Wait, What?, Ep. 301: Mr. Q and Mr. A

August 16, 2020

(literally impossible to figure out what’s going on in this trailer if you don’t know the characters, I think)

0:01-5:30: Greetings! It’s Ep. 301 and we hope you can forgive us by starting off discussing the weather because the weather for both of us is pretty darn extreme.  (Graeme, as is typical, gets the worst of it, while Jeff complains the most, of course—but in his defense, he was woken up by thunder and heat lightning hours later at three in morning?)  It is a topper on a heckuva week…which is probably best exemplifies by us having to discuss possible technical issues after the audio cutting out a few minutes in.  Fortunately, we decide to push through.
5:30-42:15: “But it could be worse,” Graeme sagely concludes. “We could be at DC.”  Which is an excellent segue to talk about the news we all-but-have-to-discuss: the laying off of one third of DC’s editorial, including a slew of senior editors (including Bob Harras) and what this might mean for the future of the company and the future of its comics as may or may not be inferred from an interview with Jim “Winner Takes It All” Lee. Discussed: an end to long-term series commitments, maybe; execs at WarnerMedia giving AT&T what they think AT&T wants; the shitting of the bed of Perry Mason and Run; Fleabag is wonderful and we won’t hear a word saying otherwise; and more.
42:15-56:33:  Douglas O’Keefe starts us off with what the kids might’ve once called A Big Ask:   I’m a teacher of 8-12th graders, ages 12-18,  in San Francisco, and I’m trying to assemble a small set of  comic books (single issue floppies) to have in my classroom, available for casual reading, and possibly for classroom lessons. A “small set” means about 20 different issues.
For most of the kids, these may be  the only floppies they ever read; for some, maybe the only comics they ever read. So I want them to be really good, right? Not just an example of a good series, but a GREAT issue from that series. I also want as much variety as possible, to sell the kids on comics.
So, I was hoping you each might offer, say, four possibilities? Single issues you love.
I’ve got a pile of my own in progress. I’ve got a Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, Stanley’s Lulu, your beloved OMAC 1, and Daredevil 164. I’ve got a Marston-Peter Wonder Woman (reprint, of course), and Fraction’s Hawkeye #2, where Kate and Clint team up.  I wanted Paper Girls #1 but those girls swear, damn them. My school of the moment is somewhat strict: the choices can’t have any sex or swearing in them. This being the USA, massive violence is fine, however.  Also, please stick to American comics. Violence not required.
What I really don’t want is stuff that reads as pandering, or, conversely, overly didactic. Don’t worry about availability or cost, what with reprints and the cheapness of low-grade issues. I want my students to learn that comics are fun and cool to read: powerful or funny or astute or weird or wildly imaginative–good stuff like that!
56:33-1:07:02: This Charming Man Dan White queries:  If you were to do a podcast about something other than comics, what would it be about? And would you be able to get 300 episodes out of it?
1:07:02-1:12:59:  Paul Spence has a question one of us will surely be able to answer!  What 2000AD characters and/or titles would you recommend to a newbie. I have been following along with the Judge Dredd case files and this has got me interested in exploring more of the 2000AD universe. They have numerous characters such as Rogue Trooper, Slaine, Nikolai Dante., etc. Can you make some suggestions about where a newbie should start.
1:12:59-1:18:26:  Mikey Gesus emerges from the mist with riddle of the ages:  After all this Ric Grayson stuff, will DC ever get back to Nightwing being any good? Why do they as a company struggle with an adult legacy character that is emotionally stable?
1:18:26-1:23:43: Richard Halfhide wonders:  Which major character or characters are repeatedly botched by creators? Or, put another way, which characters are the great missed opportunities in comics?
1:23:43-1:25:34: Patrick Gaffney wants to know:  If this was the last episode, what would be your highlight of the show? Besides 300 weeks of talking to your best friend.
1:25:34-1:27:24:  Right! Said Ed:  How do you store your physical comics? Bagged, boarded and in longboxes? Loose issues piled up in corners? Different for floppies vs. trade format?
1:27:24-1:35:24:  Chris Tanforan breakts out the big guns! –  In honor of the auspicious anniversary, what is your favorite 300th issue of an ongoing series? In that same vein, which ones leave the worst taste in your mouth?
–  When you guys first started this way back when in an earlier, arguably more innocent, time, what were your expectations for the podcast? And what do you imagine episode 600, coming to us in the heady days of the ’30s, will be like?
– This one is for Jeff- it’s been a couple of years since you let go of the majority of your physical comics- is there anything you regret about the process? I ask this as someone who has accumulated an overly healthy number of long boxes over the years and am reaching the point in life where I wonder if I really need that many physical comics taking up space.
1:35:24-1:38:03: Eric Reehl’s question might as well be our mission statement:  I usually follow comics creators more than characters, but that doesn’t always work out. Have you ever got burned out on a creator?  You used to read all their work, but are now uninterested in their new projects?
Also are there characters who no creator can get you to read? For example, it doesn’t matter who writes Vampirella, I won’t be reading it.
1:38:03-1:38:44:  Martin Gray tells us he wants, what he really really wants:  Which character from Marvel or DC has the most untapped potential?
