0:01-8:20: Greetings!  Indulge us a few minutes of levity as we discuss Graeme’s middle name?  It’s a conversation that was probably long overdue, and also probably very much needed before we steer into some much darker waters. Listening to this now while editing, I am so, so, so grateful for this opening.  I understand if you don’t feel the same.
8:20-14:18: Because we have, as Graeme perfectly puts a lot of “fucking bullshit” ahead of us, we need to focus on the positive, we talk about (a) how great the commenters have been our Drokk posts, (b) the upcoming excellent-sounding America: Lost and Found—The Rediscovered Scripts being released by 2000AD at the end of September.
14:18-32:17: And, instead of jamming what we’re reading after the news, we instead decide to discuss  what we’ve been reading.  (I have to say, it is weird how much of this ends up fitting in thematically with the episode.)  First up, Graeme discusses Gerard Jones’ run on Justice League Europe and Green Lantern.  And, around 20:16, Graeme talks a bit about the whole package of comics and how much we miss that (and by “that,” we mean mostly but far from exclusively the letters pages). And we discuss some of the highlights of letter columns (The Invisibles, Preacher) and maybe if we  feel that material didn’t age well due to the lack of those columns in their trades. Also discussed: current letter columns we track, essays and comics backmatter, and more.
32:17-34:48: As for what Jeff’s been reading?  He talks about Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions, free to read on the web through the end of July. Definitely worth your time!
34:48-42:02:  Also read by Jeff (and a bit more in his wheelhouse these days), the first 12 chapters of Blue Flag by Kaito via Shonen Jump. As you may recall, Jeff loved Kaito’s earlier Cross Manage and is even more in love with the work here, a high school love quadrangle where everyone is just a bit more complex than your standard high school love quadrangle story.  And although I was tempted to puff this section out in the notes by breaking each reading experience into its own timestamp, it just always ends up looking weird and baggy especially when I don’t have much more to say than “Jeff read this,” and it’s only two minutes so all Jeff is saying, “I read this.”  So!  Also discussed: Interspecies Reviewers Vol. 1; and The Joker: Eighty Years of Crime: The Deluxe Edition.
42:02-1:01;37: However, because we do dig into it a little (or a lot?) more, Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 by Snyder, Capullo, Glapion, and Plascencia, it does deserve its own little time stamp, for sure.  And speaking of sure, we’re not sure…why is this? What is this? And why is this?  And these questions are coming from Graeme, the man who read all of the Snyder material leavig up to this.
1:01:37-1:03:39: And finally, Jeff read the last volume of Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey by Akiko Higashimura.  Such a great read, and Jeff almost cried like a baby multiple times throughout the volume!  (The only reason he didn’t is because he’s a broken, broken human not that the book wasn’t good enough to cry through.)  So good, you guys.  So good.
1:03:39-2:05:57: And now, we get to the comics news of the week.  Sigh.  Cameron Stewart. Warren Ellis. Brendan Wright. (By the way, Graeme goes out of his way not to mention the women making the allegations by name, and Jeff does so in regards to the Ellis case and apologizes if that’s very problematic.  After spending some time thinking about it, he—which is to say I—decided to leave those names in as well as include the video at the top of this post linked to here. I don’t think the listeners of this podcast and the viewers of this page are the type to engage in harassing behavior toward victims, and I also think by choosing not to  name them, there could the unintended implication these women have anything to be ashamed of.  They do not, and their names are used by me out of acknowledgment and respect.) Discussed: All this awful shit.
2:05:57-2:15:22:  A story about foreign languages! And then! Jeff remembers a very depressing story about the manga industry that fits in well with the material discussed this episode.  Unfortunately.
2:15:22-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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 weeks! Yes, two of ’em! Look for us around July 12, we’re thinking? Please be good to yourselves and to others!

Previously on Drokk!: Disillusioned in the system, Dredd took the Long Walk and retired from being the law — only for Mega-City One to fall to the Dark Judges in his absence. Post-“Necropolis,” he’s back and nothing will be the same again, especially when it comes to Judge Dredd the comic strip.

0:00:00-0:01:44: Welcome back, dear Whatnauts, to the 22nd century that feels a little bit less removed from the current day with every single episode. As we quickly introduce things this time around, we’re covering two books: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 15 and Judge Dredd: America — although, for those following along in collected editions, we’re only covering the first “America” story, and ignoring the two sequels for now.

