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Wait, What? Ep. 134: Putting the “Me! Me!” back into “Meme”

Jeff Lester

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From the easy-to-love but difficult-to-defend (at least when you’re talking to Graeme McMillan) Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi

Hello, how are you? Is that a new shirt? Oh, really? Huh. Well, you look good in it anyway.

Me? Oh, I’m mostly okay.  Ate something a few days that didn’t agree with me so my stomach is upset which kinda saps me of my ability to get things done?  I mostly want to just lie around and watch movies on Netflix where things explode and take my mind off my stomach…

What’s that?  Does that mean I’m going to present you with a more truncated set of show notes to go with this episode?  Uh… let’s step behind the jump and talk about it, okay?

Well, yes.  Yes, it probably does. There are a few points where I should’ve really uploaded the images to save you the hassle of googling “Alex Ross Bionic Bigfoot cover” but I didn’t.

But…the show itself is quite good and still over two hours!  My stomach wasn’t involved in the making of it at all!

Oh, and we don’t mention it on-air but next week is skip week because I’ve got this family function thing going on. Sorry about that!

Anyway, as for those show notes I was talking about:

0:00-5:31: Greetings! Our only bitching about tech trouble in the entire podcast!  Jeff, for a change, is the one who actually talks about a bit of tech news that Graeme doesn’t know.  Other topics briefly covered and then dismissed: burping, and announcing our podcast episode in advance.
5:31-9:48: This was recorded the day after the Comics Internet blew up about J.H. Williams III’s announcement of leaving Batwoman (and, more crucially, why).  It’s a surprisingly brief talk about that, as well as about the Dickwolves PAX controversy but, hey, I guess we were just warming up or something?
9:48-15:46: And what is Jeff upset about this week?  Forever Evil #1!  And I guess I lied when I said there was tech trouble, but that’s because the few seconds around 10:38 where Graeme turns into Max Headroom isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. We literally just talk out the tech problem with Jeff making an outrageous suggestion to Graeme around the 12:45 mark that somehow works.
15:46-28:17: So let’s try that again: And what is Jeff upset about this week?  Forever Evil #1! Geoff Johns off his game? His very specific game that more or less has the name “Geoff Johns” carved into the side?  Is that possible?  Also discussed: Silver Age stories, the difficulty of working in the swerve, and more.
28:17-41:42: Jeff has also read The Star Wars #1 by J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew. This is probably one of those cases where my expectations are off, so there’s a good opportunity to talk about that as well.
41:42-59:06: Then again, did you ever have one of those weeks where you’re just not having a good time with comics? Maybe that’s what is happening here, as Jeff was also underwhelmed by August’s Megazine (#339) and 2000 A.D. (Prog #1848).  Worth listening to just for having Graeme summarize Third World War by Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra. It may or may not lead to a new regular segment on this program: “Graeme Reads Wikipedia Entries.”
59:06-1:34:15: One of the few things Jeff has been enjoying — quite a bit, actually — is Yakitate!! Japan but Graeme gets skewed out by the cover so please give a warm welcome the return of our long-time recurring feature:  “Jeff has to defend something he likes.”  And also: “Jeff explains manga to Graeme,” which has proven popular in the past.  Sadly, I was not on my game enough to point out to Graeme — who is curious why T&A goes unchallenged in manga but is frequently the source of concern and criticism in American comics — that part of the reason why it can get a pass in manga is that there is manga for girls and manga for women, but the American comics industry has, basically, just one big pool that is constantly adjusting itself to the comfort level of white males, and the rest of us just have to deal with it.  Also mentioned:  Bakuman, Death Note, R. Crumb, the Fukitor controversy over at TCJ, other things, probably.
1:34:15-1:46:17: And also in the realm of stuff “Jeff likes to be candid, probably to everyone’s regret,” here we are talking about the listener feedbacks to my Marvel boycott and my pinko leftiness.  I was sure this segment was going to be totally terrible but, while re-listening to it, thought it could’ve been much worse.
1:46:17-end: By contrast, Graeme gets to talk about what he bought at the half-price sale for Excalibur Comics.  Jeff listens in with envy.  Books discussed Captain Victory #1; ROM Annual #1; Steve Englehart issues of Justice League of America (#140 and #141, plus more); “valuable” books that can be found everywhere, and “worthless” books that are scarce; Alex Ross covers; interior art and right to our very brief closing comments, just a bit a minute or two past the two hour mark.

