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Wait, What? Ep. 122: Capespaces

Jeff Lester

 photo 6678aa2c-363c-4307-b576-8abdee988126_zps6f245e13.jpg
From Bandette #4 by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. It’s pretty damn delightful.

Hey, everyone!  Next week is a skip week!  Do you hear me? SKIP WEEK.

Show notes?  Oh yes, there are certainly show notes. RIGHT AFTER THE JUMP.

(BECAUSE I LIKE ALL CAPS, THAT’S WHY.)

0:00-3:08:  Welcome to the opening!  Topics include: Internet woe explanations; sexy talk; waffles; beard pics; etc.
3:08-4:35: And right off the bat we have a potential conundrum — when it comes to the week’s books, we are woefully under read.  What to do? What to discuss?  Graeme confesses to reading Moranthology by Caitlin Moran and rereading the awesome Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe. Graeme also gives Jeff the biggest opening for a joke comic book title ever and Jeff gets paralyzed with the possibilities.
4:35-10:05: So we talk about Age of Ultron #6. Dont’t worry, it’s only for five minutes.  No, really.  We set a timer.
10:05-31:21:  Don’t pay attention to these time codes.  It really was five minutes and when the timer went off we were already talking about the, um, Ultron to Age of Ultron’s Vision:  The “Days of Future Past” storyline by Claremont and Byrne from Uncanny X-Men.  We consider it kosher to continue talking about that piece past the timer.  Does it hold up?  Was it really good to begin with?  Discuss. Also covered:  The X-Men Chronicles; that one issue of Uncanny X-Men with Captain America and Black Widow on the cover; Chris Claremont and his greedy delight; John Byrne and “drawing right”; the great twitter account @JohnByrneSays, Who’s Who in the DC Universe; and more.
31:21-45:53: Jeff’s out of blue question for Graeme: Top Five Comic Book Capes. (Jeff swears he didn’t bring up this topic just to bitch about the wasted potential that is Todd McFarlane’s Spawn). Also discussed: The Vision; Freak Flags; Steve Ditko; more stuff. Come for the cape references, stay for the game of “The Blind Leading The Blind” with regards to Spawn publication schedules and collaborators.
45:53-1:04:59: And in part two of “The Blind Leading The Blind”: Jeff tries his best to explain “Moe” while describing the very odd concoction that is Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei’s Ultimo.
1:04:59-1:05:21: Intermission One.
1:05:21-1:21:18: And we’re back, with Graeme still suffering PTSD from reading Stormwatch #19.  It leads into a bit of what was being discussed earlier — what changes in a creator’s work as they age that makes them less palatable even as they retain everything that’s identifiably them?  And, conversely, creators who still had all of it even as they got older?  Don’t ask about those odd faux-Frink noises made by Jeff — he still can’t figure out why he made them.
1:21:18-1:22:04:  And then, just when you expect it least:  we answer questions from Whatnauts posed to us back in December of last year!  Yes! Woo! Got your nose!
1:22:04-1:29:10: Miguel Corti on December 6th, 2012 at 11:00 pm asked: “What current artists are the best at comics storytelling? I don’t mean the best illustrators or the best frozen pose/cover artists, I mean, from panel to panel, who can carry the story, draw your eyes across the page, and not interfere with the story being told? It seems to me that comics are blessed with many a good illustrator, but there aren’t many competent cartoonists. Is this the fault of the artist or the writers who don’t know how to script for them?” Mentioned by us:  Chris Samnee, Al Ewing, Avengers Assemble (the Age of Ultron issue), Jackson Guice, and others.
1:29:10-1:34:04:  Joel Greenlee on December 7th, 2012 at 7:08 am said:  I was wondering if you guys have read either of Harvey Pekar’s final books, “Not the Israel my parents promised me” or “Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland” I think they’re great, but I’m a lifelong Harvey fan a Clevelander as well. Could I get some non-homer perspective from you guys on the books if you’ve read them? Discussed: Harvey Pekar, Alan Moore, R. Crumb, Gary Dumm, Joe Zabel.  Not mentioned: Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, although they were great.
1:34:04-2:04:04:  Matt Miller on December 7th, 2012 at 9:47 am said:  By what rationale does Jeff continue to buy DC Comics? Under the new management structure, hasn’t DC proven itself to be Marvel’s equal (at least) in lack of respect for creator rights, poor retailer relations and overall creative bankruptcy? Discussed: DC, Vertigo, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Marvel, Stephen Bissette, a terrifying number of indie publishers, Monkeybrain, Double Barrel, The Best of Milligan and McCarthy, Bandette, and the super-strong slate of Eisner nominations.
2:04:04-end:  Closing comments!  Skip week imminent!  Shortened engagement to follow! The Joker’s daughter! Nixon! Thank you and good night!

