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?
HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS ...and not get us cancelled
If you're like us, you've not taken your Birthright Israel tour. But you know who did The cartoonist Sarah Glidden. And you know what else she did? She chronicled it in her 2007 memoir “How To Understand Israel in 60 Days.” Glidden is Jewish and progressive, living in New York City, when she departs on her tour. She goes in with some preconceived notions and by the end she’s far less definitive in her point of view. Using rich water colors, Glidden details the day-to-day aspects of her tour where she learns about Israel’s history, but also can’t help questioning what she’s learning, or the way in which that history is communicated. This may just be the episode that gets us cancelled.
BERLIN... this is how your country ends
Post WWI Berlin was both a place of great creative energy and a city about to tear itself apart.
In a 700 page opus 20 years in the making, the artist Jason Lutes chronicled Germany's embrace of the Nazi party through the lens of then men and women working and toiling, celebrating and politicking, throughout Berlin. It's a book both exhilarating to read and frightening, given how closely the society that Lutes chronicles mirrors our own troubled world of America in the 2020s.
COMICS ...Industry Evolution by Meteor Strike
Since Ryan's stuck in a well saving puppies while battling conniving co-op boards, and Raman's buried in the demands of fatherhood and an international life of crime, we enlisted friend-of-the-pod BRAD BERENS to fill the gap (and your earholes). Like us, Brad's a sophisticated nerd with a way with the words. In Brad's latest "weekly dispatch" e-newsletter, Brad dropped some interesting thoughts about the state of the modern comic book industry, and how it tracks against the broader trends in the fragmenting media industry. If you like what you here and want to hear weekly big ideas, cool stories, and what it all means subscribe @ BradBerens.substack.com.
And we'll be soon to talk about one nation's descent into fascim. You know, happy stuff.
ESSEX COUNTY... it's cold in Canada when you're all alone
Jeff Lemire's "Essex County Trilogy" is one of those rare books that's quiet, with very little happening from a narrative standpoint, but that leaves a tremendous emotional punch. At the time, Lemire was working as a line cook from 4pm to midnight, and he'd work on his comics from the morning to afternoons.
"I had been struggling with my work, it was all very derivative and lacking," he said in a previous interview. "And I just stripped it all down and decided to work on a story that was much more personal and autobiographical, and it felt like a real breakthrough."
And it was a breakthrough, both artistically and in terms of Lemire's career. This week, we'll talk about what makes Essex County so special.
PAPER GIRLS ...uneasy conversations with our younger selves
This week, we read PAPER GIRLS, the multi-Eisner award winning series written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, recently adapted as a streaming TV series starring Ali Wong on Amazon (and unfairly called a rip off of Stranger Things, bc as with most things, the comic came first!)
Paper Girls starts way back when in 1988, in a suburb of Cleveland, where four twelve year old...you guessed it...Paper Girls - Erin, Tiffany, Mac, and KJ - befriend each other the morning after Halloween and quickly find a creepy basement time machine, and quickly find themselves in a millennia spanning temporal civil war between factions of human order and chaos. Along the way they encounter ancient cave people, future hipsters, and their older selves. ALSO, dinosaurs, microscopic-turned-gargantuan monsters, and giant-sized rock-em-sock-em robots
You may remember the writer Brian K. Vaughan, who's a former writer on the TV series LOST, and written many sci Fi series - some of which we've read on this pod - like Saga + Y: The Last Man. And the artist Cliff Chiang actually won an Eisner for his work on Paper Girls, and has created some other great works - most notably Wonder Woman, the Human Target, and Catwoman Lonely City. Anyhow, this is one that Ryan + Raman don't see eye to eye on, and we interrogate that further, as we are known to do....
ULTRASOUND ...also a journey within
Conor Stechchulte's "Ultrasound," which was made into a 2021 movie, is about memory, gaslighting, and psychological terror. It's hard for comics to convey a sense of interiority, but Stechchulte has some graphical tricks that really create the same sense of unease and discombobulaton in readers that his characters are going through. Whether that's a good thing or not.
"Ultrasound" begins on a dark and stormy night, as these things often begin, when a man gets a flat tire and is invited into a house owned by a couple to take refuge. And that's when the games begin.
Did we like it? Did we not like it? Or maybe we only thought we liked it, but didn't? Or vice versa?
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.