0:01:45-0:21:19: Taking the two books separately, we talk about Case Files 15 being a difficult book to read right now — both for the parallels with events in the real world, as everyone deals with police brutality and the ACAB reality, and also because it’s… not an especially good book…? That said, there’s a lot to enjoy here, and we dig into some of the good stuff, especially the way in which John Wagner struggles to deal with some tricky subjects, including the idea of Dredd as pro-democracy reformer. Also discussed: What role Judge Anderson could play in the future of Mega-City One, just how strong Wagner’s immediate post-“Necropolis” stories are, and Jeff and I disagreeing over Ron Smith’s artwork that opens the collection.

0:21:20-0:44:31: Of course, for some people, the appeal of Case Files 15 may be the arrival of Garth Ennis as writer, so we talk about that. Spoilers: His first stories aren’t very good, which means we’re discussing their sloppiness, Ennis’s apparent need to work as a John Wagner cover band, how his stories do and don’t follow Wagner — clue: it depends on what you mean by “follow” — and, generally, how they fall into the larger Garth Ennis pantheon, and what impact “The Apocalypse War” had on Ennis as a whole. Ennis isn’t the only writer letting the side down here, and we also talk about the disappointments offered up by Alan Grant and John Wagner in this volume, and everyone can enjoy Jeff’s literary detective work to identify the author of one particular story. (I just looked up Wikipedia to confirm, as it happened.)

0:44:32-0:53:16: Overall, is Case Files 15 Drokk or Dross? The answer probably won’t surprise you, but we pick out our favorite stories in the volume anyway, and also talk about the different artists on show here and what they fail to bring when necessary.

0:53:17-1:18:02: If I could point to the biggest surprise for me while recording Drokk! to date, it’s that “America” left Jeff as cold as it does, especially given that some of his reasons for feeling that way are things that, to be honest, I would have assumed would have been something that appealed to him. Is it that his expectations were too high, the current reality in which he’s reading, or Wagner’s pivot from broad condemnation to specific pulp story? We talk about all of this, while I reveal for just the latest time that I am willing to put up with all kinds of flawed work if I have warm feelings about it. (Really, I should be ashamed; really, I kind of am.) Am I riddled with nostalgia? Also: Where are the metaphors of “America”? And does the end still feel somewhat out of nowhere to everyone else? Commenters, I’m really looking forward to you weighing in here.

1:18:03-1:36:06: We continue talking about “America,” and weave slightly into whether or not this story is particularly timely right now, given everything that’s happening, and discuss whether or not it’s a story about the Judges or not. (Jeff isn’t convinced.) We also very briefly touch on whether or not Judge Dredd as a strip’s failure to talk about race is perhaps its biggest failure, in a way that only two white middle aged men can do.

1:36:07-1:39:07: Drokk? Dross? Thankfully, it turns out that not every book we’re talking about this week lets us down.

1:39-08-end: We wrap things up with me feeling nervous about the future episodes of Drokk! and what we have to look forward to, and the usual mentions of Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon. As always, thank you for listening and reading along.


[Originally, I’d planned to do a parody number about this week’s news based on this song, but some health issues kept it from happening.  Please feel free to watch the opening below and imagine what might’ve been…]

