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The Comics Alternative

A weekly podcast focusing on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There's nothing wrong with superhero comics. We just want to do something different.) New podcast episodes become available every Wednesday and include reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, and spotlights on various creators and publishers. The Comics Alternative also produces "special feature" programs, such as shows specifically dedicated to creator interviews, webcomics, on-location events, and special non-weekly themes and topics.

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Episode 297: Reviews of DC Comics before Superman, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, and Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1

Time Codes: 00:00:30 - Introduction 00:02:45 - Being away 00:04:40 - DC Comics before Superman 00:44:12 - My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies 01:14:21 - Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 01:29:48 - Wrap up 01:30:43 - Contact us This week Sterg and Derek check out three intriguing, yet very different, titles. They begin with Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson's DC Comics before Superman: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's Pulp Comics(Hermes Press). This is a collection of comics written or inspired by the writing of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and an overview of the pre-Superman history of the publisher. After that they look at Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies(Image Comics), the latest noir narrative in their Criminal series. And then the guys wrap up with Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's return to their Umbrella Academyworld.

1hr 34mins

24 Oct 2018

Rank #1

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Manga: Reviews of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Golden Kamuy

Time Codes: 00:00:28 - Introduction 00:02:47 - Catching up 00:05:57 - My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness 00:50:05 - Golden Kamuy, Vol. 1 01:22:31 - Wrap up 01:23:25 - Contact us It's the end of the month, so that must mean that it's time for Shea and Derek to discuss their latest manga recommendations. They begin with Kabi Nagata's My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (Seven Seas Entertainment), a deeply personal autobiographical work whose title is perhaps more provocative than it is revealing. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time talking about the underlying impulses embedded in the text and how sexual preferences take a backseat to the deeper longings that Nagata reveals. This is a manga all about self-discovery, a diary-like account of the author's attempts to understand herself within the context of her culture and her yearning for what she calls “next level communication.” As Derek and Shea highlight, this is in some ways an example yuri manga, but at the same time such a designation doesn't do the text justice. Next, they look at the first volume of Satoru Noda's Golden Kamuy (VIZ Media). This is a more realistically based narrative that takes place in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War. The protagonist, Saichi Sugimoto, gained a reputation during the war as an almost invulnerable hero, but he lives his post-war years unsuccessfully prospecting for gold in the Hokkaido region. There he befriends a young Ainu woman, Asirpa, and together they begin hunting down a legendary hidden treasure with a violent pedigree. Both Shea and Derek appreciate the story's realism and historical context -- in many ways, this is a didactic text -- but they're not yet sure of how Noda will handle the indigenous Ainu culture. That being said, they're both definitely on board for future volumes.

1hr 26mins

30 Jun 2017

Rank #2

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Karen Berger

Time Codes: 00:00:24 - Introduction 00:03:01 - Setup of interview 00:04:46 - Interview with Karen Berger 01:15:04 - Wrap up 01:17:14 - Contact us Paul and Derek are excited to have Karen Berger on The Comics Alternative. The first release from her new Dark Horse Comics imprint, Berger Books, occurs next week, and the guys talk with Karen on the cusp of this event. The Two Guys ask their guest about the genesis of Berger Books as well as her efforts in launching new titles -- such as Hungry Ghosts, Incognegro: Rennaisance, Mata Hari, and The Seeds -- and securing impressive talent. But they also talk with Karen about her time working at DC Comics and establishing the industry-defining Vertigo brand. This is a fun and informative interview, and Karen Berger is one of the most engaging and pleasant guests the Two Guys have ever had on the podcast.

1hr 19mins

25 Jan 2018

Rank #3

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Episode 275: The April Previews Catalog

