Oh, Robin.

Oh, Robin.

Man, no sooner have you survived the bombardment that was San Diego Comic Con than here comes the two hour and forty-nine minute missile that is Wait, What? Ep. 155, with Graeme and Jeff talking about San Diego Comic Con….and the Image Expo….and Marvel’s diverse attempts to diversify its diversity…and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, and Supreme: Black Rose, and G.I. Joe Vs. Transformers #1 and, oh yes, more than an hour spent discussing Avengers #152-178 (give or take a few issues.)

Join me after the leap for the show notes, eh?

First off, I know what you’re wondering.  You’re wondering:  what will Jeff apologize for this time, and what will be his excuse.  Well, the excuse is I strained my back during a work out (that’ll teach me to try and be healthy) so up until last night I was spending a lot of time with my good friend cyclobenzaprine.  I actually hate the stuff because it makes me slow and stupid, but I also hate having pain bound through me like a pinball every time I bend over, so…. But consequently, I really doubled down on the dumb: once when talking to Graeme, and once when writing the majority of the show notes.

So, just remember that this is me:

"It's Showtime, folks!"

“It’s Showtime, folks!”

and you’ll be fine.  Enjoy the ride, everyone!

00:00-15:16: Greetings from the people who didn’t go to San Diego Comic-Con but recorded their podcast during San Diego Comic-Con! Learn about Graeme’s relief, Jeff’s crowd-related neuroses, a few mentions of Burning Man as required by the California Podcasting Regulatory Act, and our take on the news at Comicon—who breaks it and how, who reads it and how.
15:16-30:56: Related—some talk about the Image Expo portion of the SDCC/pre-SDCC.  I should really look up which one it is but am kinda enjoying flaunting my ignorance. Does this mean that Jeff will hunt down the statement that drove him bananas? (Well, he can’t find it right now so….maybe he did hallucinate it?) Graeme ponders how words like diversity are being used, what we should expect from a keynote, and remembering to keep his mind on not hating the players, but hating the game.

30:56-46:06: Here’s a question: how woozy was Jeff from the muscle relaxants? Here’s a tip: he has to ask Graeme what stupid, self-aggrandizing shit Marvel said about itself the week before last? Oh, right: Lady Thor! Sam Wilson as Captain America! A roll of Reynolds Aluminum Wrap as Iron Man! All this, plus: conspiracies! oversights! opinions! freak-outs! can’t-win situations! Comics, everybody! (Please don’t take away my exclamation points, I think I need them even more than the cyclobenzaprine.) But, really, people: what does it say when white male writers are writing books with leads who are women and people of color, and alll the women at the same company are only writing leads who are women? It’s a tad exasperating. (Comical understatement? Or an underlining of how little skin privileged white dudes like us actually have in the game? U-Decide!) But, you know, listen to Graeme break down Marvel today v. the Marvel of 30 years ago and give it some thinks.
46:06-59:32: A combo cheap shot/segue from Graeme brings us to the glory that is Tom Scioli and John Barber’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1 just out from IDW, aptly described Mr. McMillan as “one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve read this year.” We talk Steranko, we talk coloring, we use the word “toyetic” maybe one or two many times? But we mean well, and it’s a book you may want to check out if you haven’t yet.
59:32-1:11:49: Graeme mentions the Frankenstein Comic Meet in Portland, OR, as a way to talk about the issues he picked up of Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers comic. Oh, Jack Kirby! We heart you so, and Graeme’s description of this amazing-sounding book partly explains why. Jeff mentions his Sketchbook post about The Hulk and how it keys in to some of what he loves about Kirby including some stuff that didn’t make it into the entry.
Also, as we do from time to time, Graeme and Jeff discuss something Tom Brevoort has written. This episode’s spin? It’s a letter published in a comic.
1:11:49-1:15:01: Man, Jeff really loved that issue of Afterlife of Archie #6 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. Sabrina The Teenage Witch; H.P. Lovecraft; Rosemary’s Baby; The Wicker Man; and about ten tons of awesome.
1:15:01-1:20:19: Also worthy of discussion—Saga #21. Is this the issue where Graeme goes off the series? Is this the discussion where Jeff makes some “hmm!”-ing noises, then some “ummm”-ing sounds, and starts a lot of his sentences by saying “Well,” a lot? (Wait, am I giving away too much?)

Paging Dr. Octagon?

Paging Dr. Octagon?