Next week: skip week!  Two weeks from now: Another episode! (We think; it’s not like we plan this stuff out very far in advance at all.)

The episode is probably on iTunes by now (or will be shortly–there is occasionally a lag though nobody’s complained in a while).  It is also below!  For your viewing pleasure!

Wait, What? Ep. 134: Putting the “Me! Me!” back into “Meme!”

Hope you are well, hope you enjoy, and — damn it — I hope my stomach soon stops feeling like I’ve been poking it with sticks!
 

27 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 134: Putting the “Me! Me!” back into “Meme” ”

  1. ‘Hands of the Mommy’ ? sounds like a translation glitch to me.
    Might it have been closer to ‘a Mother’s touch’ ?

  2. Hey guys,

    As usual, I enjoyed this weeks podcast, but … well, I think I am done. I have been a listener for a couple of years and have enjoyed almost every minute of the show, tech issues aside ;-), but if you guys are not going to discuss one of the top comic publishers in the business, I fear my time as a listener has come to its end.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro-Marvel guy (though full disclosure, I am not an anti-Marvel guy either) and in-fact, I am presently down to buying only one title from that company (THOR), but I have to be honest, DC and Marvel are the companies I am most intrigued and interested in (though Valiant is rapidly moving up), and a forced silence on Marvel, or any comic company, is just something that doesn’t appeal to me.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I am not trying to imply you are making a mistake. I am not saying you are wrong in your actions. I am sure many a listener will thank you for not discussing Marvel and you must be yourself … that is what made me come back week after week after all … but while I don’t agree with your stance of boycotting Marvel for the wrongs it has committed, as the greedy corporate entity that it surely is … all the while disregarding the atrocities of Apple (Via Foxconn), I do agree with your right to do so. We must all pick our battles. And I am aware we can’t boycott every company that has wronged us as a society or we would certainly have a lot less stuff. Ha. I mean, I own a PS3 I am fond of (also made at FoxConn).

    No, my leaving is not meant to be some moral stance that I am making nor is it meant to be a slap in the face to you. It is merely me not wanting to hear solely about Manga or comic companies I care little about, while at the same time not being able to hear you and Graeme discuss the things I am more interested in, the things I care most about. Not Marvel as corporate Marvel, but your thoughts on Marvel comics. Your reactions to Marvel writers, editors and artists’ work. Your personal reflections on both Marvel and DC’s comics and practices.

    I will occasionally check back in for a few minutes here and there, no way I can go cold turkey, but without being able to hear you guys discussing Marvel, good and bad … okay, mostly bad ;-) it just will not be the same.

    Many thanks for the hours you gave me. I do wish you (and Graeme) nothing but the best and continued (or brighter) success with anything you do, “WAIT, WHAT?” in particular.

    Perry Taliaferro

  3. Funny you guys started out by talking about patent infringement. “Those Wacky Japanese With Their Up-skirt shots and Their Tentacle Rape” is – in fact – the title of my indie band’s upcoming first album (Bushwick represent!)

    I expect there is some editing to be done.

  4. Great podcast, as ever – the manga discussion was a hoot. Jeff’s compartmentalisation is fascinating and yeah, Graeme’s right, a consistent person would be worrisome

    And to the Marvel boycott, I support not talking about Marvel for a month, but spread the month out around the episodes, perhaps make the non-Marvel eps the skip weeks?

    Looking back at my comments last week, I hope they weren’t read as me calling you a hypocrite, Jeff – I meant more that it may be time to relax, support the Marvels you do like, buy that Jack Kirby book … you’re doing your bit in talking about the Marvel wrongs, you’re at least Marvel-Neutral.

