Scotch & Comics Episode 021: Let’s All Have Some Cake

No Martian Manhunter layer, but you can only ask for so much. (Image via the Fuck Yeah Marvel! Tumblr page.)

No Martian Manhunter layer, but you can only ask for so much. (Image via the Fuck Yeah Marvel! Tumblr page.)

Today may be “his special day” but that doesn’t mean that your intrepid host hasn’t thought of you listeners! Yes, on this very special thirty-fifth birthday episode, host Devin R Bruce has crafted an audio grab bag that is bursting at the seams with comics goodness! Open up and find treats featuring comics from such luminary creators as (in alphabetical order): Brian Azzarello, Richard Corben, Garth Ennis, Jae Lee, Sean McKeever, Peter Milligan, Sean Phillips, Eric Powell, and John Severin. (And even more!) Though the journey may get a little dark at times, Scotch & Comics will shine a light at the end of that tunnel. BUT DON’T GO INTO THE LIGHT!!

Show Notes:

  • The article about the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme can be read here. (Still think that “scheme” is a bad word to include in a government plan.)
  • The Mike Carlin episode of The Nerdist Writers Panel can be found here
  • The Polite Dissent Medical Reviews are fun and interesting, and the one on Batman: Jekyll And Hyde #1 is no different.
  • I never did get back to that thing in The Punisher segment, did I?
  • Here’s a link to my column on Comics! The Blog. It’s weekly. It has to be; I promised them it would be!
  • This episode’s musical selections were “Shake It” by Tom Waits; “Unglued” by Stone Temple Pilots; “I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie; “Sinister Rouge” by Bad Religion; “Soft Rocked By Me” by Jonathan Coulton; and “The Honeydripper” by The Oscar Peterson Trio. (I know. I was surprised when Stone Temple Pilots showed up too, but I thought it fit Batman: Jekyll And Hyde thematically rather well.)

Link: Episode 021 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 021
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Scotch & Comics Episode 020: Auld Lang Syne

Fun Fact: Robbie Burns' future was so bright he had to wear shades.

Fun Fact: Robbie Burns’ future was so bright he had to wear shades.

It may have been six months since the last episode of Scotch & Comics but that doesn’t mean that your host has gotten rusty. Or even gotten himself a Rusty Nail. (Ouch. I cut myself on that pun.) But in this special Robbie Burns Day episode, your host Devin R Bruce delivers an ode to comics. Specifically the comics Stormwatch, FF, Plastic Man, and Pretty Deadly. It’s a guid a body!

Show Notes:

  • Clarification: Martian Manhunter was in the Nu52 Stormwatch, not the Warren Ellis WildStorm version.
  • The Weird is a strange 80s DC book that Jim Starlin did. It’s a strange book but I like it.
  • The Golden Age magician that showed up in FF that I couldn’t remember is named Drakor. I can’t find references to him anywhere online, so if anyone knows if he has a previous publishing history, please let me know.
  • I feel like I give Pretty Deadly kind of poor lip service in this episode. I was kind of dumbfounded by how good issue 1 was. It’s really good, friends!
  • Musical interludes in this episode are: “Motherfuckers” by Murray Lightburn, “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” by Ben Folds Five, “I’ve Got A Match” by They Might Be Giants, and “Sattelite Mind” by Metric. More cursing than usual, which is okay sometimes.

Link: Episode 020 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 020
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Scotch & Comics Episode 019: Avoiding The Obvious Cultural Reference

The boat looked a LOT bigger in person.

The boat looked a LOT bigger in person.

It’s been a while again since the last episode but now Scotch & Comics is officially back from vacation! Your intrepid host was gone from the “studio” (“apartment”) for the entire month of June; it was very fun and also EXTREMELY busy, and there was only one opportunity to record a podcast. And it was while onboard the Marine Atlantic Ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia! And even MORE exciting, the lovely and talented Kim Stolz (who you may also recognize from The Listmakers Podcast) was on the boat as well! Devin drinks scotch, Kim drinks Coca Cola, and of course, there are also comic books! Lots of comics in a short space, as the two friends dole out their thoughts on Locke & Key, Hopeless Savages, Lot 13, Concrete, and The Human Bomb (the Nu52 version). You know what they say: if this boat is a rockin’, it must be another episode of Scotch & Comics!