1:20:19-1:28:50: Supreme: Blue Rose #1 by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay. Graeme read it in both digital and print, Jeff read it digitally, and Graeme had some very interesting reactions. Disconnection, disruption, curation? Or the first of six issues before fucking off to the pub?
1:28:50-1:43:18: Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Jeff has read it, Graeme has not. FIGHT!
(Editor’s Note: we do not fight.)
Phrases used: “second album,” “zero sum game,” “slacker Miyazaki,” “hefty price tag,” “a really good chance at finding a readership; it’s going to have a life.” Oh, and “Thanos,” I mean, of course, “Thanos.” Of course.
1:43:18-2:29:31: Avengers time! We talk Avengers #152 through approx. 178 (Graeme has read a bit beyond that). A lot of talk about Jim Shooter as writer; his foibles and his “one story;” the fill-in issue myth as it applies to Avengers, post-Englehart; Justice League fan fiction:, the “Marvel dynamic;” Kang, the “girl-crazy invader from time;” Jeff and Graeme speculating on some odd plot choices; and, of course, Glengarry Glen Ross. (Of course!) We also used the phrase “weirdly readable” a disturbing number of times.
2:29:31-2:42:01: Closing comments? Well, we’re getting there but we have to blab just a bit about Avengers #178, a fill-in written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Carmine Infantino that’s markedly strange. Graeme goes a bit “Lord of the Flies” on us, so we call back for more closing comments that really are mostly us still obsessing over these Avengers issues.
2:42:01-end: Closing comments! No, really! This time for sure! We have some updates about our patreon, as well as some fantastic other projects we’re planning to support: Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-Men; those loveable scamps at The Outhouse; the amazing Heidi McDonald and her site, The Beat, and a few others. Also, also: Jeff’s pitch for a new Captain America series and then we are out of there! Um, I mean, here!  Or…?

And so that is that, right?  Essentially? Some of you have been saying you like having the download link directly in the post so here you go:

Wait, What? Ep. (15)5: Comic Conned

Otherwise, seek out the RSS feed, hunt us up on iTunes, or listen to us right here in the post.  It’s all good, brah.  Now if you excuse me, I’m gonna go collapse on that divan over there…


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22 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. (15)5: Comic Conned

  1. when people mention “diversity” they are talking about representation of diverse demographics either in the actual material or in the staff that creates the material, not necessarily diversity of genre category or storyline tropes, although diverse viewpoints may indeed result in divergence from typical storyline tropes.

    • Jeff Lester Jul 29, 2014

      I’ll agree with that–but I think Graeme and I (along with others) are thinking & talking about refining the definition of diversity so that there’s a clearer distinction between “in the actual material” as opposed to “in the staff that creates the material.” See, for example, an excellent post on the subject over on David Brothers’ tumblr, some of the questions brought up at the “Women in Marvel” panel at SDCC among others.

      • excellent points, and i agree that ultimately the play is the thing. as i continued listening to the episode i realized you had more to say than the comments on brevoort’s presentation, which i had interpreted as you somehow comically misunderstanding the comics internet’s current focus on gender and racial diversity. they say context is for the weak, but i guess that phrase loses its meaning when it’s taken out of context.

        • Jeff Lester Jul 29, 2014

          “they say context is for the weak, but i guess that phrase loses its meaning when it’s taken out of context.”

          Hilarious, and also would make a fantastic tattoo, maybe?

    • I will have to relisten to the podcast, but I wasn’t really under the impression that Graeme and Jeff were talking about Image’s pretensions of demographic diversity. Because they don’t have that many.

      I took the discussion as challenging Image’s marketing itself to be the place were the creators go to tell their own stories, stories that simply cannot be told when they are shackled to a superhero, movie or toy franchise.

      • Jeff Lester Jul 30, 2014

        I’m realizing now part of the confusion is that we discuss the Image Expo and its claims of diversity of content–that what they’re putting out are comics different from what’s available elsewhere–and then Marvel’s claims about adding diversity to their character line-up by adding more women and people of color.

        So once again, the fault is mine for not being more clear in the show notes about those two different types of diversity under discussion. I’m gonna blame the drugs for that one, but, really, I probably wouldn’t have been clear on that point anyway.

        Thanks for commenting and helping to (I hope) clear that up, Alin!

  2. You mention that the 14 issues of Captain Victory would make 2 or 3 trades. Even assuming that the special was double-length, those are some awful thin trades. Marvel-esque thinness. It’s enough material for one trade. It would be a bit more than half the thickness of High Society, or slightly thicker than Watchmen.

    This rant brought to you by the Committee for Legible Spines.

  3. supergodmasterforce Jul 29, 2014

    Ahh Korvac… I could never shake the notion that the visual of Korvac is an angry man sitting behind his powerful desk.

    Reading along with you both on Avengers – what the hell is up with that sex scene in #175 ?

    PLEASE GOD ! After you finish with Avengers get on to Secret Wars 2

    • James Woodward Aug 1, 2014

      Yeah, there’s lots of implied sex in ’70’s Marvel comics, but I remember seeing that with my unworldly 10-year-old eyes at the time and thinking, “Wow, they’re really, like, doing it.” And is this the point where Carina switches sides? She’s sent by her father the Collector to infiltrate Korvac’s camp (nice way to whore out your daughter, Dad) but then Michael/Korvac gives her a really good cosmic fuck and then she’s down with him taking over the universe? Strange sexual politics indeed, Mr. Shooter.

