Comics aren't just about superheroes in capes. Each week we'll discuss, debate, and nerd out on some of the medium's greatest, latest, and strangest works. From Alan Moore to Uzumaki, to everything in-between, we aim to smash, and talk for far too long on the books we love.
Hosted by reporter/podcaster Ryan Joe and recovering marketer Raman Sehgal. We're setting phasers to...fun?
GRENDEL ...pointy sticks, little girls, and reincarnation?
This week we are reading Matt Wagner's GRENDEL...or at least the Grendel Omnibus, the first part of a MUCH longer running series of noir comics - which ultimately evolved into a study on the nature of aggression. But for us, Grendel is just an anti-hero that poses the question, what if Batman were a viiglante mob boss with a sweet double pointy stick (don't forget the orphaned little girl and the Native American werewolf arch-nemeisis who uses his violent compulsions for good).
Grendel was an indie comic that launched in the 80s and became all the rage in the grim and gritty 90s. At first, the comic follows Hunter Rose, AKA Grendel, an assassin who ascends to the top of New York City's criminal underworld. Getting silly things like plot out of the way up front, the book dives into a bunch of one shots illustrated by various artists telling micro tales of Grendel's adventures in various styles, illustrated by now superstar artists like Tim Sale, Guy Davis, Mike Allred, Darick Robertson, Michael Avon Oeming, Jill Thompson and many more.
Grendel has had an on again, off-again history, with new series popping up every few years, given his iconic status. In fact, in 2009, his first incarnation from this week's Omnibus read, Hunter Rose was rated by IGN as the 88th-greatest villain of all time. Eventually, Grendel as a series would evolve into something much different, with the character of Grendel becoming a spirit that possesses many different people. More recently, it was announced that Grendel is finally getting his very own Netflix series, with creator Matt Wagner at the helm, and starring Abubakr Ali as Hunter Rose. And if you made it this far into the description, you'll likely want to make it to the end of the episode, where Ryan & Raman have a deep argument about cultural perceptions, spirituality, and the implied meaning of Rosebud from Citizen Kane....
IN WAVES ...surfing thru grief, and history
This week we are reading IN WAVES, by AJ Dungo. An equally informative and heartbreaking sober work of a young man's love, along with a history lesson. This book is NOT just about the history of surfing, tracing the tales of Duke Kahanamoku and Thomas Blake,...it's also a heartfelt recollection of young love and loss, as the author recounts his time with his girlfriend Kristen, who succumbed to cancer. A beautifully heavy book that caught me off guard a couple of years ago, and continues to sit with you on every re-reading.
MY FRIEND DAHMER + KENT STATE... delving into the dark side of Americana
As a high schooler, the cartoonist Derf Backderf was part of a fan club that formed around one of his more eccentric friends: Jeffrey Dahmer, who eventually grew up to be one of America's most infamous serial killers. In "My Friend Dahmer," Backderf recounts what it was like growing up with Dahmer in that particular milieu, and tries to unravel the sequence of events that made Dahmer the monster he ultimately became.
More recently, Backderf leant his storytellilng powers to unraveling the events that led to the shooting deaths of four students. In "Kent State: Four Dead In Ohio," Backderf traces the lives of the victims, and the political situation that eventually boiled over into violence.
We'll take a look at both comics in this week's episode of Quarantined Comics.
STAR WARS VISIONS ...plucky young fanimes + extra big lightsabers
はるか昔、はるか遠くの銀河で... (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away...)
These ARE droids you're looking for my dear Padawans! This week we're veering BACK veering off course - this time to a galaxy far far away for STAR WARS VISIONS - the new Disney+ series of nine anime shorts where the Japanese have their way with some sweet sweet Lucasfilm IP.
Featuring fanime tropes like extreme destruction, long fight scenes, ridiculously reimagined lightsabers, super cute anthroporphized robots, and/or romanticized takes on the Samurai legends...the show takes us to the hyperspace limit of all that all that Kuroswan stuff that originally "inspired" George Lucas.
The much hyped anime series featured reimaginings by acclaimed anime creators like Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio, Studio Colorido, Trigger, Kinema Citrus, Production I.G., and Masaaki Yuasa's Science SARU...AND the an all-star cast of voice talent like Lucy Liu, Henry Goldig, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alison Brie, Simu Liu, Neil Patrick Harris, Kyle Chandler, Bobby Moynihan, David Harbour, Jamie Chung, George Takei, Lorraine Toussaint, and many more (sadly no Ben Kingsley and/or Tony Leung...that we know of)
THE NEW WORLD... abandoned homes, empty offices, and alien invasions
A man returns home to his empty childhood home and calls an old friend. A woman gets an office job. A boy is inspired by his mother's old friend.
The stories of Chris Reynolds seem steeped in the mundane... and then they go way off the rails, hinting at such strange phenomena as time travel, a secret cult, and alien invasions. But his stories just hint at such extraordinary activities. If you're the type who wants answers from your comics, Chris Reynolds is not the sort of cartoonist who will provide it.
On this week's episode, we'll pick through his collection of black-and-white strips, curated by legendary cartoonist Seth.
SHANG CHI ...kung fu, double dragons, and daddy issues
This week we masked up and hit some empty-off-hour theaters, so we could talk about Shang Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on the 1972 comics of the same name based on a VERY different context / pretense, Marvel's Shang Chi is a completely new story, carrying over only a some surface level elements of the source material.
The latest comic book film to strike our fancy, Shang Chi was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and features ALL the Asians -Simu Liu, Akwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Meng’er Zhang, Ying Nan, Ronny Chiang, and even SIR Ben Kingsley (HALF INDIAN!), the movie tells the story of an exiled assassin martial artists moonlighting as valet parkers in the Bay Area to avoid their dark mysterious past. You know, the typical Asian American story. It’s basically Asian Black Panther, or is it?
The Best We Could Do
I’m enjoying every single episode of QTD Comics — just listening to the repartee between Ryan and Raman as they dissect each book and interweave their own stories and perspectives about life, family, history, America is totally fascinating. Most of the time it’s simply rollicking fun! But their discussion about Thị Bui’s illustrated memoir was, for me, among the best. Why isn’t everyone listening to QTD Comics?!
The best show about comics?
What’s great is not just the commentary on comics, but the love and empathy the hosts convey. Who are these masked strangers, and are they here to save us? Just maybe...
One weird trick Superman uses to beat Racism
Hey Ryan and Raman. Thanks for having me on the show. I really wish Superman was here right now. But I guess a comic book that makes a serious effort at addressing the topic is also heroic.