0:01-8:47: Greetings! And an innocent question on Graeme’s part about ads on Skype immediately leads into a discussion about how Jeff makes his money, the Snyder Cut song, the Warner Brothers chain of command, and more deep info on Hollywood from these two ultimate insiders.
8:47-15:39: This sounds like the part where we maybe we start talking about things seriously, and discussing how in the wake of the announced Snyder Cut, peeps like David Ayer are talking about getting The Ayer Cut of Suicide Squad.  Also discussed: The Watchmen cut, The Damon Albarn season of Watchmen; Who Watches The Watchmen (Not Jeff); HBO Max watching problems; and more.
15:39-25:36: And one baby step closer to reality (our terrible, terrible reality!): people are asking Marvel to say something about The Punisher and the appropriation of his skull icon by the police.  Marvel are not saying anything about it, but Gerry Conway will try to get some work about it, and Jeff & Graeme have a continuity argument about the Punisher’s origins (and man Jeff didn’t even get to the first issue of the Mike Baron/Mike Zeck miniseries that comes up with an in-continuity excuse for that dude’s jay walker killing tendencies); and more.
25:36-1:28:33: Graeme officially broke some huge news over at The Hollywood Reporter: DC has cut ties  with Diamond Comic Distributors, requiring all comics retailers after June 15 to order DC books through Lunar Distribution and UCS Comics Distributors for periodicals and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.  We talk the facts, the beliefs about what’s happening behind the facts, the retailers’ reactions and, of course, our own healthy dollop of speculation and discussion.  At 32:14, Graeme reads DC’s note to retailers which is as follows:
Dear DC Direct Market Retailer, First and foremost, we hope this finds you safe and well especially during what has been an incredibly challenging year. We are writing today to share with you that DC’s long-standing relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors is coming to a close effective following Diamond’s distribution of product offered on DC’s FOC list of June 1st.
We want to thank Steve Geppi and the great people at Diamond for all the years of service. We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision. However, we can assure you that this change in DC’s distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC’s overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide. In the near term, Diamond will only be fulfilling orders placed through June 1 Final Order Cut-Off and will not solicit the sale of new DC titles further.
To ensure a smooth transition for retailers, DC will suspend Final Order Cut-Off for June 8, making those books available to order on Final Order Cut-Off on June 15. Moving forward, we will continue our distribution relationship with Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for distribution of periodicals and graphic novels, and Penguin Random House for distribution of graphic novels, worldwide. We believe this new distribution system will bring you world class service using top of the line and modern systems that will provide you the most efficient operational supply chain. DC will continue to look for ways, together with our new partners, to better serve you and the fans to the best of our ability. We remain committed to the Direct Market and look forward to partnering with you to grow your business and to get the best comic books and graphic novels to the fans in the most efficient and seamless manner.
All the best, DC
And for those of you who want to follow along with some of the other quotes we discuss, here’s a link to Heidi’s round-up at The Beat, where Jeff anyway pulls talking points from Todd Allen, Brian Hibbs, Chuck Rozanski, and more.  Also discussed: the cold war shenanigans from Diamond toward DC before DC walked away; why no other publishers have signed up with Lunar or UCS; Diamond being pretty terrible at their job; and much, much, much more in this hour-plus conversation.
1:28:33-1:38:55:  “Have you been reading comics in the midst of all this,”asks Jeff and of course, Graeme, being Graeme, has.  Discussed: Green Lantern: Mosaic; The Shadow by Andy Helfer, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kyle Baker, and Richmond Lewis (big thanks to the mighty Matt Terl!); Hellblazer old and new, and how they’re not the same as John Constantine stories; and more.
1:38:55-1:47:40: As for Jeff, he’s been revisiting World’s End Harem by LINK and Kotaro Shono, the porny manga version of Y: The Last Man on Earth; Outer Darkness/Chew #2; Avengers #33; the first few issues of Scooby-Doo Team Up and the truly impressive issue(s) #83 and #84 featuring just about every gorilla and chimp character in the DC pantheon; The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime The Deluxe Edition; and more.
1:47:40-1:49:42:  Graeme gives us the head’s up that the latest Rob Williams Judge Dredd storyline is a throwback to the days of classic megaprogs with Dredd facing down The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by heading out on a quest (it sounds great!).
1:49:42-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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: Read Volume 15 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Casefiles and the first main story in America and Drokk out with us next week!

