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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.
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 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....
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?
this week we're reading KRISHNA: A JOURNEY WITHIN - by Abhishek Singh. Singh is Indian graphic novelist acclaimed for his unique interpretations of myths and ancient philosophies - who first made his mark for the acclaimed series Ramayana 3392. AND he was first Indian comics artist published in mainstream American comics. Singh's 2012 comics interpretation of the Lord Krishna was a searing, human portrayal of one of the great Hindi deities. To many in the west he became a popular god in the 60s, but to most folks from the subcontinent, he is but one of many reincarnations of the God Vishnu the creator. In an almost poetic, sweeping series of paintings Singh takes us through key moments of Krishna's life - from a little boy stealing ghee, to defeating his evil uncle, to his courtship with Radha, and to key moments from the epic feudal war that makes up both the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita - two of Hinduisms most sacred texts. Soooo, basically it's a pretty, poetic cliff notes from some of Hinduism's greatest hits. SHOWNOTES * Ramayana: The Divine Loophole (kids book): * Sanjay's Super Team (Pixar Short): * Amra Chitra Katha (classic indian comics): * Mahabarata (classic TV show):
This week we are reading SUPERGIRL: WOMAN OF TOMORROW, by Tom King and Bilquis Evely. The 2021 limited series from DC's Black Label - which is basically DCs new mature / Elseworld's imprint. Most just assume that Kara Zor El is simply Superman's girly cousin - which is probably how she was created years ago. But in this cosmic adventure, she is anything but. Yes there is girl power, but as we tag along for a girls trip for justice - basically True Grit in space - we are brought to face the best and worst humanity has to offer. There's a rocket ship, a space bus depot, space drugs. a space dragon, space pirates...and space racism! And let's not forget Supergirl's super dog Krypto and Super horse Comet. And the story's true protagonist, Ruthye, a young lass from a rural backwater planet whose on an Eniga Montoya styled revenge quest, where she enlists a reluctant Supergirl after Krypto gets shot with an arrow by Krem, the murderous villain who killed Ruthye's poor yet noble father. On their journey we see the best and worst we have to offer on full sci-fi display. With moral quandaries that are often hopeless - which hurt a bit more given the times we are in - along with good humor, beautiful art, and a lovely script, you can't help but find something to love about this book. Well, except Ryan...
This week we're reading Maia Kobaba's GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR. Created in 2014 - by Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns - created a cathartic autobiography of Eir's experience with gender identity — from crushes to fan fic, from coming out to making out. What started as a series of Instagram posts to explain to the author's family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer becomes so much more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere. And then it became the most banned book in the country what started as a simple, moving, explanation of gender identity - with the potential to create so much greater empathy and understanding for all of us got picked up by a parent on the wrong side of history, and a social media firestorm resulted, snowballing into headlines aroundthe country - with dozense of schools pulling it from library shelves around the country - from the Carolinas to Texas to Virginia - with many officials labeling it “pornographic.” but we're not here to talk about the controversy surrounding the book (we do, inevitably) — we're here to talk about the work itself. in light of all the other not so positive change happening in our society, it felt really important to read Gender Queer, and can't recommend this book enough. Warning, this is one of the rare episodes where Raman & Ryan agree on almost everything =)
It's hard to find optimism with the end of Roe, yet another curtailing of the civil liberties that once defined America. While the Megg, Mogg, and Owl series by Simon Hanselmann won't exactly restore any sense of optimism, it will at least make you feel less alone by plunging you into the misadventures of others who are also flailing through life. In this episode, we'll review two collected works from the series: "Megahex" from 2014, and "Bad Gateway," published in 2019. While "Megahex" very much feels like a series of loosely-connected strips, Hanselmann has matured greatly as a storyteller and artist, as he delves into the depths of his characters' dispair and the strange, disgusting, and often hilarious ways they try to cope.
