Wait, What? Ep. 162: Let’s Talk, Comics

November 3, 2014
KURTZMAN!

KURTZMAN!

First things first! Those of you who just want the direct link to the podcast for copying and then pasting for downloading however you choose, PLEASE SEE THE FIRST COMMENT .  (So, technically, it’s…last things first?)

Now, then about this show notes thing:

00:00-34:09: Greetings! Graeme takes “cold open” to a new level in this opening, and then makes up for it by singing the praises of Serial, the long-form documentary from the creators of This American Life. And along the way, we here at Wait, What? tackle one of our show’s great mysteries: just how many hours of podcasting does Graeme listen to a week? And which ones? Only Wait, What? is bold enough to ask the hard questions, and then almost screw up recording the hard answers. Graeme mentions a lot of swell-sounding stuff here, but germane to part of our discussion is the discussion with Tom Brevoort at Let’s Talk Comics as is, in its way, this image:

Sweaty Cap

Frank Robbins Cap Watches His Own Flashbacks

Also mentioned: The Frankenstein Comic Swap in Portland Oregon, a brief discussion/mild disagreement about Superman comics in the ‘70s (in which Graeme is largely right and Jeff is largely wrong); issues of The Brave And The Bold including a guest appearance by Kamandi; the first four issue of Justice League Detroit recently looked at by Graeme here on our website; Gerry Conway as the Warren Ellis of his generation; bitter, old Aquaman; J.M. DeMatteis as “the inappropriate backrub guy”; the absolutely stunning death of Vibe;

Justice-League-of-America-Vol.-1-258-1987

What. The. HELL.

and more.
34:09-48:04: Somewhat arbitrary split in the time code here, but at least this’ll help you figure out what we talk about in our first half-hour. Here is where Jeff brings up reading the first half-dozen issues (minus one) of Marvel Comics Transformers, as reprinted by IDW and purchased in a Humble Bundle a little while back. Much more talk about robot cats than you ever thought you would hear in this lifetime.
48:04-51:14: From high to low: Jeff also talks about the amazing Harvey Kurtzman and his work collected in  “Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories, currently available from Fantagraphics:

KURTZMAN!

(The Image So Nice I Used It Twice.)

51:14-1:12:00: And to really double down on “modern comics, what are modern comics?”, Graeme has been reading the Star Trek comics from Marvel and DC, courtesy of the Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD from GIT Corp. Also discussed: licensed comics, Indiana Jones, Peter David, the latest Terminator movie; and more.
1:12:00-1:51:49: In the mood for something a little more contemporary? Jeff wanted to talk about the Marvel film slate as well as two films he finally got around to seeing. Oh, but first: the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer; then Amazing Spider-Man 2; and Captain America Winter Soldier; Jeet Heer’s Twitter essay on same; the follow-up to Winter Soldier on Agents of SHIELD; the problem with the third act in superhero films; and then finally, around 1:34:00 or so, the Marvel film slate. How announced what when, who announced what to steal whose thunder, and where with the what when and the whizzle-why, all of which are discussed. Also: The Flash TV Show, and a lot about Gotham (starting at about 1:45:53).  Oh, and here’s a helpful chart of the Apocalypse, courtesy of Comics Alliance:

AIEEEEE

AIEEEEE

1:51:49-2:03:24: Even though we are under the gun to finish early, we say the phrase either nobody wanted to hear or everybody wanted to hear: “Oh! Okay, Secret Wars: let’s talk!” (After a brief period of Jeff exhorting Graeme to read The Wrenchies, which, with any luck, we will discuss next episode.) Discussed: toys, forts, hook-ups, the TV show Survivor, people’s boners, Graeme’s post about Secret Wars, the New Universe and it’s Phase II: Newer and Universe-ier, and a lot more (a little bit more, anyway).
2:03:24-2:17:17: Hey, here’s a special section of the show that’s been a long time coming—and no, we’re not talking about the bit where Jeff refers to Graeme as “the worst.” No, we are talking about thanking our awesome Patreon supporters who’ve given for several months and reach our bonus reward level: being thanked on air! Super big thanks to:

Kristoffer Peterson
Chris Tanforan
timothy rifenburg
Leef Smith
Scott Ashworth
Stephen Williamson
Jeffrey Lang
John Kipling
Robert Grzech
Dan Billings
Ford Thomas
Derek Moreland
Steve Kushner

(Of course, we’re grateful to everyone who’s contributed to us on Patreon where, as of this count, 83 patrons make this whole thing possible.) Some people have been upping their level of donation which we are *super* grateful for, and here we officially disclose the plans for what we’ll be discussing should we hit our goal of $500 a month /what we’ll be reading next once our Avengers round-up settles down at issue #300.
2:17:17-end: Closing comments! Birthday wishes! Remember The Tote Bags! Places to look for us at—Stitcher! iTunes!  Twitter! Tumblr!