    Meantime, I shall behave and not send any codes for a month.

    Graeme, go back and pick up a copy if DC’s V, it really was rather a good read, by Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino, with Ed Barretto covers.

    The Englehart JLA actually started in the previous issue, #139, in the book’s second story – boy, those double-sized issues were excellent. Well, apart from when iNot Mantis showed up.

  5. Great cast as usual guys, but I’m kind of with Perry. I love your perspectives on the industry, the writers, the artists. Glutinous, bloated corporate monsters that they are, that includes Marvel and DC. I want to know what you think about DC and Marvel’s latest ridiculosity (it is too a word!) as well as the industry at large which simply cannot happen if Jeff stops reading Marvel.

    As for your boycott, Jeff, all I can say is buy what you like. You said once before it comes down to supporting good creators and good ideas vs. supporting a company. The world is far too interconnected to not support some darkness, but when you support what’s good and try to do some good yourself (with your hands as well as your money), you’ve literally done all you can. Also, not buying Marvel doesn’t mean you can’t read it. I on occasion read Spiderman, but I would never buy it because OMD made my skin crawl. An attempt to monopolize more of anyone but Marvel and DC might have more of an impact, while still purchasing those Marvel/DC titles that you enjoy because you’d be building up more competition for Marvel/DC. Just saying, taking away from Marvel and DC probably does less in the effort to change the industry than contributing to another company. Boom, Image, Thrillbent, Dark Horse maybe?

    And who gives a crap if the podcast is “liberal?” What you guys discuss is respecting your fellow man (by effectively by walking in their shoes for a bit), that we take care of those less fortunate in our society, and that the government treat it’s people like adults. These are admirable behaviors that everyone should be able to appreciate and understand. Don’t apologize. Say it louder.

  6. It does feel not talking about Marvel would be like a TV podcast that won’t talk about what’s on Fox for ethical reasons. I get it and respect it as a personal choice but for me it’d weaken the program.

  7. Graeme, I thought you would appreciate this: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

    This is a great site if you’re ever caught in a jam of trying to figure out Chicago vs. APA vs. MLA style. They’re up to date and pretty much the standard for such debates. I direct my students to this website all the time.

    – G

  8. ‘Yaki Taki’ means “freshly/newly cooked/baked”

    I’m all about the Lester but I gotta say Graeme really nailed Manga with his criticism (“Why do you put up with this shit in Manga when you wouldn’t in western comics?”)

    In Jeff’s defense though I think the reason that the Starfire example cited seems more obviously abhorrent than the cleavage/panty shots in YakiTaki (or in Manga generally) is that the audience for American comics are the older collectors/readers of the 30-40s age group and I think it safe to say that the Starfire panels and characterization could be described as pandering.

    Incidentally the phrase ‘fan service’ seems to get a free pass among western audiences too – ‘fan service’ is somewhat charitably translated as ‘pandering’.

    Whereas Shonen Jump comics (as I believe Yaki Taki was) is marketed to and read by adolescent males here in Japan. There are other weeklies aimed at high school aged female readers.

    I’m not excusing the ‘fan service’ in Shonan Jump and the other high school reader Manga but it is a reality in Japan.

    Graeme’s point about the female characters in (Shonan Jump) Manga being less developed is more depressing though and it’s important to remember that as much as Japanese society is romanticized by many western Manga fans, that Japan isn’t exactly the most progressive of societies when it comes to gender-equality.

  9. I think there is totally a double standard in judging comics or other cultural items from other countries and stuff from our own culture. To some extent this makes sense as we are not in as direct a dialogue with foreign material so that it feels like our criticism of it won’t have as much direct effect. So we may feel we can help inch DC comics toward a better approach toward female characters by voicing opinions publicly, but don’t have a sense we can nudge distant Manga creators to mend their ways.

