Andy Hirsch is back on the podcast, and this time he talks with Gwen and Derek about his new book, Science Comics: Dogs: From Predator to Protector. This is the next volume in First Second’s important Science Comics series, one that uses comics to educate both younger readers and adults. In fact, Gwen and Derek spend a lot of time asking Andy his illustrative strategies for taking complex concepts and making them understandable to a broader audience. There is a lot of science packed into this book, and not all of it specifically devoted to canines. But Andy uses colorful charts and graphs, as well as particularly effective storytelling conventions, to present his dense subject matter. Guiding the reader through all of this information is Rudy, the lovable mixed-breed narrator who, in many ways, functions as a stand-in for Andy Hirsch himself. Over the course of the interview, Derek and Gwen talk with their guest not only about the new book, its genesis, and Andy’s growing association with First Second, but they also share their own love of and histories with dogs, making this episode of the interview series somewhat of a canine lovefest.
This week on the podcast, Gwen and Derek look at three very different recent titles. They begin with Carlos Giménez’s Paracuellos. The original first two volumes of this comic, published in Spain in 1977 and 1982, have now been collected into a single-volume English translation (by Sonya Jones) and published by IDW’s EuroComics imprint. The Paracuellos strips are Giménez’s autobiographical look at his time in several of the Social Aid “homes” that were a part of Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain. As Gwen and Derek reveal, the stories are stark and heartbreaking, and Giménez presents a difficult environment where oppression and apathy (at least in the context of the adults) shape young and vulnerable lives. They discuss not only the socio-political atmosphere of Paracuellos, but also Giménez’s stylistic strategies for rendering this world. Next, the Guy and Gal with PhDs Talking about Comics look at two #1 issues just released this month: Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch’s The Baker Street Peculiars(KaBOOM! Studios) and Jimmie Robinson’s Power Lines (Image Comics). The former is of particular interest to them, since Andy Hirsch is a friend of the show. This is the first of a four-issue series about a group of young outsiders who team up with whom appears to be Sherlock Holmes in 1930s London. The setup to this story is action-packed and exudes adventure, and Hirsch’s art brings out both the dynamism and the fun that this narrative has to offer. Power Lines is a different take on race relations in the United States, and, in many ways, it’s a very timely premise. A young African American male goes with his tagger friends into a white middle-class neighborhood, only to find himself a embroiled in some mysterious centuries-old power from which he cannot extricate himself. (Sort of like race in America?) Both Gwen and Derek like where Robinson seems to be going with the story, but they nonetheless wonder if he may be unexpectedly stepping into some ethnically tinged traps. However, the ambition is clearly there, and both cohosts are curious where Robinson’s story will eventually lead.
Also, the guys announce that The Comics Alternative is now available through Spotify! So if you consume your audio through that service, then definitely listen to the podcast that way!