Gene and Derek are back for another look at the current month's Previews catalog. This one may not be as long an episode as last month's Previewshow -- which clocked in at just under three hours -- but it's nonetheless hefty. (Well...actually, it is almost as long as the March show.) They begin this week by discussing the new changes appearing in Previewsbeginning in April. They point out the additions of BOOM! Studios and Dynamite Entertainment in the premiere publishers section, prominently displayed in the front of the catalog; the reorganizations of solicits in a new manga section; the shake-up of what had been the book section; the flip arrangement with the toy and merchandise sections; and next month's departure of DC Comics' solicitations into their own supplemental catalog. After that, and several cynical comments (primarily from Derek), they get into the nitty gritty of the April Previewscatalog, highlighting a variety of titles from such publishers as: Dark Horse Comics - Sword Daughter#1, Likely Stories, Gantz Omnibus Vol. 1, Hercules: Adventures of the Man-God, and EC Archives: War Against Crime Vol. 1 DC Comics/Vertigo - Plastic Man#1 and American Vampire Omnibus Vol. 1 IDW Publishing/Top Shelf - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest#1, Look Back and Laugh, Comic Book History of Comics: Comics for All, The Unknown Anti-War Comics, and Burmese Moon Image Comics - The Magic Order #1, The Weatherman#1, Proxima Centuri#1, Shanghai Red#1, and The Red Hook Vol. 1 Dynamite Entertainment - Nancy Drew#1 BOOM! Studios - By Night#1, Planet of the Apes Visionaries: Rod Serling, and Sanpaku Arcade Publishing - Broken Glory: The Final Years of Robert F. Kennedy Archie Comics - Cosmo: The Complete Merry Martian Bongo Comics/United Plankton Pictures - Spongebob Comics Annual Giant Swimtacular#6 Conundrum Press - The Curse of Charley Buttersand Feast of Fields Drawn and Quarterly - A Bubble, Shit Is Real, and The Strange Fantagraphics Books - Poochytown, Dumb, Death Stand and Other Stories, Fab 4 Mania, and Dull Margaret First Second - Science Comics: Rockets Humanoids - Luisa: Now and Thenand Moon Face Deluxe Knopf Books for Young Readers - Rickety Stitch and Gelatinous Goo, Vol. 2: The Middle-Route Run Lion Forge - Mae Vol. 1, Mae Vol. 2#1, and Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine NBM - A Tale of a Thousand and One Nights: Hasib and the Queen of Serpents Nobrow - Nobrow Vol. 10: Studio Dreams Oni Press - Shadow Roads#1 Rebellion/2000Ad - Jinty Vol. 1: The Land of No Tears and The Future Zoo Secret Acres - Entropy SelfMadeHero - Apollo Silver Sprocket - Catboy Titan Comics - Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer #1 and Tyler Cross: Black Rock Twomorrows Publishing - Comic Book Implosion Z2 Comics - The Sweetness Kodansha Comics - Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol. 1and Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku Seven Seas Entertainment - Cutie Honey: The Classic Collection

2hr 53mins

4 Apr 2018

Rank #4

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Episode 289: The August Previews Catalog

It's that time again! It's the beginning of the month, and the latest issue of the Previews catalog is out. And as they always do, the Two Guys meticulously go through the latest solicits, highlighting a variety of upcoming titles in Previewsthat they're interested in or they think is worth considering. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on in the August catalog include: Image Comics - Blackbird#1, Dead Rabbit#1, Exorsisters#1, Juke Joint#1, Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special, Norroway Book 1: The Black Bull of Norroway, Men of Wrath, and Royalboiler: Brandon Graham's Drawn Out Collection Dark Horse Comics - Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion#1, Black Hammer: Age of Doom#8, and EC Archives: Vault of Horror Vol. 5 DC Comics/Vertigo - Cursed Comics Cavalcade#1, The Books of Magic#1, Lucifer#1, Hex Wives#1, and Vertigo: A Celebration of 25 Years IDW Publishing - Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader's Castle#1-#5, The Highest House, Mattéo Book One: 1914-1915, The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories, Lodger#1, and Supers, Book One Dynamite Entertainment - The Lone Ranger#1, James Bond: The Body, and The Spirit: Corpse-Makers BOOM! Studios - Adventure Time Season 11#1, Sparrowhawk#1, Hex Vet: Witches in Training, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation, and The Sons of El Topo Vol 1: Cain Abrams Comicarts - Run: Book One Adhouse - Live/Work#2 Aftershock Comics - Dead Kings#1, The Last Space Race#1, and Lollipop Kids#1 Ah Comics - Mark Twain's Niagara Book Ahoy Comics - Captain Ginger#1 and Edgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Terror#1 Animal Media Group - Queen of Kenosha Black Mask Studios - Sex Death Revolution#1 Candlewick Press - Lost Soul, Be at Peace Conundrum Press - Flem Fantagraphics Books - Kramer's Ergot 10, Love and Rockets Vol. IV#6, Fante Bukowski Three: A Perfect Failure, and The Crumb Compendium First Second - Last Pick Vol. 1, Science Comics: The Brain, On a Sunbeam, Secret Coders Vol. 6: Monsters and Modules, The Unsinkable Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon, and The Zita the Spacegirl Trilogy Box Set Gallery 13 - To Build a Fire Graphix - The Hidden Witch Harper Collins Publishers - To Kill a Mockingbird Humanoids - My New York Marathonand Superman Isn't Jewish (But I Am Kinda) Iron Circus Comics - The Girl Who Married a Skull and Other African Stories Learner Publishing Group - Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper Lion Forge - Petit, Quantum Mechanics, and Timothy Top NBM - Of Blood and Dust New York Review Comics - Piero Oni Press - Merry Men Pantheon Books - Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation Pegasus - The First Man: The Graphic Novel Quirk Books - The League of Regrettable Sidekicks Renegade Arts Entertainment - Frank Scribner - Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home SelfMadeHero - Andy: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, H.P. Lovecraft: Four Classic Horror Stories, and Wolf Silver Sprocket - Snowbirdand You Can Try Again Souring Penguin Press - Daisy Blackwood: Pilot for Hire, Vol. 1 Triangle Square - Zenobia VIZ Media - Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection, Tokyo Ghoul Complete Box Set, Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction Vol. 3, and Ao Haru Ride Vol. 1 Yen Press - Crush Kodansha Comics - Battle Angel Alita: Holy Nights and Other Stories Seven Seas Entertainment - Wonderland Vol. 1 Vertical Comics - Pop Team Epic Vol. 1

