0:01-17:30: Greetings from Graeme “Horribly Sick” McMillan and Jeff “Mildly Sick” Lester! We are both under the weather, and we apologize in advance if this episode has a few more woozy patches in it than usual. We compare notes about how shitty we’re feeling and why—turns out we’re more sympatico than we thought. Hypochondriacs are invited to skip over this section and our discussion of our ills.

17:30-28:20: Jeff gets a reprieve because Graeme hasn’t been tracking his reading lately—“your savage victory has been postponed for a week or two,” is how he puts it—but he’s still interested to see/hear that list. “Is there sickly news to match our sickly demeanor?” asks Jeff instead. We discuss the announcement of Marvel’s Empyre event, written by Al Ewing and Dan Slott and Valero Schiti. Spinning out from that we talk about Al Ewing’s great cosmic stuff being undone (Galactus Lifebringer), his first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy which Graeme read and enjoyed a lot, and more.

28:20-34:19: One of Jeff’s favorite topics, Marvel Unlimited and what’s being uploaded there, gets brought up in the course of talking about Al’s GotG. In particular: the last couple of weeks have seen very few (and in some cases no) uploads of older books. As MU starts trying to keep up with Marvel’s 100-titles-a-month output, will this be happening more and more? Also discussed: DC Universe’s more measured approach to its weekly upload; and more.

34:19-50:49: Graeme doesn’t have any more Marvel surprises for Jeff, but he is surprised he’s enjoying Bendis’s “Superman outs himself” storyline in Superman as much as he does, and we talk about why. Is this a chance for Jeff to swoop in and complain about Bendis’s plotting? You betcha! But they also talk about what’s good about Bendis, compare him to another wildly successful writer with an arguably equally lackadaisical approach to ending stories, why Bendis might be a better DC writer than a Marvel writer, the need to get a big story going to justify an investment, and more.

50:49-1:00:26: Graeme has read in collection the first twelve issues of The Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, and it is literally his third time through! What has he realized this third time through? “You realize the comics are interesting, and then they go up their own ass *dramatically. It’s not me!” Discussed: how the series was pitched in promotion and whether that’s a feint, a fail, or a swerve; and more.

1:00:26-1:09:06: Speaking of things one should love but do not—Jeff read Venom: The End written by one of his faves, Adam Warren, and drawn by Chamba, with the symbiote becoming the last hope for biolife in the universe. It’s a oneshot that sprawls across all space and time but feels curiously behind the times in a post Powers of X comics landscape. Why does it let Jeff down? And why doesn’t Graeme care? The answers may (but, let’s face it, probably won’t) surprise you! Also discussed: Miles Morales: The End, the secret ingredient that makes “The End” books so zesty, and more.
1:09:06-1:18:24: Jeff might be tapped out, but Graeme has a bunch of stuff he’s read that he wants to talk about. First, he had a chance to read a digital arc of David Roach’s Masters of British Comic Art, which Graeme thought would be profiles of British comic artists, but is in fact a complete history of Brtiish comics featuring hundreds of pages of samples and examples. “It’s fucking amazing,” is Graeme’s summation. Another book recently read and loved by Graeme is Kerry and the Knight of the Forest by the amazingly talented Andi Watson; and Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World – A Graphic Collection from Kazoo Magazine featuring a powerhouse lineup of cartoonists.

1:18:24-1:22:11: On the less successful side of things? The first volume of Faithless by Brian Azzarello and Maria Llovet, where impressive art by Llovet cannot save the story from Azzarello’s Azzarello-ness. Much more successful is The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski, featuring a great joke/storytelling trick along with terrific art and a ton of charm.

1:22:11-1:38:47: Jeff’s turn! From Hoopla, Jeff’s read Red Sonja, Vol. 1: Scorched Earth by Mark Russell, Mirko Colak, and others, wherein the she-devil with a sword becomes a queen with an impossible war to win; from Amazon, via the powers of pre-ordering high, the surprise arrival of Gambling Apocalypse: Kaiji by Nobuyuki Fukumoto; and on Comixology, two volumes of Ex-Enthusiasts: MotoKare Mania by Yukari Takinami.
1:38:47-1:54:31: “What do you think of The Boys news,” Graeme asks Jeff, and then sensibly follows up with, “Do you know The Boys’ news?” Jeff does, but doesn’t necessarily know what to think or how to feel about it. Also discussed: Russ Braun; later era Garth Ennis; SARA by Ennis and Steve Epting; Goodnight Paradise by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli; and much more.

