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Welcome, lovely listeners, to Issue 28 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, their destinies leading them to wherever podcasts need them, discuss the comic books, graphic novels, and general sequential art geekery that excites them.
Our superpowers are tangents and tentacles.
I’m your host, Chriss Cornish. Joining me are regular squeesters: John Oliver, a dark fantasy author, and April Taie, leader of the Geek Girls Meetup in San Diego.
Helming the revolving 4th chair is our guest cartoonist and tall ship enthusiast, Lucy Bellwood. Lucy contributes to comics anthology Cartozia Tales as well as Symbolia magazine. And you seriously should check out her autobiographical, educational comic Baggy Wrinkles about maritime history and her own adventures on tall ships.
Thanks for joining us, Lucy.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: the search for an arctic paradise of legend ; a memoir of mania and art ; wild west adventures in an alternate future ; and a tale of gaming and real world culture-clash.
Before we start, a reminder this podcast has chapter images (if your player supports m4a). You can also pause the podcast at any time to search the internet for books we’re squeeing about so you can look at pictures of the art whilst, at the same time, we talk about it.
John Oliver: East of West by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (artist), Frank Martin (Colorist), Russ Wootton (Letterer) (starts at 00:02:38.817)
It’s set in an alternate future; what if the Union didn’t win the American Civil War? So East of West is set in a future where history took that left turn. In place of America there are 6 countries; the Union, the Confederate American States, the Kingdom of New Orleans (founded by slaves who revolted for their freedom after South won the civil war), The Republic of Texas, The Endless State (formed by the native American tribes, who aren’t very populace but in this world of magic have the highest technology), and The People’s republic of America (what if Mao had been driven from China and fled to San Francisco).
And into this world built on an alternate history are re-born the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And they’re reborn as children, sort of erupting from the dessert soil in the first few pages of book 1. And they find that there are only 3 of them; Death is missing.
So into this tale of politics and power struggles there’s the story of the Horsemen looking for their lost sibling, who still walks the world as a grown man who has lost his family.
We also compare East of West and Pretty Deadly. They’re both weird west but Pretty Deadly is really a fairy tale and East of West is a tale of politics and power.
- 1a) Tangent 1: Tales of Sand mini-squee (starts at 00:11:15.375)
Lucy Bellwood: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow (writer) and Jen Wang (script and art) (starts at 00:13:41.644)
Lucy was really looking forward to In Real Like and got her hands on the book the day it came out. And it didn’t disappoint.
This graphic novel is scripted and drawn by Jen Wang, who is the creator of one of Lucy’s favorite comics of all time (Koko Be Good). Jen’s art is fluid and dynamic, and evocative. Her character designs are appealing and expressive.
In Real Life is about a girl who plays a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG). She’s recruited by a woman who comes to her class and encourages the girls to actually play female characters in the game and recruits them into her guild. She meets someone in the game who is a ‘gold farmer’ (a person paid super low wages by a company to play the game and get the good resources to then sell to players for real world money). And the book becomes about culture gaps and social responsibility without being preachy or high handed. And while being fun and beautiful and about real seeming people.
- 2a) Tangent 2: Comics that get you a big world in a short space (starts at 00:27:29.200)
- 2b) Tangent 2a: We revist the topic of comics that get you a big world in a short space (starts at 00:00:29:37.183)
- 2c) Tangent 3: Easy question, what’s your favorite ice cream (starts at 00:00:29:37.183)
- 2d) Tangent 4: Don’t lick comics (starts at 00:31:44.219)
3) Chriss: Far Arden by Kevin Cannon (starts at 00:32:31.000)
This arctic adventure is a favorite with both Chriss and guest Lucy Bellwood.
Far Arden is about a search for a legendary paradise island in the arctic. The myth, in the story, is that a fog appears and a golden narwhale leads you to Far Arden.
Our main character is curmudgeon, arctic pirate, pugilist, and former RCAN (Royal Canadian Arctic Navy) officer Army Shanks. Amber and Dave, journalism students working for someone shadowy who wants to find the island. Army’s old frenemies, Fortuna and Penhoe. And then there’s Allister (*queue squee sounds from Lucy*). He is an orphan who enters the story with a can of beans on his head, until he finds an arctic fox fur and then he wears that.
This book has great characters, and a well crafted story that managed to catch even Chriss with it’s surprises and twists. And it has the best rendering of cursing ever. Plus manga-style sound effects and lovely lettering.
April: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney (starts at 00:40:26.906)
This book catalogs Ellen Forney’s struggle with, and eventual acceptance of, having bi-polar disorder. It starts before her 40th birthday when she’s in a manic up swing and she’s planning a massive party and pre-events. And then hits the down swing. Follow into discovering that she’s bi-polar.
This is an interesting and well constructed book. It contrasts Forney’s experiences of being an artist and being bi-polar with the stories of famous artists with similar issues.
Forney’s art style is interesting and goes from photo realistic and naturalistic to cartooney, depending on the part of the story.
Marbles isn’t an easy read, simply because it’s hard not to feel embarrassed for her at certain parts of the story because you know they’re real events. But it’s a great source of insight for all sorts of people. And we can all sort of relate to various parts of her struggle.
- 4a) Tangent 5: draw comics so you can have fabulous hair (starts at 00:48:56.741)
Question Time: What are your favorite autobiographical comics? (starts at 00:50:41.917)
This question led to a discussion of what the line is between autobiography, memoir, biography, and fiction. If a comic is about your family, is it de facto about you and therefore autobiographical? Should a memoir be considered a work of fiction?
I posed our Question Time query on the Twitters and the Book of Face and this is what you said:
LunarBistro chimed in with: “I think the first autobio comic I remember reading was King Cat Comix”
Keanen, who joined us on show 16, said “Does Relish count? If so, than that.
Some of guest Lucy Bellwood’s followers chimed in with Blankets.
Here’s what our panel said was their fav autobiographical comics:
Maus and Marbles
All he could think of was Maus, but he wasn’t going to list it as he doesn’t consider it autobiographical
- Lucy Bellwood:
Oh Joy Sex Toy
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next (starts at 00:57:32.667)
Getting the other volumes of Revival
First trade of the new Black Widow comic
Next installment of Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk series. And the new Tooth and Claw comic.
re: In Real Life, maybe Lucy would have liked more panels or more words. I think the trend these days is for comics to be more movie like and less book like. I hear Matt Fraction’s new comic ODY-C is quite dense.