1:38:44-1:49:17:  BadgerMushroom (not their real name!) has two, two, two q’s in one!   Can I have two questions, please sirs? 1) For Graeme: How has the slow motion apocalypse affected the world of comics news and reporting? Are there any long term affects, do you think? 2) For Jeff: You have offhandedly mentioned your time in the comics world, but would you mind telling us what your actual comics career has been? Are there Jeff Lester written/drawn/edited comics we should be reading?
1:49:17-1:53:31:  Isobel M falls right into the Graeme trap:  I like Watchmen (doesn’t everybody?) I like the formalism and ambitious intellectualism. Can you recommend anything else that will satisfy that itch? I don’t actually care about superheroes very much. Bonus points for creators of color or women.
1:53:31-1:57:23: Jonathan Sapsed requests speculation:  I sent a question already about Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics imprint – which titles might attract a wider audience than nostalgic Brits of a certain age…?
1:57:23-1:58:43: Paul Jay-Slee has spoken from high, and lo, they said:  if you could commission a comic biography of a pop culture figure by a creator of your choice, who would you pick and why?
1:58:43-2:05:58: Miguel Corti weighs in fast and he weighs in hard:  1. How would you compare and contrast your readthroughs of the Fantastic Four and Judge Dredd, either in terms of entertainment, relative quality, or the relationship of that material with the comics industry as a whole? For Jeff specifically, given that you’ve come to Dredd as an adult to you into the character in the way you will alway, for example, be into Batman regardless of if he is at a high or low, or do you feel you can only appreciate the character Dredd when handled by certain creators, Wagner in particular? (This second question came to mind after your discussion of feeling unfulfilled by superhero comics.)
2. Either of you mess with Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem,” and is it possible for humans to read that tiny font for a 1,000 pages without some form of visual aid?
2:05:58-2:09:42: Carlos Aguilar is probably owed an apology because we did this one wrong: Jeff what is a comic/series/manga (or two) that Graeme reads & enjoys that, to you, seems odd for him to enjoy? Graeme same question, but about Jeff. Also, any thoughts on Abhay’s new TCJ column?
2:09:42-2:14:14:  Matt Digges has his finger on the zeitgeist:   In your opinion, who/what is the most criminally underrated creator/character/property?
2:14:14-2:20:51:  Thomas Williams goes all-in:  Brubaker and Phillips going OGN only next year.   Saga at the two year mark of its hiatus. Rucka taking monthly work from DC while his creator owned work is quarterly at best as his IP is being mined for TV and Film. What is the future of Image and creator owned work? Does creator owned work reach a plateau where it only makes sense to stop doing monthly comics and then take your work to other media?  Image isn’t independent or alternative comics so has it just become where a creator auditions IP for other media, no one goes to Image to tell their heart felt personal tales right?
I’m so late in asking that question I bet it’s been asked already so I will ask a back-up
I recently took a look at Lobdell’s work on red hood after reading the news he was leaving the character. Since the start of the new 52 Lobdell has built this crazy back story and world of mystical presences and all of this is just ignored outside of the series lol. Have either of you ever taken a look at this series?
2:20:51-2:25:16:  Garrie Burr sends us some softballs[??]:Here’s a couple of easy questions to celebrate your anniversary!
–What once-favored creators and their works have not aged well for you?  What creators and their works did you once dislike but now seem absolutely wonderful?  Any thoughts on the reasons for these changes in perception?
–Thinking about Archie Goodwin and Karen Berger and other editors from the past whose books were a guarantee of something at least quite-interesting and worth a read.  Which editors working today turn out a similar consistently high quality of books?
2:25:16-2:26:47: Hix clix:  Let’s assume there are 4 important aspects to a comic book event:
1. Quality of story
2. Quality of art/covers
3. Impact/legacy/launching pad for comics & concepts
4. Eventiness – scale, scope, cool/wow factor
With this in mind, what do you think are the best DC/Marvel events?
2:26:47-2:33:00:  Matthew Murray is asking and we’re answering! Maybe building off of this, could you describe the major Marvel/DC event you’d do if for some reason you were given permission to do so. (Whether this is Jeff’s “everyone gets new secret identities” thing or something else.)
Favourite (intercompany) comic crossovers? Dream (intercompany) comic crossovers that haven’t happened yet?
And because Jeff is vain and excitable, here’s his list:
  • Man-Thing/Hookjaw;
  • Punisher/Dredd?
  • One Piece/Teen Titans (Cartoon Network versions);
    and probably my very favorite two big-dream, never gonna happen crossovers:
  • Darkseid/Dredd;
  • Batman/Golgo 13.
2:33:00-:2:33:56:  MatthewMurray is back from the dead!  Or…to ask about the dead?  One of the two!  What do you think might have happened to DC as a company/universe if “dead meant dead” and they never brought back Oliver Queen/Hal Jordan/Barry Allen? (Have you answered this before? I can’t remember.)
2:33:56-2:42:01:  Jason1749 dials the Wait, What? 4-1-1: Now that it’s a while in the rearview, what is each of your #1 takeaway from reading all those FF comics?
2:42:01-end:  Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Dominic L. Franco, and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: It was supposed to be a Drokk! but it instead is going to be a skip week.  Graeme will be covering Fandome! Jeff will be finishing off those PBR Hard Coffees and staring intently at a wall! Join us in two weeks for  Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 17 and the first Batman/Dredd crossover!  Join us!!