1:54:31-2:09:20: File this under conversational gambits that don’t work: “Hey, Graeme, Bloodshot the movie trailer with Vin Diesel!” But it does lead to us grumpily shit-talking Morbius and Jared Leto; The Joker being nominated for all the Oscars; we take the “two sick people try to cast DC supervillains even as they audibly lose their desire to live” challenge; and more.
2:09:20-2:27:27: Graeme sends us the warning! The two episodes of DC Daily wherein people pitch their DC-based reality show to DC execs have gone live on DC Universe. We will discuss it next episode, so go check it out. (Jeff certainly will!)
2:27:27-end:  Closing Comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)

Next week: Skip week ,wherein your two hosts will hopefully take some time to recuperate! We’ll see you right around February 9th.

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Previously on Drokk!: A decade into the comic book career of Mega-City One’s finest lawman, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the writing partnership of John Wagner and Alan Grant is almost without peer — and also that Wagner and Grant are leaning more and more into the idea that the strip is named after someone standing up for a fascistic regime.

0:00:00-0:03:11: As we introduce what we’re covering in this episode, let’s embrace the fact that I get the volume number wrong; it’s actually Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Volume 11, not Volume 12. I knew this would happen when once the episode numbers and the volume numbers got out of sync! Anyway, it’s material from 2000 AD progs 523-570, from 1987 and 1988, with art by a whole host of people, including Cliff Robinson, Steve Dillon, Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy, Will Simpson and Jim Baikie.

0:03:12-0:38:59: We immediately dive into things, with Jeff asking what my favorite story in the collection is outside of the two obvious choices, “Revolution” and “Oz.” I talk about my choices, which leads into my grand operating theory for the book, which is that it’s a collection where the Judges are waging a psychological war on the citizens, and are focusing on the optics and propaganda of maintaining power more than anything else. This, in turn, becomes a conversation about whether or not Wagner and Grant were planning future stories in advance, with evidence for and against the idea, and if this means that Dredd really is beginning to evolve in this volume or if I’m imagining it given what follows next. We also get into the difference between Dredd as a strip and the U.S. monthly comic, in the sense of the number of recurring concepts and characters as well as the importance of (admittedly dark) comedy to Dredd as a character and a strip, as well as Jeff’s choice for favorite story, the Judge-gone-wrong “Raggedy Man,” which features perhaps the greatest ending of a Dredd story in some time. All this and the scariness of Judges gone wrong, the importance of brevity, and the secret origin(s) of Garth Ennis. No, really.

0:39:00-0:46:25: Jeff answers the traditional episode-end question about whether or not the volume would serve as a good introduction to new readers early with an uncertainty, and we talk about the power these stories gain from knowing what came before, as well as Wagner and Grant’s ability to write a good stand-alone adventure story.

0:46:26-1:05:23: We turn to “Revolution,” one of the two highlights of the volume. It’s a sequel to “Letter From A Democrat” from Volume 9, and it’s the bluntest story yet in terms of portraying the Judges as the villains of the world pretty unambiguously. We talk about how powerful it is, how bold it is, how depressingly prescient it is, and what it means for the character and the strip as a whole. Spoilers: Jeff and I are very much fans of this story in particular; “it is a masterful achievement” might be a phrase uttered.

1:05:24-1:56:32: And so, to the biggest story in the volume, and its crowning achievement: “Oz,” the first mega-epic in some time, and perhaps one of the best in the series’ four-decade-plus run. Across a meandering 50 minutes, we talk about everything from the influence of earlier mega-epics to just how unimportant Judge Dredd actually is to the story, even though this might be an exceptionally important story in Dredd’s overall development as a character — although that might depend on whether you buy into my reading of the climax more than Jeff does. Also discussed: am I reading too much into the climax of this story and if I am, what is actually happening in it? The differing worldviews of Wagner and Grant and why this story broke up their writing partnership, how “Oz” ties in with, and acts as a culmination of, the larger themes in this volume, Dredd’s love of nuking countries, how dark is too dark for a Dredd story, and the joys of Dredd as a sports comic and Wagner and Grant as sports writers. We cover a lot, but you’d expect that for almost an hour’s worth of conversation.