Yeah, I kind of went out in a blaze of exclamation points at the end there, didn’t I?  Well, that’s what happens when a vacation looms, I guess.

Anyway, I haven’t seen this one on iTunes yet which has me a little bit worried but, eh, it’s been working pretty great for us so far…so maybe you’ll see it sooner rather than later?

But either way, you have full unfettered access to the episode below.  See, really?  Look!

Wait, What? Ep. 122: Capespaces

As always, we hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!

27 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 122: Capespaces ”

  1. Still only halfway through, but:

    On Spawn guest writers – The Frank Miller issue definitely came out as Spawn #11, fourth of the four guest writers, and it was TERRIBLE. Here’s some guy’s recap: http://notblogx.blogspot.com/2010/02/spawn-11-june-1993.html

    On Days of Future Past – I think what it’s toughest to recognize (or remember) from our vantage point in this wondrous future is how new and cool some of the specific concepts seemed. Kate Summers! (Especially when Kitty Pryde had barely been around for a year.) Adult Franklin Richards! Rachel Summers! Many of these things became recurring concepts or even parts of the main Marvel timeline, but at the time they were mindblowing and new. Even in Byrne’s Superman books, a lot of the excitement was seeing what Byrne would reinvent or reintroduce next — that enthusiasm helped me move past a lot of clunky writing, but it’s completely absent from a rereading at this point.

    (It’s also mindblowing to me to realize that there have been THREE TIMES as many Uncanny X-Men comics published SINCE DoFP (420-ish) as there had been in the series to that point, and that’s without factoring in the spin-off titles. Jesus, I’m so old.)

    Anyhow, enjoyable podcast as usual, etc.

  2. Re: Stan Lee’s Ultimo
    I had exactly the same reaction as Graeme except a few seconds earlier of laughing hysterically, sighing and saying “Oh Stan…”

    Re: Could there still be a podcast if Graeme didnt buy DC comics?
    I would actually prefer it. I dont read DC myself and it seems most discussion of DC books by you guys, apart from ‘Batman and Robin’, is panning them for pandering and not full exploring the potential of the book/event/premise/etc.
    Dont mix this in with previous comments about you guys being negative, if anything your being you coming with too much bright-eyed optimism to these books.

    Re: Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland
    Besides one short story this was the first Pekar I have read. It didnt really grab me enough to remember much of it besides a general feeling. Someone should do a comparison between Brandon Graham and Pekar about how they both kind of abandon narrative in similar ways.

    Re: Artist who are good at storytelling.
    Kind of a tricky question, storytelling is one of the primary things Im interested in as far as comic art, so I feel like all I could really give you is a list of my favourite artists.
    As far as whos to blame? I think its mostly the artist. The feeling I get is that most writers but enough in the script to communicate the story even if the artist is horrible and then start to relax as they get to know the artist and their strengths.
    For an example of this going horribly wrong see Return of Bruce Wayne #4, which was originally written to be drawn by Cameron Stewart but ended up being drawn by a fill-in guy. He may be a good artist elsewhere but that script was kicking his ass with what it was demanding from him in terms of storytelling.

  3. I love Tuesdays.

    Thanks, gents.

  4. Not only am I excited to listen to another podcast from you guys, but I’m stoked that you got around to answering my question. Glad I got in under the wire.

    @Dave Clarke
    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions, and I wouldn’t mind reading your list of favorite artists if you’re inclined to share it. I don’t think you can blame one or the other all time. There are also external factors consider like why didn’t the editor point out the problem at some stage? Maybe the writer or artist weren’t given enough time to work on the issue properly.

    Like you, I am primarily interested in storytelling in comics, because I read comics to see them do things that other media can’t. The other reason I brought up the issue of blame came from when Walt Simonson pencilled some issues of “Avengers” near the end of the Bendis’ run. As an accomplished writer, artist, and storyteller in his own right, I could really tell that Simonson was trying to compensate for the lack of proper panel-to-panel storytelling in the script. It brought home immediately what had been deficient in the other Avengers tales Bendis had told. Of course, you could still blame the artists he had for not attempting to smooth out his storytelling wrinkles. I think your example of Return of Bruce Wayne #4 is good for showing what happens when an artist isn’t as good at visual storytelling as the writer is at describing it.

