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Wait, What? Ep. 63.1: Classic’s Classic

Jeff Lester

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You know what programming languages need? They totally need <cant stop> </wont stop> tags, amirite?  (I would also be equally happy if there were <baller> </shot caller> tags as well, but maybe those would be restricted to the “Diddy on Rails” language, I really couldn’t say.)

What I can say, is that Wait, What? Ep. 63.1 is here, and in it Graeme McMillan and I discuss oddball treasures from all over the globe, such as The Spy vs. Spy Omnibus by Antonio Prohias; Nemesis The Warlock by Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill and Bryan Talbot; Strontium Dog by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Carlos Ezquerra; Crying Freeman by Kazuo Koike and Ryochi Ikegami; and we dollop more praise on Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga because honestly that sucker could probably use another five or six dollops.

Sinister ducks have probably already unearthed us on iTunes, but they are also invited to waddle about in the dark while listening to us here:

Wait, What? Ep. 63.1: Classic\’s Classic

Installment 2 is right around the corner with some slightly more mainstream fare (although pacing that is far more odd) and somewhere in one of these installments is a dramatic reveal from Graeme about Brad Meltzer’s Decoded(!) (Or !!!, depending.)

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

 

14 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 63.1: Classic’s Classic ”

  1. I’m glad you guys are enjoying Ganges as much as I am. For my money, it’s the best comic book currently being published. I’d only like to add that while these 4 issues (with the exception of issue 2 (which I would argue is actually part of the ongoing story)) all work very well on their own, I think I could hand issue 4 to just about anyone, and they’d be just as impressed by the story as someone who’s read the previous issues. Each issue works on it’s own but also works to tell a larger story, something that’s achieved far less frequently in comics than it seems like it should. Fantastic stuff.

    Also, it’s weird for me to hear Spy vs Spy discussed by anyone reading it for the first time when it’s one of the earliest comics that I remember reading. My grandfather had some of the paperback collections at his house and I would just devour them whenever I went there. (These collections, in case you’re interested: http://www.amazon.com/Mads-Spy-Vs-Antonio-Prohias/dp/0446305251/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321382429&sr=1-5 ) No idea why Grandpa had Spy vs Spy paperbacks. They really were the Itchy and Scratchy of that time, but they had a big undercurrent about the futility of war in there. That, and you never mess with the Lady Spy, I think those were the two big lessons of Spy vs Spy.

    Also also, were there lots of heads exploding in Crying Freeman? I watched some of the anime YEARS ago, and that’s all I really remember about it. Dude could punch some heads in a way that made them explode, I think. Am I remembering a different title?

  2. Some fine chattery as ever there, gentlemen!

    This week’s precious memory to treasure for ever has to be Mr. Jeff Lester vividly recounting the censored scenes of a sexual nature in CRYING FREEMAN (“a tube!”)to a clearly worried Mr. Graeme McMillan (“…!”). Or maybe the thunderous silence when Mr. Jeff Lester was asked if he remembered the very significant secret thing Mr. Graeme McMillan had told him about earlier. Comedy classics both.

    Nice to hear some Love being rubbed on Pat Mills. But Pat Mills isn’t Stan Lee. Pat Mills stands alone. A true colossus of British comics. Just comics, even. Prolific, groundbreaking, endlessly inventive and always (always) true to his very (very) Pat Mills-y world view. Also I believe he would disdain the very notion of hair-plugs.

    As for the Mills-verse timeline this was my take when I still read 2000AD (warning: the following will be of no interest to anyone. Welcome to The Internet!):
    Flesh (time traveling cowboys harvest dino-meat and meet their match in the form of the she-hag T-Rex Old-One Eye), Disaster 1990 (Cockney truck driver fights against flooded Southern England), Invasion! (Aforementioned cockney truck driver wages war against the Volgan invasion of Blighty. No contest, twinkletoes!), A.B.C. Warriors (The mek-nificient Seven take the fight to the Volgans in space then go to Mars where they meet T-Rexes cloned from those in Flesh), Ro-Busters (Sort of Thunderbirds with a war droid and his sewage eating sidekick), Judge Dredd (meets the cloned son of Old One Eye – Satanus, encounters a man who unwisely imbibes the blood of Satanus, Hammerstein turns up), Nemesis (Satanus returns, The A.B.C Warriors return and good times are had by all. Although no one ever mentions book Two with art by Jesus Redondo. Not even Mr. Jeff Lester. It isn’t that shabby either.) That’s how I remember it anyway.

    My personal thanks to Pat Mills for changing the shape of my brain over the course of a good three decades. And my thanks to the Hinge and Bracket of podcastery. Gentlemen, my thanks!