1:56:33-2:15:34: We drift towards the end in the old traditional way: Me waxing nostalgic about reading Dredd as a kid and not really understanding things, which leads onto a larger discussion about not getting things in comics as kids, as well as a brief mention of various pop culture references to be found in this volume and the evolution in the way Wagner and Grant approach such references in Dredd as a whole. I ask Jeff if he fancies following Chopper into his own series, and Jeff shares his ideas of what becomes of Chopper without having read those stories, and Mr. Lester also coins the new catchphrase of the podcast when he declares whether things are — wait for it — “Drokk or Dross!” Say it with us!

2:15:35-end: Things get wrapped up as we remind everyone about the Twitter, Tumblr, Instragram and Patreon, and let you all know that we’ll be back doing the Drokk! this time next month. (I also apologize for the technical errors that we’ve had lately, but if this post is live, then those are… hopefully behind us…? My fingers are crossed…)

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00:01-5:34:  Greetings from Graeme “Happy New Year!” McMillan and Jeff “Yes, but is everything okay with Jim Lee?” Lester! Because Jeff is inexplicably concerned about Jim Lee (well, barely explicably), we get right off to talk about comics news and, well, what  the fuck is happening with Jim Lee? [Spoilers: apparently nothing?]
5:34-9:22: And from there, Jeff was curious what Graeme thought of some stuff Dan Didio had been saying.  “What stuff was Dan Didio saying?” asks Graeme, leading Jeff to realize just how little comics news he is reading (and especially retaining)!  Discussed: Bleeding Cool being played about 5G and whether or not that’s the same as DC’s upcoming timeline; more stuff about the timeline.
9:22-39:02: And finally, a bit more traction on the third thing Jeff thought we’d be discussing:  the comic book and graphic novel sales charts for 2019.  Discussed:  exactly that, plus also Graeme being fancy; Wonder Woman #750 and Flash #750; “everything matters” and what that means for DC as opposed to what it’s meant for Marvel; doubling down on the aging problem; sadly, the phrase “Time Trapper goatse” used by Jeff in the middle of some very good theories and extrapolations by Graeme; the Shannon and Dean Hale story in Wonder Woman #750 illustrated by Riley Rossmo that Graeme thinks is silly and great; and more.
39:02-1:00:37:  “Was there anything that surprised you in the 2019 best-selling comics and graphic novels?” ask Jeff of Graeme, and boy it’s a good thing he did!  Discussed: accidental embargo breaking; the list for both dollar share and unit share; the last issue of The Walking Dead and the final volume of The Walking Dead; Jeff not tracking that Walking Dead TV show; our confusion about why the companies appear to be sleeping on Tom Taylor; and more.
1:00:37-1:11:40: Robert Kirkman is launching Fire Power, a title with Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson on Free Comic Book Day.  But before then, they’re dropping a full trade prelude! Discussed: testing the direct market; the connection between Mark Millar, Robert Kirkman, and Brian K. Vaughan; Image titles that haven ’t even finished their own storyline; Project Superpowers; and more.
1:11:40-1:24:27: Speaking of things that don’t really wrap up well (or at all): Graeme read Wolverine: Infinity Watch by Gerry Dugan and Andy MacDonald.  Also discussed: the end of Omega The Unknown; the Three Loves of Galactus; and more.
1:24:27-1:57:01:  Remember an episode or two ago when Jeff mentioned Jason Aaron’s run on Avengers as being comparable to Grant Morrison’s run on JLA, to which Graeme scoffed? Well, get ready for some next level scoffing, as Graeme got on Marvel Unlimited to read the twenty issues currently available of Aaron’s run and then also re-reading Morrison’s JLA.  Also discussed: The War of the Realms; Silver Surfer: Black; and more.