  5. @Miguel Corti
    I think good story telling in comics written by one person and drawn by another comes down to the artist being a talented draftsman and the writer giving them enough room to do their thing.
    Your Bendis/Simonson example is probably down to Bendis being used to writing scripts that could be drawn by anyone and not leaving enough room for Simonson, and the ROBW#4 example comes down to Morrison giving Stewart a tonne of room to move and come up with his own stuff but the replacement not being at that level yet.
    Even when Im working on my own comics when Im writing script I find myself saying ‘writing-David doesn’t know how exactly this page needs to be layed out, so I’ll make enough notes for drawing-David to work it out later’. The idea of writing a script and not knowing who is going to drawing it later seems like a difficult way to make something readable let alone with good storytelling.
    As far as good artists for storytelling, rather than just a list of obvious names I’ll give you two suggestions I don’t think you will have read:
    “Mesmo Delivery” by Raphael Grampa
    “Pictures for Sad Children” by Im not sure who at http://picturesforsadchildren.com/

  6. Rick Burchett!

  7. Marvel’s practices are spreading: http://www.deadline.com/2013/04/union-musicians-picket-marvel-disney-over-iron-man-3/

  8. I have to admit mild disappointment that we don’t get the complete UNTOLD STORY on why Marvel Comics doesn’t care about Mr. McMillan, but I respect his privacy and admire his professionalism.

    You guys should go back to talking about the crumminess of AGE OF ULTRON at length every week, except replace “ULTRON” with “ULTIMO.” That way, no matter how cranky you get, we listeners will all be thinking about a middle aged robot spider samurai with a mustache and sunglasses and therefore in laughing fits of pure joy.

    Just a thought!

  9. Cheers for another great big lump of fun. You cited some great capes, and I have one more – Mon’El, with his Big Yellow Fasteners. Awesome.

  10. I for one would Be completely happy with Jeff dropping both DC and Marvel if that meant that “Jeff Misinterprets Manga” became a staple segment of the podcast, as it has quickly become my favorite part of the show. Oh Jeff, thats not what Moe means, bless you.
    Also, i’d feel remiss if I let the subject of Stan Lee and Japan go by without pointing you towards the anime series Heroman, which also had a “plot provided” by Stan, but unlike Ultimo, actually turned out to be kind of great, and also of course, led to this: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/stan-lee-asking-for-coffee

    I seem to remember it being on Netflix, but I could be misremembering that.
    But yes, more Manga talk, it’s seriously great

  11. Oh man I want to read ULTIMO so bad now.

  12. I think you guys are short changing yourselves in reference to discussing old comics as “nostalgia.” I do think there is a degree of nostalgia, but you guys tend to discuss those comics with a critical eye that stops it from being “REMEMBER OUR CHILDHOODS!”

  13. @Jeff: The Stan Lee scripted comic you’re looking for is Amazing Spider-Man Annual #18, “The Scorpion Takes a Bride.”

    If you’re planning on buying it, please please also buy ASM Annual #20 featuring the Iron Man of 2020. It shouldn’t cost more than a dollar and features perhaps the most baffling Spider-Man story (warning: not actually a Spider-Man story at all) I’ve ever read.

  14. Another great one fellas!

    Jeff – I’m not sure but I THINK you might have been referring to Peter Sanderson’s X-Men Companion Vol. 1 and 2

    http://www.amazon.com/X-MEN-COMPANION-VOL-2-COMICS/dp/B001H4W7LI/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1

    As I recall (it’s been a long time) in the Claremont interview he mentions that his idea of Wolverine’s age was around 60 but that his healing factor made him appear to look in his 30s.

    According to the Amazon listing this was published in ’82 so this might answer Graeme’s question as to when the idea of the significantly older Logan came about.

  15. As for great capes…

    How about Matt Wagner’s version of Etrigan ?

    http://www.herogohome.com/2011/10/22/out-of-the-vault-matt-wagners-demon/

    (One of the great near-forgotten mini series of the Legends/Crisis aftermath)

  16. I’ve always liked Taskmaster’s cape. It really completes the costume. The Spectre’s cape is another favorite, as it makes him look properly ghostly.

    I’d add Chris Samnee, Paulo Rivera, and Chris Burnham to the list of artists with good storytelling chops. Older favorites (Alan Davis, George Perez, the aforementioned Walt Simonson) kind of go without saying.

  17. Lee Weeks!

  18. oh god, I live for any episode where Jeff talks about manga. It’s the ultimate outside-of-the-outside view on it all. Delightful

  19. Would Tezuka be a cheat for the answer of creator who stayed great right until the end? It probably comes from the work ethic too, there is a DVD with that God of Manga book and part of it shows him taking his work onto the plane and finishing it there because he hadn’t hit his # of pages yet.

  20. I think it was last episode where you guys were talking about Jennifer Blood, so kind of OT but… I finally picked up the first Al Ewing trade and it was really good. Thanks for the recommendation.

    One little bone I wanted to pick about the art: Al Ewing is 100% right about Kewber Baal. Not only does he have his story telling down, but his figure work is solid as well. In the trade and on his deviantArt page, you can see his stuff uncolored and it looks so much better than the printed version.