This week we're talking about BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT - Sean Murphy's 2017 alternate universe mini-series that flips the status quo for Batman - and asks some hard questions along the way. In the book, the Joker cures himself of his psychosis, and reverts to Jack Napier - upon which he begins a campaign to interrogate WTF the city of Gotham has been doing all these years, with law enforcement allowing a masked vigilante and some teenagers with military grade equipment take the law into their own hands. What starts out as an Elseworld's like plot becomes a not so subtle commentary to the limits of law enforcement. But hey, it's also got TWO Harley Quinns, a Batgirl, a Nightwing, a Duke, Mr. freeze, and a whole lotta Batmobiles! joining us to talk about White Knight is my old friend and favorite digital nerd from the future, making his long overdue quarantined Comics appearance Brad Berens - whose nerdy takes you can read on his eponymous weekly dispatch -
"The idea that a person can't relate to something because it's not directly about them is a misunderstanding of who's been reading books this whole time." Since June is Pride Month and we're cos-playing in our favorite rainbows spandex, we decided to share our Modern Minorities chat with award winning comics creator Mariko Tamaki - who's work we've covered a LOT on Quarantined Comics - from Skim & This One Summer, to I Am Not Starfire, to Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me - Mariko's work is powerful and transcends identity. Mariko Tamaki's many (Surely) Books — Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning Canadian comics creator and writer — known for works like Skim and This One Summer (with her cousin Jillian Tamaki). Her latest novel is Cold, a haunting YA novel about four students who knew too much and said too little. AND Mariko’s also the Co-founder & Editor of Surely Books - a comics imprint of LGBTQIA+ creators. Mariko’s ALSO known for comics like Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, Emiko Superstar, and several prose works of fiction and nonfiction. AND since 2016, Mariko’s been writing for Marvel & DC comics - on powerful books like I Am Not Stafire, and Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass. Mariko’s also only the second woman to write Detective Comics - the 1000+ issue flagship DC series about the Dark Knight. If you can’t tell by now, one of us has been a BIG Mariko Tamaki fan for awhile, and after hearing her approach to writing and sharing personal stories, you soon will be too. LEARN ABOUT MARIKO TAMAKI & HER WORK: Surely Books: This One Summer: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me: Skim: MENTIONS Heather Gold: Jillian Tamaki: Lauren Tamaki: Gene Luen Yang: BOOK: Stone Fruit (Lee Lai): BOOK: Shadow Life (Hiromi Goto, Ann Xu): Alice Munro: Timothy Findley:
This week, we're REPLAYING our re-read MS. MARVEL - written by award winning novelist, and Muslim American G. Willow Wilson. Some would argue that MS. MARVEL was one of the most important books - and new characters Marvel comics has released in a decade. While her name might be familiar, everything else is "all new, all different" - because we're introduced to Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenage girl - just trying to get her homework done, write fan-fic, play MMORPGs, figure out her relationship with her religious brother, come to terms with her best friends, and meet the expectations of her immigrant parents. After being exposed to the Terrigen Mists, Kamala gains morphogenic powers, which basically means he gains the abilities to stretch, shrink, embiggen, change shape, heal and other awesome stuff....she's like Plastic Man meets Wolverine, wrapped in spunky can-do teen girl attitude. So as you can imagine, hijinks ensue in the Tri-State Area. UNLIKE pretty much ALL of the superheroes in the Marvel Universe, our dear Kamala Khan does NOT live in New York City, but across the river in Jersey City. Joining us to talk about our new favorite Pakistani American superhero, is our new favorite Pakistani American geek Lena Shareef, co-host of the podcast GROUNDED GEEKS where Lena and her brother Aman talk just about the latest in geek/pop culture, but how it relates back to the world we live in today...
Holy (Bi)Robin! Tim Drake Comes Out _“Why change Robin? It was a no brainer. It happens to a lot of bisexual people, it seemed like natural character development.” Since it's Pride Month and we're taking a week off to paint ourselves in rainbows, we figured we'd feature a super easy conversation about sexual identity in mainstream comics (from Raman's OTHER podcast Modern Minorities). Recently, Batman's partner, Robin discovered his own queer identity on my other podcast, modern minorities. We feature minority voices for all of our majority years. So we decided to have a conversation about Robin's queer identity over the years in pop culture, with a little help from our friends. Lately all the news has been about Superman’s son Jonathan Kent coming out recently as bi-sexual in the comics - and the not so_-nice reception it’s has gotten in the real world (WTF...Louis Lane?!?). But just weeks before that, ROBIN - one of the most recognizable (Queer?) icons ALSO came out as Bi-sexual. This matters. It represents as big a pop culture moment as when Miles Morales & Kamala Khan were introduced to the world. And while Robin (aka Tim Drake) is not the FIRST comic book hero to come out as Queer, he represents the most important hero to do so. Because Robin has been all of us all along. From