0:01-7:27: Howdy! (And apologies for Call Recorder truncating Graeme’s greeting!)  Hours have become days, days have become weeks, and weeks have become years, so it feels like a long time since we have last spoken and need to spend a few minutes catching up—to the point, in fact, where we have to jump offline to check in.  How is Graeme? How is Jeff?  And you, Whatnaut—how are you?
7:27-18:20:  Okay, we’re back from discussing a thing for Graeme that may not come together and therefore should not be disclosed on air, and moving on to something Graeme is more than eager to talk about:  Adfrian Tomine’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist!  It is scheduled for release in July, and it is an autobio comic about being a cartoonist that is, as Graeme memorably puts it, “like Curb Your Enthusiasm starring Adrian Tomine.”  Like we said, Graeme is more than eager to talk about it, but does it sound like Jeff is…less than eager to talk about it?  Why would that be?
18:20-23:34: Jeff has had pretty bad luck with comics the last week or so.  Not like…Uncut Gems levels of bad luck? But, still, yeah,  Pretty bad with some exceptions—and one of those exceptions is the third and final issue of Superman Smashes The Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihuru. Just a stellar wrap-up to the period piece minseries.  And the other good read he had recently also had lovely Gurihuru art;  Spider-Man and Venom: Double Trouble #1, recently available on Marvel Unlimited.
23:34-1:01:01:  But maybe the reason Jeff has had bad luck with comics has a lot—a whole lot—to do with the fact that Jeff has been reading comics starring Morbius, The Living Vampire, the trash fieriest of trash fire characters…and worse he’s been reading the Adventure Into Fear comics from the 70s starring ol’ Morb. How can comics crafted by faves of Jeff like Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, Gil Kane, and P. Craig Russel go so horribly wrong?  Listen and learn, true believer, listen and learn. Also discussed: A Don McGregor top five; Rager of Ultron; The Melter; and more.
1:01:01-1:15:09:  So worked is Jeff in his eagerness to define and convey the scope of his frustration that he bungles the title of his next disappointing read, Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt by Brian Michael Bendis and Szymon Kudranski, as Adventure Comics Vol. 3.  (Thanks for catching, Graeme!)  Jeff loves the character interactions but loathes the story machinations and the book’s excerpt of Bendis’s script is just gasoline on top of this very conflicted fire.
1:15:09-1:58:36: By contrast with Jeff’s exasperation with Bendis’s sloppiness, Graeme has some conflicted feeling about the manifestation of what is more or less the exact opposite in Scott Snyder’s run on Justice League, which has just concluded as a lead-in to the upcoming Dark Metal event by Snyder and Greg Capullo.  Bendis had for many years at Marvel built the end of one crossover event into the beginning of the next, such that each event had a little less punch to it with one status quo leading to another more dramatic status quo, and that’s a pretty interesting contrast to what Graeme talks about here after reading Metal, Justice League: No Justice, Justice League Odyssey, and Justice League itself.  Snyder hits all the story points but…do they land?  And, y’know, why or why not? As you might imagine, SPOILERS for the conclusion of Snyder’s run and/or the various minseries and connected series along the way; and for those of you who gambled Jeff would still be second-guessing himself and consequently still screwing up James Tynion IV’s name this late in to Tynion’s career, pick up your winnings at window four!
1:58:36-2:07:06: If you follow the Wait, What? Tumblr, you’ll know Graeme has been reading Armor Wars/Stark Wars, the very enjoyable Iron Man comics by David Michelinei and Bob Layton, and can compare and contrast it with Iron Man, the launching point of the MCU that reworks the Armor Wars/Stark Wars and the Obadiah Stane arc from earlier.  So the movie, in a way Graeme didn’t realize before this rewatch, is written by people who grow up with the same Iron Man comics he grew up with. Also discussed: Armor Wars II, which Graeme accurately describes as “a sequel to a story that never existed.”
2:07:06-2:22:46: And then Graeme skips ahead to read Tom Taylor’s run on Superior Iron Man, followed by Kieron Gillen’s run, Bendis’s run, and Dan Slott’s run. Has Tony been done dirty by writers unable to leave a decent character hook alone?  Or has the influence of Marvel’s marketing department hold more sway in this era of Marvel comics than we normally acknowledge?
2:22:46-2:25:08: Comics news/Musical interlude
2:25:08-2:35:25: More comics news (non-musical version). With added TV and movie recommendations from Graeme!
2:35:25-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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! See you in two hundred years—which is to say, June 7—for our next episode!

Previously on Drokk!: We’ve just finished “Necropolis,” in which John Wagner regained the mojo temporarily lost when he and Alan Grant ended their writing partnership — which makes it the perfect time to go back and revisit that partnership one more time*, don’t you think?

0:00:00-0:02:21: In which I use the cold open Jeff really didn’t think I would, and we introduce the book we’re reading this episode: Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files Vol. 2, which collects Dredd shorts from various special issues and annuals published between 1985 and 1989. It’s a mixed bag, but not a bad one, especially if you stop reading before the end.

0:02:22-0:16:43: In fact, the drop-off in quality is something we discuss relatively early on, bringing up two stories in particular that disappointed, both of which are written by Grant and Wagner separately, as opposed to collaboratively. But the collaborative stuff, we decide, is the comic book equivalent of comfort food, which leads to a brief discussion of the joy of the Wagner/Grant team.

0:16:44-0:24:38: By way of comparing the strengths of the Wagner/Grant team and their solo work in this book, we talk about one of our favorite stories in this collection, “Costa Del Blood,” and the ways in which it just… works, despite all these tricky things that should be hard to pull off properly: Comedy! Pop culture references! Metatextuality! And yet, it looks effortless — but perhaps that’s the amazing Carlos Ezquerra artwork fooling us. Not so good? That would be “Confessions of an Anarchist Flea,” for reasons we briefly go into.

0:24:39-0:58:24: What are our favorite stories from the book? Those would be “Costa Del Blood,” and, for Jeff, “Beyond the Wall” and “Last of the Bad Guys.” For me, I add “Crazy R Raiders” and “I, Beast.” We talk about all five, as well as a host of other topics — how well Wagner and Grant use the format and real estate of these stories, the way they recycle ideas even within the stories just in this volume (Hi, “Macho” men), and the purpose of the stories reprinted in this book, versus the regular Dredds in the weekly. Jeff wonders if these are stories intended to spotlight artists, and we take a short detour into the concept of breaking Dredd as a comic strip, and just how possible that actually is. Look, it’s half an hour of conversation; we have a lot to talk about.

0:58:25-1:04:04: There’s a lot to love about Restricted 2, despite our reservations, and we talk about the fact that it’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of both writing and art, and Jeff brings up a strange piece of Dredd ephemera with relation to the Wagner/Grant split and how it plays out in two separate stories here.

