks, wild kung fu magic battles, monsters, and even a bit of romance.
Over the coals of their conversation, Zack discusses the origins of The Secret Voice in a minicomic, its development as a webcomic and then a comic book, and its maturation as a book-length narrative. The creator describes the premise this way:
Doctor Galapagos, a goggled, bandaged mystery man is just one of many agents of the ineffable Red College that we meet in the pages of The Secret Voice. Doctor Galapagos is our hero, our mystic battle man on the spot. He seems wildly capable of facing any and all hand to hand combatants. But Dr. G isn’t just battling hundreds of angry trolls or brigands all at once, he’s also fighting an unseen, unknown, psychic menace. He’s finding his grip on reality becoming more and more tenuous, just when he needs it the most.
There are a variety of reward levels to choose from, as well, including not only the book — in both digital and hardcopy format — but swag, original art, and prints. This is a fun story that the Two Guys have discussed on a past episode of the webcomics series, so you know it’s worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Back The Secret Voice, Vol. 1!
This week the Two Guys with PhDs focus a critical spotlight on the spring releases coming out from Alternative Comics and the other small presses that are part of its distribution co-operative, Floating World Comics, Hic + Hoc Productions, Study Group Comics, and Press Gang. This is a jam-packed episode and longer than usual, a discussion that covers eighteen different titles among the five indie presses. Before they jump directly into the comics, though, Derek has a brief conversation with Marc Arsenault, the publisher of Alternative Comics and one of the ringleaders of the co-operative. He asks Marc about the origins of the press, its relaunch in 2012, its distribution agreement with the other indie publishers, and what readers could anticipate coming out of Alternative Comics in the months to come. After that introductory interview, Andy W. and Derek begin discussing the individual titles some out this spring, and organizing their conversation by publisher. These books include:
As Andy and Derek mention in the show, this has been a spotlight episode they’ve been wanting to do for some time. The guys are truly excited to talk about the new releases coming out from Alternative Comics (and its co-op partners)…and not just this publisher’s name is an inversion of the podcast title.
For the February webcomics show, Sean and Derek explore three very different titles. They begin with Christopher Mills and Joe Staton’s Femme Noir, a unique twist on the crime noir genre. This is series of tales surrounding a mysterious, unnamed crime-fighting PI who dons an iconic trench coat and fedora, but whose long golden locks and fishnet hose give her away as something wholly other. The guys describe this comic as a blend of Batman, The Shadow, and The Spirit, but with a female protagonist who is anything but a victim. One of the unique contexts of this webcomic, as Derek points out, is that the stories currently being serialized online have originally appeared in print. What Mills and Staton are apparently doing is using their previously published material to re-introduce their comic to a new audience — and through an entirely different narrative delivery system — and the guys hope that this will eventually spawn brand new Femme Noir stories. Next, they turn their attention to Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt. This is yet another intriguing title from Study Group, a publisher (online and print) visited often on The Comics Alternative. (Indeed, last year’s July webcomics episode was devoted solely to Study Group titles.) Both Sean and Derek are blown away by Dalrymple’s art, which should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the creator’s work, but at times they are a little confused by the storyline. However, they speculate that perhaps Dalrymple’s surreal, dreamlike narrative is supposed to confound, and that one of the best ways of engaging with It Will All Hurt is to just read it through without pause and let the pieces sink in as the story unfolds. After that, the Two Guys wrap us with a webcomics classic, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FreakAngels. This is an important title for the medium, and Sean and Derek spend a good deal of time discussing its impact and what it meant (and still means) for webcomics. This is an opportunity for Sean to revisit the webcomic, in that he was there reading it from the very beginning back in 2008. Of course, the guys also plunge into the story itself, a fantastic post-apocalyptic narrative that bears the Warren Ellis stamp. And they specifically address Duffield’s art, a truly outstanding facet of this webcomic. The guys also mention Avatar Press’ links to the project and how they were taking a chance during the title’s original run. All in all, this month’s webcomics episode is both fun and substantive, so crank up your browsers and hold on tight!
ALSO: The guys announce their online demographics survey and encourage all listeners to participate. Go to their Libsyn survey webpage, and fill out the short six-question questionnaire. If you include your email address, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win an official Comics Alternative t-shirt when they are printed up later this year!
On the July webcomics show, Andy W. and Derek do something different. Not only do they look at two current and ongoing series, along with one already completed title — as is their usual format — but they do so by focusing on just one specific webcomics outlet: Study Group Comics. The guys begin, appropriately enough, by looking at current work from Zack Soto, the publisher of Study Group. His comic, The Secret Voice, is a mashup of various genres, part adventure, part science fiction, part superhero, and (at least in the beginning) part Jules Verne-inspired fantasy. So far there are five completed chapters of The Secret Voice, and as the narrative unfolds, Soto is creating an ever-expanding and complex world centered around the enigmatic Dr. Galapagos. Next, the guys discuss François Vigneault’s Titan, a futuristic sci-fi drama set in an hydrocarbon processing refinery on Saturn’s satellite, Titan. Vigneault’s story is perhaps the most socially charged of this month’s bunch, touching upon class and ethnic conflicts, and even venturing at times into scientific ethics. Titan is in its fourth chapter, with Vigneault currently posting updates. Finally, Derek and Andy look at a Study Group webcomic that was completed back in 2012, Julia Gfrörer’s Black Is the Color. Her story is relatively simple and straightforward — a sailor is cast adrift from his ship and encounters a fabled mermaid — but Gfrörer’s art and pacing add a sophistication that give depth to this relatively short narrative. Black Is the Color is driven by subtleties and innuendo, ultimately embracing an ambiguity that opens up text in unexpected ways. This story was published in hardcopy by Fantagraphics in 2013, and in fact, the other webcomics discussed this month have seen printed form, and through Study Group Comics. There are two comic-book issues of The Secret Voice published so far, and one of Titan.
Listeners of the monthly webcomics series will be saddened to learn that this will be the last episode in which Andy Wolverton will serve as regular cohost. Andy will still be a big part of The Comics Alternative family of podcasts — he’s not going anywhere soon — but he’s decided to hand over his webcomic-analyzing duties to another so that he can pursue another project for The ComicsAlternative. So keep your eyes open for more exciting stuff from Andy W.! Beginning in August, Derek’s cohost for the webcomics series will be Sean Kleefeld, an incisive critic and webcomics maven who is sure to inject some gravitas into the show.