kids envisioning themselves as him, to Queer’s taking ownership (#representation), to the “Seduction of the Innocent” (+those other 1950s fear-mongering hearings) — Robin has always had us envisioning, and questioning things. There has been celebration and pushback, and we wanted to talk about what it all means. So we brought together past guests Karl Preissner (Equity / Inclusion Ally & Advocate) and Steven Wakabayashi (Yellow Glitter Podcast host ), along with Ainsley Waller (Bisexual designer AND fellow comics geek) to unpack this moment and challenge our assumptions about the evolution of some of our most beloved characters... LEARN ABOUT Tim Drake’s big news: Ainsley Waller: Steven Wakabayashi: Karl Preissner: MENTIONS COMIC: Batman Urban Legends #6: NEWS: Robin Writer Chuck Dixon’s problematic take: BOOK: Seduction of the Innocent (1954): PERSON: Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie): TV: Queer as Folk (1999): FILM: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994): TV: Xena Warrior Princess: BOOK: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong): COMIC: Flamer (Mike Curato): COMIC: Displacement (Kiku Hughes): FILM: Moonlight (2016): CHARACTER: Elizabeth Bennet (Pride & Prejudice): CHARACTER: Master Splinter (TMNT): CHARACTER: Dumbledore (Harry Potter):
From 1998 to 2013, the French writer Matz and the illustrator Luc Jacamon told an epic story of an unassuming man who kills people for money. But as he does so, he begins to question what he's doing and why he's doing it. In this week's episode, we'll take a look at the entire saga of "The Killer." Overwhelming in scope and ambition, Matz and Jacamon aren't content with just detailing their eponymous killer's inner workings. In fact, it seems as if they quickly bore of what seemingly starts as a psychological portrait of a man lacking in all empathy. As the narrative unwinds, Matz and Jacamon use the assassin's jobs as a way to ruminate on man's adherence to violence. The result is as frustrating as it is intriguing.
while Raman & Ryan are off saving the multi-verse, here's Raman's Modern Minorities conversation with award-winning comics creator Gene Luen Yang... Gene Luen Yang’s (comic book) American dream “Being an immigrant kid - your experience and your parents’ and your grandparents’ experiences are in three completely different worlds.” _** Gene Luen Yang is an award-winning cartoonist, storyteller, and teacher - whose been creating comics since the fifth grade. His 2006 graph_ic novel American Born Chinese will be a 2022 Disney+ TV series by Shang Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton. Two of Gene’s other two books - Dragon Hoops + Superman Smashes the Klan - won the 2020 Eisner (the Oscars for comics), and Raman’s reviewed them on his other podcast Quarantined Comics. Gene’s a former CS + Math teacher - who’s since gone on to work on some of the biggest name in pop culture and comics - including Avatar the Last AirBender, rebooting Shang Chi over @ Marvel Comics (before the hit movie), and having more than a few unique takes on DC’s Superman. Gene was named the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and has also received a MacArthur Genius Grant. Gene advocates for the importance of reading diversely - and makes his kids finish all of their projects. Raman tried really hard not to fanboy over one of his personal heroes... LEARN ABOUT GENE LUEN YANG * * * American Born Chinese: * Superman Smashes the Klan TRAILER: * Dragon Hoops: MENTIONS * COMIC BOOK: Cyclopedia Exotica * PERSON: Jason Shiga * PERSON: Lark Pien * PERSON: Derek Kirk Kim
PALESTINE is Joe Sacco's seminal work of cartoon journalism - which we're reading to commemorate Al Nakba* First published in 1993, PALESTINE covers Sacco's travels thru occupied Palestine territory - and Israel - to embed himself with the Palestinian people - hearing their stories first-hand to understand how they lived their every day lives. Sacco wanted to get around the sanitized story the Western Media was potraying — to emphasizes the history and plight of the Palestinian people, as a group and as individuals. In PALESTINE Sacco positions himself as the westerner confronting a reality unfamiliar to most Americans at the time - concentrating on his personal experience and perspective, as well as the stories of the people he encounters, with some light history thrown in for good measure. Conversations are documented over tea, roadblocks, police action, taxis and checkpoints - which become all too familiar set pieces in Sacco's narrative journey.. The book was published as 9 issues by Fantagraphics from 1993 to 1995, with a graphic novel published later to a much wider audience. Palestine is the recipient of the American Book AWard, and was named as one of the Top 100 English-Language Comics of the last Century. Sacco has since gone on to publish numerous other works of cartoon journalism - covering the Middle East, Bosnia/Serbia, and the Native American plight. for which he's received recognition from TIME Magazine, the Eisners, the Harveys, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize *Al Nakba literally translates to "the Catastrophe" — referring to the destruction of the Palestinian homeland in May of 1948, leading to the mass exodus of at least 750,000 Arabs from Palestine. While for many historians the process began decades earlier, to many in the region it refers to the ongoing persecution, displacement, and occupation of the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — as well as in Palestinian refugee camps throughout the region.