    I too live within walking distance of Excalibur comics and enjoy their 50% off sales and have a pull list there. But I find Cosmic Monkey to be nicest shop to browse, and I Like Comics over in Vancouver WA to have the best back issue prices, with extensive 50 cent boxes. I got a run of Captain Victory out of those boxes :)

  10. “‘Hands of the Mommy’ ? sounds like a translation glitch to me.”

    Judging by the dramatic pose and reaction, it seems like it’s supposed to be something comically overblown, which “mother’s touch” wouldn’t really be. The exact choice of phrase does sound awkward, I agree.

  11. Hi Jeff. Just want to clarify my comment from last week.

    I was not calling you out for not mentioning Copra. I used that as an example because I know, from hearing you mention it, that you like it, and would have interesting things to say about it.

    (Also because it is hands down the best superhero ongoing right now—the Ostrander/Morrison/Kirby/Ditko/Steranko/Panter/CF collaboration you never knew you wanted.)

    What I was trying to get across is that I feel like I know vastly more about what you think and why you think it about Hickman and Johns et al than about other work, work it seems like you find more interesting.

    To clarify further, interesting is no the same as good. I love your discussions of Gerber, even when the work at issue is a failure. I get tempted to scrub forward when I get the sense you are only talking about a book out of a sense of obligation.

  12. “What I was trying to get across is that I feel like I know vastly more about what you think and why you think it about Hickman and Johns et al than about other work, work it seems like you find more interesting.”

    Probably the creator for which we have the largest amount of Jeff and Graeme’s insights is Kirby. After that, Steve Englehart. And they adore both of those creators.

    You have a better sense of Jeff’s opinion on Hickman than on Michel Fiffe because Jeff and Graeme have both read dozens of Hickman comics (for a variety of reasons – in Graeme’s case, actual obligation). Fiffe hasn’t even produced dozens of comics yet, so there’s just not all that much to talk about, even if Jeff raves about every new issue of COPRA.

    I don’t get the sense that any of the discussion on the show springs from a sense of duty to the listeners. A little bit maybe, but to no great extent (cf. rambling intros about local weather). The fact is, it takes no effort to read a bad superhero comic, especially when it’s sent to you in a digital code or given to you as a comp. It’s like turning on the TV and watching something dumb. You watch it because it’s on, and if you’re watching it with someone else, you’ll have a good time making fun of it together.

    I’ll never understand the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” mentality which seems to prevail in comment threads (not just here, everywhere). Personally, I love talking shit. Everyone I know loves talking shit, and if a group of us got together and put out a free podcast, you can bet the farm that we would talk shit on air. If anything, the absurd nitpicking of Jeff’s PERSONAL boycott has done the most in bringing an atmosphere of obligation to the show. Taking apart the latest event comic has been a feature of WaitWhat since day 1.

  13. If I didn’t love the Kirby and Englehart discussion, I wouldn’t be listening. :)

  14. Forever Evil: “Dull,” “manufactured,” “trite,” “hastily put together,” “shoddy,” “by the numbers”…so it’s a typical midrange New 52 book then?

  15. I’m all about the Lester but I gotta say Graeme really nailed Manga with his criticism (“Why do you put up with this shit in Manga when you wouldn’t in western comics?”) – See more at: http://www.savagecritic.com/podcasts/wait-what-ep-134/#comments

    As someone who has spent years reading both American comics and manga, I can give my take. In American comics, the worst the fanservice in a comic, the worse the overall craft is. It’s usually the 90s Jim Lee Image style book or the Michael Turner Aspen book or something else crappy that uses the fanservice. The really well done stuff in America won’t rely on fanservice as much.

    In Japan, the craft of the book is often unrelated to the amount of fanservice. A book can be impeccably plotted and dialogued and drawn yet have incredible amounts of fanservice. It would be like if Watchmen or some other superhero classic had fanservice parts to it. Even though I hate fanservice, it’s easier to be distracted from it in manga because of the great quality of the work otherwise, while when I see it in American books it’s usually in an otherwise crappy book. (Also, I’m not trying to say that Japanese comics are objectively better than American books. Just that in American books, fanservice is usually in crap books, while in Japanese books, fanservice can be found in all levels of quality).