1:04:05-1:23:18: Having spent so long talking about what’s good, it’s clearly time to head into the worst stories, and we find agreement on the subject. Jeff’s not down with John Wagner not exposing his knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons, I’m embarrassed for Alan Grant’s musical references in “Headbangers,” and we’re both shocked by how bad the debut of the son of a psychopathic rodent can actually be. We also find a short while to discuss Wagner and Grant’s different approaches to ownership of the characters they’re writing, and wonder whether Alan Grant has a problem assigning any kind of emotion to authority figures in general.

1:23:19-end: It’s the end of the episode, but not before we tease (or is it dread) Case Files Vol. 15 next month and I have a question for everyone, and then there’s the usual mentions of the Tumblr, the Instagram, the Twitter and the Patreon. As ever, thank you for reading along and listening, Whatnauts.

(* There will be more times we’ll revisit the Wagner/Grant partnership. One of which will be happening quite soon, in fact…)


0:01-4:18: Welcome!  Ever wonder how easily thrown we are when displaced from routine? Well, wonder no more as we spend our opening moments downright flummoxed by Skype.  It says a lot about us that we’re more in our element trying to recall the publication date of a decades-old Andrew Vacchs book than figuring out how the tech we use every day works.
4:18-31:20:  Jeff wants us to move into comics news first and have Graeme break it down for us!  Covered: Diamond’s return date and the two hour livestream with Steve Geppi; Jeff’s modest proposal for two important podcast spinoffs; Steve Geppi’s twitter feed; Marvel’s return to publication and their offbeat choice of returning issues and trades;  and more.
31:20-39:02: Jeff had some things to clarify and expand upon from the previous episode, starting with something he doesn’t remember actually discussing last week (but maybe?):  Hoopla not updating with DC’s trades on day and date the way they have been previously; the appearance of the trade of First Issue Special; Jeff finally reading that *amazing* Dr. Fate one-shot drawn by Walt Simonson (available to read on DC Universe).  Just stunning work.
39:02-45:02:  Also mentioned in our discussion of the First Issue Special trade: a startling discovery Jeff made by going full-McMillan. Also discussed:  Graeme of course managing to out full-McMillan Jeff in the full-McMillan department; Ditko’s Creeper as opposed to Ditko’s and Fleisher’s Creeper;  the young and talented Gerry Conway captured in all his ability and power by the anonymous editor that is….the young and talented Gerry Conway; and more.
45:02-56:02: Jeff revisits last week’s discussion of Wotakoi; Love is Hard for Otaku by Fujita. Jeff still loves it, but has a bit of extra context as to its appeal and talks about that here.
56:02-1:23:19: “So Graeme,” Jeff asks, “why did you make me read Absolute Carnage?”  Which is the most generous way possible to discuss the (comparatively) recent Marvel event by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, now collected (and available digitally on Hoopla)?  Discussed: splatterpunk; the Venom mythos; King, Millar, and Cates; the Absolute Carnage trade as an event that gives you no signposts into anything else; and more.
1:23:19-1:34:52:  Something else Graeme made Jeff read: Amazing Spider-Man: Full Circle #1 (available to read on Marvel Unlimited), a DC Challenge/Exquisite Corpse style one shot by Jonathan Hickman, Chris Bachalo, Al Ewing, Michael Allred, Greg Smallwood, Chip Zdarsky, Chris Sprouse, Cameron Stewart, Kelly Thompson and many, many (!) more.
1:34:52-1:36:54:  When not assigning books for Jeff to read, Graeme has been reading Tales of the Dark Multiverse (currently available on Hoopla), which has a lot of the earmarks of classic What If? stories (omnipotent observer, worlds where events went differently, bummer endings).  If Jeff sounds distracted during this, it’s because he’s trying to hunt up the collection on Hoopla and wasn’t having the best luck.
1:36:54-2:01:03: Also on Hoopla and also (re-)read by Graeme: the House of X/Powers of X collection by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva and Mark Brooks.  When it first came out, we were super-stoked by this change-up to the X-Men status quo.  And now?
2:01:03-2:11:13:  Also on the re-read pile for Graeme:  Brightest Day, the Geoff Johns/Pete Tomasi/Patrick Gleason/Ivan Reis/ (and many others) year-long fortnightly event that is an object of curiosity for what it did, what it didn’t do, and where it didn’t go, thanks to Flashpoint and the New 52.
2:11:13-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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: Judge Dredd The Restricted Files, Vol. 2? Drokk!!

