Welcome, lovely listeners and precious patrons, to Issue 35 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, following The Yellow Brick Road, 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: 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, comics artist and writer, Eric Shanower. He’s worked on several Oz lines for both Marvel and DC, plus other titles. His own creator- owned series Age of Bronze is about the Trojan war. Eric also writes IDW’s Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland series, with Gabriel Rodriguez on art, which I love and squeed about on show 33.Little Nemo’s one of only two comics I always buy every month and I can’t WAIT for the next one.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: a wicked cat biography, wordless novels & the development of the graphic novel ; A young woman’s travels to retrieve an heirloom ; and Plato SMASH! ;
Chriss: Action Philosophers by Fred Van Lente (writer) and Ryan Dunlavey (artist) (starts at 00:02:11.917)
This is a series that is very fun, and funny, and factual. The three Fs. It covers several philosophers in every volume; from Plato to Ayn Rand, from St. Augustine to Nietzsche. And each story tells you not just about the philosopher, but describes their moment in history and how it influence their philosophy, as well as a good quick introduction to their philosophies themselves.
The art is a strong cartooning style that switches up depending on what’s being described.
Chriss’ favorite is Plato from the first book. He was a wrestler before he became a philosopher, so in Action Philosophers he wears a luchador mask.
John: I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin (writer) and Benjamin Dewey (artist) (starts at 00:06:58.500)
To put it succinctly, this book is about Burma – who is a talking cat, the only talking cat he knows of – hiring the main character to write his memories about his many attempts to rule the world.
Burma hires Alison, a news blogger, to write his biography in London. Allison brings her friend in to finally meet her mysterious benefactor and hilarity ensues. Over the course of writing the memoir they gradual discover Burma’s current conspiracy to take over the world.
The art is really good. The color shifts to a monochrome when we’re flashing back to past events. The story is fun and it has a satisfying ending for it’s main character, the human Allison. Though doesn’t resolve Burma’s story. It’s a satisfying ending, you just want more.
- 2a) Tangent 1: Cat care PSA (starts at 00:13:44.500)
Eric Shanower: The Property by Rutu Modan (starts at 00:15:32.083)
This is a graphic novel about a young woman and her grandmother who live in Israel, where their family had fled to from Poland during World War II. The two women go back to Poland to check on a property the family had to leave behind when they escaped the Nazis. At least that’s the story the main character is told. Everyone has secret motivations and plans for why they’re traveling.
This is a very nice, pleasantly cathartic story. Evey thing is resolved in a satisfying manner and no plot bits are left hanging. The characters are multilayered and the art really impressed Eric.
April has also read this and really likes the grandmother’s story, and how her relationship with her granddaughter develops and matures.
- 3a) Tangent 2: Public Libraries and Graphic Novels (starts at 00:15:44.083)
April: Lynd Ward and his Six Novels in Woodcut (starts at 00:23:10.583)
This is a two volume collection, published by the Library of America with an introduction by Art Spiegleman (Maus). It gathers the “wordless novels” of Lynd Ward, written between 1915 and 1930. These are some of the first ‘graphic novels’, though they predate that term by forty years or so.
Lynd Ward was told in art school that art is not supposed to tell a story or be narrative. But he discovered the opposite when he traveled to Germany and encountered the expressive wood cut artists there. His ‘wordless novels’ are masterful woodblock prints. There is one image per page.
The stories vary in level of complexity, though they’re all simple. They’re ‘silent’ in that there is no dialog and only incidental words, which are actually just pictures of words (picketers’ signs, etc.) The subject matters are influenced by the bible stories of Ward’s youth, the German aesthetic, and Depression Era anxieties and values.
Question Time: What’s your favorite historical fiction comic? (starts at 00:32:28.819)
Listenr Tamahome0200 chimed in with: “I like that one time Steve Englebert sent the Avengers back to the old west. Does that count?” Sure! :)
- Eric Shanower:
Blueberry by Mobius. Marvel issued several volumes translated into English in the ’90s. This is a post-civil war old west
Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Everyone are animal-people, but it’s samurai-era Japan is meticulously researched.
Rick Geary’s Treasury of Victorian Murder series (though it’s true crime rather than fiction). Marvel 1602
Adele Blanc Sec by Jacques Tardi – a noiry sort of Edwardian adventuress. There’s a teradactyl and a revived Assyrian death cult trying to spread the plague from the Eiffel Tower.
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next (starts at 00:38:48.000)
More issues of Lady Killer
Just subscribed to Comics Bento, so looking forward to seeing how that goes
Finishing the first volume of the wine manga The Drops of God
- Eric Shanower:
Planet Stories reprints. They’re early comics and not the sort of thing that usually gets reprinted; appears to have a lot of the back art and stories but should be fun and interesting.