1:57:01-2:17:32: Chris Arrant on Twitter the other day asked which comic books would make excellent stage musical.   (Great thread!)  Jeff replied on Twitter, but Graeme didn’t, so Jeff cornered him here about which comics he’d turn into a stage musical.  Also discussed: I Started a Joke by Jonathan Hickman; and more.
2:17:32-2:27:27:  Super quick comics talk: Jeff has read and then watched V For Vendetta; read two volumes of Darth Vader; the first volume of Dr. Aphra; and the trade of Marvel’s Tie Fighter; Graeme read Don’t Go Without Me by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell which he loved.
2:27:27-end:   Closing Comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: DROKK!! Vol. 11 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files! Join us!
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(hey, everyone!  Jeff here!  Welcome to the final episode of 2019!  Since it is the holidays, and since I spent a kind of stupidly long time putting in Amazon affiliate links in our Best Of lists, I hope you won’t mind if I forego the usual gratuitous image-placement between segments and just give you a pared down version of the show notes this time? Thank you for your patience, I hope you enjoy the ep., and Graeme and I wish you the best for 2020 after giving you the best of 2019!)
0:01-5:03:  Greetings from Graeme “Very Radio” McMillan and Jeff “Coming Up In A Quarter Hour” Lester! There is a brief bit of talk about Batman—well, actually, talk about talk, to be honest, and about Bat Mann—before we actually get things going by talking about the last issue of Watchmen. Well, actually, more like talking about the talk about the last issue of Watchmen?  We’ve apparently decided to very meta for our last episode of 2019, everyone.  We’re sorry.
5:03-59:50:  Actually, since it is the last episode of the year, should we talk about the best books of the year?  (Yep.) Of the decade?  (Nope.)  Although Graeme does talk about the challenges putting together the Best of the Decade for Hollywood Reporter, and Jeff’s challenges in putting together the best of the year.
Aaaaand since Graeme read his full Best of Decade list on the episode, I hope he won’t remind me reprinting it here:
* Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton (Online, 2010-2018)
* Smile (A Dental Drama) by Raina Telegmeier (Scholastic, 2010)
* The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon (Abrams, 2012)
* The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image, 2014-2019)
* Giant Days by John Allison, Max Darin and Lissa Treiman (BOOM! Studios, 2015-2019)
* Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano (Viz Media, 2016-2017)
* The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics, 2018)
* Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (DC, 2017-2018)
* The River at Night by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly, 2019)
* The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis (Drawn & Quarterly, 2019)
And here’s his Honorable Mentions (not Amazon linked because I’m a wastrel):
* Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Image)
* Thor: God of Thunder, Thor, The Mighty Thor, The Unworthy Thor, King Thor by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman et al. (Marvel)
* The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Derek Charm, et al. (Marvel)
* What Is Left by Rosemary Valero O’Connell (Short Box)
* The Multiversity by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Frank Quitely et al. (DC)
* Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint (2000 AD/Rebellion)
* My Brother’s Husband by Gengroh Tagame (Viz)
* My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kai Nagata (Seven Seas Entertainment)
* Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura (Kodansha USA)
* Berlin by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
* This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
* Oh Joy Sex Toy by Erika Moen, Matthew Nolan et al (Online)
* The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh (DC)
* Judge Dredd by Rob Williams, Henry Flint, et al (2000 AD/Rebellion)
* Relish by Lucy Knisley (First Second).
Also discussed:  how good or bad a year Marvel and DC had and why; the back-half of Tom King’s Batman run and the influence of Alan Moore; the comic book creator of Gladiator from the Imperial Guard; comic book entropy; Incoming! #1; Dan Abnett on Titans; your terrifying future; The Comics Journal’s Best of 2019: and more.
59:50-1:04:45: As for his Best of 2019, Graeme has nine titles?  It’s true, and they are:
1:04:45-1:45:55:  Oh, jeez.  Here we go with Jeff’s absurdly long “Best of 2019” list and his equally absurdly long Honorable Mentions list:
And here’s Jeff’s Honorable Mention list (which, like Graeme’s Honorable mentions for Best of the Decade are not linked, because what’s good for the goose is good for the wastrel):
Assassin Nation;
Avengers;
Batman (2016-);
Batman: Last Knight On Earth (2019);
Batman: Universe (2019-);
Chainsaw Man;
Conan 2099 (2019) / Conan The Barbarian (2019-) / Savage Avengers (2019-);
Daredevil (2019-);
Fantastic Four: Grand Design (2019-);
Golden Kamuy;
Master of Kung Fu Epic Collection: Fight Without Pity;
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun;
My Pink is Overflowing;
Outer Darkness;
Superman Smashes the Klan (2019-);
Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane
Also discussed:  list-making; “cheating” in list compilation; the Tracking Your Reading 2020 Challenge; Jeff’s eyes bleeding while reading old Darth Vader books; all the stuff that’s great about Gillen’s Darth Vader; and then…
1:45:55-2:03:52:  Pivot from Graeme!  “Did you have a good holiday?” Graeme asks.  Discussed; the Merrineum; Jeff’s Xmas week at work; Graeme and Jamaica; The Mandalorian on Disney+; Graeme seeing Cats! (in the theater!); and more.
2:03:52-2:36:04:  Closing Comments? Well…no!  Actually we have one final task of 2019 to handle and that’s an update about us!  No spoilers here, so listen in (if you haven’t already).
2:36:04-end:   Closing Comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: Skip week! Happy New Year to you and join us for another ep. right around January 12, 2020!
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Previously on Drokk!: Technically, last episode we took a detour on the read-through of all the Complete Case Files to dip into the Restricted Case Files and look at Judge Dredd stories from outside the main 2000 AD series, but really: We’re up to the tenth year of Dredd, and Mega-City One is now pretty much a hellish dystopia and the Judges are as trapped by the system as those they’re technically protecting. That’s all you really need to know.