0:01-9:56: Howdy! And, wouldn’t you know it, our opening topic is indeed an inquiry into the nature of the word “Howdy,” before moving on to more important topics like sarcasm which is only the most important topic ever.  And then it’s on to discussions of injuries, suffering, machismo, and cool.
9:56-56:01: Well, of course, if we’re talking about what’s cool, we have to discuss what it’s like to read all the issues of Countdown to Final Crisis, plus the various tie-ins.  I mean, that’s just common sense!  Anyway, since Graeme read them (and Jeff, thank god, did not), we get to hear from it about what it’s like to go down a bad comics hole, and to stay down there for so long. Discussed: the plotlines in Countdown; Countdown as the flip side of our earlier discussion of Dan Didio’s legacy at DC; gibberish; is 52 and Countdown analogous to Secret Wars and Secret Wars II; comic book universe status quos; the latest issues of First Issue Special on DC Universe (Warlord! The Outsiders!); DC’s second silver age; and much more for what is terrifyingly close to an hour?

56:01-1:21:47: Jeff *finally* saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker! But it’s been full four days since dong so—has he really had enough time to absorb it?  By which I mean: does he remember it?  Full-on spoilers for this movie, though if you have a social media account of almost any kind, the movie’s already been spoiled for you already?  That said: SPOILERS.  Discussed: Star Wars, give me those Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars, don’t let them end!
1:21:47-1:42:26: What Jeff has read and wants to talk about: Space is Awful: The Ballad of John Dennis #1 by Derek Moreland and Derrick Fleece; Friday #1 by Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente; Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Omnibus collection by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson; Cat Shit One by Motofumi Kobayashi; the first three volumes of From The New World by Toru Oikawa from the novel by Yusuke Kishi; Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku by Fujita; 1122 For A Happy Marriage by Peko Watanabe; and more.
1:42:26-2:04:40: Comics news!  Catching us up to speed, Graeme walks us through! The alternate distribution deal of DC! Daily digital content! BINC funding! The mystery of Marvel and the fate of John NEE!  Bonus: NoBrow!
2:04:40-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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: More Waiting, and almost assuredly More Whatting!

Previously on Drokk!: Things aren’t looking good in Mega-City One; the Justice Department is starting to think that Dredd might be getting too old for the job, and that his clone, Kraken — who is probably getting over that brainwashing about killing everyone in MC1 by now, maybe — could possibly be the ideal replacement. Meanwhile, another 2000 AD strip, The Dead Man, has shown a future Dredd having taken the Long Walk, convinced that something very bad has happened to the city in his absence. Could these things be connected…? (Spoiler: Yes.)

0:00:00-0:02:18: With great speed, we introduce ourselves and also what we’re talking about this time around: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 14, which is pretty much all one story for once, with that story being “Necropolis,” AKA my favorite of all the “mega-epic” storylines. Also unusual: the entire case files this time is the work of John Wagner, in terms of writing, with Carlos Ezquerra handling by far the majority of the artwork.

0:02:19-0:16:57: Jeff isn’t as completely onboard with the book as I am, and we start to dig into why, especially because there’s so much that he does like. Is David Foster Wallace to blame? (The first of many literary references this episode.) We also talk about the ways in which this storyline is so unlike Dredd in its focus on continuity, and the way that might have influenced Jeff’s feelings towards it, and compliment the art of Carlos Ezquerra, and not for the last time this episode.

0:16:58-0:32:42: I ask whether or not Dredd’s personal evolution is a little sudden to be believable, given how quickly it seems to have occurred, leading to a discussion about Dredd’s personal assumption of guilt versus Kraken’s, and whether or not the story is also about the repeated failures of the Judges — and MC1 in general — as an institution, and the importance of looking outside of the system for solutions. (Which, in itself, is a pretty big change for Dredd as a person and Judge Dredd as a series.)

0:32:43-0:52:16: If “Necropolis” is an allegory — and, really, any argument that it isn’t feels doomed to failure, considering — then is that the reason Jeff finds the ending so overwhelming? Is there even an ending that Jeff would fully appreciate? It’s unclear, and he’s very concerned about being the Russian judge (in a sporting contest, not the Dredd sense) in seeming to score the effort too harshly, so we may never know. Meanwhile, I wonder about the epilogue stories to be found in Vol. 15, and whether those are the conclusion we miss in this book, and also complain about the time jump midway through this story. I also, as is my wont, suggest that the lack of closure on the idea of Kraken being Dredd’s shadow self isn’t as disappointing as it first appears, because Wagner will return to the idea many, many years later. Ain’t I a stinker?