2hr 33mins

8 Aug 2018

Rank #5

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Episode 303: Our Favorite Comics of 2018

Time Codes: 00:01:28 - Introduction 00:03:49 - Context, and a few statistics 00:10:41 - Our favorite comics of 2018, part 1 00:40:03 - Our honorable mentions, part 1 00:54:46 - Our favorite comics of 2018, part 2 01:29:23 - Our honorable mentions, part 2 01:47:47 - Our favorite comics of 2018, part 3 02:08:23 - Wrapping up our favorites 02:11:19 - Contact us It's that time again! It's the end of the year, their very last weekly review episode of 2018, and so the Two Guys are ready to share what they consider to be their favorite comics of the past twelve months. This is Sterg's first time doing this, but he successfully steps up to the plate to reveal what he considers his 10 favorites of 2018. And Derek does the same. Before that, though, they go over a few statistics from the past year. Over the course of 2018 -- at least up until the time of the recording of this end-of-the-year show -- The Comics Alternativereleased a total of 171 episodes of the podcast. Of that number, 55 were interviews, 10 were webcomics shows, 11 manga episodes, 10 from the Euro comics series, 6 were young reader shows, 16 on-location episodes, and 1 special. (And since Sterg and Derek recorded this "Favorites" episode, there have been at least three other shows for the current year, an on-location, a webcomic, and a Euro comics show. Maybe a manga episode will go up before the new year, as well?) But of much more importance are the various titles that both Sterg and Derek picked as this year's favorites. Each chooses, in no particular order, what he considers to be his 10 favorites of 2018: Sterg's Top 10 of 2018 Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman- Box Brown (First Second) Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special- Scott Snyder and Jock (Image Comics) The Nib- various, edited by Matt Bors Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World- Penelope Bagieu (First Second) Blammo#10- Noah Van Sciver (Kilgore Books and Comics) Coyote Doggirl- Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn and Quarterly) Tom the Dancing Bug- Ruben Bolling Lore Olympus- Rachel Smythe (Webtoon) Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction - Jarett Krosoczka (Graphix/Scholastic) Derek's Top 10 of 2018 Motor Girl Omnibus/Strangers in Paradise XXV - Terry Moore (Abstract Studio) Hasib and the Queen of Serpents: A Tale of a Thousand and One Nights - David B. (NBM Publishing) Live/Work- Pat Palermo (AdHouse Books) Sabrina- Nick Drnaso (Drawn and Quarterly) The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987- Riad Sattouf (Metropolitan Books) The Winner- Karl Stevens (Retrofit/Big Planet) Young Frances- Hartley Lin (AdHouse Books) Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Vols. 1-3 - Inio Asano (VIZ Media) Berlin - Jason Lutes (Drawn and Quarterly) The New World: Comics from Mauretania- Chris Reynolds (New York Review Comics) The Honorable Mentions…These Titles Almost, but Just Didn’t Quite, Make It onto Each Guy's List For Sterg Bezoar#3- various Now - various, edited by Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics) Nancy - Olivia Jaimes Baseline Blvd- Emi Gennis (Kilgore Comics and Press) Tyler Cross: Black Rock- Fabien Nury and Bruno (Hard Case Crime/Titan Books) On a Sunbeam- Tillie Walden (First Second) Black Hammer- Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston (Dark Horse Comics) I Am Young- M. Dean (Fantagraphics) For Derek One Dirty Tree- Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized Books) Come Again- Nate Powell (Topshelf/IDW Publishing) The Troublemakers- Baron Yoshimoto (Retrofit/Big Planet) Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman- Box Brown (First Second) Mister Miracle- Tom King and Mitch Gerads (DC Comics) Will Eisner’s A Contract with God: Curator’s Edition- Will Eisner (Kitchen Sink Press/Dark Horse Books) The Lie and How We Told It- Tommi Parish (Fantagraphics) Gideon Falls- Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (Image Comics) Slum Wolf- Tadao Tsuge (New York Review Comics) Alchemilla- Sara Volta