Did you know Dr. Doom had a mom? He did! She made a pact with Mephisto (Marvel's version of the Devil) and now she's in hell. And Doom needs Dr. Strange's help to free her. In celebration of Mother's Day and the release of "Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," we'll check out "Triumph and Torment" by the writer Roger Stern and the illustrator -- a very young Mike Mignola, before he went on to create Hellboy. And we'll also read "Dr. Strange: The Oath," which is like the movie "Quest for Fire." Except replace cavemen with Marvel superheroes and fire for cancer cure.
This week for Ramadan (~kinda?) we are reading SQUIRE by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas - a comic set in an alternate history Middle East and North Africa. Squire follows Aiza, a 14 year old girl training to become a knight for a war-torn empire while hiding her true background as a girl from conquered lands...which could be any major world civilization. Born Ornu - a second-class citizen of the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, Aiza dreams of a better life of glory and citizenship - by leaving her family to enlist in the empire's military. She must navigate friendships and rivalries, train rigorously and confront the bitter societal truths...and lies...being told to ALL of the people of the empire. SQUIRE is informed and inspired by many actual elements of Islamic culture and history. And since Ryan is off working on a final draft of his Junji Ito // One Direction fan fiction - Raman teamed up with one of HIS favorite indie geek podcasts - GROUNDED GEEKS - with sibling co-hosts Lena & Aman Shareef. EXTRA CREDIT: for Raman's exclusive chat with SQUIRE co-creator Sara Alfageeh - head over to Modern Minorities, where we're talking to top Muslim American creators for the entire month of Ramadan -
The Drifting Classroom is part Lord of the Flies, part Lost in Space, and wholly weird and unexpected. At once funny, absurd, and horrific, Kazuo Umezu's epic will transport you to a seriously odd place, where children are crucified or turned into bugs, janitors lurk the hallways like monsters out of a slasher movie, and grieving mothers smuggle bubonic plague medicine across space and time via mummified bodies. Yes. All that happens.
Miyamoto Usagi is not a bunny who delivers eggs. He is a bunny who delivers justice across the wilds of Edo-era Japan. In this episode, which also features recurring guest Penn Genthner, we'll get into the poetry of Stan Sakai's writing and why, despite an insanely high body count, Usagi Yojimbo is an epic for nearly everyone. Happy Easter!
This week marks the 100th episode of Quarantined Comics — so we wanted something SO epic, but instead we just picked TWO comics with the number 100 in the titles: 100% + Batman Year 100 - by Eisner-award-winning wunderkind Paul Pope In 2006 - DC decided to tell yet another tale of Batman in a far off dystopian feature - with Batman Year 100. The year is 2039 in Gotham City, but NOT the Gotham we know and love from the mainstream DC Universe, but rather Paul Pope's universe of continuity from his hit series Heavy Liquid. The Batman, is but a a forgotten icon from the past, is wanted for the murder of a federal agent. Amid the chaos Gotham City Police Detective Gordon, grandson of the former commissioner, discovers that the man they are chasing shouldn't exist at all. And before that, 2002 - Paul Pope released 100% - re-visiting his same Heavy Liquid Universe of his previous work - in an alternate future New York. But gone are the criminal conspiracies — 100% simply focuses on the intertwining struggles and relationships of six characters — surrounding a seedy strip club, no holds bar boxing matches, and a manipulative art scene...with tea kettles? Across much of his indie, alternative work - also including books like Heavy Liquid and Battling Boy - Paul Pope has become known for a unique, emotionally charged style. His stories often present a futuristic world where everything is seedy, technology is ubiquitous, and privacy is pretty much a thing of the past Soooo...contemporary historical fiction
This week we are reading 1983's RONIN by comics superstar Frank Miller and longtime colorist and collaborator Lynn Varley. This 6 issue mini-series was ground-breaking in many ways, as Miller, and then relative newecomer and rockstar hot off the heels of Daredevil, was recruited by DC to do...pretty much whatever he wanted - paving the way for creator-centric works like the Dark Knight Returns and many more of comics greatest works Ronin tells the story of a disgraced samurai warrior and his sworn demonic enemy Agat - awakened from a centuries-long slumber trapped inside a magical sword. The two are reincarnated in a near future dystopic NYC run by a benevelont technology corporation and their friendly sentient AI. The Ronin finds himself in the body of an armless, legless telekinetic named Billy, and creates cybernetic limbs, and Agat possesses the corporate head of the aforementioned company, also known as Aquarius. Also, there's a badass head of security whose storyline does not pass the Bechdel test. A beautiful book, where like Elsa said, you just gotta let it go.
Comments (1)

Minnesota Islander

My Friend Dahmer is a great graphic novel. I've read it more than once.

Oct 12th
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