0:52:17-0:55:02: While “Necropolis” isn’t a story about a virus outbreak — a surprisingly common theme in Dredd, as it turns out, if you think about “The Cursed Earth,” “Block Mania,” “Sin City,” and “Day of Chaos” to name but four examples — that doesn’t mean it’s not a story that’s occasionally uncomfortable to read in our current pandemic reality. We unpack that (very) briefly.

0:55:03-1:47:16: Having made it almost an hour without actually telling everyone what “Necropolis” is about, Jeff and I try to run through a plot synopsis of the storyline, something I foolishly think will be easy… only to continually distract ourselves with all kinds of other matters. Is there a James Ellroy reference to be found in Kraken’s plight? What is the connection between Kraken and Charlie Brown? How great is the return of Chief Judge McGruder, and what does she bring to this storyline and the strip as a whole? Just how important is empathy to this storyline and what and who Judge Dredd will become? How touched were we both about the fact that Dredd can finally forgive Kraken, after everything, and also put himself in Kraken’s oversized boots? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how does that whole “lawgivers will explode if someone else tries to fire them” thing work, anyway, given how this story plays out? Here’s the thing: We don’t really get to the end of the synopsis, entirely, but you can work it out if you’re paying attention. (Look, I said we got distracted.)

1:47:17-2:07:16: You can tell how well we work, given that I try and start us talking about things about the story that we like, and Jeff immediately brings up the suggested racism in the story. Perhaps that’s because it’s hard to pick specific favorite moments out of this extended narrative, though both of us try: Jeff goes for Kraken’s corruption dream and how headfucky things get for him in regards to Kraken’s deprogramming and reprogramming, while I get very excited about the slow oncoming dread of the first eleven chapters of “Necropolis” proper. Also! Are you surprised just how dark a story about a city overcome with dark forces actually gets? I was! And Jeff prefers “The Apocalypse War” to “Necropolis,” but everyone’s allowed to be wrong sometimes.

2:07:17-2:13:53: I’m in two minds about where to go next, so I literally ask Jeff — which leads to the decision that we’re covering Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files Vol. 2 next month — and then we start talking about the short term future of Dredd the strip as the Case Files move into the 1990s. I’m not excited, but Jeff remains optimistic that the Garth Ennis stories are better than everyone says they are.

2:13:54-end: Eventually, we wrap things up by telling you about the Tumblr, really-not-as-dead-as-it-seems Instagram, Twitter and Patreon accounts and wishing you all good health and smart choices in these trying times. As always, thank you for listening and reading along. Next month: We return to the Wagner/Grant era for stories from specials and annuals! So that’ll be a little bit brighter and less pessimistic, I hope.


0:01-01:10:14: Greetings! Welcome to the Wait, What? rollercoaster (of love!).  There is so much going on in the world right now, and so much that has happened in the U.S. comics market in the last week, we should just hop right in and break it all down for you.  Which is to say, we *should* but thanks to a correspondence with Dominic L. Franco, Jeff sat down and power-re-read of a fourteen year old DC event miniseries: Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, and a flotilla of artists, inkers, cover people, colors, and letters.  And we talk about it AT LENGTH. So if you don’t want to hear about a big turning point in the DCU and how it resonates with later work by Johns, you should probably skip ahead an…hour or so?  Discussed: The plot of Infinite Crisis and everything that leads up to it; the modified version of Infinite Crisis released as a trade (and which version is/isn’t available on DC Universe); the Marvel Universe reduction of wonder in the 80s; the New52’s alternate origin point; connections to DC’s Convergence event (complete with its “nightmarish” zero issue); the various characters arcs of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman; what does Geoff Johns believe in, really?  Graeme’s recent re-read of the twelve issue Ion miniseries written by Ron Marz around the time of Johns’ Sinestro War; DC event mad-libs; the good soldier who gets done the dirtiest by Infinite Crisis; and more.

01:10:14-1:35:00: Jeff tries to move on to the comics news as he’s all-too-horribly-aware how long the Infinite Crisis has become, but Graeme is not so easily swayed.  After all, Jeff opened up the whole discussion mentioning his thoughts about Infinite Crisis and a theory about the 1999 Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant movie Notting Hill. So what’s the connection, Graeme wonders?  Here’s your chance to find out discussed.  Discussed: Yesterday; Notting Hil;, the crimes-against-humanity atrocity that is Love, Actually; the other 1999 movie that is basically Notting Hill; and more.
1:35:00-2:08:43: Comic news! it’s time for comic news!  Well, I mean, actually it’s probably well-past time but here it is finally!  Graeme gives us the 411 on what he rightfully described as “a fucking weird week for comics.”  Discussed (although not necessarily in this order):  DC and Marvel not publishing new material digitally (unless, as in DC’s case, it was already scheduled as digital-first material); Diamond announcing, nine days after saying it would not be delivering new product to comic stores, that it has cashflow problems and is unable to pay vendors (nine days!); ComicHub is announced as the savior of the comics industry and will immediately begin distributing digital copies of physically purchased comics (despite Jeff calling it Comics Hub this entire time); DC gave a quarter of a million dollars to retailers in financial support; and Marvel Comics pausing publication of 15-20% of its titles, affecting up to a third of its output.

