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Wait, What? Ep. 103: Churls on Film

Jeff Lester

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They had me at “Kpow!”: Gil Kane Atom slugs Gil Kane Green Lantern, from Justice League of America #200.

And so it’s that time again, O Mighty Whatnauts.  Join us behind the jump for show notes and kvetching, ‘kay?

So, first things first:  sorry for the bad run of luck we’ve been having vis-a-vis technical difficulties. Graeme starts out the podcast echo-y as all hell but fortunately it gets much better about half an hour through…because we have to stop the call and start again.

In fact, at one point after Graeme and I had been talking for ninety minutes or so, Skype just up and died on me in a way that–unlike other times–caused the recording program to crash out as well, making it look like we’d only have a half-hour podcast, talking about little more than detox diets, Marvel sales strategies, and how Graeme’s library system is so much better than my library system.  Thank goodness, I found the temp file and was able to find instructions on the Internet on how to make it editable.   So, you know… hooray for the Internet!  It’d be nice if something other than hard liquor could now make my hands stop trembling but…eh.  What are you gonna do?

And on that note of melancholic resignation…show notes!

0:00-7:00:  Greetings!  Also, because apparently we don’t use Twitter properly:  what did we just have for lunch?  Because Jeff is doing an elimination diet and Graeme has had experience with those.  Yes, this is about as far from Waffle Talk as we can get, alas.
7:00-14:31:  Superior Spider-Man!  Graeme has an update for Jeff as what might be going on there with that upcoming event.  Is Dan Slott giving us the Spider-Man comic readers want?  The comic he wants?  Both? Neither?
14:31-29:50:  Then we discuss Marvel’s current sales.  It is probably pretty easy to figure out how we got from the previous topic to this one.  Because Jeff had yet to purchase Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story we didn’t spend the whole podcast talking about the book, but Graeme does tell me a little bit about the book.  We manage to once again work in a mention of Sean’s amazing Tumblr, Graeme uses the word “spectacular” and Matt Fraction gets mentioned–so please check those boxes off your Wait, What? bingo board.
29:50-37:56:  New comics! Which is to say: old comics!  Yes, Jeff was a little strapped for cash last week and so tried to live life the Graeme McMillons way…by checking books out of the library. Because it is not Graeme’s magical Portland library, Jeff’s picks are a little more off the beaten path but worthy of discussion anyway.  First up:  Empire State by Jason Shiga.  Also, Jeff exhorts Graeme to check out superstar-in-the-making Jason Shiga in Derek Kirk Kim’s Youtube comedy series about struggling cartoonists, Mythomania.  See Jason Shiga before he becomes Judd Apatow’snext superstar!
37:56-39:39: And then….tech disaster!  We end up having to break off the call to get Skype to behave.
39:39-47:32: Back to books! Jeff sums up his feelings on Empire State before moving on to 120 Days of Simon by Simon Gardenfors, a book so impressive Graeme didn’t recognize the name despite having actually read it.  (To be honest, Jeff isn’t so crazy about it, either.)  If the idea of a cartoonist traveling cross-country to be befriended by strangers and fans, Jeff recommends the similar-but-far-superior Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen (the title of which Jeff, in true Jeff-like fashion, reverses when he discusses it).
47:32-58:39:  Saving the best for last, Jeff discusses Hikaru No Go by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata.  He didn’t read it quite far enough to have a very solid understanding of the game Go (I say that we know it here in the States as Othello which is utterly wrong) but actually liked it quite a lot.  (Now that he’s three volumes in, he can say he likes it even more!  And that Go is not Othello.)  We talk about how this is exactly the kind of educational but addictive comics that manga can do so well.
58:39-1:12:01: Also in the old stuff that is awesome category, Jeff discovers the first two issues of Ostrander and McDonnell’s Suicide Squad are on Comixology (first issue is ninety-nine cents!) and re-reads them for the first time in almost thirty years.  Somehow, despite there being eleven panels on the page, these are widescreen comics before widescreen comics were invented.  Also read by Jeff on Graeme’s recommendation Justice League of America Annual #2 with the formation of Justice League Detroit, as well as issues #107 and #108 of JLA featuring the return of the Freedom Fighters.  And Graeme makes JLA #200 sound pretty damn great as well. (See above for proof.)
1:12:01-1:22:04:  Comixology…Submit!  It’s not some crazed BDSM fad that’s sweeping the nation, it’s the new program coming from Comixology that allows people to get their own self-published books on Comixology (for a 50% cut of the proceeds).  Is it a good deal, especially considering the very quiet launch of Hunt Emerson’s app of his own material.
1:22:04-1:37:02: Jeff had an uncomfortable moment with Uncanny Avengers #1 on Comixology, but Graeme, having read it, apparently had even more.  We also discuss Fraction’s Iron Man which is now coming to an end, and which we both admit we want to see where it goes.  And Graeme also has two great bits of semi-related behind-the-scenes Marvel info, courtesy of Sean Howe’s book.
1:37:02-end: Graeme tries to make Jeff guess which book he recently read and enjoyed? [Hint: it's really not the book you would expect.  Certainly, Jeff didn't.]  And which book he also read but cannot discuss?  [You can probably figure this one out.]  As is our wont, we also talk related sales figures and the like until Jeff, weakened and famished, convinces Graeme to issue his mystical cry to end the podcast.  One step closer to Ragnarok!