  16. One thing I really enjoyed in this episode was the “Graeme explains UK comics history to Jeff” segment. If the Best of Milligan and McCarthy inspires more of that, the world will be a more awesome place…

  17. One thing I really enjoyed in this episode was the “Graeme explains UK comics history to Jeff” segment. If the Best of Milligan and McCarthy inspires more of that, the world will be a more awesome place.

  18. To use Graeme’s example, he used Red Hood as the American example. Not only is Red Hood objectively bad, it’s even bad by New 52 standards (When I read New 52 books, I try to judge them by lower standards to be fair). I also want to add, when I watch a BAD manga with fanservice, in those cases I am just as offended by the fanservice there as I would be in a bad American comic with fanservice. For example among many American manga and anime fans, tentacle porn stuff is considered lowest common denominator trash. I don’t think it’s fair to operate under the premise that everyone who excuses the fanservice in one type of Japanese comic means that they also excuse it in all Japanese comics. I don’t think the Yakitate fans are necessarily tentacle rape lovers automatically. That would be like me saying that everyone who enjoys the type of fanservice racy art done by Adam Warren, Jack Cole and Wally Wood must also love Michael Turner’s Aspen stuff and Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s ASSBAR.

  19. Jeff & Graeme,

    I’ve been listening since the first podcast, and I will continue to listen even if you don’t discuss current Marvel comics. I appreciate how much free entertainment you guys have given me.

    That said, I will be happy if I never hear another word about the Marvel boycott. I have no problem with Jeff reading Marvel, not reading Marvel, getting codes, whatever. Do what you’re going to do. I think the podcast grinds to a halt whenever you discuss or debate this particular topic.

    Your back and forth about fan-service in comics, however, was great. The above posters hit any point I was going to make. I think the cultural and physical separation from Japan makes it easier to accept the panty shots in manga, whereas American super-hero comics are “ours” and we readers feel we have some control over the contents (even though we don’t). The sad truth is there are a lot of fans for whom cheesecake and worse are selling points.

    I don’t want to be too negative, and have always enjoyed Wait, What? Thanks for putting it out and making my commute much more enjoyable.

  20. Despite Graeme’s dismissive take down of Crisis, it was a pretty interesting moment in British comics – a bi-weekly ‘mature’ comic with a political slant, and a training ground for young untested creators, many of who would go on to big things. Sure it was patchy, occasionally clunky and weighed down initially by Third World War’s axe-grinding eco-lectures, but it also had some genuinely great stuff.

    John Smith’s flawed but fascinating superhero strip New Statesmen, and Straitgate which was not the juvenile tawdry exploitation strip that Graeme describes. Rather it was a story of isolation, sexual confusion and psychosis. A Potter-esque mash up of drab suburban desperation infused with vivid and terrifying hallucinatory sequences. Inspired by the shocking Michael Ryan killings, it was a pretty daring and obviously personal work with absolutely great painted Sean Phillips work.

    Add in New Adventures of Hitler and Bible John from Grant Morrison, at the most interesting point in his career; True Faith from a young Garth Ennis which was vibrant, energised and brutal if a little simplistic…it set the tone for Preacher basically; Insiders from Millar and Grist (worth it for the Grist art alone; Osacar Zarate, Brendan McCarthy, John Hiclenton, Phil Winslade, Glenn Fabry…

    It’s worth tracking down some of it, if only to see a point in the British comics scene that was filled with potential and excitement about the form – this was the time of A1, of Deadline, and Harris Comics, with stellar early work from Phil Elliot, Eddie Campbell and Glen Dakin, and where challenging weird comics like ‘Blast’, ‘Strip’ ‘Deadline’, ‘Crisis’ and ‘Revolver’ were all available in the newsagents alongside 2000ad and Transformers UK.

