Perhaps the most famous comic to come out of Europe is The Adventures of Tintin, by the Belgian known as Hergé. It’s known the world over and has appeared in more than 80 languages. Tim and Kumar discuss the comic’s appeal, Hergé’s expert cartooning, and some of the controversies that have swirled around the strip and its creator. Also, Kumar has some observations about the trailer for the upcoming Tintin movie.
Chris Ware‘s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth started as a jokey, weird, serialized comic and evolved into a densely packed tale of betrayal, loss, and recovery. Not only that, but Ware’s extraordinary cartooning captures the mundane moments of everyday life as well as it utilizes symbolism on multiple levels. And not only that… Well, unlocking everything gathered into this 380-page tome is a task that can’t be completed in a one-hour podcast, but Tim and Kumar do their darnedest to cover all the bases.
How often do you hear of two creators at the top of their medium, who set out to create their “magnum opus” and never complete it? Big Numbers is a famously unfinished comics project by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz from 1990. The theme of the project seemed to be chaos theory, symbolized by the fractal Mandebrot set (shown at right).
Meant to span 12 issues (or, rather, volumes, since the format is more paperback book than magazine), it only reached number two and then ceased publication. Rumors have flown since then about possibly existing third and fourth issues that never saw the light of day. Recently, new information has come out regarding the state of those unpublished episodes. Tim and Kumar sift through the rubble and speculate on just where Moore was going with this idea…
“Shortcomings” is a relationship story that mixes in issues of race and gender, and features a rather unlikeable character as its protagonist. Some say it’s Adrian Tomine’s masterwork, others say it’s more of the same from him. Tim (battling a cold that’s bestowed on him the voice of a frog) and Kumar (with a mic that keeps going on the fritz) overcome their own shortcomings to discuss the book.
You’ve probably heard of Little Lulu. Perhaps you’ve read one of her comics, or maybe you saw the ’90s cartoon series on HBO. But did you know that, in the mid-20th century, Lulu was a merchandising juggernaut? Tim and Kumar discuss the background of the character, and review the Dark Horse book Lulu Takes a Trip.
Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer was part of the early ’80s wave of indy comics that brought us American Flagg! and others. It features a ’30s setting, an un-heroically motivated protagonist, and enough cheesecake to fill a bakery. Tim and Kumar evaluate the value of the work 30 years on.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly recently passed a law that further limits minors’ access to “Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity.” Perhaps understandable, but without clear guidelines for determining what is OK and what is not, there are fears of a slippery slope. Could this become defacto, outright censorship? Tim, Kumar, and Mulele discuss the new law, and how this situation compares to the events in the U.S. that led up to the creation of the comics code.
Besides being one of the most highly regarded writers in the comics biz, Alan Moore has also, on several occasions, given artsy poetic readings. Two such readings that he gave in the late ’90s were turned into comics by Eddie Campbell. The text alone is dense enough with meaning, but Campbell’s images add yet another layer. Listen to Moore’s voice recordings of the works as you read and you have a full-on audio-comics experience. Tim and Kumar fawn and praise.
FIVE YEARS of “Deconstructing Comics”! We celebrate with a retro lineup (Tim, Mulele, and Brandon, plus Kumar) discussing the topic that we always used to accidentally end up talking about anyway: Star Wars! Specifically, Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales #20, an issue in which various indie creators took a crack at the Star Wars characters. Especially Jar Jar.
From 1985 to 1995, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes challenged newspaper readers with imaginative stories, beautiful art, philosophical discussions, and ROTFL gags. Watterson famously eschewed commercialism, not only in the strip, but in real life, approving no C&H tie-in products other than books of strips and a calendar or two. Tim and Kumar discuss this game-changing strip and how relevant it remains today.