Welcome, lovely listeners, to Issue 19 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, making the lightening crack as they ride, 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.
And in our revolving 4th chair this issue is one of the Squee’s favorite comic book creators and writers. His horror titles The Damned and The Tooth are among our favs. We’ve squeed about his Sixth Gun. We’ve looked forward to his Empty Man and his Helheim. You may know him
from Deadpool Kills Marvel, Fearless Defenders, or his current runs on Magento or Sinestro. Please put your squamous tentacles together for, Cullen Bunn.
For the record, Cullen was happy to join us – though the talk of squamous tentacles made him nervous. We assured him our tangents are much more dangerous than the tentacles. Our superpowers – TnT.
In THIS Podcast…
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: an angry old man with a very big stick ; a dinosaur and his monkey boy ; the best buddy-superhero tale on the market ; and a pair of companion graphic novels weaving history and fantasy.
Chriss: Devil Dinosaur by Jack Kirby (starts at 00:02:15.000)
ack Kirby is the bedrock on which modern comcis are built. He co-created Captain America with Joe Simon. He co-created the Fantastic Four and the X-Men with Stan Lee. He’s responsible for the Thor we know and love. He created Darkseide, Superman’s nemesis. Kirby and we could have an entire show on just Kirby’s massive contributions to comics. This squee, though, is focused on just one of his works; Devil Dinosaur from the 1970s.
This is the story of mighty, red t-rex and his proto-human buddy. It’s set in a prehistoric world that wonders, “What IF dinosaurs and early humans DID live at the same time?” On page one, Devil Dinosaur is kicking a massive triceratops. Open to a two page spread (Kirby’s signature move) and there are dinos everywhere, with the big battle for Valley supremacy in the center.
Moon Boy is one of the Small Folk, little ape-like cave people covered in blue fur. He’s sort of an outcast from his timid folk, though, because he doesn’t fear the night; he goes out under the moon and walks in the world during the hours of darkness. Hence his name.
Devil Dinosaur became red and scary after a band of the Killer Folk trapped and killed his mother and siblings. They tried to burn him to death with their torches, but not even lava could stop this devil beast. Which is why he’s red.
Devil Dinosaur is a fabulous, fun buddy adventure romp. And then the space ships arrive half way through the story arc. It was all recentlly collected in an affordable trade by Marvel comics.
Our guest, Cullen Bunn, is HUGE fan of Devil Dinosaur; it’s a character that’s very near and dear to his heart. Cullen first encountered the character in a Godzilla issues where the two team up.
Cullen Bunn: Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron (writer) and Jason LaTour (artist) (starts at 00:10:38.917)
Cullen is convinced that Southern Bastards is the best comic on the market. It’s kind of got this Walking Tall or First Blood vibe to it. It’s the story of Earl Tubb, who’s an aging fellow who is going back to his old home place in Craw Country, Alabama, in order to clean it up and put it on the market; he’s ready to be done with that phase of his life. There are some people up to no good, led by a sort of gangster overlord fellow named Coach Boss (best villain name ever). And Earl is the son of the former sherrif in the area so he can’t help but stand up to Coach Boss – and the varsity football team, which seems to be his henchmen in the town.
It’s aiming towards becoming Earl Tubbs vs Coach Boss, who are both bastards. So things will be pretty intense when they finally lock horns. (right now we’re only three issues in)
Southern Bastards is a real-world story; it’s not a fantasy. But to Cullen there’s almost a sense of magical realism going on, to a degree. It’s the magic of The South, where things happen that could almost be seen to be magical. But it’s still very much grounded in the real world.
For example, there’s a massive tree that dominates the panels. It looms over everything and grows next to the house Earl has come home to sell. Local lore is that Earl’s father, the former sheriff (a legend in his own right), is buried on that spot; that the tree grew up from the stick he was buried with, which he used to beat down nere do wells. So Earl is both literally, and figuratively, in his father’s shadow. He’s even in his own shadow, since the town remembers him as a big local football hero.
And Jason LaTour’s the art is beautiful, moody, and well colored. Southern Bastards is something of a perfect storm for Cullen; he’s a big fan of LaTour’s work and he believes Jason Aaron is the best writer working in comics right now.
