This is Issue 8 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, a super force of space explorers, discuss the comic books, graphic novels, and general sequential art geekery that excites them.
I’m your host, Chriss Cornish. Joining me are regular squeesters: John Oliver, a dark fantasy author online at JohnWOliver.com ; and April Taie, leader of the Geek Girls Meetup in San Diego.
Taking the revolving 4th chair this issue is our guest, comics writer Alex de Campi; creator of Smoke, Bee Vixens From Mars and others. She also wrote the first issue of IDW’s new My Little Pony:Friends Forever team up series that debuted in January.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: Earth’s Mightiest Hero ; April’s adventure’s in cartoon land ; a creator owned take on Suicide Squad ; and a fresh take on the mighty sword woman.
We rolled a die to see who goes first and April won. Followed by Chriss, then Alex, then John.
April Taie: Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
In December April went to the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It used to be a traveling museum, parked anywhere it could get space, but Charles Schultz endowed it before he died and now it has a permanent home.
There were three exhibits, dedicated to very different art. The first that April went into was dedicated to the art of Robert Searle, a British satirical cartoonist. His work is caricaturey and has a certain gonzo aspect. He’s had a clear influence on many artists and works including Richard Stedman (Hunter S. Thompson’s artist), Ren & Stimpy, and others. The most well known of his work are his Saint Trinian’s cartoons about an all girls boarding school, which appeared in magazines. They have an everyday gleeful morbidity that American readers will find reminiscent of Edward Gory or Charles Adams.
There was also an exhibit of Steve Purcell’s Sam and Max: Freelance Police. They try to solve crimes but mostly cause chaos and it’s wonderful and silly fun. There was original art on loan from the artist and April got a book from the Museum as a Christmas present from the friend she went with.
The main exhibit was dedicated to a retrospective of Sandman, which took up about half the museum. This was the main reason April went. Particularly, to see Mike Dringenberg speak. In addition to art for the first few issues he also created the concepts for several of The Endless, particularly Death and Delirium. Mike talked about how collaborative the process was and other interesting things from back in the day of the proto-Goth movement.
Chriss Cornish: Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer) with art by Dexter Soy and Emily Rios
In which our super powers manifest a thousand fold…
Chriss is really loving what Kelly Sue is doing with the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel over at Marvel Comics (there are A LOT of Captains Marvel between all the publishers – FYI). The stories are fun and Captain Marvel is a great character who is well rounded, interesting, with drama and heroism – and also a woman. She’s a character who is a woman, not an “oh look it’s breasts” or, WORSE, a ‘Strong Female Character’.
Alex brought up a question of the artwork, which she personally didn’t like and which kept her from picking Captain Marvel up when it came out. The art in question is the work that Dexter Soy did for issues 1-4. He has a very dreamy and slightly muddy/imprecise style. John describes it as being like the blurry image taken of action happening too fast for a camera to quite catch in time. It takes a little to get used to, but conveys the emotion and feeling of the scene well. The story is great enough to get over any initial issues with the art. And the issues drawn by Emily Rios have crisper art.
John read Captain Marvel volume 1, then volume 2, then declared he needed volume 3. And it’s a mark of a great thing when that’s you’re reaction.
2a) Tangent 1: Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender
Speaking of comics that are so great you need the next part as soon as you finish one issue or volume… Alex de Campi felt that way about Remender’s X-Force run. She bought the first trade, read it, then downloaded the rest onto her phone. She spent all day Sunday reading them on her phone. When she finished, the world had taken on voodoo qualities because she’d read so many comics. Even more so than usual because of the tiny phone medium which REALLY limits your world to the comic.
2b) Tangent 2: Digital Comics vs Print
Speaking of which… Chriss has tried reading digital comics, but she’s still not sure what she thinks about the new medium. Alex finds that the phone is a great way for her to read comics, though obviously when there’s great art it’s best to see it bigger. She does still really like to read print items, though, because when you work on a computer all day it’s nice to look at something that doesn’t GLOW.
April’s fellow has the same problem, since he’s a programmer. He’d save up issues of the manga anthology magazine Shonen Jump to read all at once as a break from the computer screen. But, that’s now digital only. We discuss ways April can help her friend by stockpiling print manga.
2c) Tangent 3 – Pluto by Naoki Urasawa
Speaking of which… Alex recommends that April get her friend Pluto. There are about 12 volumes and it’s sort of ‘equal opportunity’ entry point; it’s sort of sci-fi, sort of robots, a bit high adventure, with some mystery. The series is loosely based on Astro Boy, but not really.
