This is Issue 9 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, anti-heroes defending the mean city streets, 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: April Taie, leader of the Geek Girls Meetup in San Diego; and John Oliver, a dark fantasy author online at JohnWOliver.com.
Taking the revolving 4th chair this issue is our guest, New York Times bestseller and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning novelist, Jonathan Maberry. Who also writes comics for Marvel on titles like Punisher and Wolverine. IN ADDITION to writing about zombies and superheros, Jonathan is ALSO the author of Ultimate Jujutsu Principles and Practices – he holds an 8th degree black belt in Shinowara-ryu Jujutsu AND was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2004. And he’s worked as a bodyguard.
Between Mr. Maberry, Mr. Perkins, and our Resident Mr. Oliver (in his lovely Zardoz outfit) The Squee is gradually putting together it’s zombie apocalypse survival league of awesome Johns.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: a psychedelic detective tale and ghost dinosaurs ; noble mice defending their homes ; zombie superheroes done right ; and comicy comicy goodness.
We rolled two dice to see who goes first and it’s Chriss, John, Jonathan, then April.
Things start off with our superpowers of tangents and tentacles, and beards in full power. We have a thrilling discussion of Chriss’ unicorn versus velociraptor t-shirt (from Binary Winter Press).
Chriss: Drumhellar by Alex Link (writer) and Riley Rossmo (art)
It follows Drum hellar who’s a supernatural detective. His primary means of investigation is the use of narcotic substances that give visions. The artwork has an interesting style that keeps the psychedelic theme.
The first issue starts you in the middle of things with Drum holding a golf club up in a thunder storm. He has a vision of a peacock and looks up an old girlfriend for help. There are werewolves that have had sex changes. A marmot sort of spirit assistant. The first volume has bog people resurrected with Jurassic lotuses. In the third volume a ghost herd of triceratops shows up and a nihilistic werewolf tries to drive them into town to destroy it.
Jonathan would have loved to have been there during the story pitch. Much of the panel suspects there were drugs involved.
This is well drawn and skillfully colored. We really like them and how they fit. The concept are great and we love the ghost dinosaurs. And the storytelling looks great.
Chriss is looking forward to finding out what is going on. Jonathan adds this book to his pull list.
John: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines
This series of prose novels were written to explore the idea of how superheroes would really work in a zombie crises. Would they help people survive or go do their own thing? The books are set in LA. And what causes the zombie plague is tied to the plot and characters.
The superheros are clever and the world is well imagined. In addition to the great characters you have the exploration of the politics on what’s involved in keeping people together. As well as people going out on supply runs among the EXs (the zombies are called ex-people). The series is smart, subtle, funny and edgy.
The characters, since they’re in Los Angeles, play a game where if they spot celebrities who are Exs (zombies) they get points for taking them down. Nathan Fillion (who’s a fan of this series) meets his end this way in the book.
We’d love to see the Ex-Heroes series as a TV series. Done by someone like AMC or Starz, who will give you the character depth and not leave the audience hanging.
Jonathan Maberry: How Comics Saved His Life
Instead of talking about a particular title, since Jonathan can talk about so many books, our guest opted to instead talk about what comics did for him. He grew up in a rough neighborhood of Philadelphia during the Sixties in a neighborhood where gunfire was the music of the night and the KKK met in his living room. The best thing you could be say about his father was that he was a racist swine. There were no black people in town or at school and he’d never heard of apartheid.
And one day Jonathan picks up an issue of Fantastic Four #68. And he started getting his core values from these comics by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Gene Colan. Being exposed to ideas like diversity, and honor, and doing the right thing. All those Boy Scout values that were alien to his environment growing up. He’d been doing martial arts since he was a kid, but in a way that’s more aggressive with a focus not so much on doing what’s right as protection from harm.
Then one day he got the back issue of Fantastic Four that introduced the Black Panther, the first black superhero. And here’s a strong, self possessed, powerful person who’s nobody’s sidekick. Flash forward to when Jonathan was in middle school and issue #113/#117 comes out and the Black Panther has been jailed in the Marvel Universe equivalent of South Africa for the crime of being black – The Thing and Human Torch go to break him out. Jonathan took the issue to his martial arts instructor and asked him if this sort of thing really happened. And when the instructor realized young Jonathan didn’t mean superheroes he sat him down and had a talk he’d never have had at home because it would have meant a fist fight.
So comic books had a big influence in guiding Jonathan’s life and when he got the opportunity to actually write Black Panther he did the Snoopy dance.
April: Mouse Guard by David Peterson
There are no bipedal hominid humanoids anywhere in Mouse Guard, which is great. The mice are knights and have chivalry and honor. They protect their lands from predators and internal threats. Yet they’re mice, not people with mouse heads. They’re mouse size, they do mouse things, and they live short years. In fact, each book is divided by season. It’s the sort of premise that could get cutsey but it never does with Mouse Guard
This is the comic everyone hands people who have never read comics or who think they don’t like comics. Jonathan himself has given enough volumes of the book for David Peterson to re-furnish his house.
The art for Mouse Guard is beautiful. It has an etching style with a water color painting. David also actually builds models of his buildings to use as reference. So everything has scale, and forethought, and is fabulous.
Everyone in the panel is a big fan of this book. Jonathan Maberry defies you to not like Mouse Guard.
Question Time: Who’s The Best Martial Artist in Comics
Mr. Maberry pointed out that a martial artist is anyone skilled in the arts of war – which include weapons. So his pick is Blade. Also mentioned were Captain America, Batroc The Leaper, Iron Fist, Amala (of Amala’s Blade), and The Batman.
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next
Picked up Alex de Campi’s Grindhouse Doors Open At Midnight series after she was on our last show. He’s looking forward to what comes out next.
- < Jonathan Maberry:
The X-Files comic, which is a great continuation of the seasons.
Kelly Sue DeConnick is adapting and modernizing the movie Barbella as a comic this Spring.
The next volume of the Justice League International trade recommended last issue by Alex de Campi (who recommended ALL the things last episode).
Our resident comics dog is looking forward to whatever Prime Human is reading next because the reading happens on the couch and she gets to be in the lap. Jonathan’s dog also reads comics with him and seems to be partial to The Massive and Chew (though that last one comes with being a dog).
You’ve been listening to Issue 9 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 Johnathan Maberry, comic writer and New York Times bestselling author.