Heads up lucky listeners, this is Issue 13 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, in their Time And Relative Dimension In Space capsule, discuss the comic books and general sequential art geekery they love.
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 our revolving 4th chair this issue is Paul Cornell, writer of many things; comics, novels, television, audio plays. Among his many comic book writing credits like Captain Britain and MI13, Superman, the current Wolverine title, and comics for Doctor Who Magazine. Speaking of which, Paul wrote the Doctor Who TV episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood, which were based on one of the many 7th doctor novels he wrote in the ’90s. He also created the companion Bernice Summerfield, an action archeologist from the future.
In addition to Mr. Cornell’s LONG list of writing credits he’s also a Hugo Award winning podcaster on the SF Squeecast, which inspired me to create Comics Squee. So I’m QUITE pleased to be saying, “Thanks for joining us, Paul.”
Fittingly, we’re recording this 13th podcast on February 22, which has apparently been declared the start of Ragnarok; the day Nidhogg, the dragon of chaos, finally chews through the last roots of the world tree – severing the power of Asgard. Thus, freeing all the Aesir’s enemies and opening the doors of the underworld to let the dead roam free in Middgard.
Thought I heard the rust colored rooster crowing from the rafter’s of Hel’s hall this morning.
Today’s weather forecast calls for a Great Wolf, child of Fenris Son of Loki, to devour the sun. So be sure to wear a coat. And some armor, as the last epic battle between the Aesir and Loki’s army of giants and monsters begins.
So This 13th issue of Comics Squee we have: romance and loneliness with the curse of the zodiac ; supernatural noir with a femme fatale ; a costumed artful dodger both aiding and skirting the law ; and an adventure western with the devil’s own guns.
April Taie: The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn (writer) and Brian Hurt (artist)
This book is a pulpy, fast paced western set in a supernatural post-Bellum south. And it’s very rompy. It’s the story of these six guns that are the devil’s weapons that have been different things throughout time, each with a special power.
Becky, the main character, is bad-ass. She goes from damsel on the prairie to pants-wearing name taker. For some reason Chriss keeps wanting to call her ‘Molly’ instead.
Sixth Gun is great, creepy, and hits you with both barrels.
The art is also very good. It shows passage of time, going from dawn when they set out to evening when the confrontation happens – reflected wonderfully in the coloring.
A pilot was cast but… Well Sixth Gun needs a cable home. It would be a great supernatural Deadwood but it’s not something you can really do well on just network TV.
Paul Cornell: Bandette by Paul Tobin (writer) and Colleen Coover (artist)
Bandette is a work of staggering genius, frankly. Which is why Paul wrote the introduction to the hardcover. This is about a costumed thief in modern Paris, Bandette (Band-et). She’s a famous thief with a secret identity. It reads, in English, as if it’s been translated from the French even though it was originally written in English. It’s a lovely, colorful, and we’d say’s it’s all ages even though it has a 15+ rating.
What he loves about it is that Bandette thinks of herself as being the heroin in a drama. Yet refuses to be drawn into any peril. There is lots of genuine peril going on, but she refuses to try and engage you in it. The comic does not want to embroil you in deep dark horrors but to charm you. And it keeps up the tone of bouncy charm and mischief.
And even though it’s set in a heightened universe with moped chases and costumed criminals, it’s still set in a modern world and so has a very ethnically diverse cast.
Chriss Cornish: Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
This is a comic book from Japan, a manga, that has been translated into the English. It’s very popular and is easy to get ahold of, both from public libraries and for purchase.
At first, just looking at the cover of Fruits Basket, you’d think it was a silly fluffy comic where everyone runs around and screams a lot high school drama. But it’s not. The fluffiness is only there on the surface to distract you from darker themes of loneliness and isolation. Of forcing yourself into roles you’re told you have to fill. How the family you choose can bring you out of your darkness.
Fruits Basket is an epic about forgiveness. And it’s fluffy exterior hides a dark, emotional nougatey center.
The comic get’s it’s name from a Japanese kids game similar to Farmer in the Dell, where everyone is given a fruit and they change seats when their fruit is called. And the main character is given the fruit ‘rice ball’. So the name echoes that theme of isolation.
John Oliver: Fatale by Ed Brubaker (writer) and Sean Phillips (artist)
There are four volumes of Fatale out so far and it is quite the ride. Each follows this immortal woman, Josephine, through various ages. John’s favorite is the one set in France during the Albigensian crusade. She’s a femme fatale who has the power to make people do what she wants. And just interacting with her taints and changes people, whether she’s trying to or not. You get this conflict with her where she doesn’t really want to bend people this way. And she’s the consort of this supernatural mob boss of sorts who gets reborn.
It’s a fantastic story, with excellent art and moody coloring. Brubaker and Phillips know each other so well, and their style go so well together. They really do an excellent job of telling this dark story and showing different eras in American history, like the Jazz Age and LA in the 1990s.
Question Time: What’s Your Favorite Science Fiction
Fav Sci-Fi Prose:
High Aztech by Ernest Hogan.
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, written in the 1920s and which anticipated Brave New World.
Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Our guest has many favorite authors, what with SFF being his major fandom; Christopher Priest, Michael Moorcock, Ballard, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen Baxtar, Adam Roberts… But for a novel he settled on Light by M. John Harrison
Fav Sci-Fi Comics:
We3 by Grant Morrison (writer) and Frank Quietly (artist)
Y: The Last Man
John Byrne’s Next Men
Dan Dare, a post WWII British space opera by people who had recently experienced war.
Fav Sci-Fi TV Show:
Sapphire and Steel, a British show with mysterious agents who battle the monsters from outside time. It gives the viewer few answers and builds it’s scare by never really telling us what the rules are.
Babylon 5, because it made sci-fi shows with overarching season plots a thing and made Star Trek step up it’s game with Deep Space 9.
Farscape which uses the stranger in a strange land trope and does a great job making the aliens not humans painted green.
Okay, we set Paul up for this one. ;) A little Doctor Who, anyone? Our guest’s been involved with this fandom for many years and feels it’s more a lifestyle choice than a television program. We go on at some length about Who, the Gallifrey One convention, and other such things.
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next
Just got Castle Waiting volume 2 (which we squeed about in issue 2).
Volume 5 of Mark Wade’s Daredevil
Next issue of Mighty Avengers
The Spider-Man expansion for the Marvel Legendary boardgame. It’s a great deck-building game for 1-5 players. Playing this game is like reading and scripting a comic book. There’s a great review of it from Watch It Played on YouTube.