2d) Tangent 4 – Why Are Comic Shops Always Out of Issue 1 With Manga?
Speaking of manga… We muse over how comic shops never seem to have volume 1 of manga. Alex was a year late on getting into Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (a book our merry squeesters love) and she finally had to break down and order it off of Amazon because every local shop she went into never had volume 1. April suggested that Alex try her local Library, as they typically have volume 1 of the manga and comic book trades they have.
2e) Tangent 5 – T&T Squad
We finally notice the massive tangent we’ve taken from our original subject of Captain Marvel and realize… Tangents are our superpower! That, and tentacles. We’re the T&T squad.
Back On Topic… What really got Chriss interested in checking out Captain Marvel was a preview page of Carol Danvers punching a T-Rex. Which featured the awesome line, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go punch a dinosaur.” Something Chriss needs on a t-shirt.
2f) Tangent 6: Del Floria’s
We wander off and talk about secret agent and superhero headquarters that are disguised as other things. Like Del Floria’s in Man From U.N.C.L.E.. And in Archer; a thing Alex, John, and April watch and enjoy.
Back On Topic…AGAIN A lot of what Kelly Sue is doing with Captain Marvel is bringing back that classic Silver Age ethos that, while having a lot of meaning and heroism, is positive and empowering. And too much of comics since the ‘90s have been bleak. Alex de Campi has stopped reading a lot of comics because they’ve confused bleakness with good storytelling.
2g) Tangent 7: Mark Wade’s Daredevil Run
If you enjoy the return to the Silver Age idea that ‘comics should be fun’, Alex suggests you check out Mark Wade’s run on Daredevil. It’s feel good, adventuresome, and cliff-hangerey. Very refreshing change from the grim, gritty, and miserable-ist territory it was in during Bendis’ run on the title.
And the art is gorgeous, between Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee.
2h) Tangent 8: Justice League International
Alex despairs of us when she realizes she’s the only one in The Squee who has read the JLI run from the ‘80s. It is fabulous and fun and wonderful and she recommends everyone go read it. The stories make you care about characters like the Martian Manhunter, who you find out loves Oreos. If you don’t have an opinion of any Green Lanterns it will make you have one. And it has Batman’s best moment.
Chriss and John make plans to go out and get the JLI trade once the recording session is over, because who needs to eat when there are great comics to read.
Alex de Campi: COPRA by Michel Fiffe
3a) Tangent 9: X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan
Our attempt to segue to COPRA takes a left turn at Albuquerque. Alex recommends IDW’s collection of the Secret Agent Corrigan strips from the ‘60s and ‘70s. This was Al Williamson’s run and show a lot of great craft and storytelling in a limited space – 3 and 4 panels. It’s very James Bond but in the vein of Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury (though less psychedelic).
Back On Topic…
This is a great self published series that experiments and has a diverse cast. It ended up on most sites’ Best Comics of 2013 lists.
Michel Fiffe is also a comics scholar and interviewer who has forgotten more about comics then most will ever know. In COPRA he does the definitive battle-across-the-city-skyline scene. And it’s worth studying his lettering and penciling approaches.
The art style isn’t for everyone, but his technical skills are faultless and feels hand done but still is very polished.
Fiffe set himself the challenge of breaking through what he calls ‘The Curvy Barrier’ by doing one comic a month. He draws it, letters, sends to the printers, mails to the subscribers, everything. His visual storytelling is leagues ahead and experimental than anything anyone is doing right now. The characters are interesting and feels like it has ties to everything and nothing at the same time.
Copra is wonderful and crazy in the way good comics are supposed to be.
3b) Tangent 10: New 52 World’s Finest
John looked through the timeline of Justice League International and found it came out after he’d stopped reading DC comics due to the Crises of Infinite Earths event. He never really got back into DC after that, but he has recently gotten into the New 52’s World’s Finest title with Power Girl and Huntress from Earth 2. Mr. Perkins recommended it in issue 8 of the podcast. It’s a nice buddy hero story. And it has the mystery of How Did They Get To This World and the threat of Apokolips.
John Oliver: Red Sonja by Gail Simone (writer) and Walter Geovani (artist)
John has always been curious about Red Sonja but has always been leery of reading it because of the whole chain mail bikini. He knows it’s sword and sorcery and over the top, but the bikini thing was just too much. But when he heard that Gail Simone was going to be writing the character he knew now was a good time to check out the title.
