Wait, What? Ep. 330: The Story Of The Ear

November 7, 2021

0:01-5:57: Greetings!  You catch us in a very potty mouthed media res as our first five minutes have already happened but without Graeme’s side of things being recorded. (Not much fun to sync up after the fact either, though I think I have it all worked out now.). It probably suits the episode overall, since—as we explain here—this episode was already failing to go according to plan. This was supposed to be the return of the remarkable Chloe Maveal to the podcast in order to discuss Malignant, Dune, and…some other movie, maybe? But due to some unexpected circumstances—of the barking, four-legged kind—she is unable to join us. (Would that Graeme’s half of the recording has nearly as good an excuse.). Fortunately, Graeme remembers the most important part of the lost discussion—Fire! by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown—which you can see in all its remarkability above. (Or so I hope, anyway.)

5:57-1:03;58: Having caught you up on all of the above, Graeme leads us into our first big-ass topic of the episode: on Monday, the workers of Image Comics formed a union. Although that is not, as many first assumed, the artists and creators of Image, it is nonetheless explosive news for the North American comics industry which almost universally uses exploitation as the oil to lubricate the engines of creation. So I hope it’s understandable why we would talk about this topic and speculate about what their statement means and what it might mean for the industry, and much, much more. As we mention repeatedly during the discussion, we are as far from experts as can be about situations surrounding unionizing so we definitely invite those of you who know more to correct and/or contribute in the comments to this post.

1:03:58-1:26:06: An hour in and we should talk about actual comics, you say? Welllllll….ok! Graeme sat down since the last time we talked and re-read The Immortal Hulk (in digital, not print, mind you). And after binging it, Graeme thinks that (a) it reads so much better when read in a oner but (b) doing so also makes the dry patch in the second half that much more frustrating? Kick off your shoes and join us as we rap about Cap sulk about Hulk and talk about how good all the material is and yet (for Graeme) still doesn’t quite land.

1:26:06-1:35:23: Graeme also talks about reading the recently completed Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, its pleasures, and how it ultimately isn’t his bag for reasons he lays out. PLUS, Graeme has also read the recent incarnation of Roy of the Rovers by Rob Williams, Ben Wilsher, and Lisa Henke (among others) and talks about the smart choices it makes to update the story and characters. PLUS PLUS, Graeme has been re-reading old Strontium Dog comics (quite possibly the least surprising sentence I will write this shownote entry, and more than likely this month as well) and he thinks we should just do an episode of Drokk! devoted to Strontium Dog and explains why.
1:35:23-1:40:24: PLUS PLUS PLUS, after failing to turn the spotlight over to Jeff’s reading interests, Graeme also mentions he’s been reading some of the sublime Monsieur Jean by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian.
1:40:24-2:14:57: As for Jeff, he’s going to put all his comics discussing eggs in one basket and talk about his recent re-read of Supreme: The Story Of The Year and Supreme: The Return by Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Joe Bennett (of Immortal Hulk, wildly enough), Chris Sprouse, Ian Churchill and several others, as published in trade format by Checker Books in 2002 or so (although reprinting comics that ran from 1997-2000). It’s a Superman analogue comic that tries to recapture and recontextualize the joys of the Silver Age Superman stories beloved by Moore (including the joys of interplay with other superheroes and continuity callbacks). And it is also, as Jeff tries to put it, a solid beam that Moore later goes on to diffract into all the titles of his ABC work. Jeff brings it up expecting Graeme to be, at best, coolish but the conversation zigs in places you might expect it to zag. Check it out! (Oh, and I *should* create a separate entry for it but at 2:11:43, we go from talking about Erik Larsen’s snotty annihilation of Moore’s Supreme to his apparently earnest reboot of…Ant?)
2:14:57-end: Closing Comments, thank goodness! 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 Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
Next week: Remember to keep on Drokkin’! Read Vol. 30 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us.

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19 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 330: The Story Of The Ear

  1. Jeff Lester Nov 7, 2021

    Need just the link to the episode itself? Here it is!

  2. Voord 99 Nov 7, 2021

    Haven’t listened to the podcast yet but…Strontium Dog! Yes, please! Do that! That would be great!

    (Alright, I’ll admit that I’d feel a bit sorry for Martin Gray. But…Strontium Dog!)

  3. Richard Baez Nov 8, 2021

    Lewis Trondheim’s LITTLE NOTHINGS volumes plus certain assorted other strips (his strip serialized in MOME, notably) hit a bit of that Eddie Campbell ALEC sweet spot, I like to think.

    I will also second a potential Strontium Dog episode. Strontium Dog rocks.

  4. Can’t find it right now, but there was an on-line forum (probably defunct now) a few years ago where one of the Image partners (I think Larsen or Valentino) explained the Image deal roughly as:
    Image agrees to publish the book
    Creator provide print-ready files
    Image contracts with the printer and pays for the printing/shipping
    Diamond payment for the issue comes in
    Image deducts the printing cost and standard fee and pays the balance to the creator
    As long as sales are above 2000 or so copies the printing and fee are probably covered by Diamond’s payment. If there’s a danger they won’t be Image will warn the creator that they probably won’t get any money, and give them the option to cancel the book (and probably cancel future issues) but will still eat the cost. He was pretty adamant that money never flows from the creator to Image.

    The cut they take from graphic novel / collection sales was discussed somewhere else I can’t find right now, from a creator with some books at Image. Basically it had evolved that a higher percentage of collection sales were outside the first month or two of sales, unlike single issues, so Image would lose money paying for inventory and overprints, so they restructured the deal to account for that. Didn’t sound like it was a high percentage, as such things go, but enough that Image had an incentive to keep books available, order new printings as needed. It wasn’t said directly, but it was implied that the creator might have had to put up some money for printing if they wanted a print run significantly more than initial orders.

  5. Shadavid Nov 8, 2021

    Do other Whatnauts ever do a little jig to the theme tune, health and circumstance permitting? My hands in the air this morning, it occurred to me to ask.
    Monsieur Jean is everything Graeme and others say of it. So why has Le Journal de Henriette not been translated into English? There were those three stories in B&W in French Ticklers from Kitchen Sink at the end of the 80s, since then nothing. At least, nothing I’ve found. It probably reveals a lack in me, but I prefer Henriette’s struggles with her embarrassingly boorish parents, even if most of these are in her imagination, to Jean’s quiet failures.
    Felt a little smug that I still have my issues of Supreme. Mostly that’s down to me being a late adopter. I also have not updated Marvel Unlimited. Every so often they send me a slightly anxious email, but having listened to how difficult it is to search on the new version, I think I’ll hang on until they shut it down. I don’t seem to have the Infinite comics, but the regular comics update, so I’m happy enough. It did take me a while to recall where French Ticklers was on my shelves, so there is that disadvantage. I mean now, due to my having to look for them, the Brubaker/Cooke Catwoman, DeZago and Wieringo’s Tellos and some side stories from DC One Million have been added to my re-read pile. I only narrowly avoided embarking on a comprehensive read of Donna Barr’s comics. So many pitfalls!

  6. Justin Harman Nov 8, 2021

    Yeah; they manage to basically publish an issue and a half of Youngblood… and then another issue under a book called “Awesome Adventures” or something like that.

    Liefeld teased having Moore’s Supreme redrawn sometime in the 2000s, but that was before whatever happened with Andrew Rev, I guess. Of course, Erik Larson ended up doing the last Moore Supreme script before jumping off into his own odd six issue run.

    The other interesting thing Moore does for Liefeld is the Judgement day Mini Series, where he gives Liefeld a basic blueprint to convert all of his Extreme properties over to whatever “Awesome” ended up being. It’s mostly a charming pastiche of old Marvel tropes, housed around a superhero trial. The trial stuff isn’t that great, but the reinventions of other properties and pastiches are fun. Glory is indeed published elsewhere, by Avatar, of all places. I think they manage to do like two or three issues.

  7. Jonathan Sapsed Nov 9, 2021

    I think you finally landed the Immortal Hulk review. Ultimately uplifting. Well done both.

    I wondered how that One Above All fold-out would work or not on digital. It probably ends up being one quarter as big instead of 4 as big :D

    But what’s this? Now we should care about all those people that work in comics without actually creating them? Arn’t they all the suits and parasites feeding on the creators, with all their “editing” and “marketing” and “production” and all that? Now we should cut back the creators share and redistribute to them, got it. Maybe Vertigo was the best deal in comics after all…

  8. Thank you for the advance sympathy, Voord! Before reading your comment I was thinking of asking how long Drokk! has to go. I daren’t now.

    I loved Moore’s Supreme, which sits happily in the two volumes on my bookshelf by my Sugar & Spike plushies. How ironic >choke< that Chris Roberson did a take off of the Supremacy when he had his mini-run post-JMS on Superman. It was huge fun.

    Boy, US employers really hate unions, eh? Guns good, unions and NHS bad. Oh dear. Did anyone see the Superstore storyline about the Cloud 9 staff trying to unionise? I thought that was just extreme satire, but apparently not.

  9. Jonathan Sapsed Nov 10, 2021

    On Supreme I managed to buy a complete run of floppies when Warren Ellis’ Supreme Blue Rose came out, which I’m not sure really connected at all to the Moore stuff. I’ve seen people online saying Moore’s first issue is their perfect ideal of a superhero comic. It’s interesting that it hasn’t been collected in a more presentable way but I assumed (maybe wrongly) it was Moore blocking it?