0:00:00-0:08:26: We introduce ourselves and the fact that we’re reading Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 10, which covers 2000 AD Prog’s 474-522, from 1986 and 1987, and then we almost immediately derail ourselves by talking about the fact that this collection offers a coherent deconstruction of Dredd and his world despite the fact that it wasn’t originally intended to be collected. Were writers John Wagner and Alan Grant just looking for an excuse to redefine Dredd, or trying to keep themselves interested?

0:08:27-0:22:28: Is the idea of being a success in the comics industry the cruelest joke ever told in Judge Dredd? We talk about “The Art of Kenny Who?” and what it says about the strip’s relationship with comedy and authority. We also talk about the impossibly strong opening to this book, the influence of both EC Comics and Kafka, and what the strip is actually about at this point in its existence.

0:22:29-0:47:28: Is Judge Dredd a bully? Well, yes, but this volume really seems to be determined to demonstrate that, to the point where it’s difficult to see Dredd as anything but. We talk about that, as well as how cruel the character has become, and how slowly that change has been. (Also, has the character changed? Jeff thinks it might be that the creators have changed, instead, which is an interesting point of view.) Also, because it’s Dredd from the 1980s, racism rears its ugly head in “The Fists of Stan Lee,” and we get into the fact that this is very clearly an era of the strip where Wagner and Grant are lifting directly from whatever they’re watching, listening to, and so on.

0:47:29-0:59:14: Jeff, bless him, thinks that I managed to time this volume to this month because of the very strange Christmas episode in the book. I didn’t, and I’m not as taken by the story as he is, but we talk about whether or not it’s a wink to the audience that everything’s fine, really, or a sign that things are worse than they seem. My need for narrative closure shows up, and Jeff is a prince amongst men for not making fun of me for it.

0:59:15-1:26:57: We speed through another few stories in the volume, touching on the greatness that is the name “Slick Dickens,” Jeff’s being creeped out by Kevin O’Neill art (and my sharing a possibly apocryphal story about Kevin O’Neill and the Comics Code Authority), and the greatness that is Brendan McCarthy’s artwork on “Atlantis,” a storyline which Jeff compares to Jim Thompson, of all people. We also talk about about Jack the Ripper and Michael Jackson, or at least the versions of them that re-appear in this volume in a way that may or may not be connected. All this, and Harlan Ellison, too!

1:26:58-1:39:11: Finishing off going through stories, we touch on a few more, and talk about the brutality and rejection of nostalgia present in this book, even as the strip celebrates its 10th anniversary. Jeff talks about what might be his favorite moment in the book, while I share what I think is the most important line in the entire volume, and we end up talking about how prescient the series is in its approach to certain topics, even if that seemed like science fiction three decades earlier. Is this the British version of Jack Kirby’s OMAC in that respect…?

1:39:12-2:02:34: We wind down by talking about just how much we love this book (Spoilers: a lot), and the level of craft that Wagner (and Grant) have maintained for almost a decade at this point, and the complexity of tone and content that we’ve just come to accept and expect from Judge Dredd as a strip without really thinking about it. We also talk briefly about yet another short serial in this volume, this time one that I’m a big fan of while Jeff is far cooler. Basically, though, these are comics done right and we want to see more of this if possible. (There are many more volumes, so it’s pretty possible, really.)