    You could do a lot worse than check outt the awesome ‘Suggested For Mature Readers’ blog http://suggestedformaturereaders.wordpress.com/

    There’sa lot of interesting stuff there about comics from that period, including the actual material itself (you can read Straitgate and Bible John in full for example):

    Some of the more interesting Crisis stuff is here:
    http://suggestedformaturereaders.wordpress.com/tag/john-smith/

  21. Seems everyone is talking about our bearded broadcasters so may as well chuck my opinion in too.

    Why not just admit that for however shitty Marvel has been as a company you still like their products more than you are angry at their business practices? The same way you (and I) think the same way about, lets say, Apple. Sure you don’t get to enjoy the view from a high horse but at least its you’ll stop spending so much time jumping through mental hoops. I’m sure you don’t have the same ridiculous internal discussions when it comes to your vegetarianism.

    I personally love the idea of Wait, What going Marvel free. Just keep up the 2000AD and Manga discussion and I’ll be happy :)

    Personally I love the idea of Wait

  22. Gah! Way too many typing errors in my post, sorry guys.

  23. If Al Ewing: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/08/24/al-ewing-and-the-avengers-then-and-now-marvel-comics-mighty/

    …and Alex Kot: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/08/24/al-ewing-and-the-avengers-then-and-now-marvel-comics-mighty/

    …are any indication Jeff’s insistence on boycotting Marvel means he’s writing their big crossover of 2016.

  24. I think this ep will go down in the history books as the one where Jeff thrashed Graeme’s arguments so hard, Graeme was so dazed he didn’t even realise it had happened – I think Jeff nailed it on the Manga front, and Graeme’s game of devil’s advocate was quite needless. Which was a shame, as Jeff started to doubt himself for no reason. I just don’t think he landed points like he (and Jeff) thought he was.
    (I did get a big laugh towards the end of the conversation from ‘from the two manga series I’ve read’.

    I’ll also just nitpick the Redhood #1 example – the objectification of Starfire was for more than one panel. There was one key panel people pointed to, but there was also the way she was discussed by the male characters, and the way she pulled Roy to bed, because sex was all she cared about. Not to mention, her dialogue with Roy revealed that this was the same Starfire we had seen before, who had been engaged to Dick, only now she couldn’t remember him because humans were just for sex, as far she was concerned. And it was aimed at people 25-40 not 14-25.
    What I found interesting though, was that after the outcry about the first issue, the book never did that again. There was a whole heap of Male Gaze, sure, but they removed the ‘she only cares about sex’ aspect, put her into a relationship with Roy, retconned the previous history out of her character, and ignored references from Redhood about ‘knowing her’ as well. By the end of the year, they also covered her from neck to toe, and put her in charge of a spaceship full of space freedom fighters.
    (Not that it mattered – the sites that had the most ear piercing shrieks about the first issue ignored all the changes they’d written arguments demanding, and continued to use the book and fans as a punch line).

    I’d also love to hear more about the ‘misogyny’ in Bakuman. I’m pretty certain I know the plots/characters covered by the statement, but a hatred of women seems a bit much for what is there. I think that’s judging work aimed at teenage boys to a standard that most western works aimed at adults wouldn’t pass.

    (Despite how it all sounds, it was a good ep, and I enjoyed it!)

  25. Unless you’ve got the names of our hosts confused I really couldn’t agree less.

    On a broader level, giving sexist (or racist etc.) shit in any media a pass because of its purdy ~*craft*~ is morally bankrupt and as completely unworthy of discussion as whether it gave you a boner or not.

  26. “On a broader level, giving sexist (or racist etc.) shit in any media a pass because of its purdy ~*craft*~ is morally bankrupt and as completely unworthy of discussion as whether it gave you a boner or not.”

    I guess we all heard what we wanted to hear then, because I didn’t hear that, nor write it.

  27. That’s why I wrote “on a broader level”. Many people happily give a pass to bad stuff because it happens to tickle their particular itch, or because it’s slick enough to slide down before they notice the rot at the core, or because making your cardboard cut-outs slightly more rounded (bevelled?) than the next guy earns you a free pass to indulge your worst impulses.

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