2hr 15mins

26 Dec 2018

Rank #6

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Summer Pierre

Time Codes: 00:00:24 - Introduction 00:02:37 - Setup of interview 00:04:33 - Interview with Summer Pierre 01:19:14 - Wrap up 01:20:13 - Contact us The Two Guys were first introduced to the work of Summer Pierre during June of 2017. At the time, they were wanting to do a special episode of The Comics Alternative devoted to self-published creators, and John Porcellino recommended to Derek that they check out the work of Summer Pierre. At the time her minicomic Paper Pencil Life was at its fourth issue, and so they went to her website to get the full run of the title up to that point. They were impressed by her art and storytelling, and since then, Derek has made it a point of following Summer's work. She had told him last year in an email that she planned to have a new graphic memoir coming out from Retrofit in 2018, and at this week’s Small Press Expo that book will officially debut. All the Sad Songs is a moving account of the role of music in Summer’s life, from the creation of mix tapes to her performances as a musician, and how that music is linked to key moments with her various relationships and her growth as an artist. In many ways this book is a work of remembrance, but it’s not soaked in the kind of nostalgia that would come across as sentimental. On the contrary, Summer takes a hard look at herself during those times in her life, bearing herself in ways that, at times, may be a bit uncomfortable. But her story is authentic and speaks from the heart. In this interview, Derek talks with Summer about the genesis of this project, her experiences writing in long-form narrative, the role that music has played in her life, and the potential pitfalls in writing about her past in such an open and honest way. This is an interview that's been a long time in coming, but it was definitely worth the wait.

1hr 22mins

13 Sep 2018

Rank #7

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Euro Comics: Reviews of A Strange and Beautiful Sound and Inside Moebius, Part 2

Time Codes: 00:00:27 - Introduction 00:02:37 - Setup 00:04:06 - A Strange and Beautiful Sound 00:39:45 - Inside Moebius, Part 2 01:19:19 - Wrap up 01:21:02 - Contact us On this month's Euro Comics episode, Pascal and Derek discuss two recent French-language translations. They begin with Zep's A Strange and Beautiful Sound, the second of his books released through IDW Publishing. This is a story of a Carthusian monk who, because of a dead relative's last will and testament, reenters the everyday world after 26 years of seclusion. The art and colors of this narrative are quite striking, and while the subject matter is significantly different from his previous A Story of Men, both Pascal and Derek find a common style between these two texts. Next, they check out the latest work in Dark Horse's Moebius Library, Inside Moebius, Part 2. The guys begin by contextualizing the first part of this improvisational journal, released earlier this year, and then go into detail about Part 2. This second book is much more metafiction and self-referential than Part 1, but like the first installment, it includes multiple representations of the author himself, along with encounters with his most notable creations, Arzach, Major Grubert and Malvina, Stel and Atan, and of course Lieutenant Blueberry. The text is free-flowing and surreal, but this is what makes Moebius's self-investigation so notable. Both guys eagerly await the third and final part of Inside Moebiuslater this fall.

1hr 23mins

28 Jun 2018

Rank #8

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Noah Van Sciver

Time Codes: 00:01:15 - Introduction 00:03:32 - Setup of interview 00:04:53 - Interview with Noah Van Sciver 01:15:14 - Wrap up 01:16:39 - Contact us The Two Guys with PhDs are very happy to have back on the podcast Noah Van Sciver. He was first on the show back in March 2015, and a lot of things have changed with him since the guys last talked with Noah (and not just his growing of a mustache). Most significantly, his output has been through the roof! One of the things Sterg and Derek discuss with their guest is the sheer volume of his comics creation. Over the past six months alone he has released four different titles, and from a variety of publishers: Constant Companion (Fantagraphics), Blammo #10(Kilgore Books and comics), One Dirty Tree(Uncivilized Books), and Fante Bukowski 3: A Perfect Failure(Fantagraphics). The guys talk with Noah about his work habits, his penchant for working with different publishers, his ability to juggle different projects at the same time, and his current work and what we can expect from him in the future. And of course, there is a lot of laughter in this episode. Noah is a humorous, and at time quite satirical, writer, yet the humor is often mixed with pathos, as we see not only his autobiographical comics, but most notably in his recent Fante Bukowski. This was a fun interview...and even more fun was had after they turned off the microphones and the guys hung out on Skype to talk about even more matters. Too bad that wasn't captured for the show, but this new interview with Noah Van Sciver is definitely a highlight of Stergios and Derek's year.

1hr 18mins

11 Dec 2018

Rank #9

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On Location: Talking with Creators at HeroesCon 2018

Time Codes: 00:00:25 - Introduction 00:02:10 - Setup of episode 00:03:16 - Rich Tommaso 00:13:31 - Steve Conley 00:18:55 - Milton Lawson 00:27:11 - Naomi Franquiz 00:31:53 - Dave Chisholm 00:41:45 - James F. Wrightand Jackie Crofts 00:49:57 - Scott Wegener 00:58:57 - Natalie Andrewson 01:09:08 - Michael Eury 01:17:05 - Wrap up 01:17:43 - Contact us This past weekend was HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC. It was a great convention, organized by the folks at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. And as Derek likes to do every year, this past weekend he walked around Artists Alley talking with various creators about what they’re doing, what they’ve recently published, and what they may have in the works. The result is a series of short interviews with various creators, some of whom have been on The Comics Alternativebefore, others that Derek met for the very first time.  In this episode are brief conversations with, in order, Rich Tommaso, Steve Conley, Milton Lawson, Naomi Franquiz, Dave Chisholm, James F. Wrightand Jackie Crofts, Scott Wegener, Natalie Andrewson, and Michael Eury. Stay tuned over the next week for moreHeroesCon episodes!