Show Notes:

  • For the record, Brian Lee O’Malley’s work on Hopeless Savages was released in the middle of his run on Scott Pilgrim.
  • Music for this episode includes “Go Mental” by The Ramones, “Some Day My Prince Will Come” by Herbie Hancock, and “Smartbomb” by Huevos Rancheros.

Link: Episode 019 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 019
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Announcement: Call For Content!

I will be here by July 18! Approximately!

I will be here by July 18! Approximately!

Hello friends! I am absolutely SWAMPED this month at work: year-end working as a speech pathologist in a school system means reports and parent conferences and reports and last-minute meetings and trips to other schools and reports.

But soon that will all be over, and it will be summer vacation! And for me, summer vacation means that for the month of July (give or take a few days) I will be in my car, driving across Canada and the U.S., to set foot in St. John’s Newfoundland! I am very excited for my trip and hopefully I’ll be able to record a sequel or two to last year’s Retreatcast.

I don’t want to go on my trip without scheduling a few S&C episodes, though, and that’s why I’ve come to you for help. If there’s anything that you want me to talk about, or any questions you want me to answer, or anything whatsoever you’d like to hear me ramble about, please leave me a comment or send me an email. I’ll do my best to tackle it for the upcoming June & July episodes, but if I can’t I’ll work on them when I get back.

Any comment or suggestion welcome; no question too silly or too broad. Thanks for the help in advance, friends!

Scotch & Comics Episode 018: Atlas Shrugs

I Want This Poster SO BAD

I Want This Poster SO BAD

REFERENCES! It’s a punny title for a not-very-punny episode as your host Devin R Bruce channels the spirit of one of his Podcast Saints and dives headlong into his Regina pile…and also into madness! Will your intrepid host manage to survive the onslaught of his towering pile of unread comics? With the help of his spirit guide, Just Bill, how can he fail? From Chew to Fantastic Four to Über to Constantine to yes, even The Amazing Spider-Man, not even nine months of unread comics can stop the Scotch & Comics show!

Show Notes:

  • Just Bill’s website is here. The last episode came out in 2012 but it is definitely worth listening to if you like comics.
  • I meant fifteen and a half centimeters. That’s right. #ladies
  • Anyone want to buy me that Poyo poster? Anyone?
  • Seriously: Fraction and the Allreds’ FF kind of broke my brain a little bit. I am sorry if that part makes no sense.
  • And that night was the night I decided to start titrating down on my pills. One pill every other day. #pills
  • If you are on Twitter and you aren’t following Kieron Gillen, you should. Not only is he a good writer and very friendly, he has great taste in music.
  • When I used the phrase “This is real superheroism!” in an insulting manner, I wasn’t trying to indicate that’s what the creators were saying. I was trying to make fun of myself for heading down that road. I am not very clear when I’m tipsy.
  • Seriously. Anyone want to read Hellblazer with me? Cause I’ll do it.
  • No fancy editing: that siren really did fade out the minute I apologized about it. Coincidence? ABSOLUTELY!
  • It feels weird saying Ms. Marvel. I really wanted to say Captain Marvel. (You all are reading Captain Marvel, right?)
  • A little harsh towards the end? Maybe, but then again, in whisky veritas.
  • Please do check out The Listmakers. I’m inordinately proud of it.
  • Musical interludes on this episodes are: “Always Keep An Edge On Your Knife” by The Corb Lund Band, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” by The Flaming Lips, “Prove Yourself” by Radiohead, “Get Up On It Like This” by The Chemical Brothers, and “Alligator” by Tegan & Sara. Some decent CanCon this episode!

Link: Episode 018 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 018
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Special Announcement: The Listmakers Podcast!

 

Hey folks. Just dropping a note here for those who mainly access me through WordPress. I can’t imagine there are any, but you never know.

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I am VERY excited to announce that my friend Kim Stolz and I, after over TWO YEARS of verrrry slow planning, are debuting our new podcast! The Listmakers is a podcast about two friends trying to make sense of the world by categorizing literally everything they can think of into lists, then discussing them with each other. It’s a podcast about history, movies, science, books, cuisine, music, geography, and more. But it’s really just about friendship and good times. Part entertaining, part educational, part hot air, but all good times. The Listmakers is a podcast (and a website) that is hopefully for everyone: every episode is a new topic. I’d really appreciate it if you downloaded it and spread the word about the podcast and our Twitter feed (especially if you liked it!).