First off, she’s not always in the chain mail. It does a good job of flashing back to who she is and why. And there’s sword fighting bad assery. You find out Red Sonja was a slave in the gladiator pits along with Dark Annisia. They’re freed by a conquering king and Red Sonja decides to help the king while Annisia goes her own way, believing she’s haunted by the ghosts of those she slew in the pits. In the last issue of the storyline the two women are in full plate armor fighting against the king who enslaved them and is trying to get revenge on them.
If you’re looking for fun comics, Gail Simone’s Red Sonja run from Dynamite is a great fun thing to read.
Even MORE Recommendations…
Alex asks the other panelists if they have any comic book recommendations.
Duke: Milk and Cheese
Our other guest, Alex’s dog Duke, chimes in to recommend Milk and Cheese. Though he may have just been suggesting cheese. Alex says they snuck a reference to this book into their My Little Pony: Friends Forever comic.
Chriss: Dear Creature by Jonathan Case
This is a humorous B-Movie style graphic novel working off the idea of telling the story of the Creature From The Black Lagoon from the monster’s point of view. So the Creature has a Greek chorus of crabs that eat his left overs and encourage him to eat horny teenagers. But the Creature has decided to stop eating people because of Shakespeare pages someone has been throwing into the ocean in bottles. Things take interesting twists when the Creature goes on land to find the source of the pages.
Question Time: How Many Comics Starting with “C” Can You Name?
This issue is clearly brought to you by the letter “C” – Captain Marvel, COPRA, Cartoon Art Museum, and chain mail. So, let’s name off comic book titles that start with “C”.
- the new Constantine comic (which used to be called Hellblazer
- Captain Marvel
- Captain America
- Anything named Captain…
- Castle Waiting
- Cucumber Quest
- Cloak and Dagger
- Charlatan Ball
- Crises on Infinite Earths
- Curse Pirate Girl
- Camelot 3000
6a) Tangent 11: We’re Creeping On You
April doesn’t use computers. She’s behind you right now, in fact. We all are. Talking into your ear. This ‘podcast’ isn’t recorded at all. And stop doing that, we didn’t need to see it. Wash your hands afterwards. (nickel in the jar)
What Did Everyone Read Last?
Since this issue of the podcast has clearly become the Big Show O Recommendations, let’s go further. Before we go on to what sequential art goodies we’re looking forward to next, what did we read last.
Has been reading The Photographer, the bio about the Afghanistan war photographer, for her graphic novel group. It’s good but sad.
Just finished the first volume of Avengers Assemble by Kelly Sue DeConnick, which is subtitled Science Bros.
For prose, the Collected Works of Robert E. Howard. For comics, latest issues of Saga and Lazarus. She’s waiting for Velvet #3 to come out.
His latest read was Captain Marvel volumes 1 and 2. And in prose he’s re-reading Storm of Swords.
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next
The second volume of Stumptown and the first issue of East of West are vying for the top of his To Read stack.
Dear Creature, thanks to Chriss’ recommendation. And she’s looking forward to buying two books, not family-friendly, The Adventures of Jodelle and Gold Pollen And Other Stories .
Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree, which she supported on Kickstarter and comes out in February.
7a) Tangent 12: Airtight Garage Tumblr
If you’re Moebius fans Alex recommends you check out theairtightgarage.tumblr.com, which is free. It presents English translation of his works, from Airtight Garage to Blueberry, a famous long running Lone Ranger type French cowboy noir.
The second printing, because she missed the first, of The Hip Hop Family Tree volume 1 from Fantagraphics. It tells the history of hip hop music and its early movers and shakers. It sold out REALLY quick last year when it was printed.
Attempt At Closing the Show: Serious Girl
John distracts Chriss during her attempt to close the show by putting the dice between his fingers, with the snake eyes out, and drawing a smile on his hand. April declares her super power is seriousness and… Well, we invent a new superhero. Serious Girl – serious business.
It took Chriss two more tries to finally close out the podcast. We were just having too much fun.
Check out Alex de Campi’s work. She writes things. You can buy them for money.
You’ve been listening to Issue 8 of the Comics Squee podcast. That’s all for this show.Thank you for joining us. Thanks also to our regular contributing squeesters April Taie and John Oliver. And our guest, Alex de Campi, comic writer and creator.