  3. At this time I feel the need to doff my hat to Graeme for his observations about Miller’s later work. ‘An angry old man yelling at things he didn’t understand’ if I remember correctly.

    Nothing to do with this podcast and hopefully not something that will get in the way of more interesting conversation. But mate that’s downright prophetic.

  4. I found it amazing that you two very organically went international, and that the four things you talked about were all things that I’ve read a good bit of, considering my limited experience with comics outside the US. OK, Spy vs. Spy almost doesn’t count, being that it was produced for Mad (I’d wager that more people have read a Spy vs. Spy strip sometime in their lives than have read a Batman comic, for instance).
    But I’ve probably read more Nemesis than any other 2000 AD strip, and probably including Judge Dredd. It’s a very weird comic as written by Pat Mills, and Kevin O’Neill’s very abstract art is completely suited to it. It definitely loses something with the loss of O’Neill, but Bryan Talbot’s art for me made it creepier, as his realism pulls into sharper relief just how crazy the thing is. I vividly remember that scene of the priests or terminators repeatedly stabbing Torquemada the worm. That just plants itself in your brain, never to leave for better or worse. I’ve read up through Book 6. Does the post-Talbot stuff compare?
    I’ve read a decent amount of Strontium Dog, though not the Hitler story which sounds incredibly awesome, but the combo of Carlos Esquerra’s planar pointillism and O’Neill’s Nemesis really blew my young mind circa 1984. Am I alone in finding O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen work kind of drab compared to the heights he used to soar?
    I read Crying Freeman via the 22-page-a-month floppies that Viz put out in the ’90′s, so there was a slower progression from sort of reasonable crime/erotic/martial arts thriller to just batshit crazy. In this context, the female protagonist’s request to her assassin to take her virginity worked, to the point that I thought Freeman’s “I’m a virgin too” was a white lie to comfort her, but reading on you realize that level of subtlety ain’t to be found here. The comic size installments also provide you with a whole issue that’s a flashback to his full-body tattooing, where his (of course) female tattooist needs to appease his unbearable pain with…painkillers? A shot of whiskey? Nope, fellatio. It seems like Koike and Ikegami almost play into the Japanese censorship of genitalia by depicting his member as a glowing white thing, godlike, not to be seen by such mortals as we. I see, somewhat unique to manga, a definite Neal Adams influence in Ikegami’s art. I think hairy-chested love god Batman plays into the fetishization of Freeman’s frequent nudeness (and Ryoichi Ikegami could certainly draw some lovely naked people. Also recommended: the Ikegami-drawn Sanctuary, which features lots of handsomely drawn men in business suits and out of them, a female police chief tricked to believe her virginity has been taken by some aptly placed tomato juice, and lots of characters histrionically proclaiming that their latest maneuvering “WILL CHANGE THE POLITICAL FACE OF JAPAN!!!!).
    Graeme, I completely understand why you jumped off Decoded. I started watching it solely on you recommendation and got into it as a guilty pleasure, up until the Bohemian Grove episode. After questioning locals whose indifference they take as hiding something they’re scared of revealing, our intrepid team of experts decide the only way to discover the truth is by infiltrating the compound, and promptly get arrested. I figure our intrepid team of experts are probably not quite dumb enough to get arrested again, at least not for this show, so diminishing returns and all.

  5. Graeme, I don’t think you’re entirely off-base about your feelings regarding Uncanny X-Men. However, in regards to your thinking that it all sounds like a horrible idea…I think that’s actually intentional on Gillen’s part, and that that is exactly the sense he’s going for with this team. Especially with things like the scene where Storm says “Raise your hand if you’re not a super-villain” and stuff like that.

  6. You two have to listen to COMMUNITY creator Dan Harmon on the podcast The Indoor Kids: http://www.nerdist.com/2011/11/indoor-kids-19-save-points-with-dan-harmon/

    I think he touches on many of the things you guys do, but then goes it into even deeper category. I think you would both like it.

  7. You didn’t just get Pat Mills on a good day, Jeff. He is usually absolutely affable, needlessly modest and incredibly charming. But if you ever mess with his stories, or do anything he considers unethical (and he has a very definite line), then you’re dog meat, pal.

    Mills is still doing his thing every week in 2000ad, and is still tying it all together into one massive work. His Savage work – which is an update of a story that appeared in the very first issue of 2000ad – has recently featured the Ro-Busters owner (in human form), and the very first ABC Warriors. It’s a cheap thrill, but when Mills takes the time to point out why Blackblood will always hate Hammerstein in the middle of an angry political action comic set in (more or less) the present day, it’s hard not to be impressed.