Thanks for your time, all, and just so you know, there will be another Scotch & Comics episode soon. Also: I may have some exciting S&C-related news in a couple weeks! Keep Watching The Pubs!

Scotch & Comics Episode 017 – Nothing To See Here

You're not making ME walk the plank, you landlubber.

You’re not making ME walk the plank, you landlubber.

Pretend it hasn’t been nearly three months. Pretend that your intrepid host Devin R Bruce has always been here, talking to you about the glory that is the comic book and the wonder that is the single malt Scotch whisky. And then pretend this is not entirely unexpected! Because boy howdy, was this a fun one to record. Put your feet up while he fixes you a (virtual) drink. and then rants at you about Batman And The Monster Men by Matt Wagner, Revival by Tim Seely & Mike Norton, Thunderbolts Classic from Marvel, The Invisibles from Vertigo, and Pirate Eye: Mark of The Black Widow from Action Lab Comics! Acceptable superhero fare, small town horror-noir, adventures in metafiction, and a pirate-gangster mashup you won’t soon forget. Is it a vision brought on by finishing off Grant Morrison’s breakfast smoothie? No, it’s just another episode of Scotch & Comics!

Show Notes

  • Seriously. Revival. Is good.
  • For more about Grant Morrison’s thought processes when he was making The Invisibles, and his insignts on superhero comics in general, you could check out Supergods. It’s in need of an edit but the concepts are fascinating.
  • Note: said I was influenced by READING ABOUT drug culture. Like, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Doors of Perception and Warren Ellis comics in general.
  • My friend Stan is awesome. Here is a link to his twitter.
  • Action Lab Comics is a company you should know about, and Pirate Eye: Mark of The Black Widow was just one great thing I’ve read from them. Princeless, Back In The Day, and Fracture are just a few of their awesome offerings. Visit them now and love them like I do!
  • Musical interludes this episode were: “Our World” by LTJ Bukem, “A Song For The Dead” by Queens of The Stone Age, “Miracle Drug” by A.C. Newman. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles, and “Dead Man Walking” by David Bowie.

Link: Episode 017 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 017
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Reviews: Long Time No See

This isn’t an episode update, although that should hopefully be coming within a week or so. This is more of a “Holy crap, what the heck happened to me?” entry. Long story short: I got busy, I got lazy, I got sick, repeat. Also: my external hard drive crashed so I lost 6 old episodes and have to re-upload all my music from my CD collection and so forth. So not as bad as it could have been but still a pain.

But despite the minor inconveniences I didn’t stop reading comics during that time, no sir and nay ma’am. I read me a bucketload of comic books. So until the time comes that I can once again sit down with a glass of my favourite amber liquor and a stack of funnybooks, I’ll see what I can do to gain a foothold here with a few quick reviews.

androidsDo Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? from BOOM! Studios
written by Philip K. Dick
illustrated by Tony Parker

I really like Philip K. Dick; my first exposure to him (that wasn’t a movie adaptation) was The Man In The High Castle, which I loved, and when I finally got around to the prose version of Androids I was pleasantly surprised. Blade Runner is a cinematic masterpiece but it was fascinating to see how different the source material was, and still compelling and interesting. So I was looking forward to a comic book adaptation, seeing visions of the dying dust-choked Earth and different interpretations of Deckard, Isidore, and the others strange and wonderful characters.

So imagine how much it hurts me that this was nearly painful to read. It’s not an adaptation so much as an illustrated novel. Which I suppose would be a great thing for literalists, but to me, this is as close to a capital sin as you can get in a comic book. For example: it’s not necessary to have a written description of what a character is doing in a comic book at the same time that there’s a drawing of it. A comic book is a combination of words and images, so when you have a panel where the images and the words are doing the exact same thing, then you have a bad comic book panel. DADES is chock full of panels like this.

The transition between dialogue and narration was clumsy as well. Having narrative boxes breaking up word balloons that add nothing more than “he said” or “she said” was distracting at best and difficult to read at worst. And this happens ALL THE DAMN TIME. I feel bad for the letterer, who did a Herculean job that was also often unnecessary.