The show should have already popped up on your RSS feed of choice or made its appearance felt in the luminiferous ether that is iTunes…but you can also gather friends around a table, conduct a little seance, and conjure it here, should the spirits move you:

Wait, What? Ep. 103: Churls on Film

And, as always, we hope you enjoy!

22 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 103: Churls on Film ”

  1. Boys,

    Don’t forget Waid’s Indestructible Hulk as well. (Against my better sense, I’ll be checking out all of the Marvel NOW! books you mentioned for much the same reasons, though I think it’s safe to say that between the writerly and artistic pedigrees (since there’s only so much that Bagley can offer at this point and only so much Land that anyone can tolerate, even if Iron Man will probably is the best fit of any book he’s been placed on at Marvel) that Young Avengers and Hulk will likely end up the showstealers of the group.) And I agree entirely with your observations about Cassaday’s linework in Uncanny Avengers — he’s either just grown lazy or has started experimenting (and if so, chosen the worst time/project to showcase it with) with looser composition (I’m thinking specifically of one of the panels in the Rogue/Scarlet Witch fight, which was just God awful) and more cartoonish features for having hit a dead end with his existing style, but the end result is beneath him regardless. And Jeff: I might be able to send you a complete run of Fraction’s Iron Man (I’ve bought all but a handful of the single issues (which I can easily scoop up for a few bucks second hand) but given them to a friend who hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to read them and would probably be happy to give them back), but let me get back to you on it in the next week. (I don’t know if ever actually got around to writing the paper, but Steven Shaviro’s article proposal here on Fraction’s Iron Man is one of the most intelligent if pithy assessments of the value of his run: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=655)

  2. Greetings to you too, professional podcasters.
    When Graemem launched the show with that “PROFESSIONALS” cry, I assumed he was going to carry on into a discussion about the LWT series, ‘The Professionals’, broadcast on ITV from 77-83 or perhaps the new motion picture remake that I was pretty sure existed and was being hyped by Bleeding Cool but has since been systematically wiped from all online records. Turns out you guys meant a whole other thing.
    Y’know, I think Jeff while talking Justice League later on in the podcast inadvertently sums up Dan Slott’s Spider-man — “Not successful, kind of goofy but in a weird… in a like.. it’s heart is in the right place, kind of ambitious and it doesn’t work out… still pretty good”.
    Luckily I find myself kind of attracted to the whole basterdisation of Spider-man, the Madame Web/Venom/Carnage/Clones side of things that Slott’s been pulling from lately and so have been digging the series with his Spider Island event being the only big crossover I’ve enjoyed since Chaos War. Slott feels like the most earnest writer in comics, when you read his caption boxes about New York and what it is to be Spider-man you feel like you’re reading his mantra for life and then there’s everyone turning into giant spiders and some Doctor Who gags.
    What’s not to dig?
    Now when it comes to Empire State, there’s a book I technically remember reading, though having just now flicked through my copy it seems that memory is somewhat distorted seeing as I thought that it was illustrated with pixels and resembled a Mario game.
    The reality doesn’t match.
    What really strikes me now (and I assume then) about this book is Shiga’s atypical panelation, which really has this allure in almost making you want to read and pick apart the panels, a comics equivalent to a game of Tetris.
    Anywho, recently I read some of those Englehart Green Lantern issues, I’m pretty sure Star Sapphire does declare “COMIXOLOGY. SUBMIT–!” at one point.
    By the way Jeff, if you can find a way to write a new take on an alternate Nazi-verse that isn’t like all the “Superman: Red Son but with evil zeppelins” media out there, I would draw the comic for you out of gratitude and for… well, not peanuts but maybe cashews. From the “They saved Hitler’s brain (and the rest of him) and he won the war! Zeppelins!” material out there I have consumed it seems like not a lot of it deals with the Nazi sympathy out there before and during the war or those collaborating for their own ends — looking to Mosley, the Mitfords, Subhas Chandra Bose would be a direction I’d steer towards.
    That or open the comic with Hitler eating a mallomar.
    Typing of those with sympathy for the devil, I’m so far only a couple of chapters in to Sean Howe’s magnificent tome of murky Marvel history and haven’t quite come round to Graemem’s view of Stan Lee. So far I’ve found more pity for him, there’s this portrayal of Lee seeming to easily fall prey to fan adulation and of buying into a mythology he creates around himself to the detriment of his coworkers. It’s as if Lee is not only the God but the God’s most fervent believer at the same time. Professional.