1hr 19mins

18 Jun 2018

Rank #10

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Episode 302: A Review of The Best American Comics 2018

Time Codes: 00:01:23 - Introduction 00:03:26 - Live streaming again...and some context 00:06:25 - The Best American Comics 2018 01:39:33 - Wrap up 01:41:03 - Contact us As they always do, the Two Guys with PhDs use their penultimate show of the year to discuss the current volume of The Best American Comics. this year guest edited by Phoebe Gloeckner. Earlier in the week they released their interview with Bill Kartalopoulos, the series editor, about the 2018 collection, and in that conversation they talked about the process of pulling the anthology together and Bill's experiences working with Gloeckner. But on this episode, Sterg and Derek discuss the actual content of volume. Among other topics, they highlight the "best of" contributions from creators they were already familiar with -- e.g., Gabrielle Bell, Geof Darrow, Guy Delisle, Jaime Hernandez, Jesse Jacobs, Joe Ollman, Gary Panter, Keiler Roberts, and Ariel Schrag -- and also talk excitedly about artists they hadn't yet discovered, including Margot Ferrick, Julia Jacquette, Julian Glander, Chloë Perkis, and Lale Westvind. In all, it's another great of Best American Comics! Go to The Comics Alternative's YouTube channelif you want to see the recording of the guys' live-streaming broadcast of this show!

1hr 45mins

19 Dec 2018

Rank #11

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Episode 285: Another Publisher Spotlight on Koyama Press

Time Codes: 00:00:26 - Introduction 00:02:30 - Media attention! 00:05:16 - XTC69 00:27:16 - Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters 00:48:16 - A Western World 01:07:00 - The Ideal Copy 01:16:21 - Winter's Cosmos 01:30:43 - Somnambulance 01:51:28 - Wrap up 01:54:48 - Contact us The Two Guys with PhDs are back with another publisher spotlight, this one focusing on the spring releases from Koyama Press. (In fact, this is the third spotlight on Koyama, with the guys having previously discusses their seasonal releases in April 2015and May 2017.) All of these books debuted at TCAF last month, and Paul and Derek indulge in exciting discussions of these six new releases. They begin with Jessica Campbell's XTC69, a wild science fiction narrative about gender relations and female empowerment. It serves as a great companion piece to her earlier Koyama book, Hot or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists. After that they discuss the largely wordless text, Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters. As with his previous work, Mighty Star and the Castle of Cancatervater, A. Degen challenges the boundaries of storytelling, and Paul and Derek have fun attempting to decipher the text. And it says something that, compared with the work of A. Degen, Michael DeForge's latest book A Western World is understandable and more "traditional." This is a collection of various DeForge stories, some of them previously published in his Loseseries, and it would serve as a great introduction to the creator's style. Next, they focus on the latest installment of Ben Sears's Double+ world, The Ideal Copy. Following 2016's Night Air and last year's Volcano Trash, this book has Plus Man and Hank out of work as treasure hunters and having to take temporary jobs as caterers...and while doing so inadvertently discovering adventure. Perhaps the most abstract and narratively challenging work of the bunch, Michael Comeau's Winter's Cosmos, is a curious mix of media, photography and illustration. Its the offbeat story of two space travelers on a mission, each with varying degrees of seriousness and dedication. Paul and Derek wrap up their Koyama Press spotlight with a discussion of Fiona Smyth's Somnambulance. This is the longest text of the bunch, and it's a fascinating retrospective of Smyth's comics from the 1980s to present day. For those unfamiliar with this creator's comics, Somnambulanceis the perfect overview.

1hr 57mins

27 Jun 2018

Rank #12

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Euro Comics: Reviews of Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu, Algeria Is Beautiful Like America, and Die Laughing