I would like to say that Tony Parker does a good job with the art chores, because for the most part he does: the figures are generally well-proportioned, and the scenery and the modern technology looks familiar and alien. There’s a particular double-page spread of dystopian San Francisco that is very effective. But when the art is either redundant or choked up with so many word balloons and narrative boxes as to be unreadable, I can’t say that I enjoyed the comic.

The best part of the book was the collection of essays on Philip K. Dick at the end of the book, written by the likes of Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction. Those were fun to read. But I’d rather simultaneously watch Total Recall and read a Shopaholic book than read more of this comic series.

(Full  disclosure: I really don’t like the 90s version of Total Recall. I haven’t seen the new one, but I doubt it’s much better.)

1023173

Knight and Squire from DC Comics
written by Paul Cornell
illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (interiors) and Yanick Paquette (covers)

If you’re an Anglophile and like superheroes, then this is the book for you. (Alternately, if you’re British and like superheroes, I think this is also up your alley.) Basically, Knight and Squire are the English counterparts to Batman and Robin; these particular versions of the characters were created by Grant Morrison, who I rather like but doesn’t have much to do with this particular collection. In this collection Cornell and Broxton manage quite a fantastic juggling act: dealing with over a hundred new characters while balancing a very important piece of DC Comics lore, while weaving stories that are very silly and very touching and also very scary (sometimes in the same issue). The art is not terribly shiny but does a bang-up job of showing superhero action, comedy, and pathos, so good on Jimmy Broxton. But it’s Cornell that makes the book shine for me: the dialogue crackles, the characters are really grounded, and the stories feel familiar and yet odd. It’s a very cool English take on the silliness and splendour of American superhero comics, and one I would happily recommend.

(Footnote: there’s a splash page introduction of a particular character that was so effective that it gave me chills and made me shout “Oh NO!” I won’t spoil who it was, but it was handled absolutely brilliantly. Braxton & Cornell do a great job with that character afterwards too, but the introduction was spectacular.)

casefiles2

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 2
The Cused Earth written by Pat Mills with John Wagner and Jack Adrian; illustrated by Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland
The Day The Law Died written by John Wagner; illustrated by Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, and Ron Smith

As your average North American comic fan, I was aware of Judge Dredd – and 2000AD comics in general – before I’d ever read a single panel of the comics. In the past two years I’ve been slowly working through portions of the 2000AD comics universe, which spans decades of fine British sci-fi comics history, and after this second volume of The (Nearly) Complete Case Files I have to say that I am a complete and total Dredd-head.

About 90% of this volume is dedicated to two major Judge Dredd epics: The Cursed Earth and The Day The Law Died. These two stories really give the world of Mega-City One a lot more depth and texture, as well as making Dredd more than just a good Judge. By the end of this volume, Dredd is a hero on an almost-mythic scale, and although the stories aren’t perfect, there’s far more to like in them than to dislike.

First of all: The Cursed Earth takes Judge Dredd and a small group of judges across the Cursed Earth to Mega-City Two, where they are supposed to deliver an antidote to a virus that turns citizens into violent brutes. I’ve read people speaking ill of McMahon’s art on a couple of websites, but I’ve always liked his slightly messy and cluttered style for Mega-City One, and it’s a great fit for stories on the irradiated, mutant-infested Cursed Earth. Of course, when Brian Bolland shows up, I’m not going to say no. You don’t say no to Brian Bolland. Brian Bolland will cut you. With art.

The Cursed Earth is a big stewpot for the Judge Dredd writers to throw all their crazy post-apocalyptic ideas into, and what comes out of it is bizarre and delicious and wonderful. Dredd fighting cloned dinosaurs? Sure! Motorcycle death races in Las Vegas? Yes sir! Hillbillies being attacked by vampires? Absolutely! Gang wars featuring fast-food icons (sadly not reprinted in this collection)? You got it! Dredd faces all that and more in his headlong rush through the Cursed Earth, and every concept is fun and big and perfect for Judge Dredd.

The Day The Law Died, on the other hand, is set entirely in Mega-City One. It tells the story of the mad Judge Cal who takes the position of the Chief Judge of Mega-City One and rules it with an iron fist. An iron fist that is attached to a crazy person. It starts out fairly straightforward: Cal is clearly not supposed to be in this position of power, and the things he does are bizarre and wrong but within the bounds of believability. Then, he appoints his pet goldfish second in command, and things take a turn.