  3. I just realised I typed Graeme’s name as “Graemem” throughout that whole post. See? This is what Twitter does to you!

  4. With all the talk of being attracted to the Marvel NOW! books I realized that and interest in a new Avengers ongoing was killed for me when I read the last Avengers #1. The Bendis/JRJR one. That thing was so categorically terrible, and everyone at the time said it was an interesting start and now I refuse to believe anything anyone says about the relaunched Avengers books.
    Am I being petty? Is it cos I didnt grow up reading comics?
    (Im also on Jeff boycott, I just quietly wish I could feel a bit of temptation over this).

    Comixology had to have a program for self-publishing at some point.
    Has anyone crunched the numbers and compared this to the Image deal? With Image you don’t earn any money until you make up the cost of your initial print run, where Submit doesnt seem to have any up front costs.
    If you’re Brian K Vaugn and you’re starting a new ongoing then the Image deal is obviously better, but what if you are a young, unknown Matt Fraction trying to sell your weirdo book Casanova? Would be interesting to get some financial dudes to look at this.

    Isn’t Slott’s approach to Spider-man the only one that makes sense in a world where all the money is made on trades? If you think of him as writing 4 Spider-man graphic novels a year which are sold in chunks, what reason would he have to take a break and do quiet stories?
    People get enough of a break in the 29 days between the release of each issue (theoretically). And each idea seems to stand on its own enough that people can red the trades in any order.
    Sure it isn’t classic soap-opera Spider-man, but when you compare it against other media isnt 20 pages a month simply too slow to actually be able to do that?
    I’m not reading the book so I cant really say, I just like the approach conceptually.

    That quote from Stan Lee is magnificent. Kind of makes everything snap into focus and makes you realize that hes just a human being like the rest of us. At least it did for me.

    Tom vs. the JLA Annual #2 is my one of my absolute favourites in that series. After reading the issue Jeff you should give it a listen me thinks :)

  5. The comiXology 50/50 split is after the 30% cut for Apple for book purchased through their software and after comiXology’s cut. The final number is closeer to 30% for sales through iGear.

  6. Thank you guys so much for mentioning that piece on Sean Howe’s tumblr; that is the only time in my entire life I have ever heard of Stan breaking character and it is downright shocking.

    I too have Sean’s book on hold at the library, but I may well end up buying it.

  7. ‘One day we’ll have our own catchphrase…’

    Chaps, chaps, you already do (Hint: Presenting Ben Grimm).

    @Dave Interesting comments on Slott Spidey; one thing, though – it’s published twice per month.

  8. Here’s another vote for Justice League of America #200. An awesome book, a true testament to the appeal of superheroes.
    I look forward to the podcast, perhaps multiple, reviewing the Howe book. Another great find from that book, Jack Kirby on the radio for his 70th birthday. Halfway through he takes a call from…Stan Lee. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1yJZKDwIRE

  9. Didn’t Hickman & Pitarra do that Dr. Manhattan #2 trick like 6 months ago in the first issue of Manhattan(coincidentally?) Projects the whole Oppenheimer thing.

  10. Yumi Hotta is a woman, which doesn’t stop her from being sexist by our standards, but she’s definitely better than Tsugumi Ohba at the very least. I also love the shonen ‘chasing your dreams’ competition mangas, so I loved Hikaru no Go.