2:08:43-2:47:53: Unsurprisingly, we segue from the pencil’s down for a third of Marvel’s product to the slowdown and shutdown in other industries, including the ones that continue to pay us (for now).  If you wanted conversation between two friends about the pandemic, what and where it might go from here—both for themselves and for this industry—think of this as a bonus episode jammed onto your comic book podcast.  Plus, an update about where to watch The Prisoner! Plus, a recommendation from Graeme to watch: Mad Max: Fury Road.  And from Jeff: George Romero’s The Crazies.  (Yes, we are very too-on-the-nose these days.)
2:47:53-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 Dominic L. Franco, and 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!)

0:01-1:04:41: Greetings! And right from the get-go, we’re off and running as Graeme poses a “hypothetical’ question involving, oh, I don’t know, a P.R. person for a major company in an industry that is facing systemwide disruption that threatens to be cataclysmic. And from there, we dive right into the P.R. release that came out from DC mere hours before we recorded, and from there try to track the rapidly changing status quo for the direct market that includes things like the only comics distributor in the marketplace shutting down, smaller publishers putting their publications on hold, Free Comic Book Day becoming Free Comic Book May becoming Free Comic Book Nothing For Now, and much more. Ready for nearly an hour of analysis, fretting, and “game theory”? (Don’t worry, at no point do we say that.)

1:04:41-1:13:28: Okay, and here is part two of the podcast, and we’re talking about what we’re reading: we start off by talking about the tremendousness that is the current run of The Immortal Hulk. I’m sure you’re not sleeping on this book, but if you are: don’t.

1:13:28-1:18:39: The final volume (28!) of S and M by Mio Murao was finally released on Comixology, and Jeff talks about the final volume, the reading challenges, and the friends we made along the way (and by “friends,” we mean “depraved sex acts that happen as dramatic beats in the midst of a thriller melodrama). It hung around too long, but Jeff would be lying if he said he didn’t appreciate it as its “height.”

1:18:39-1:24:41: Much easier to praise is the first volume of Blissful Land by Ichimon Izumi, a story about a 13 year old doctor’s apprentice in 18th century Tibet surprised with an arranged bride-to-be. Don’t let our digression about horny Dr. Strange stories distract you from a heartwarming, low-stakes manga.

1:24:41-1:32:28: Jeff also read the first three issues of Undiscovered Country, which turns into a jumping off point about reading comics that are perfectly fine that don’t get revisited under normal circumstances. Will that change now that circumstances are pretty god-damn far from normal? It’s a good segue to the things Graeme has been reading starting with the early issues of Legionnaires, featuring some early work by Chris Sprouse. Other relaxing “perfectly fine” old comics Graeme’s been reading on DC Universe and Marvel Unlimited and Jeff mentions being mid-readthrough of the trade of DC’s Wanted: The World’s Most Dangerous Super-Villains (currently available on Hoopla, and popping up weekly on DC Universe).

1:32:28-1:47:38: Jeff and Edi have been fighting the Covid Blues by watching more movies than usual and, hey, why not give you a quick rundown on those? Discussed: Contagion, Knives Out, Robocop, Avenue 5, Judge Dredd contagion comics, Robocop being a Judge Dredd film, and more.

1:47:38-2:01:36: In the least surprising turn of events ever, Graeme has been rereading Justice League: The Detroit Era. What may be surprising is the incredibly candid way Graeme “recommends” these issues. Also discussed: licensed comics not on the streaming services; licensed comics that *are* on the streaming services; Gerard Jones reprints; the After Truth documentary on HBO; the Danny Kaye Show; Breeders and Dev, both on Hulu; and more.

2:01:36-2:12:16: Graeme: “Are you also going nuts in this time of social distancing, Jeff?” Jeff: [gif of T-1000 melting] Good thing to come out of this conversation? A renewed desire to rewatch The Prisoner! (Streaming on Amazon Prime, apparently…)
2:12:16-2:18:37: In conclusion, we’re doing fine. However, Jeff mentions the sympathy (or, as he puts it, “pity and awe”) he has for Graeme who has to monitor the news for his job. Graeme talks a little bit about that, the process, and the wear and tear on his psyche.
2:18:37-end: Closing Comments! Look for us on Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Tumblr, and on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Dominic L. Franco, and 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: Another episode!