First, big thanks to Ed Corcoran for providing the perfect title for this episode!
Second, here we are! This episode is a little early due to: the holiday weekend, some weird scheduling, and the desire to get a jump on the coming week which promises to be a bit of a sledge hammer. So let us begin, shall we?
00:00-12:51: Greetings from Graeme “Cheers” McMillan and Jeff “Dora the Explorer” Lester, who are here once again for you! Not only do we mention those two TV shows in the first two minutes, we also talk about Spider-Gwen #1, as read recently on Marvel Unlimited (under threat of physical violence)! Although we both enjoyed the first issue, we talk about Jeff’s impressions of the book based on later issues, whether the book’s appeal rests solely with the creative team or not, whether or not the term “What-If’ing” is a thing or not, and more. And this is also a fine time for Jeff to gripe about the Spider-Verse hardcover he got for super-cheap during an Amazon pricing SNAFU. Did Marvel take passive-aggressive revenge on the advance order pilferers? Or is it just that a lot of the stories at least semi-terrible? Discuss!
12:51-45:06: Then, our whistles whetted, it’s time for us to Q our little A’s off, with part two of our Q&A ‘cast, answering questions submitted to us by our mighty squad of patrons! First up is Chris Carfora, who asks: “1. Discussion Point: Have we reached the end of the age of Superhero comics? Seems like superhero movies are going through a bit of a golden age but i can’t say the same for the comics. With the reboots coming every two years now it just feels like the creators are constantly going over old territory and rehashing old ideas. Is there just not anything left to say about Superheroes? With the rise of independent comics and the availability of self-published comics through comixology and the like, do you foresee a shift away from superhero comics? 2. What would be your dream creative collaboration on your dream comic? Just to clarify, it can be past creators or current, so if you want Grant Morrison and Jack Kirby on Challengers of the Unknown go for it. 3. What cancelled or lapsed title would you most like to see resurrected? 4. In what way has the rise of marvel unlimited, comixology and other digital platforms changed the industry? Is this change a good thing?”
(Whew!) Discussed: the Direct Market; Jim Lee’s 1:5000 variant for Dark Knight III; Marvel’s troll response with a Deadpool variant cover; creator participation; Starbrand and Nightmask; the illusion of change versus the illusion of the illusion of change; Irredeemable, Incorrigible, Incorruptible, Incontinent, and Insufferable; Graeme not understanding Jeff at all; crazy lists of dream teams for his dream comics including the Steve Gerber comic in heaven; Jason Aaron and Jason Latour on the amazing Marvel character, Razorback; Al Ewing and Henry Flint on Fantastic Four; the sequel to last year’s Judge Dredd epic, Titan, again by Rob Williams and Henry Flint; Aimee Bender and Pascal Ferry on Machine Man; Graeme summarizes the short but lively run of DC’s The Chosen; the crazy price discrepancies between some digital trades on both Marvel and Comixology (such as the Skull The Slayer and Weirdworld trades which are $10 cheaper on the Kindle); and more.
45:06-58:27: Carlos Aguilar asks: “1. Let’s say Image was formed in the 80s instead of the 90s, what 7 artists would you like to have seen leave Marvel (and if you want, DC) to form Image about ten years earlier? 2. Tons of Star Wars news coming out, so, Let’s say you got to pick creative teams for 4 different Star Wars books. What would the four titles be, and who would you have working on them? 3. Who would you like to see run the new incarnation of Heavy Metal instead of Grant Morrison?” Discussed: Miller, Byrne, Perez, Golden, Simonson, Chaykin, and Art Adams (or Dave Cockrum?; the WaP! newsletter and Creator Bill of Rights crowd; being burnt out on Star Wars on the eve of Force Friday; Marvel’s Darth Vader series by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca; Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba on Boba Fett; Jason Shiga on C-3PO and R2-D2; Richard Corben on Chewbacca; the return of Walt Simonson to Star Wars; Brandon Graham editing Heavy Metal; Douglas Wolk editing Heavy Metal; Warren Ellis editing Heavy Metal; and more.