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20 comments on “Wait, What?, Ep. 301: Mr. Q and Mr. A

  1. Jeff Lester Aug 16, 2020

    Give him a left! And a right! Then an uppercut! Then an upperpaste!


  2. Good god, Jeff, I saw those malt liquor coffees the other day and shuddered. Welcome to another 300 episodes— hope you survive the experience!

  3. Some done-in-ones that might work for various parts of Douglas’ needs:
    1) The Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye.
    2) Almost all of the black&white era of Zot were done-in-one.
    3) Aiming a bit young for the target audience, but there must have been some done-in-one in Leave It To Chance.
    4) And then you transitioned to talking about music collections, so that leads inevitably to Phonogram: The Singles. (Check for sweariness.)

    • Ack. I meant the color era of Zot. It’s been a while.

      • Tim Rifenburg Aug 17, 2020

        To add my 2 cents on suggestions for single comics for Douglas’s classroom:
        Bone issue #1
        Any Bob Haney / Jim Aparo, Brave and the Bold. But if you forced me to pick one I would pick #115 (Batman / Atom) or 123 which involves Aparo and Haney. Non Haney / Aparo (# 193 which features Batman and Catwoman by Alan Brennert / Joe Staton)
        Jon Sable #21 (Widow Maker)
        Any Thor that has a Lee / Kirby Tales of Asgard back up.
        Master of Kung Fu Giant Size #2 (Moench / Gulacy)
        Ultimate Spider-man Annual #1 (Peter Parker and Kitty Pryde go on a date)
        Any Giant Size Man Thing Issue Written by Steve Gerber
        Any beat up copy of a DC 100 Page Spectacular from the 70’s that were part of regular titles because they feature choice DC reprints and original stories. Any 100 pager featuring Superman, Detective, Brave / Bold, Legion of Super Heroes, Justice League of America or Flash would work.
        Marvels Annotated by Busiek / Ross would work if you get any of the single issues because they stand alone as individual stories and include a lot of back story/ behind the scenes stuff.
        Just a few that I would put in a classroom.