  21. I’m quite fond of a large majority of X-comics that were published between 1975 and 1997 or so, but two things have always stuck out to me as very overrated:

    -Age of Apocalypse

    -The Byrne stuff

    They’re still good, especially the Dark Phoenix issues, of course. But for the life of me I can’t understand why, for example, AoA would be rated so high when the actual storytelling is not that great, and most of the art is pedestrian at best. It’s a neat concept, but the actual issues? Worse than almost all non-crossover issues of the main X-titles up to that point. It’s not as good as regular Lobdell/JRJR issues of Uncanny, which people would expect to be horrible, but in retrospect they’re actually not.

    And on the other hand, I have no idea why the Byrne issues are praised to the moon. They’re absolutely NOT head and shoulders better than the Cockrum issues. Not in terms of storytelling and not in terms of art.

    I guess it just comes down to easily-digestible concepts (or lack thereof), and that’s what allows certain nuggets of comics history to keep getting mentioned so much. The phrases “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past” have almost become shorthand for “everything that was good about X-comics pre-Uncanny #200.” And “Age of Apocalypse” has come to mean “Everything that was ‘not as bad as you’d expect from the ’90s’”. Likewise, the Byrne issues are a fairly digestible, comparatively brief run of comics. The Cockrum issues, on the other hand, are bisected by Byrne and cover a lot more one-and-done stories. Not as easy to remember or communicate the greatness of.

  22. The question about artists petering out over the years is a good one, and the mention of Campbell is telling. It seems to me that artists who work outside the big two have been able to grow and change in ways that prevents stagnation. The Crumbs spring immediately to mind, but you’ve also got guys like Clowes (he’s been at it for at least 20 years now), the bothers Hernandez, I could go on, though maybe these folks (with the exception of Crumb) aren’t old enough (i.e. as old as Starlin) to count. Anyway, I have to assume it gets hard to work up enthusiasm for drawing the Hulk after the first 10 times or so. Maybe that’;s why the folks allowed to follow their muse/bliss/libido/whatever fair better in the long haul.
    To get back on topic, the guys that are Starlin’s vintage and genre I’d point to Mike Zeck, though he seems more or less out of the game at this point. Ditto Golden. Toth is famous for never easing up on himself, and I think it shows in the quality of his work and the scarcity of his output. Buscema famously and self-avowedly work short of his full capacity throughout his career (see his tutorials at the Marvel offices on how to maximize your by-the-hour page rate), so he never slipped off. And because he was a friggin genius he was always still better than pretty much everyone else.
    Sorry about the long comment, and thanks for another great show!

  23. Shane Black feels the same way about Kirby’s Cap run as you guys do. He’s actually harsher on Kirby in the 70′s than you guys are: http://badassdigest.com/2013/05/03/the-badass-interview-kevin-feige-shane-black-for-iron-man-3/

  24. @Ian: Oof. Thanks for that link, Ian. I’ve talked before how I didn’t like Kirby’s ’70s stuff back when it was going on, but came around to almost all of it. Sorta seems like he hasn’t re-visited the work although I don’t the two have styles that would be mistaken for one another any time soon…

  25. Once the Liége waffle shop opens up in Jeff’s neighborhood on June 1st, will we ever hear from him again?

    At the very least I look forward to a review.

  26. Oh man… was this week a skip week too? NOOOOOOOOOO

  27. Shane Black might have money falling out of his Hollywood ass and get to play basket ball with Robert Downey Jnr using a hoop over his garage door anytime he likes but he is poor in artistic appreciation.

    1970s Jack Kirby’s work on Captain America is The (Mad) Bomb! Even though mid-way through 1970s Jack Kirby clearly wants to be doing something else, somewhere else (maybe where fellow comics folk aren’t openly mocking his work when he sends it in or printing really gripey letters about his work in his own comics) he still can’t help being awesome. Even though he is clearly (just about) resisting the temptation to make every panel a full page splash just to get away from Marvel quicker the awesome just falls out of him onto the pages.

    Arnim Zola! Cap’s Love Story! Those rubbish mutants Magneto finds in a pound shop or wherever! The Falcon’s smoky love talk over the phone to his lady! Steve Roger’s risking sectioning by talking loudly to himself about what makes a man more than a man and what man can be that man who is more than a man can be. Man. Cap standing in a jungle saying other countries problems are none of America’s beeswax! Space Vampire vs. farmer in dungarees! Steve Roger’s terrible striped suit that would shame a prohibition gangster whose tailor hated him! That cover where Cap is all blind and screaming while The Red Skull is about to smash his head like a patriotic egg with some masonry! The way the Red Skull just runs off because 1970s Jack Kirby has had enough of this sh*t now! And I haven’t even started on Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles. Don’t ever! get me started on Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles!

    Shane Black ight look like he has everything but if he doesn’t love 1970s Jack Kirby’s work on Captain America he has nothing! (No, not literally!!!!)

    1970s Jack Kirby IS.

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