2:02:35-end: As the end approaches, we swiftly wrap everything up by mentioning the Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon, while somehow failing to wish you all a happy Christmas and Hannukkah if you celebrate either What were we thinking? As always, thank you for listening and reading; we’ll have a year-end episode next week, but until then, I’ll do it here: Happy Holidays, Whatnauts.

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[This post contains spoilers for Watchmen, both the HBO show and the original comic series (and, by extension, the 2009 movie). It basically presupposes that you’ve read the comic, to be honest, and probably makes more sense if you’ve also seen the show. Which you really should anyway.]

Every so often, I walk away from experiencing some kind of media totally energized. At this sensation’s most pronounced, it feels like my individual atoms are each vibrating like a guitar string tuned too tight, like I may never go to sleep, like I’ve been downing Sudafed with an energy drink. It’s usually a one-time event that prompts this feeling—an unexpectedly good live show, say, or my team winning the World Series—or, at a minimum, after finishing for the first time a piece of content that immediately becomes one of my all-time favorites.

When this happens, I don’t want to talk—or even think—about anything else. I’ll go online and read whatever people are saying about it, I’ll search for unfamiliar podcasts discussing it, I’ll try to find some friend, real-life or online, who shared the experience and wants to discuss. I’ll wonder why anyone anywhere is talking about anything else.

It doesn’t happen that often with TV shows. There’s too much routine there—you know when they’ll air and how long they’ll be and, often, roughly what’s going to happen. But for nine straight weeks, it happened with HBO’s Watchmen.

This show has no right to be as good as it is.

Continue reading

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0:01-02:19:  Greetings from Graeme “Master of Time and Space” McMillan and Jeff “Insert Suggestion Here” Lester! Because it’s been three (or four!) weeks since our last podcast, we really do make it a point to speed through the small talk and get to…

02:19-1:07:39: CCXP!  Also known as Comic-Con Experience São Paolo!  Also known as the comic convention that might’ve ruined Graeme for all North American comic shows!  Pull up a chair and sit back as Graeme gives a very complete overview of the show he attended at the beginning of December in Brazil.  It’s a very complete overview of a fantastic show, and gives us opportunity to discuss what makes it such a successful show, what American shows can learn from it (and if they will)!  Also discussed: the 20+ minute Kevin Feige Experience; the rapture of Money Heist and the multimedia presentations; the Frank Quitely panel; whether cons “for” fans might be different from cons “for” pros; the joys of last minute and long-distance travel; going to war with Disney; freelancing duties while traveling; and much, much more in this hour-plus discussion.
1:07:39-1:33:03: Speaking of Graeme’s freelancing work, he’s been tasked with preparing both Best of the Year and Best of the Decade lists.  In doing so, he realized there was a fatal shortcoming on his decade list—no manga!  So he asked on Twitter for recommendations, checked a lot of stuff out, and these are his reactions to what he’s read.  Discussed:  Delicious in Dungeon; Tokyo Tarareba Girls; One Piece; Goodnight Punpun; and more!
1:33:03-1:52:13: From manga of the decade to American comics from last week:  we both read Dark Knight: The Golden Child by Frank Miller, Rafael Grampá, and Jordie Bellaire (Jeff doing so after Graeme said good things about it on Twitter) and we both want to rave about it here.  It’s a….surprising book for a lot of reasons that we unpack here. Discussed: Kirby, Mantlo, mugged liberals, and much more.
1:52:13-2:04:05: “I’m not going to say a lot about Doomsday Clock #12,” announces Graeme “Tease” McMillan, “but I am going to say this…”  Don’t worry, it’s spoiler-free, but it is a tantalizing set of impressions from Graeme.  Also discussed: the difference  between Watchmen the HBO series (also spoiler-free in our discussion) and Doomsday Clock; and more.
2:04:05-2:13:53: “You know, Graeme,” Jeff sez, “the really sad thing is we can’t just talk for six hours.”  Really, Jeff?  REALLY? Well, anyway, here are some of the things we talk about talking about if we had the time to talk about them: CBR meets the outsourcing content mill; Brian Bendis’s Superman issue called “Truth” about Superman revealing his identity, and the Superman issue called “Truth” about Superman revealing his identity that happened all the way back in, uh, 2015; The Wonder Twins: Activate collection by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne; and more.
2:13:53-end:   Closing Comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: Drokk, it’s time for Drokk!! Join us next week as we discuss Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 10!
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Hey, everyone.  Don’t be fooled–this isn’t an episode.  It’s just seventeen minutes of Graeme and Jeff talking about when we will next be podcasting and the reason for the delay.  (Hint: international travel is involved.)  I mean, I hope it’s amusing…because goodness knows it goes on long enough?  And it even touches on comics news and other things…but it’s more of an amuse bouche at best, rather than one of our usual super-sized meals.