58:27-1:04:09: Max Brown asks: “It’s been a little while since Jeff has posted or talked about Jason Shiga’s Demon- and since it was Jeff that got me and a bunch of others reading it, it would be great to hear his thoughts on how the book has gotten 10000000x more insane and awesome since then, and on the recent announcement that First Second will be publishing it in collections. Thanks!” Discussed: Jason Shiga’s Demon. [Please note: Jeff actually screws up his issue numbers by one. The amazing chase sequence is in issue #15 and the existential malaise is in issue #14.]
1:04:09-1:36:16: Kevin Moreau asks, “1. What other podcasts, comics-related or otherwise, do either/both of you listen to/recommend? (Aside from Rachel and Miles and Into It, although please feel free to plug those, as well.) 2. What are your go-to sites/publications for comics news, insight, etc., other than your own website and Graeme’s various employers? 3. What are Marvel’s biggest problems today, and what can be done to correct them 3a. Are Secret Wars/All-New-All-Different and the continuing push to make Inhumans happen signs of creative bankruptcy? 4. I know I’ve read (Wait What mascot/patron saint) Steve Englehart comics over the years, but what would you point to as his most important/must-read work, or where should someone start in order to gain a greater appreciation? 5. Would you ever consider a Wait What Facebook group as a place for fans of the show to gather together and talk comics and related interest?” Discussed: House to Astonish; Silence!; Comic Books Are Burning in Hell; Travis Bickle on the Riviera; the Nerdist Writer’s Room; the Guardian’s political podcast; 538’s What’s The Point; a Slate podcast called Working; Serial; Bleeding Cool and its recent trend for crazily biased news stories; The Outhousers; the terrific comics analysis columns by Paul O’Brien and Marc-Olivier Frisch; the surprising read that is comicbook.com; the surprisingly apt metaphor to describe DC’s new relationship to the Direct Market; the Steve Englehart stories you should start with; and more.
1:36:16-1:41:18: Paul Lai asks, “Seems we’ve thrown up our hands after Golden, Silver, Bronze, and the unfortunately named Modern Ages. Should we take for granted that comics are so diverse, diffuse, and mainstream now that maybe marking eras like that will be impossible/irrelevant? Or what about calling it a “Spectrum Age” where all that can really be taken for granted is the diversity?” (Paul actually had a long article he’d written about this that wasn’t accessible when Jeff tried to read it beforehand but it’s up now and it’s a pretty great read that makes a pretty compelling argument.) Discussed: Our less compelling arguments.
1:41:18-1:44:53: John Kim asks, “There are a lot of resets to the status quo in comic (Spiderman, Batman) after said comics try something different. Are the reasons for the resets mainly fan backlash and low sales? Here I am trying to sneak in another question… Are there any good legacy characters in comics?” Discussed: Wally West, Wally West, and Wally West; Batman: Year Zero; and more.
1:44:53-1:57:46: Lewis Smith asks, “Of all the aborted story-lines, new directions, and false starts you guys have read in superhero comics, what was the one you really wanted to see play out?” Discussed: Firestorm as a fire elemental; Steve Englehart’s Fantastic Four and West Coast Avengers runs; the Amazing Spider-Man and headcanon; does Marvel need a reboot; and more.
1:57:46-2:08:12: Ed Corcoran asks, “In a couple of previous episodes, you’ve mentioned the effect the library market has on how trade paperback collections are made and marketed. Can you talk a little more about the economics of that? What kind of comics rely so heavily on libraries? What do libraries look for? Also, are there any plans to collect the Avengers read-through into one big mega-episode?” We’ve tied this in with Drew Meger who asks, “It feels like every episode we hear a mention of some comic or other borrowed from your local library. As a librarian who buys comics for his library, I need to know: What comic titles would you want to see in your Ideal Library? Should we focus on the critical Top 10 list darlings and easy entry points for new readers or should we go obscure and get the titles readers might have been interested in, But not 30 dollar hardbound trade interested?” Discussed: how little we actually know about the economics of graphic novels and the library market; Kate Beaton, Vertical, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly and Pantheon; a bad maritime metaphor from Jeff, and more.