Time Codes: 00:00:29 - Introduction 00:02:52 - Pascal reports back from TCAF! 00:09:10 - Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu 00:41:51 - Algeria Is Beautiful Like America 01:20:20 - Die Laughing 01:51:28 - Wrap up 01:52:19 - Contact us For the May Euro Comics episode, Pascal and Derek discuss three very different works in translation...but all of which are primarily in black-and-white. They begin with Esteban Maroto's Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu (IDW Publishing), an adaptation of three of H. P. Lovecraft's short stories: "The Nameless City," "The Festival," and "The Call of Cthulhu." All three are part of the writer's Cthulhu mythos, and the guys comment on Maroto's illustrative style and how it reflects that found in 1970s Warren publications, to which Maroto actually contributed (although not these stories). Next, they discuss Olivia Burton and Mahi Grand's Algeria Is Beautiful Like America (Lion Forge). This is a memoir of Burton's journey to Algeria, particularly Algiers and the Aurès Mountains, to visit the land of her mother and grandparents. In many ways, this is a narrative all about identity, in that the author attempts to understand the land of her forebears in order to better understand herself. This is a striking autobiographical work, but as the Two Guys point out, it's unusual that a memoir such as this is written and illustrated by different creators. The guys wrap up this month's episode by visiting a book that is close to Pascal's heart, André Franquin's Die Laughing(Fantagraphics Books). This is a collection of Franquin's Idées noires strips, which are strikingly different from his earlier work in Spirouor his Gastonand Marsupilamicomics. As Derek and Pascal point out, these are more serious and foreboding pieces that reflect a dark peri0d in Franquin's life. And while many of these strips are politically poignant, they are nonetheless timeless and are just as fresh today as when they were first created during the 1970s and 1980s.

1hr 54mins

25 May 2018

Rank #13

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Young Readers: A Discussion of the Nominees for the 2018 Eisner Awards for the Early Readers, Kids, and Teens Categories

Time Codes: 00:00:31 - Introduction 00:03:19 - Setup of the discussion 00:05:04 - Nominees in the Best Publication for Early Readers category 00:51:47 - Nominees in the Best Publication for Kids category 01:31:45 - Nominees in the Best Publication for Teens category 02:20:32 - Wrap up 02:26:03 - Contact us On this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul detail the three categories of the Eisner Awards that focus on children and teens: Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8) Adele in Sand Land, by Claude Ponti, translated by Skeeter Grant and Françoise Mouly (Toon Books) Arthur and the Golden Rope, by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye/Nobrow) Egg, by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books) Good Night, Planet, by Liniers (Toon Books) Little Tails in the Savannah, by Frederic Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci, translated by Mike Kennedy (Lion Forge/Magnetic) Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12) Bolivar, by Sean Rubin (Archaia) Home Time (Book One): Under the River, by Campbell Whyte (Top Shelf) Nightlights, by Lorena Alvarez (Nobrow) The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill (Oni) Wallace the Brave, by Will Henry (Andrews McMeel) Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) The Dam Keeper, by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi (First Second/Tonko House) Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia) Louis Undercover, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi) Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image) Spinning, by Tillie Walden (First Second) In addition to reviewing each nominated text, the duo refers listeners to The Comics Alternativearchives for the shows that reference these nominees: Good Night, Planet by Liniers; Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez; The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi; and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. Paul and Gwen use this episode to launch a general discussion of age designations and categorization of children’s and YA comics, and they reference the art of Bolivian painter and lithographer Graciela Rodo Boulanger, whose depiction of children resembles that found in Campbell Whyte’s Home Time. So, won’t you pour yourself a chilly beverage, kick back, and give a listen to the two PhDs -- more on Paul’s recent doctoral graduation from University of California-Berkeley will appear in the June podcast -- for a rundown of this year’s Eisner nominees.

2hr 28mins

28 May 2018

Rank #14

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Episode 283: The June Previews Catalog

Paul and Derek are back with another look at the latest Previews catalog. And for the month of June, they find a variety of fascinating title...and several of which they even resist mention on mic, in the interests of keeping the show containable and relatively short. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are: Image Comics - Leviathan #1, Perdy, Vol. 1, Crowded#1, Hey Kids! Comics!#1, and Lil' Donnie, Vol. 1 Dark Horse Comics - The Seeds#1, Black Hammer Library Edition, Vol. 1, Inside Moebius, Part 3, The Complete Angel Catbird, The EC Archives: The Haunt of Fear, Vol. 5, Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch, Conspiracy of Ravens, and Mob Psycho 100, Vol. 1 DC Comics/Vertigo - The Sandman Universe#1, Pearl#1, Scarlet#1, and The United States of Murder Inc., Vol. 1: Truth IDW Publishing - House Amok#1, Femme Magnifique: 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World, James Brown: Black and Proud, and Girl Town BOOM! Studios - Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compassand Black Badge#1 Abrams ComicArts - Undocumented: A Worker's Fight Adhouse - Viewotron#1 Aftershock Comics - Hot Lunch Special#1 Albatross Funnybooks - Hillbilly: Red-Eyed Witchery from Beyond#1 Dial Books - Monster Mayhem Drawn and Quarterly - Berlin: The Complete Edition, Bad Friends, and Woman World Fantagraphics Books - Dementia 21, Roly Poly, Penguins, Three Sisters: The Love and Rockets Library, Vol. 14, Tongues#1, and The Fang, Vol. 1 First Second - Delilah Dirk and the Pillars of Hercules, Idle Days, and Science Comics: Trees Humanoids - Victor and Clint Lerner Publications Group - Life on Earth, Vol. 1: Losing the Girl Lion Forge - Sheetsand Love Letters to Jane's World Metropolitan Books - The Arab of the Future, Vol. 3: 1985-1987 Oni Press - Aquicorn Coveand Banana Sunday Silver Sprocket - Be Your Own Backing Band Titan Comics - The Prague Coupand Emma G. Wildford VIZ Media - That Blue Sky Feeling, Vol. 1