As we say in the non-episode, we hope you have a great Thanksgiving if that’s a holiday you celebrate, and look for us on December 15th!

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Previously on Drokk!: We’ve made it nine years into the comic book career of Judge Dredd, and we’ve watched the character come into his own after a number of missteps, with the eventual return of co-creator John Wagner midway through his second year being the turning point. With that in mind, the prospect of tackling a collection of one-off stories from throughout that same period, originally published in annuals and special issues, sure sounds like fun, right…?

0:00:00-0:03:34: In which we briefly introduce ourselves, the intro gets away from me — note that I’m literally in the middle of a sentence when throwing it to Jeff to introduce himself, and he just runs with it — and we briefly touch upon the fact that both a dog’s breakfast and a dog’s bollocks are somehow noteworthy, but not as the layman might expect. More importantly, we talk about the fact that neither of us really liked the volume we’re talking about this episode, Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files Vol. 1. It’s… not good.

0:03:35-0:11:04: Stumbling into a discussion about the book, we talk about the unevenness of the book, especially as it relates to the (high) quality of the artwork versus the not-so-high quality of the writing. Are stories intended for annuals and specials by their very nature underwhelming, even if they’re written to be (as Jeff puts it), “visually big”? We also talk about how long it takes to get to the good stories, and our different ideas of what that actually means. (Spoilers: Jeff is far more forgiving of early Alan Grant than I am.)

0:11:05-0:17:37: Perhaps a little later than would be useful, I give a little bit more context about 2000 AD annuals in general, and their prospective audience and purpose, before we talk about the appalling casual racism on show in one of the stories — really, it’s astonishing — and whether or not “Pinboing Wizard” is the first actually enjoyable story in the volume — “only” twelve stories into the book itself.

0:17:38-0:30:47: If annuals and specials were intended to act as introductions to the characters, then surely a collection of those stories would be a great introductory volume for a new reader, right…? Well, not exactly, and we start to break down quite why that might be the case. Is there a lack of nuance in these stories, or simply a lack of darkness? It’s surely no coincidence that the stories Jeff and I enjoy most in the volume are the more downbeat ones, and the moments in the comedy stories are the more… grim jokes…

0:30:48-0:42:25: We take a brief diversion from the meat of the volume to talk about the Strontium Dog strip in 2000 AD — also created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, with Alan Grant co-writing the majority of the stories — which, for me, heavily influences some of the more supernatural stories in this volume. Also discussed: My odd head canon concerning the limits of Dredd as a strip, Jeff seeing an influence on Simon Bisley from the stories contained in this book, and “William Nilly”’s success as a pseudonym.

0:42:26-0:49:06: We return to the idea that the value in this volume is almost entirely in enjoying the visual stylings rather than the writing, talking about the ways in which the off-model early stories have a lot of things to enjoy in them, at least in how they look, such as Kevin O’Neill drawing in what looks like a quasi-early McMahon style for a couple of stories, or a wonderfully pop-art Brett Ewins/Brendan McCarthy collaboration.

0:49:07:-1:13:05: Can everyone take a moment to enjoy the fact that Jeff and I take quite so long discussing one 14-page story, purely because we cannot get over quite how bad the John Byrne artwork for it actually is? And, oh, friends; it’s very bad artwork indeed, all the worse for being presented next to some truly great stuff from the likes of Brian Bolland, Mike McMahon and Ian Gibson. I mean, just take a look.

This was when he was being considered one of the finest artists in the American comic book industry. Just think about that.

1:13:06-1:23:46: Jeff is clearly trying to wrap things up early, but I won’t let him; instead, we end up talking about how surreal the story from the Dan Dare annual is. It’s so off-model that it reads like a parody that accidentally got published, but it’s also one of the meanest parodies you can imagine, making everyone depicted — and involved — seem a little worse by comparison. Of course, we come up with some conspiracy theories about the story’s creation and just who was actually behind it, because it’s us.