John: Worlds’ Finest (New 52) by Paul Levitz (writer) and various artists (starts at 00:16:49.825)
This great buddy superhero story stars The Huntress and Power Girl, who are from the New 52’s Earth-2. Huntress is the daughter of her world’s Catwoman and Batman. She was Robin in that world and Karen (Power Girl) was Supergirl. They’re brought to our reality by a boom tube after Apokolips (the evil planet ruled by Darkseide) invades Earth-2.
What John really likes about Worlds’ Finest is the interaction between the two lead characters, Karen (Power Girl) and Helena (The Huntress). And, how they cope with their new lives in this world; Huntress sifting funds off Bruce Wayne’s back doors, or Karen going by “Karen Star” and founding Star Labs to research alternate worlds technology so they can get back home to Earth-2. Power Girl had led a sheltered life because her world’s Kal-el had kept her aside as a secret weapon. So she really enjoys life and the freedom of discovering herself.
Part of Karen/Power Girl exploring her identity involves going through many costumes. After all, she’s invulnerable but her clothes are not. And she experiments with different costumes over the course of the stories, eventually settling on the iconic/controversial boob-window uniform. Which feels like an appropriate choice when it eventually shows up because they’ve built up to it with character plot.
- 3a) Tangent 1: What kind of cheese do YOU like on your crises? Cullen reaches for a hard cheddar. (starts at 00:22:43.375)
- 3b) Tangent 2: The future is downloading comics from your local comic shop? (starts at 00:24:02.375)
April: Boxers & Saints by Gene Yang (starts at 00:24:42.656)
This is a pair of graphic novels, one called Boxers and the other Saints, set in the China during the Boxer Rebellion. They tell the stories of two different young people on opposite sides of that historic conflict. The characters meet twice, briefly, in Boxers, the main (and thicker) of the two books. The story is realistic, but has that magical realism that Gene Yang does so well, and which always makes sense to the story when it happens.
Boxers: This book follows a young man who is a leader in the rebellion, rising against the over-privileged Christian foreigners bullying their way through the villages, shockingly destroying their shrines and ancestral monuments in an oppressive act of foreign domination. The main character tries to avoid violence, but as the conflict escalates so does the level of violence they’re willing to accept as neccesary. The rebellion marches on the capital, to take control of the country and free it from the European invaders. And that’s when Yang’s magical realism touches come in; as they battle they personify the gods of the Chinese opera, and they become giant and golden and impressive – while still being recognizable as themselves. Boxers has all the feels and is a very catharctic read.
Saints: This is a thwarted Joan of Arc story. The main character is a girl who doesn’t fit in with her family, who call her a devil girl. So she goes around grimacing all the time like an opera mask. Because she’s an outcast, she turns to christianity. And she begins to have visions of angels in the woods. Things…do not work out well.
You can read just one of the two, or you can read both. They’re usually sold as a pair, though. The story is very easy to follow and Gene Yang has an excellent cartooning style. These are good graphic novels for young readers, teen readers, and adults.
Question Time: What’s your favorite horror comic (starts at 00:32:20.967)
While our panel of squeesters pondered their answer I read off listerner responces to our query.
- Chriss: Steve Ditko’s Dr. Strange run
- April: Alan Moore’s Swam Thing run
- Cullen Bunn: Uzumaki by Junji Ito (a Japanese comic that has been translated into English)
- John: Creepy, though he’ll have to do more research to think about it.
- 5a) Listener Question: When can we expect more of The Damned? (starts at 00:32:29.025)
- 5b) Tangent 3: What IS the difference between “dark fantasy” and “horror”? (starts at 00:34:44.125)
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next (starts at 00:40:35.656)
- John: The Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s going to be romping fun and it’ll be interesting to see how this Marvel movie plays with these classic characters. And Nathan Fillion as Nova.
- April: White Out by Greg Ruckka (writer) and Brian Hurtt (artist)
- Chriss: Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, a Kickstarter (now over) for a tribute to Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland strip.
- Cullen Bunn: Next issue of Southern Bastards; he loves that book.