  11. Hikaru No Go! One of my absolute favourite shonen comics, and one of the only that I’ve actually managed to read all the way through (possibly as it’s not that long, but it came out at a glacial pace in North America). The ending isn’t that great, but after reading online it seems the writer had wanted to stop it earlier, and really there was no “good” way to end that series at all. Also, I still have only the vaguest idea of how to play Go despite having read many of the volumes multiple times.

    (The other shonen series I love and have actually finished, and which you guys might want to check out, is Eyeshield 21. A manga about a Japanese highschool American football team sounds like it would be terrible, and it basically boils down to “He needs to run faster. Can he run faster? He can run faster!”, but I love it anyway.)

    Suicide Squad! I remember starting to pick up backs issues of that after I saw the JLU episode that featured Task Force X. And then the Showcase Presents volume was announced. And cancelled. And then announced again. And then cancelled again. They did eventually release that colour collection of the first six issues, but volume two was cancelled due to low sales of the first book. Just give me the Showcase Presents please!

    Once again, thanks for making this (almost) every week! Listening to it makes my job easier.

  12. Hey! In re: the cut-up WATCHMEN #13 book you guys mentioned in a recent ‘cast — I just finally picked up the new BULLETPROOF COFFIN collection to see that Hine & Shaky Kane did a “cut-up issue” experiment in #4. Titled “84”, it consisted of 84 panels that readers were encouraged to read in random order or cut out and shuffle.

    In the words of their imaginary T-shirt slogan: “MAKE MINE META!”

  13. One thing missing from the ComiXology discussion: it’s not exclusive. I know this isn’t something that the comic industry has had for a long while but with digital you have the opportunity to distribute your work through different channels. Look at what the Cerebus High Society project is doing. They have it on ComiXology, on their own site via many different formats, plus working with IDW. What’s to say you can’t do all of that as well (include working with a publisher or self-publishing)?

  14. That Stan Lee quote is great – it reinforces the fact that even people whose actions may confirm them to be, as Graeme says, dicks, aren’t usually dicks just because they’re pure evil pantomime villains – it’s because they’re part of a larger system that forces them to act like dicks. That Lee can see this at the same time that he goes on to help screw over people like Kirby and Ditko just demonstrates how contradictory and monstrous the larger system is.

  15. The larger system is indeed contradictory and monstrous. This doesn’t change the fact that stan lee is a piece of shit.

  16. I’m about halfway through Sean Howe’s book at the moment. It’s really good. I wonder, is there a canon of books that you would recommend for the history of comics? If so, what’s their reading order?

    If you had to teach a college course on the History of Comics In America, what would be your reading list? Men of Tomorrow, Ten Cent Plague, Understanding Comics…?

  17. [...] Green Lantern and Atom by Gil Kane. Source. [...]

  18. Thanks for that picture! Man, I miss Gil Kane.

  19. When the boys said they were going to discuss the perils of ‘Comixology Submit’ for a minute I thought they were going to talk about Comixology and its attempts to implement preordering comics.

    On one hand thanks to Diamond we know what comics are coming out in 3 months, so why not be able to pre-order them. On the other hand, I was quietly hoping that when Comixology killed the direct market we could have a situation where what comes out each month is a surprise.

    Ehhh, what can you do?

  20. Guys, I may be late to the game on this topic but I fail to see the fascination with any of the new “Marvel Now” books. After having reviewed the Free Previews of the “All New Creative Teams” I remain unimpressed. It all seems to me like a shell game or three card monte. In other words, a con. Move the creative teams around and what you’re still left with at heart are tired, worn out characters. Maybe I’m just burned out, but at the end of the day, we’re still left with well worn characters that are no longer spectacular or amazing or uncanny or incredible or fantastic. Is calling the new Hulk book “Indestructible” really supposed to differentiate the character from when he was merely “Incredible”?

    I’m not going to Make Mine Marvel.

  21. I may have been hasty in analogizing Marvel’s shuffling creative teams as a shell game. Although, I suspect that Marvel editorial no doubt thinks of those who buy their product as rubes, subject to any easy hustle (in which case they may be for the most part right).

    Upon further consideration, the more appropriate analogy for Marvel shuffling their creative teams to different characters and assigning them new adjectives, is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  22. I like to joke, Marvel NOW: THE BREVOORT WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES.

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