1hr 38mins

13 Jun 2018

Rank #15

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Episode 280: Reviews of The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Young Frances, and A Walk through Hell #1

Time Codes: 00:00:29 - Introduction 00:03:16 - Listener mail! 00:06:17 - The New World: Comics from Mauretania 00:48:32 - Young Frances 01:20:52 - A Walk through Hell#1 01:39:53 - Wrap up 01:40:52 - Contact us On this episode of the podcast, Paul and Derek look at three new releases that, while all compelling readings, are vastly different in style and narrative approach. They begin with Chris Reynold's The New World: Comics fromMauretania, recently released from Gallery 13. This is a collection of Reynold's Mauretania comics published beginning in the 1980s. This volume was designed by Seth, and he also provided a brief and insightful note at the end of the text. Neither Paul nor Derek had encountered any of the Mauretania stories before, and they're sorry that they hadn't read Reynolds any sooner. The narratives are dreamlike and random in their coherency, and while making any sense of their meaning and action can be an exercise in frustration, they are strangely some of the most compelling comics the guys have read this year. Next, the Two Guys turn to a creator whom they've read and loved before, but not by his current name. Both Paul and Derek are big fans of the series Pope Hats, authored by Ethan Rilly, an anagram of Hartley Lin. In Young Frances (AdHouse Books), Lin is now using his real name and collects issues #2, #3, and #5 of his defining series. The text presents the story of Frances Scarland, a young legal clerk whose efficiency and competency are admired by those around her, but who nonetheless wonders if she's just drifting through life without purpose. Her best friend, Vickie, is impulse and more scattered, yet talented enough to find a lead role acting in a hit television crime drama. This is yet another example of "verite dessinée" storytelling, a favorite of Derek's and Paul's. The guys conclude this episode by looking at the first issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka's A Walk through Hell (AfterShock Comics). A mix of horror and crime, this first issue establishes the premise of the series but does so in a way that poses a variety of questions. In fact, both Paul and Derek feel as if this first issue ended almost too quickly -- a sense that they've gotten with other AfterShock first issues -- although there is enough in this inaugural installment to have them wanting to come back to the series. In this first issue, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor work a recent race-related killing while at the same time investigating the disappearance of two fellow officers. What they stumble onto, and we never get a sense of what that is, is apparently something so horrific that even the most hardened law enforcers are unable to live with what they saw.

1hr 43mins

16 May 2018

Rank #16

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Manga: Reviews of Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection, Vol 1 and Slum Wolf

Time Codes: 00:00:27 - Introduction 00:03:34 - Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection, Vol 1 00:42:39 - Slum Wolf 01:14:09 - Wrap up 01:15:17 - Contact us This month Shea and Derek discuss two great works that bring back some older, or classic, manga. They begin with Leiji Matsumoto's Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection, Vol 1 (Seven Seas Entertainment), a series that originally ran between 1977 and 1979. Captain Harlockis a classic science fiction work, and with a space pirate protagonist who can be seen as a romantic hero. The Two Guys discuss the figure of Harlock as a curious mixture, while at the same time trying to ferret out the his philosophy. In many ways, they see this manga anchored in its time, both aesthetically and politically. But this work definitely isn't limited to it's time and can be appreciated today. Next they turn to Slum Wolf, another translated collection from Tadao Tsuge (New York Review Comics). An earlier collection of Tsuge's work, Trash Market, was released in 2015 by Drawn and Quarterly (which the guys reviewed on their June 2015 episode). Slum Wolfis a collection of nine stories originally published between 1969 and 1978 in various publications such as Garo and Yagyō. It also includes an essay by Tsuge, as well as a outstanding contextual essay by Ryan Holmberg, who also edited and translated the collection. The guys discuss all the stories, to greater or lesser degrees of depth, but they spend most of their time talking about the linking features that bind most of the narratives. As both Derek and Shea point out, this is one of the manga highlights of the year, so far.