  8. Of course, no talk of Nemesis would be complete without this: http://youtu.be/6bMM61Y5CEU

  9. I just started picking up 2000AD in the three packs available at my shop…I think starting with 1757? I don’t have the issues at hand but it’s the beginning of the Dirty Frank goes to Japan story. Liking it so far in the format – which has a lot of advantages – from my point of view. What was the name of the “tell-all” again? Thrillpower something?

  10. “Thrillpower something?”
    Thrill-Power Overload.

  11. thanks james

  12. Mike Walker:

    I’m reasonably sure you are thinking of Tetsuo Hara and Buronson’s post-apocalyptic martial arts classic HOKUTO NO KEN, released in English almost without fail as FIST OF THE NORTH STAR; the original comics were first released in the U.S. by Viz around the same time they were publishing CRYING FREEMAN in comic book form (they would have been shelfmates), and later reissued in glorious full color graphic novels by the now-defunct Gutsoon! Entertainment in the first half of the last decade, until Gutsoon! went, well, defunct. The animated movie that adapted large swaths of the series was released in the 1990s by Streamline Pictures and generally put weird video effects over the exploding heads for some odd reason. It and CRYING FREEMAN also would have been video shelfmates; Streamline released the CRYING FREEMAN direct-to-video series around the same time, but I’m almost certain that CRYING FREEMAN’s kind of crazy doesn’t involve hitting pressure points so that gray matter winds up blasted against the wall.

  13. First, really big thanks to Jonathan Switzer for replying to Mike Walker’s inquiry. I’d been meaning do answer that for at least two days but work had been too brutal for me to do anything other than get through it. Thank you!

    @Mike: I know what you mean about that “what, you never read it before?” reaction since I too had read collections when I was really, really young. (This one in fact: http://www.amazon.com/Mads-Spy-Follow-File-Prohias/dp/B000VCHAZA/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321828407&sr=1-15). And, as Jonathan pointed out, you were thinking of Fist of the North Star. Crying Freeman is completely apeshit in a totally different way (a “guy stabbing people in the face with a knife he is holding with his fee” kind of way).

    John K (UK): You are right about Jesus Redondo being pretty damn good on Book Two! In fact, that was where some of the old comic strip references started to creep in for me. (You can’t have a planet with men being hunted by spiders without thinking of Flash Gordon…at least if you’re me.) And yeah, I’m thinking Pat Mills, although he gets a lot of love from some, really isn’t acknowledged as the father/dark-humored midwife of much of modern comics. Which is an odd concept because Mills is way too concise and (at least in what I’m reading now) has to keep it coming to ever be mistaken for decompressed.

    @Slythe: yes, it looks like Graeme had Mr. Miller’s number all along. Though (and this is probably just me being a sore loser), I still think that approach isn’t at the core of DKR as it is in, say, the Martha Washington books.

    @James Woodward: Thanks for this fine overview–I was quite pleased to find out we had an episode that ended up so neatly in your wheelhouse! I think your points about Crying Freeman’s original reprints are very on point: like Nemesis The Warlock, I encountered the U.S. reprints in smaller doses in the early- and mid-80s and was too small-minded to appreciate them for what they were. But at that time, they came across very differently from how they came across now. I think it would be fascinating to have Crying Freeman’s weirdness come across so slowly in a monthly fashion–I wish I’d been mature enough to appreciate it then.

    Also, and I apologize if this is the ninth time I’ve said it, but thanks for your quite kind and lengthy iTunes review for Wait, What? I liked that is was very much like a comment you would leave here, and I think would give listeners a good idea of what we talk about and in how much detail. Again, thank you!

    @Matt: Your point is to Graeme, but I didn’t want to leave you out. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to say either but…thank you!

    @Brill: Thanks for those two links. Now that I’ve got some time away from work, I’ll be checking out both!

    @Bob: Thanks for the extra info. Everything you said jibes with exactly the way I encountered Mr. Mills. It was precisely the way he came across at the 2000 A.D. table and made me realize I should get off my ass and read more of his stuff. (Well, that and realizing he was the editor on Hook Jaw…)

    @J_Smitty_ and @James: Carry on!

    As Graeme mentioned, 2000 A.D. is available in digital format at their website. However, the site is disastrously organized and the digital copies are pretty pricey (though to be fair, not the same price as hard copies, which is how it looks at first blush). They are in cbr/cbz format, which is interesting….

  14. “Imagine Elektra is a dude in the 70s, being written by a guy who is being driven insane by syphallis.”

    About time to fire up the old WAIT, WHAT ? t-shirt machine!

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