  10. Bruce Baugh Nov 10, 2021

    Speaking of Immortal Hulk, some words from George Orwell:
    “ I said earlier that Dickens is not in the accepted sense a revolutionary writer. But it is not at all certain that a merely moral criticism of society may not be just as ‘revolutionary’ — and revolution, after all, means turning things upside down as the politico-economic criticism which is fashionable at this moment. Blake was not a politician, but there is more understanding of the nature of capitalist society in a poem like ‘I wander through each charted street’ than in three-quarters of Socialist literature. Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. There is always a new tyrant waiting to take over from the old — generally not quite so bad, but still a tyrant. Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time. The moralist and the revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an end we cannot yet foresee. The central problem — how to prevent power from being abused — remains unsolved. Dickens, who had not the vision to see that private property is an obstructive nuisance, had the vision to see that. ‘If men would behave decently the world would be decent’ is not such a platitude as it sounds.”

  11. Jonathan Nov 10, 2021

    @Bruce Baugh that Orwell was a half-decent writer, if only he worked with better artists he’d be right up there between Remender and Doug Moench.

  12. Martin Gray Nov 10, 2021

    I forgot to say, I was working for Egmont Fleetway when it was decided to get some eyes on Roy of the Rovers weekly. Roy Race was in a helicopter crash and lost a leg, preparing the way for son Rocky, ie Roy Race Jr, to take over the strip. This was years before DC and Marvel started doing this kind of thing. Anyway, there was a cover inset of Roy’s poorly limb and artist Barrie Tomlinson was kind enough to give me that.

    So I have the leg of Roy of the Rovers.

  13. Martin Gray Nov 10, 2021

    Sorry, it’s late… Roy’s artist in 1993 was Barrie Mitchell! Lovely chap.

  14. Matthew Murray Nov 10, 2021

    Okay, it took me a while, but I tracked down Graeme’s ooooold piece about Supreme and Alan Moore reusing old Superman plots from Broken Frontier: https://web.archive.org/web/20041102015427/http://www.brokenfrontier.com/columns/grimtidings/archive/2004/gtjan25.htm

    As for Alan Moore and humour comics I remember enjoying Jack B. Quick in Tomorrow Stories being pretty enjoyable, though I haven’t read them in a long time. (And maybe they don’t count as “humour”?)

    Also, I think one of the issues with people discussing Image Comics is conflating “Image Comics” the publisher with “Image Comics” the imprint. The first of which publishes all of the various publisher imprints (such as Top Cow and McFarlane productions) which, presumably, pay some sort of page rate for their work for hire titles like Spawn. The second publishes the non-partner titles. Though I’m sure there are some edge cases (Rat Queens was published through Shadowline, but the creators own it so presumably they weren’t getting a page rate? supposedly Image central might, sometimes, pay some sort of advance.).

  15. Matt Terl Nov 12, 2021

    So it’s interesting–for all the Grant Morrison references you both made when talking about SUPREME, I think you missed the best analogue for it, and the reason the re-use of old Superman stories didn’t bother me: I think this is Moore trying to integrate Superman’s entire history with the modern day, pretty much what Morrison would do for Batman a decade later with the Black Casebook and the sci-fi closet and what-not. The difference is that Moore is working with the serial numbers filed off, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that his original idea was to do a version of this for DC before they had their falling out–and when he repurposed it, he just went ahead and recreated the necessary bits of history, keeping them close enough that people familiar with the old stories would know exactly what was being referenced.
    Or not. I dunno. But as someone who remembered the seeds of a bunch of the stories that Moore pastiches (from “Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told” and the like, not from actually being alive), the duplicativeness never bothered me.

  16. Voord 99 Nov 13, 2021

    Honestly, I think Supreme is like the ABC comics stuff, if not as much so. This is the Alan Moore equivalent of phoning it in. He’s Alan Moore, so he’s not capable of really phoning it in. I suspect that Moore artfully constructs his shopping lists.

    But Moore can produce a story that’s self-consciously about the fact that it’s insignificant and should not be regarded as more than an amusing diversion. If anything, it reads to me as Moore’s rebuttal to All-Star Superman’s quasi-religious faith that Superman is somehow *important,* just a rebuttal that happens to have been written years before the thing that it’s rebutting.

  17. Jonathan Nov 15, 2021

    Jeff, what was that article you mentioned a few weeks back about ‘comics as gluttony’? I’d like to read that.There’s a tendency to overcollect it’s true…

  18. Jonathan Nov 19, 2021

    Jeff, I think your memory of the article enhanced it!