1hr 17mins

30 Aug 2018

Rank #17

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Manga: Reviews of Five Kitaro Volumes and Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics

Time Codes: 00:00:30 - Introduction 00:02:52 - Listener mail! 00:08:31 - Drawn and Quarterly's Kitaro series 01:00:00 - Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics 01:22:54 - Wrap up 01:24:24 - Contact us On the January manga episode, Shea and Derek discuss the first five volumes in Drawn and Quarterly's Kitaro series, created by Shigeru Mizuki. This includes The Birth of Kitaro, Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon, Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War, Kitaro's Strange Adventures, and the most recent Kitaro the Vampire Slayer. Both guys love this character, and they have a good time highlighting the usual, and at times wacky, characters that populate Mizuki's yokai narratives. Hair that shoots out projectiles? Walking eyeballs? Farts that destroy? Poisonous pee? Yep...this is the world of Kitaro. After that, Shea and Derek take a completely different turn with Paul Gravett's Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics (Thames and Hudson). This is a visually infused overview of manga from across Asia, not just that in Japan. Gravett's encyclopedic knowledge of Asian comics is unparalleled. And although Shea would have wanted a more critical text, the book's graphic-centric approach serves as a indispensable introduction to the medium.

1hr 26mins

31 Jan 2018

Rank #18

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On Location: Starting off the New Year at Heroes Aren't Hard to Find

For years The Comics Alternative has held a monthly on-location episode where one or two cohosts go into -- physically or virtually -- one of their local comics shops and talk with customers and employees about the comics that their reading, what they're excited about and looking forward to, and what grumblings they may have in terms of comics culture. The last such episode was published last August, right before Derek moved to Charlotte, NC...and as things would turn out, in the final days of Valhalla Games and Comics. But now that Derek has settled in his new environs, he heads over to Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, his new local shop in Charlotte (at 417 Pecan Avenue), to begin once again the monthly series. So January's show kicks things off, with Derek introducing customers and shop employees to the podcast and beginning what, we hope, will be a fun and informative monthly visit. Snowy weather hit Charlotte this week, so the ice and cold cut down on traffic in the shop over the past couple of days. But several did come in and take the time to talk on show, sharing what titles they're currently reading and what they're finding exciting, and frustrating, in comics and comics-related media. For example, Isaiah, coming in for his weekly comics, shares his thoughts on recent DC Rebirth storylines and the shenanigans he sees going on at Marvel. Shop employees, Karla and Eli, talk about the some of the comics that are currently or soon-to-be adapted for television -- and Eli is particularly interested in the upcoming series based on Rick Remender's Deadly Class. And shop owner Shelton Drum comes on to discuss their recent move to a new location, next week's Charlotte Mini-Con (taking place on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Gary Cole Center), and when we can expect to hear announcements about this summer's HeroesCon. A big THANK YOU to Karla and Shelton for helping to make this on-location show happen. And if you're in the Charlotte area, be sure to come by the shop on Wednesday, February 21, for next month's on-location recording!


19 Jan 2018

Rank #19

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Episode 288: Reviews of Five Recent #1 Issues

Time Codes: 00:00:50 - Introduction 00:03:32 - It's our 6th birthday! 00:09:03 - The Seeds#1 00:36:02 - Euthanauts#1 00:54:51 - The New World#1 01:09:38 - Unnatural#1 01:24:00 - Bone Parish#1 01:40:02 - Wrap up 01:41:15 - Contact us This is a special episode of The Comics Alternative, as it's the guys' sixth anniversary! The podcast began on August 1, 2012, and Paul and Derek discuss some of the things they've done over the past six years, the number of episodes they've published, the amount of interviews they've conducted, etc. It's a celebratory time, and the Two Guys hope that listeners will join in on the celebration and chime in with some of their favorite moments from The Comics Alternative's past. After a brief discussion of the podcast's anniversary, Paul and Derek then leap into the episode's core, a discussion of five recent #1 titles. They begin with Ann Nocenti and David Aja's The Seeds, the latest in Dark Horse Comics' Berger Books imprint. The guys are fascinated by this first issue, not only with Nocenti's multi-layered storytelling, but also with Aja's signature art and design. They then look at the first issue of Tini Howard and Nick Robles's Euthanauts, part of IDW Publishing's Black Crown imprint. While they're intrigued by the series' premise, they're not entirely sure if this is a successful #1 issue. There are confusing moments and, arguably, too many unanswered questions that dampen any desire to read on before the trade. After that, Paul and Derek discuss two recent #1 titles from Image Comics. First, they look at Aleš Kot and Tradd Moore's The New World, an intriguing futuristic narrative that juggles contemporary socio-political concerns along with a Romeo and Juliet-inspired storyline. They also review the first issue of Mirka Andolfo's Unnatural, an erotic -- but tasteful -- anthropomorphic tale that was originally published in Italian and now is available as a limited series. Finally, the guys wrap up with the first issue of Cullen Bunn and Jonas Scharf's Bone Parish (BOOM! Studios). This appears to be a horror title -- after all, that's primarily what Bunn is known for -- but as Paul and Derek point out, this first issue reads more as a crime mystery than it does horror. It's an interesting premise, one that the guys are curious to see unfold. So enjoy this week's episode, and celebrate The Comics Alternative's sixth anniversary!

1hr 46mins

1 Aug 2018

Rank #20