      • Jeff Lester Aug 1, 2014

        “Wow, they’re really, like, doing it.” I believe this was *exactly* my same thought (although I was two years older).

        Even more depressing is than the switching-sides-after-cosmic-rogering is the fact that Carina has *no* personality. Absolutely none. Not even the standard Marvel “First, I blindly followed my father, now I’m blindly following my lover. But what do *I* really want?” thought balloon that at least acknowledges the problem by hanging a lantern on it. It’s a little blood-chilling.

  4. It seems like the state of modern non-autobiographical indy comics when the “it’s THIS meeting THAT” is a selling point for pitching a series. Where that’s great shorthand for an busy editor, the comic fans buying the series would probably prefer an illusion of originality.

    • Jeff Lester Jul 30, 2014

      Great point–probably thanks to things like solicits for retailers acting as the primary sales pitch, comics have had a slippery time of finding the right tone between a shorthand for insiders and a fresh pitch to attract outsiders. It’d be nice to see that change.

  5. Bob Temuka Jul 30, 2014

    Just a technical thing. I really, really like the download link to the podcast, because it’s so gloriously long that I have to listen to it in two or three chunks, and when I use the embed player, the times never match up to the show notes for some reason, so I can’t find where I was up to.

    Am I doing s0mething wrong? Did I err?

    • Jeff Lester Jul 30, 2014

      Hmm. Thanks for this insight, Bob. I didn’t know that the embed player wasn’t matching up with the listed times (but then I always worry the times are never matching up well because I have to adjust them all after I record the intro), or how prevalent that problem might be for others.

      I did notice during the Oily Comics contest that the times coming in had a variation of about a minute, so the difference might be very minute…

      Anyone else pick up on this problem?

  6. Huh, neither of you have read CAPTAIN VICTORY before? That’s surprising. Image did solicit a single volume reprint of all 14 issues back in 2007, shortly after their SILVER STAR book came out, but it never came out. I hope the chance of a reprint isn’t dependent on how the upcoming Joe Casey revamp does, because is there anyone who doesn’t expect that thing to crash and burn? Anyway, I’d prefer a real publisher like Titan or Abrams do a reprint of Kirby’s VICTORY, rather than Image or Dynamite. If Titan can get out six volumes of Jack Katz’s FIRST KINGDOM, Kirby’s VICTORY should be a breeze.

  7. Nate A. Jul 31, 2014

    I’ve got to assume that Shoooter’s time working under Mort Weisenger colored his view on management. It certainly colored his approach to editor-driven comics.

  8. Nate A. Jul 31, 2014

    Did Marvel do something specific to shut down criticism? Like silence a creator or something? Graeme and Lester suggested as much, but was that based on shared secret info, or public stuff?

    • Jeff Lester Aug 1, 2014

      Basically secret info? But I think you listen carefully (or not that carefully, probably), you should be able to sketch out a realistic enough scenario.

  9. Let’s see, Marvel internal politics, underloved Kirby comics, 70s Avengers, psychoanalyzing Matt Fraction comics…

    If only we’d gotten a “you really should subscribe to 2000AD digitally,” I think I’d have a Wait, What Bingo.

    • Jeff Lester Aug 1, 2014

      Ah, if only we could upvote comments…

      It seems like “you really should consider subscribing to Marvel Unlimited” is the new “you really should subscribe to 2000AD digitally”? Probably because I’m still dramatically behind on my 2000 AD digital sub….

  10. I was struck by your comments about women writing comics, and went and found two things:

    1: The most recent Marvel solicitations have G. Willow Wilson on Ms. Marvel, Kelly Sue DeConnick on Captain Marvel, and it looks like you do have Corinna Bechko co-writing Savage Hulk (but that’s the secondary Hulk title, features rotating creators, and it’s her first issue).

    2: This interview with Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson from last year: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?id=44169&page=article
    Nocenti: “I think there was some big controversy in some convention — I wasn’t in the industry because I was off doing other things — about how there were no women in comics, and then I got a call, “We need women in comics.” So if I got back into the industry because I’m a token female, I say great! I’m all in!”

  11. Interesting that you mention Jim Shooter as one of the first creators who had a clear idea of who they wanted to write and wasn’t interested in organic character growth. Between listening to you guys’ podcasts, reading Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and the increasing general banality of both Marvel and DC’s lines, I’m convinced that character development and meaningful changes are stone dead for franchise superhero comics of a certain age.

    Even with Jim Shooter, it was early enough that not only did he still have room to do new things with the Avengers that actually stuck, but he was actually interested in doing new things. He didn’t come in with a list of favorite stories he wanted to cover, or character beats he wanted to replicate (at the expense of giving them any more depth).