        • Robbie Foggo Aug 18, 2020

          One I think that would go down well in a classroom is issue 1 or 2 of Bissette’s Tyrant.

        • Douglas Aug 18, 2020

          Wow, thanks so much! Since I already have and love a bunch of these (GSMT, DC100, Thor, and, thanks to Jeff Lester’s recs a couple of years back, the Haney B&Bs you also praise), I’m very psyched to explore the rest. I’ve already sent off for Bone, Jon Sable, and the Spider-Man Annual. Cheers!

          • Tim Rifenburg Aug 19, 2020

            I teach as well and donate age appropriate trades to my school library every year when I thin the shelves. I like seeing a kid reading them in the cafeteria or study hall and the stigma against comics has changed since I was in school. I thought of other titles as well that are usually cheap to find in the boxes..
            Astro City #1 (original series) but almost any issue is worthy and even if there is a continued story there is enough to give you a complete experience but leave you wanting more. Kurt Busiek
            Maze Agency by Mike Barr and assorted artists (Adam Hughes did a few early issues) Any issue. Done in one mystery stories that give you a chance to solve along with the detectives.
            Tangled Web #4 – Severance Package. A Greg Rucka / Eduardo Risso story about an aide to the Kingpin. #11. A Darwyn Cooke written drawn story (J.Bone inks)about the Daily Bugle and Valentine’s Day.
            Grim Jack #1 or #4 by John Ostrander and Tim Truman. Done in ones that introduce Grimjack and the world he inhabits.
            Amelia Rules #4 or #6. The trades were popular with tweens but are worth reading for all ages. But the series started as a comic series and #4 is a sweet melancholy X-mas story and #6 deals with Amelia learning about fame. Different art styles and cartooning on display. The stories have heart.
            Groo the Wanderer – Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier. Almost any of the Marvel Epic published issues are done in one and are fun reads. #100 is a good sample and about Groo learning to read.
            Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. There are some done in ones throughout the run from Dark Horse but the Color Specials are a good sampling of the title. and done in one. A great series.
            The Spirit. Our favorite podcasters talked about it and there are a lot of different issues and titles out there. DC did a series where they had Darwyn Cooke doing the first 12 issues and other writer /artist pairings after. They give a great interpretation of Will Eisner’s character while telling great stories about the character and his supporting cast. # 11 has a great horror tinged issue.
            DC’s Solo – Every issue showcased a different artist telling their on stories and showcasing their art styles and story telling abilities. The Darwyn Cooke, Mike Allred, Tim Sale issues are personal favorites but any issue would be worth reading and an introduction to the comic form.
            As you can tell I don’t have an opinion or anything. I am sure the kids will enjoy anything you put together. It also allows you to showcase your interests which helps in establishing the rapport you need with students in the classroom. I wear a few super hero ties and I had the top of my desk collaged with comic covers and art from old wizard magazines and previews magazine. Helped showcase my interests without hitting them over the head with it.

    • Douglas Aug 18, 2020

      Thank so much, kag, for the recommendations–it’s very kind of you. I know that everybody loves that Pizza Dog issue (me too!), but I think I’ll stick with #2, because of the Kate-Clint relationship. Actually, despite J&G’s assumption, I don’t care it the issues are one-and-done or not, so long as they’re not totally obscure: when I was young I got into many of my favorite series by buying one issue that was in the middle of a long arc, and wanting to know more about what was going on. I don’t know Zot, Leave It to Chance, or Phonogram at all, but I am about to find out! Very exciting!
      Thanks again!

  4. I laughed at Graeme’s note that he’ll never read Heavy Metal. As someone who has read 30+ years of the magazine as a personal project, I have to say that he made the right choice. Odds are that any given issue is not good.

  5. Gotta say, a teeny bit disappointed that you guys don’t get into the Abhay columns, particularly given your, uh, divergent positions to them on Twitter (which I imagine may be part of the reason you’re not talking about them, but still).