1:23:47-1:34:21: If this is, as we describe it, a book for completists only, then what kind of completist? (An art-lover, if nothing else.) Do we think that because we’ve been spoiled by “better” Dredd in earlier Case Files volumes, or is this genuinely lacking — and if so, is that the case because these stories exist outside the context in which they were originally published? All of that gets brought up, if not necessarily resolved, here!

1:34:22-end: We have a long, meandering trail towards the end by talking about the inherent flaws of the annual as a narrative chapter in an ongoing story, talk more about just how disappointing this volume is, and then finally wrap things up by talking about the Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon of it all. Next month, we get back to the Case Files proper with the 10th volume, and let me just tell you, Jeff and I are very much looking forward to it, thank you very much. And while I’m thanking you, thank you for reading through all these show notes, as ever.

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[Sorry, we didn’t get to discuss this on the episode, but Jeff read a couple of terrific “Superman has taken on a new secret identity stories” on DCU, courtesy of intel from Martin Gray and Doc Beechler. Thought those of you who enjoyed hearing about the Secret Year imaginary event might get a kick out of seeing this.  Thanks, Martin and Doc!]

0:01-7:14:  Greetings from Graeme “Excited Slash Cautious” McMillan and Jeff “manic chatterbox” Lester! Jeff is coming off a daylong manic tear, and Graeme is, well, Graeme, so we try to spend a bit of time setting up a safeword. Sadly/Happily, things get a lot more conventional from there but at the time we were pretty sure we would *all* be in for a very wild ride!
7:14-45:33: Comics news!  It’s the kind of thing we’ve been kinda/sorta veering away from for a while, but decide to officially start things off with the news of the upcoming 12 month limited series, The Best of 2000 A.D. launching in North America in 2020.  It’s an exciting announcement in a lot of ways, but there are a lot of factors that could help its chances of success.  Also discussed: comics anthologies; dreamcasting American creators on 2000 A.D.; British weekly anthologies, with a focus on the Marvel reprint titles in the U.K.; The Phoenix; Alan Grant and Action Comics Weekly; the awesomeness of Rick Burchett’s art generally and his work with Greg Rucka on Detective Comics in particular; and more.
[asterix]
45:33-1:03:25:  Other big “from overseas to the U.S.” news:  Papercutz has cut a deal to bring Asterix to North America in 2020!  Graeme, who is fluent in the ways of the small Gaul, fills in Jeff (who is not all).  And since Graeme is Graeme, our discussion about beloved-comics-international-treasure Asterix quickly becomes a discussiong about the-opposite-of-that: Doomlord!
1:03:25-1:10:05: Graeme talks about Prestige Plus, the title DC’s giving to their larger size Black Label titles, in particular the upcoming release Wonder Woman: Dead Earth by Daniel Warren Johnson.  It sounds terrific!
1:10:05-1:27:17: Something that also sounds terrific, according to Jeff?  Mark Bagley’s Wikipedia page!  Discussed: Mark Bagley’s Wikipedia page.
1:27:17-1:37:06: Mark Bagley drew the recent well-received Spider-Man: Life Story written by current fan favorite, Chip Zdarsky.  Graeme, however, did not like Life Story, and although it’s easy to assume that’s just because Graeme doesn’t much like either Spider-Man or Mark Bagley, listen in and you’ll discover that’s not the case.
1:37:06-1:56:16: Curious what Jeff’s been reading?  We hope so, because he’s going to tell you, especially about Immortal Hulk #26, Savage Avengers #7, Ryuko Vol. 2, and the second octet of Initial D volumes by Shuichi Shigeno.
1:56:16-2:04:21: Legion of Superheroes #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook came out this week, and Graeme not only read it and has a take—he has two takes!  And he also has some spoiler-free discussion of upcoming Bendis books, the latest issue of Superman and the finale of Event Leviathan.

2:04:21-2:22:50: And on the non-comics media tip, Jeff has very quick words about The End of the Fucking World Season 2, Terminator: Dark Fate, and a very quick easy/hard comic book movie pop quiz! Plus: talk about the MCU and the Disney+ shows; Star Wars: Resistance Reborn; and more.
2:22:50-end:   Closing Comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)  But does Graeme also let us know that you should go to the Barnes & Noble in Clackamas, Oregon so you can hear him talk with Josh Williamson about Flash: Year One?  Maybe!
Next week: Drokk!  We’re reading Judge Dredd: The Restricted Case Files, volume 1.  Join us!
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