Okay, now if you’ll excuse me, I have to start packing my bags for a road trip tomorrow. Look for Graeme’s weekly piece here soon and mine not long after that!

Also, in case you’ve forgotten:  FIRST COMMENT.

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15 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 162: Let’s Talk, Comics

  1. Jeff Lester Nov 3, 2014

    And here’s that link as promised:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts/WaitWhat162.mp3

    • Just found your podcast the other day and I love your literary and informed analysis. Too many comics podcasts are a couple kids who haven’t read anything but the most recent issues of a few Marvel/DC titles, and can’t put anything in the context of comics history, let alone the context of other literary works/genres.

      Really appreciate your information and perspectives…especially on comics history and those historical Avengers bits.

      Having said that, I’m starting to really worry about you guys. I didn’t notice it until I downloaded a few of your past episodes and listened one after the other. It seems like you have a real disdain for any film/TV adaptation of a comic book property created in the past 10 or 15 years. I have yet to hear you guys unconditionally (or even largely) praise a single thing within that context. And when you talk about the future of comic book movies, you make it sound like the world is coming to an end.

      I worry that your expectations in film are far too high with regard to comic book movies. How is it that you can look past the failings in a Steve Engelhart Avengers issue, but not in the potential of a Joss Whedon-helmed Avengers 2 movie?

      Yes, the slowed-down music in the recent trailer was used before, but the relevance was strong (even if a bit predictable in a Disney joint). I thought you guys, who had just quoted Ultron in an Engelhart-penned story referring to Phineas Horton as a “Geppetto,” would appreciate the Pinocchio imagery.

      Anyway, I’m not trying to hate on you guys for something you create out of love (especially when your time and effort is something I so greatly appreciate). Just wanted to encourage you to look past the annoying eccentricities in film-making today in the same way you look past the annoying eccentricities in comics-writing of the past.

      The stuff I see on the screen fills me with hope–particularly the MCU. And, while I’m no fan of what WB has done lately on the big screen, I’ve really grown to appreciate what they’re doing on the small one (or ones, I guess…I watch most of my TV these days on an Android tablet). And who knows what the future will hold?

      • Jeff Lester Nov 6, 2014

        Some really good points here, Chris. Thanks for making ’em! I’m on the road right now but may end up writing a post replying to it since I think I might like to clarify, dispute, and also own up to some of the stuff you bring up.

        • Jeff,

          Appreciate you taking the time to respond (especially when on the road). Just wanted to clarify one bit. I apologize for referring to both you and Graeme as if you were a single entity. I know that some points I addressed were Graeme’s and some were yours. Unfortunately, in my dotage (or, possibly, due to the brain trauma I’ve endured from having two preschoolers and a third-grader), I wasn’t able to separate critiques that you levied versus those that Graeme mentioned.

          Once again, love the podcast and love that you guys take the time to do it! It makes the hours I spend pulling mindless reports bearable.

          -Chris

  2. Just started listening to the podcast, guys, but I wanted to say: “comfort food comics” is a FANTASTIC phrase, and applies pretty perfectly to my feelings about Marvel Two-In-One.

    I’ve been trying to parce why I dig those comics so much, and it’s for a similar reason Graeme digs those Supermans, I think – I just love the fact that in his own book, Ben Grimm is a super nice guy who helps his friends out when they’re in trouble. There’s an old school sweetness to that idea that just chad me to no end.

    Anyway, back to listening. Great stuff, as always!

  3. Tim Rifenburg Nov 4, 2014

    Enjoyed the Podcast as always. I’m with Graham on the Swan 70’s Superman stuff. Probably my favorite era for Superman stories and I always enjoyed the Cary Bates / Elliott S. Maggin stories. Also liked the done in one nature of the stories. This Superman was playful and enjoyed what he did. Definitely not angsty. I have the Star Trek set and it is a nice set to dip into from time to time. I parcel out the stories because the Trek stuff seems very repititious if you read chunks at a time. I usually read a few issues or one storyline and then don’t look at it for a while. There is a sameness that creeps in in large chunks. There is an Annual by Peter David and Curt Swan that was about Scotty and a girl he loved. Plays with Trek continuity and adds depth to Scotty as a character. Probably my favorite Trek story in the set.