    I really really dug your show about his Tom King piece, however long ago that was. It was very thought-provoking. I think stuff like that doesn’t really get the amount of intelligent conversation and debate that it deserves, and given that the public reaction to these new columns has appeared, primarily, as short, isolated “takes” either positive or negative, I think a conversation about that stuff could be really interesting and enlightening.

    Anyway, definitely respect that you have reasons for not getting into it, but if you ever decide you do want to talk about it, I’d be all ears. Love the show!

  6. Paul R Jaissle Aug 17, 2020

    I have agree with Graeme: Daniel Warren Johnson would be perfect for an Elliott Smith bio for reasons that I cannot fully articulate.
    My choice, which I realized just after sending in my question would be the Hernandez Brothers collaborating on a biography of John Waters. Again, I can’t explain exactly why, but Xaime drawing Divine just makes sense to me.
    Great episode as usual! Here’s to 301 more!

  7. Tim Rifenburg Aug 19, 2020

    Saw this and thought I would give a heads up. Humble has a comics bundle of 2000AD titles and includes 5 Judge Dredd Casefiles. If you are digital oriented or 2000AD deficient it is probably worth a look.

    • Jeff Lester Aug 19, 2020

      Oooh, thank you for this great link, Tim! I’m getting ready to tweet it from the Wait, What? twitter as well…

  8. Matthew Murray Aug 19, 2020

    I can’t believe we never got Jeff’s Judge Dredd/Planet of the Apes/Star Trek/Transformers crossover. A tragedy to be sure.

  9. David M Aug 23, 2020

    The Douglas O’Keefe challenge truly requires more time than I can give it. There were several items I considered that, when I checked, fell foul of the sex rule. There are great series that I’m uncertain which might be among their greatest issues. Here are some suggestions anyway:
    Amazing Spider-Man #33 ‘The Final Chapter!’ Ditko and Lee at their best. Taking Doug at his word and figuring it’s re-cappy enough.
    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #31 (vol 2, I suppose) Ryan North and Erica Henderson have Doreen and Nancy live their whole lives at hyperspeed over a weekend. The reader feels many things.
    Castle Waiting #2 (by Olio – two other #2s available) by Linda Medley. Rich characterisation, beautiful art, gentle humour in a fairytale world.
    Superman Annual #9 by Alex Toth, Elliott S Maggin and Terry Austin. Pre-Crisis Supes and Bats being friends foiling Luthor.
    Stinz: Old Man Out by Donna Barr. What will a powerful, hot-tempered but generous centaur stand for from whom and why? There’s tiny question here as there’s a suggestion in the second, shorter tale that Stinz’s grandmother may have had an affair. I don’t know if that breaks the sex rule.
    Marvel Fanfare #15 by Barry Windsor-Smith. Johnny and Ben prank each other for 19 pages. Art and storytelling are masterful.
    Tantalizing Stories Presents Frank In The River by Jim Woodring. Gorgeous, weird dreamstuff. Also fun Mark Martin story.
    Black Widow #1 by Samnee and Waid. One epic action sequence.
    Hellboy: The Corpse and The Iron Shoes by Mike Mignola.
    Beasts of Burden #1 by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson.
    I will stop listing there, but because it’s a series which I think does have a best issue, I’ll mention Groo #55, The Island of Felicidad, in which Aragones and Evanier try to teach the reader about ecology by way of Groo’s destruction of the same.

    Re Jonathan Sapsed’s query, despite clearly being a nostalgic Brit of a certain age, I’m still going to recommend The Incredible Adventures of Janus Stark by Tom Tully and Francisco Solano Lopez (mostly- there’s another, uncredited artist draws 6 pages in the first volume). Skinny, saturnine, Victorian escapologist Janus Stark foils dastardly doings with a confidence that can be dangerously close to arrogance and a lot of sweating.

    • Douglas Aug 25, 2020

      Thank you so much for your suggestions! And thanks to everybody who took the time–I’ve got my work cut out for me now!
      (We don’t actually have classrooms these days, but someday . . . )