2:08:12-2:15:48: Paul Spence asks, “Would the Whatnauts offer their views on Kirby’s Marvel series The Eternals. I read The Eternals for the first time this year courtesy of marvel Unlimited and it provoked a mixed response from me. The mythology appeared to be Fourth World Lite mashed up with some of the ideas from Kirby’s 2001, and a serving from Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods. The Fourth World of the New Gods becomes the Fourth Host of the Eternals and DC’s Orion becomes Ikaris in The Eternals. This does appear to be a case where Kirby was recycling ideas. My second Kirby related question pertains to the Joe Casey penned Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers. You covered the early issues in the series on the podcast and expressed both hope, and some trepidation, that it could be a masterpiece, or it could become a train wreck. Now that the mini-series has finished what do you think of the entire run?” Discussed: The Eternals by Jack Kirby, and Joe Casey’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers; and not much more.
2:15:48-2:22:55: Louie Whitford asks, “Why didn’t Eclipse or First Comics survive? Or: What’s your favorite Eclipse series?” Discussed: quick shout-outs for books like Badger, Aztec Ace by Doug Moench and Dan Day; Alec by Eddie Campbell; Sabre by Don McGregor and Billy Graham; Destroyer Duck by Jack Kirby and Steve Gerber; the end of First and Eclipse; and so on.
2:22:55-2:33:01: Michael Loughlin asks, “1) In your opinion, what recent comics (2000s & 2010s) will be regarded as classics in the future? 2) Of all the writers who never worked with him, which writer would have made a good scripter for Jack Kirby? Feel free to choose one of his contemporaries or a current writer.” Discussed; our weird handwringing about the term “classic,” Al Ewing’s Loki and Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery; Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim; and more.
2:33:01-end: Closing comments! Due to some crazy real-life events, I’ve cut out our talk of upcoming episodes and gone straight to Graeme telling you where you can find us on the Internet. Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Tumblr! And, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, 109 patrons make this whole thing possible! Speaking of which, Jeff has an apology that, thanks to an incisive email from Steve H, we have been tardy in providing the “recommend a book for us to read” perk to long-time patrons. We are in the process of getting organized and it is coming….soon!
Whew! Okay, so we hope you enjoy this episode, keep an eye on this space for what’s coming next, and remember: keep reading those comic books—you never know when you’re going to spend two and a half hours talking about them!
And although there’s already the link for this episode at the end of the entry (completely un-audiofied for some reason), here it is again for your cutting and pasting pleasure:
That MRA/Publishers metaphor was beautiful.
Thanks for reading my question and answering it in such detail!
I too wanted to see how Ostrander’s latter-day Firestorm was gonna play out, and I will never not rep for Englehart’s FF run. Yes we got Walt Simonson, but I wish that the transition had been a bit more natural and both had gotten a longer run on the book.
Speaking of Englehart, it’s a shame his Dr. Strange run got cut off. I would have loved to read the rest of “The Occult History of America.” Also, the Englehart/ Brunner Dr. Strange issues get my vote for the Englehart comics I’d give to someone unfamiliar with his work. Brunner’s beautiful art is among the best of the era.
Listening to this podcast again I was struck by the parallels between the Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber comics I would give to see if someone liked their work. I’d choose two continuity-light series, Doctor Strange and Howard the Duck. The odd parallel is that both begin drawn by Frank Brunner and then Gene Colan takes over
Thanks for answering my questions, guys! Sorry if my word choice screwed you up; I meant “classic” as in “will withstand the test of time.” I thought Saga as well, but it’s still being published so who knows if the creative team will stick the landing. I feel like I’ve read a lot of good comics but few that are amazing. I think you’re right that Scott Pilgrim has legs.
While most Marvel and DC books will be forgotten after the event cycle they belong to has come and gone, I think there are 2 potential classic runs that (not coincidentally) largely eschewed said events: Waid’s Daredevil and G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel. Both comics stand head and shoulders above the other Big 2 books, and both resonate with readers outside of the Wednesday crowd, especially the latter.