    Since you like / tolerate / are amazed (sometimes not in a good way) by the Marvel Transformers stuff Jeff, you should check out the Marvel UK stuff reprinted from IDW (4 volumes I think). Light years away from the Marvel stuff quality wise in the US and many of the stories bridge gaps in continuity or continue off of the US stories. Interesting stuff. They padded out the Marvel US reprints. Some are prose oriented or short 4/5 pagers. (sometimes longer) 1st volume is worth getting for the text pieces explaining how the stories came to be and British publishing history.

    Thanks for the shout out to Us Patreoneers and for the continued podcast. Always an enjoyable return for our investment in your efforts.

  4. Eric R Nov 4, 2014

    The amount of faith that people have in Marvel’s movie slate, not only that they will all be good but that Marvel will actually release all of them, astounds me. Jeff is right, that CA timeline makes it very clear that we are in the middle of a superhero entertainment bubble, not even counting the TV shows, and the idea that ALL of the those movies are going to be made and released strikes me as highly unlikely. At some point enough of them will fail or not do well enough that the companies will either cut back or double down to the point where people will get sick of them. I think that Ant-Man, Age of Ultron and Batman/Superman are probably going to be the movies whose success or failure will determine how much longer the bubble will last but that’s just me.

    PS. Did you guys ever send out the link for the Dropbox folder for the $10 and about supporters?

  5. I’m somewhat perplexed by the notion that Marvel should be developing non-super-hero movies. Like what? Rawhide Kid? Millie The Model? Howard The Duck? The only semi-viable one I can think of is Tomb of Dracula, and the last thing the world needs now is another vampire movie. Straightforward super-hero is the Marvel brand, they’d be foolish to dilute that (to the point that BIG HERO 6 isn’t even called a Marvel movie in any promotional material I’ve seen). That’s like saying Pixar needs to diversify beyond family-friendly animation. Even if Disney does think a Marvel-owned non-super-hero concept is worth doing as a feature film, they’d probably release it under other branding (just like DC keeps Sandman distinct from the announcements of their super-hero line).

    • With you on this. I know Guardians is in step with the hero universe, but it’s as much a scifi blockbuster as it is a hero movie. Also Agents of SHIELD is as more an espionage action show than anything else.

      On top of that, we don’t even know the tack they’re going to take on the Netflix shows. I mean, there aren’t too many different ways you could go with Daredevil, but the Jessica Jones show could very well be more of a private detective story.

    • Actually, there was some behind-the-scenes conflict between Marvel Studios and Disney over “Big Hero 6” – Marvel Studios wanted the film to be live-action and appeal to older audiences, Disney wanted a family film that you could take the kids to see. As a result, Marvel Studios insisted on not having the Marvel brand appear on anything to do with the film. Although Disney owns Marvel…it’s kind of like a marriage where the couple prefers to sleep in separate twin beds.

  6. Re: Marvel studios branching out into non superhero movies.
    That strikes me as a kind of a weird thought. Why would Marvel try to float a new property when theres all this money to be made with the existing IP that they have. Planning for the long term? Is that something we’ve ever known Marvel to do?

  7. Paul Spence Nov 6, 2014

    This was another very entertaining episode. I enjoyed all the comic book and comic movie discussions delivered with the usual wit and insight.

    My laugh out loud moment came when Jeff made a joke about Wittgenstein. This is what truly distinguishes Wait, What? from all other comic related podcasts. Only on Wait, What? could a host make a joke about the author of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

    On the next episode I look forward to Jeff expanding on Wittgenstein’s motivation to show the fly the way out of the fly bottle using Kirbytech as a metaphor for the fly bottle.

  8. Praise from Ceasar! I’m so glad I was mentioned for my comments re: Denny O’Neil’s Iron Man. Thank you! (And it’s KAP-IT, not KA-PIT, for future reference)

  9. Fun episode as ever, especially great to hear some positive words for the Justice League of America’s Detroit period (notice they’re always referred to as the’Detroit League’? I know it’s easy shorthand but it’s kind of reductive – they were the ruddy Justice League of America as much as any other iteration, with as much sheer power as you’d get in pretty much any story before then, courtesy of J’onn J’onzz’s presence). And I’ve a lot of affection for that final storyline, with the deaths of Steel and Vibe – does every death have to be in a big battle moment? And I don’t believe for one second it was JM DeMatteis being random in those killings, what with the speedy arrival of a new League with the Legends series with which the death issue’s tied in … don’t chu geddit, peachfuzz?

    One of the best things about late Brave and Bold was the inclusion of visual hints to the next issue’s guest, such as the shadow of the Batman in a random panel, or a Legion cruiser flying overhead.

    I never liked the art of Frank Robbins (or if you’re reading the Flash run he wrote, ‘Flank Lobbins’ … oh dear) as a kid, love it now. It must be an age thing – maybe Whatnaughts with children could do a wee test?

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