Dredd has to hide out and build a resistance to fight Cal, and this is where we meet the worst part of this entire story: Fergee, the giant super-strong Troggie who teams up with Dredd and his motley crew to take Cal down. Fergee is a broad caricature of a big dumb oaf, and when I say broad I mean BROOOOAAAAD. Broad like pantomime or the Beano. It feels like a weird story to shove a character like that, but it also feels a very English thing to do, so while I didn’t love it, I let it be and just accepted it.

As the story continues it gets more and more ridiculous, and every time it leaves Dredd and goes back to focus on Cal it’s just mind-boggling how much further down the spiral staircase he can descend. The Day The Law Died might be a little long but I loved seeing Cal act like a rabid Roman emperor (have you figured out what Cal is short for yet?), behaving like a lunatic and running his city into the ground.

The other stories in the collection are decent Dredd fare, but the two epics really grabbed me and made me a Dredd fan for life. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Scotch & Comics Episode 016: Parallel Parker

YOU'RE ALREADY DEAD!!

Look at those eyes. Those eyes will MURDER YOU.

What’s this? Two episodes of Scotch & Comics in one month? Has the world turned upside down? No, it’s just a special treat for your birthday. In this sixteenth episode of Scotch & Comics, your intrepid host Devin R Bruce braves the sub-zero temperatures of his patio to enjoy Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke, in an effort to raise the profile of the upcoming Graphic Content screening. Fueled by a choice cigar and a flask of Ballantine’s Finest, he attempts to use the feeble English language to describe the transcendant nature of this work of comics art. Scotch & Comics: a podcast that’s worth at least five hundred words.

Show Notes:

  • Graphic Content is at the Metro Cinema on February 19th at 6:30! You should come!
  • Burlington Tobacconists is the place to go if you’re in Edmonton and want a cigar. Just saying.
  • The word of the day is, apparently, spectacular!
  • Music for this episode is Crescent by John Coltrane, which was released in 1964, the year The Score is set. Sometimes I plan things!

Link: Episode 016 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 016
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Scotch & Comics Episode 015: Comics and Crowdsourcing

Sailor Moon Rocks The Doctor Strange Hands

Sailor Moon Rocks The Doctor Strange Hands!

In this fifteenth episode of Scotch & Comics, your friendly host Devin R Bruce was initially found a little lacking for inspiration. But when he’s running low on inspiration, he does what so many other people do: he turned to the internet! Armed with a couple of suggestions from his Twitter companions, he sallies forth to discuss Wolfman & Perez’s New Teen Titans, Edison Rex from Monkeybrain Comics, and Punisher MAX’s Kitchen Irish. Plus, he plugs the upcoming screening of Point Blank as part of the Metro Cinema’s Graphic Content series. (February 19! Scotch served in the theater! You should come!) In the midst of all this, he talks a little about what might be a good gateway whisky for a non-Scotch fan, as well as what Scotch would go best with Sailor Moon. Scotch & Comics: you don’t always know where you’re going, but you’re glad you took the trip!

Show Notes:

  • Go to your Twitter page and follow Matt Bowes (@MattBowes) and Erin Fraser (@ErinEFraser). They are good people.
  • More information on The Metro Cinema’s Graphic Content series can be found here. You should come watch Point Blank with us. And if you do, come find me and I may just buy me a drink!
  • If you don’t know who Peter Rios is, follow him on Twitter (@TheDailyRios) and then listen to his podcast, The Daily Rios. He’s awesome.
  • WHY AREN’T YOU READING MORE MONKEYBRAIN COMICS?!? GO GO GO!
  • In addition to creating Bandette, Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover wrote the amazing Banana Sunday, which is a great comic for readers of all ages.
  • Thom Zahler, the creator of Love & Capes, is a stand-up guy, and had a letter of his posted in Power Pack once. Which just supports the whole “stand-up guy” theory.
  • No joke: First Blood is actually really good.
  • Music this episode by The Donnas, Shonen Knife, Mike Phirman, and The Dropkick Murphys.

Link: Episode 015 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 015
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics