It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another regular episode of The Comics Alternative! This week, Andy and Derek really strut their alternative creds by focusing on three titles that keenly define “alternative.” First, they discuss the recent Dark Horse/Kitchen Sink book, The Best of Comix Book. This is a collection of comics culled from the original five-issue run of Comix Book, Marvel’s ill-fated attempt to partner with the underground comix movement of the early 1970s. The project was originally initiated by Stan “The Man” Lee and edited by underground maverick, Denis Kitchen. This recent collection features the work of such major underground comix figures as Justin Green, Trina Robbins, Kim Deitch, S. Clay Wilson, Skip Williamson, Lee Marrs, Joel Beck, Art Spiegelman, and Sharon Rudahl, and it includes a wonderful historical essay by James Vance. The Two Guys discuss the various pieces that are collected, comment on some of the artists represented here, and even speculate on why certain comics from the original run were included in this collection and why others were not.
Next, Derek and Andy turn their attention to two new single issues from Fantagraphics: Insect Bath #1 and Cosplayers #1. Edited by Jason T. Miles, Insect Bath is an anthology of comics that could be called contemporary manifestations of the “underground.” In this way, the book transitions well from Comix Book, in that it very much carries on in the tradition of the underground, although with much more of a minicomics feel (and minicomics themselves are arguably the legitimate offspring of comix). The guys feel that the pieces included in this first issue of Insect Bath are hit or miss, but they are more excited about Dash Shaw’s Cosplayers. This is the first of a series — how many issues might there be? — where Shaw brings his experimental approach to a study of pop culture fandom. As Andy points out, Cosplayers feels much like a Daniel Clowes story, a far cry from what we saw last year in Shaw’s unconventional 3 New Stories and New School. There’s a lot packed into this episode, so plug in your earbuds and let’s get it on!
Check out some of the titles discussed in this episode: