Episode 54 – Shiver: Selected Stories by Junji Ito

“I am a horror maniac who prefers to say at home.”

This Halloween, we’re chugging down salad oil and hiding from our balloon dopplegangers with returning friend of the show, Kirby Green, and see if our sanity can can survive the brain-melting onslaught of Junji Ito’s collection of his shorter manga works, in Shiver: Selected Stories!

In this anthology of the legendary manga artist’s favorite short stories, we get just a little bit closer to stomach-turning madness. A rare vinyl record claims the hearts and minds of all who listen to it, driving some to theft and even murder. A mysterious jade idol inflicts a curse on those to keep it, boring countless holes into their bodies — bringing a deadly chill and becoming irresistible to burrowing insects. A hospital patient reports that the subjective length of their dreams is getting longer and longer, triggering a startling transformation in their mind — and their body. In these stories and more, we remind ourselves of the Ito’s uncanny ability to permanently stamp our brains with the most disturbing and visually stunning weirdness.

Fun Size Episode 62 – Spokój

In the first of two episodes this month, we’re talking with Rebecca Friedman about the low-stakes things that give us the warm fuzzies.

We chat about the phenomenon of ASMR and the YouTube videos that endeavor to trigger that pleasurable brain-tingling sensation in people. From a Polish cleaning company’s videos of meticulous deep cleanings of filthy rugs to the paintings of Bob Ross, we plunge into a deep discussion of the images, sounds and experiences that just feel…satisfying.

We’re watching people clean airline seats, remove earwax, draw manga, icing cakes, paint landscapes, walk in snow, restore antique tools, and even watch machine presses create chains with great precision.

What makes this stuff feel good? What separates chores that are repetitive drudgery from something that relaxes you?

Episode 48 – Sin City

“I grab myself one last lungful of night air. Then I trade it in for a smoky soup spiced with sweat and vomit and booze and blood. I know the flavor well.”

After more than two years, we’re back with another panel episode! And this month, we’re tossing back some cheap booze at Kadie’s Saloon and making some bad decisions with Joe Preti, and Kit Laika, and get our filthy mitts on Frank Miller’s hyper-stylized, two-fisted neo-noir comics franchise that defined all things grim and gritty in the 1990s: Sin City!

After a rise to comics superstardom with Daredevil and Batman, Frank Miller turned his trademarked hard-boiled style up to eleven with a series of interconnected hyperbolic crime stories, set in the fun house mirror world of Basin City, a desert town populated entirely by lowlifes, mobsters, prostitutes, corrupt businessmen, assassins, creeps, killers, crooked cops, dirty politicians, and one hulking unkillable brute named Marv.

Illustrated in a stunning highly contrasted black and white, Sin City was a perfect distillation of everything comics readers loved and hated about the comics of a controversial and often problematic master of the craft.

Music: 
“Cool Vibes” from Film Noire by Kevin MacLeod

Fun Size Episode 33 – Give Rob Kelly Some Money!

In the afterglow of WrestleMania, we rejoin Morgan Lambert to talk about the mixed results of professional wrestlers becoming Hollywood actors, and wonder why it’s so hard for Dwayne Johnson to get a movie project worthy of his charisma.

Plus, we talk about the latest in wrestling scandals, including Hulk Hogan’s bigotry, and the WWE’s continued business relationship with an authoritarian regime that hacked up a dissident journalist.

We talk about the charming culture shock of consuming Japanese media. Their pro wrestling customs, katakana sound effects in manga, quite possibly the greatest soap opera of all time, in the form of a series of Sakeru Gummy commercials.

We chat about the recent expansion of the American public domain and lament our draconian copyright laws.

Oh, and the Wizards of the Harry Potter world are fucking disgusting monsters.

Episode 36 – Uzumaki by Junji Ito

“Spirals…This town is contaminated with Spirals…”

In our latest Single Serving Selection, we descend into a mind-bending and stomach-churning modern classic of Japanese manga horror with librarian and friend of the show, Kit Laika, but perhaps you’ll wish we hadn’t. Because this month, we’re descending into madness and body horror with Junji Ito’s Uzumaki.

What begins as a series of episodic tales of a small seaside town being driven to death and insanity by ubiquitous spiral shapes soon becomes a tidal wave of ancient apocalyptic destruction, lunacy, and unavoidable doom.

Apologies for the inevitable nightmares.

Fun Size Episode 27 – Not My Luke Skywalker!

Who truly owns a piece of art, a character or a media franchise? The artist, or the audience? We sit down with Sean Duncan to seek the answer to that and many other questions.

We (finally) talk about Star Wars: the Last Jedi and the tug-of-war between fans who want the familiar comfort of wish fulfillment and fan service, and those who want to see the series take some serious risks, even if it alienates some of the fans.

We look at how the real world and the context of our own experiences color and supplement the way we receive and interpret art. Plus, is it time to retire the old ways of counting audience figures, when there are so many ways to watch, read, and play these days? Uh, yes.

Fun Size Episode 26 – A Continuity Gumbo of Nonsense

While Casey has to run upstairs and be a dad, Mike continues his talk with Joe Preti and Tobiah Panshin for a full-throated bitch-sesh about the state of the comic book industry. From Marvel and DC’s refusal to change its accessibility, sales methods and whether its time to give up the ghost of the monthly issue, we wonder if the current superhero output from those two great companies just isn’t for us anymore.

And is DC Comics secretly a doomsday cult trying to provoke Alan Moore into ending the world?

Plus, we talk about cartoon voice actors and try to make heads or tails out of the design of K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.

Episode 33 – Akira

“KANEDAAAAAA!!!” “TESTUOOOO!!!”

We’ve returned with a long-awaited panel episode! This time, we’re popping some capsules and tearing our motorcycles through the ruins of Neo-Tokyo with Tobiah Panshin and Joe Preti of the View from the Gutters comic book podcast. We’re digging into Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking 1980s apocalyptic manga epic about psychokinetic powers and mass destruction, Akira.

From its serialized origins in the Japanese Young Magazine to the pioneering animated film, this is a seminal masterpiece of explosions, body horror, secret military programs, and disaffected youth, and it’s cast a long shadow over all of modern popular culture.

Music: 
“Kaneda” from Akira (1988) by Geinoh Yamashirogumi

Fun Size Episode 16 – The Billy Martin Experience

We continue our chat with Kit Laika and Joe Preti, and veer into stories about strange liberties taken during menial high school jobs — and the potential spy thriller plots that can result from them.

We talk about the comics we love, swap nerd stories and the joy of pop culture recommendation. Mike finally takes his comic book fandom into the world of manga, and we might have just invented a very specific baseball fetish.

Plus, Joe really really really dislikes Wil Wheaton, and the entire world must know. Comments can be left below.

Episode 29 – Vertigo Comics

“Magic’s just when you trick the universe into believing some incredibly outrageous lie.”

Mike and Casey hop into Chas’ cab for a journey to the realm of Dreams, because it’s time to go on a road trip across America. Our traveling companions, librarian Kit Laika and Joe Preti from the View from the Gutters podcast.

This month we dig into the Vertigo line of mature-readers comics from DC. From its inception with Karen Berger’s editorial work with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing in the 1980s through massive hits like Sandman, Preacher, Fables and 100 Bullets, we dissect some of the most influential, critically acclaimed and popular comic books of the past thirty years.

Is Vertigo dead, even if its spirit for creator innovation and quality live on at other publishers?

Music: 
“Main Theme” from Constantine (2014) by Bear McCreary

Previously titled: “Make Comics Great Again”