This is Issue 17 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, *singing* heroes in the half shell and they’re green**, 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, cartoonist and teaching artist, Jerzy Drozd. His newest project is The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation Into The
Kennedy Assassination. Jerzy also works to get the younger set into sequential art with his Kids Comics Revolution podcast, workshops, and as co-organizer of the Kids Read Comics festival.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: a sweet girl-and-her-monster story ; the cutest Twilight Zone episode ever ; modern, gritty superhero tales that don’t ditch the hope ; and a space opera about love, family, and a girl with her troll slaying sword.
Jerzy Drozd: Megan Brennan’s Pencil Pup (www.pencilpup.com) (starts at 00:02:16.000)
Pencil Pup is one part Alice in Wonderland, one part the Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”. This girl wakes up one day in paper world. We don’t know her name, and she doesn’t know why she’s there. And a puppy comes along with legs made out of pencils, and his fluffy butt is an eraser. And every time she tries to come up a way to leave Pencil Pup tries to distract her with ‘drawing adventures’.
It’s terrific balance of being just uncomfortable and frightening enough, but than just cute enough. Pencil Pup feels like a really good kids story because it’s funny, whimsical, weird, and non-sequitur at times. And because there’s this mounting sense of there’s something wrong here and this girl’s got to figure out how to get out of here.
Megan’s other project we mentioned in this bit is School of World
- 1a) Tangent 1: What kids want in a story (starts at 00:11:41.653)
April: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (starts at 00:13:16.000)
This is about an 11 year old girl named Mirka who lives in an orthodox Jewish town, she has a big family, and her mother has died and she has a step-mother. And her step-mom isn’t evil. She wants nothing more than to slay a dragon and fight monsters. This is her first adventure.
It’s about a girl not quite fitting in. But she’s very much loved by her family, and she very much loves her family. But she wants something more than what’s on offer. It’s very much a story about Mirka coming in to her own; she gets to best bullies, but she realizes she’s a bit of a bully herself.
And she has to defeat the troll, who refuses to fight and challenges her to a knitting contest, which is a learned from her step-mother but isn’t very good at. So she has to defeat it with her arguing skills.
- 2a) Tangent 2: April goes on record that Megan Fox is NOT April O’Neil (starts at 00:12:49.500)
- 2b) Tangent 3: Trolls are geek collectors (starts at 00:17:34.153)
- 2c) Tangent 4: We are a library annex, not book hoarders (starts at 00:22:43.153)
John: The Authority by Warren Ellis (writer) and Bryan Hitch (artist) (starts at 00:23:42.250)
This is a superhero series that Warren Ellis did for the publisher Wildstorm, before DC bought that company. It’s set in 1999 after the closure of Stormwatch, a world watch superhero organization. Super villains are running amok. To protect the world and fill the vacume of power, Jenny Sparks, forms The Authority.
Jenny Sparks is the spirit of the 20th century. She’s 100 years old and was born on January 1, 1900. She pulls together characters like: Hawksmore, who is a god of cities; Swift, who is a winged woman and a former pacifist; The Doctor, one in a series of shaman going back to the beginning of humanity; The Engineer, who replaced her blood with nanobots; Midnighter, a riff on Batman but without the detective aspect; and Apollo, who’s a superman analogue literally powered by the sun (he’s also Midnighter’s boyfriend – latter husband).
It’s dark and gritty, but doesn’t forget that superheros are supposed to be aspirational. That they need to be fun, and have hope and joy.
- 3a) Tangent 5: Warren Ellis’ love of Black & White pairings (starts at 00:27:25.750)
- 3b) Tangent 6: April finds the tentacle monster (starts at 00:28:03.680)
- 3c) Tangent 7: Colorists are important (starts at 00:36:02.042)
Chriss: Chimichanga by Eric Powell (starts at 00:36:51.000)
Everyone needs a good girl-and-her-monster story, and that’s what Eric Powell has given us with Chimichanga.
The main character is a bearded little girl in a yellow sundress, with a yellow daisy in her hair, and polka dot panties. And her beard is a very nicely styled and clipped van dyke with curled mustachios.
The plot is that our bearded girl has gone to get a chimichanga (deep fried burrito). She trades a clipping of her beard to a witch for a weird rock (the egg the monster hatches from) and a little red wagon. And the circus the girl belongs to is financial straits because it’s not very good; the acts are The Boy-Faced Fish, Randy The Man With The Strength of a Slightly Larger Man, Esmeralda and Her Two-Eyed Goat, etc. Meanwhile, the witch sells her anti-fart potion she made using the girl’s beard hair to a pharmaceutical company. Hilarity ensues in that darkly comedic trademark Eric Powell way.
Question Time: What Are the Best Cutely Twisted Comics? (starts at 00:43:08.000)
Two of our squees today were in the cute-yet-twisted category; Pencil Pup and Chimichanga. What are some other?
- Sam and Max
- Pat Rothus’ The Adventures of The Princess and Mister Wiffle picture books
- Possessions, which April squeed about in Issue 1
- Modest Medusa (www.modestmedusa.com)
- Monster on the Hill, which April squeed about in Issue 10
- Flabbergast (www.mypalmark.com)
- Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next (starts at 00:50:30.000)
- Jerzy Drozd:
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (considered the Judy Bloom of comics for this generation)
Lillith Dark and the Beastie Tree by Charles Doud
Second volume of B.P.R.D: Plague of Frogs
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley, which Chriss squeed about last show on Issue 16
- 6a) Tangent 8: Guy Davis double-dipped from the bag of good (starts at 00:52:03.500)
- 6b) Tangent 9: Relish loop (starts at 00:53:15.781)