As for Kirby scripters, I could see Graham, Ewing, or Morrison. In that vein, I think two cartoonists with an obvious Kirby influence could work well with the King: Walt Simonson & Tom Scioli (with or without John Barber).
Re: New Guardians
Snowflame is mildly internet famous; here’s a manga influenced fan comic:
That last page alone is pretty great
A quote: “I am Snowflame! Every cell of my being burns with white-hot ecstasy. Cocaine is my God — and I am the human instrument of its will!”
He is great.
If you think it would be helpful, I’d be happy to do a write up of how my library handles purchasing comics and graphic novels, including our selection criteria and other wacky anecdotes.
OH MY GOD YES. Drew, that would be incredibly welcome. Drop us a line on the email and we can work out such niceties like whether or not we could publish that here, throw a small bit of change your way for it, etc.
If you guys have the chance I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the comics available through Hoopla Digital (a library streaming service). https://www.hoopladigital.com/browse/comic#featured
So many great things in this episode. I want to comment on just a few:
First, for me, the best Englehart I’ve ever read was also his Detective Comics run with Marshall Rogers (brief although it was), his Cap run, and his Doctor Strange work. Oh! And his Green Lantern, even though there are some major problems with it. But it’s a wild ride and a ton of fun. I’ve always heard his JLA run – also fairly brief I believe – was fantastic but I’ve only read an issue or two. I wish that was collected someplace…
Jeff’s comment on how hard it can be to both read and recommend 70s era comics – especially the great, classic Marvel books we all seem to love – was so spot on I chuckled. It’s one of the things that slows down my reading pace on Marvel Unlimited, actually. My current goals for Unlimited are to undertake a big re-read of select Claremont era X-Men, dive into Byrne’s Fantastic Four in full for the first time, do a full read through of Tomb of Dracula (after only having read a handful issues before) and read assorted Marvel Team Ups and other Marvel 70s era books. I grew up on all this stuff – in the 80s when I started reading comics that was still the predominant style, the wordy narration and overstuffed word balloons still reigned supreme. But holy hell sometimes now it’s just so hard! Not always, but sometimes. I suppose our brains have been re-trained on how to read comics over the past decade or two, since the dialogue-light (and next to no narration) style took hold.
That Ostrander run on Firestorm is something I may need to re-read now that I’ve had enough time to calm down about it.
At the time of its release, I was so annoyed with the late 80’s/early 90’s “grim & gritty” that this change was both sudden and painful–especially on a character that Conway and Milgrom created to be a funhouse mirror, fun Spider-Man homage in direct opposition to the Bronze Age darkening of theme they saw at THAT time. Ostrander’s “Fire Thing” was this morose, dense work about the philosophy of war and self-hood. Changing over from a comic about a teenager who was trying to win the big game and get the girl gave me whiplash.
It felt like he was just trying to do Suicide Squad and The Spectre all over again, but those titles at least had a history that lent themselves better to the deep themes he explored.
@ChrisB, wasn’t Ostrander’s Firestorm run a contemporary of his Squad series during the 80’s? They were both long cancelled by the time I was reading his amazing Spectre series in the 90’s. I never read Firestorm, but now I kind of want to if Ostrander was experimenting with themes he later perfected in Spectre. I sure miss those books, including Hawkworld, which was also pretty weighty for a book about a winged alien outcast with a bird helmet.
@Dasbender: Definitely check out Ostrander’s 24-issue run on Manhunter; it’s decidedly of a piece with his stuff like Suicide Squad.
I would read Tony Daniel’s HAWK & DOVE.
RIGHT? I was shocked Graeme was so shocked over that one. It would be *crazily* readable!
“In your opinion, what recent comics (2000s & 2010s) will be regarded as classics in the future?”
Graeme dismissed any possible DC entries for this question, but right off the top of my head All-Star Superman stands out. I’m also a big fan of Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.