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Jun 28

House to Astonish Episode 203

Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 by Al in Podcast

We’re back (back! Back!) with more comics chat, remembering John Romita Sr and Ian McGinty, talking about #ComicsBrokeMe, Image moving distribution to Lunar, Marvel and DC’s upcoming launches and Ram V and Felipe Andrade’s Rare Flavours. We’re also reviewing Void Rivals and Ultimate Invasion, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is the O.G. All this plus Monty Python’s flying robots, passive drowning and a guest appearance by Roger McGough.

The episode is here, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And t-shirts? Well, now you come to ask about it, I’m sure we have some of them over at our Redbubble store, let me just check


Bring on the comments

  1. Joe says:

    My thoughts on reading Void Rivals. I’ve seen this plot done before, maybe there’s a fun twist. Hey, that looks like a transformer! Wait, it *is* a transformer, he’ll give them a lift, they’ll all join in the transformer action. Hang on, he just flew away without them.

    I wonder if further transformers will pop up in this series. Whatever the case, it was a fun surprise.

  2. Martin Smith says:

    The thing I can’t get past with Void Rivals/Energon Universe is Robert “Stop working for Marvel DC and do creator owned comics” Kirkman running an imprint within Image that a) owns all the work other creators do for it and b) is now doing licensed comics. Rank hypocrisy really.

    Also don’t get why they did this stealth launch gimmick for Transformers (which still isn’t out til the end of the year) when there was a Transformers movie out this month that they could have piggy-backed off for more mainstream attention. I mean, I’m not delusional enough to think there’s that many people that can be wooed into monthly comics off the back of a film, but it’s surely worth a go than doing this nonsense which is playing almost entirely to an audience that would have given a Transformers comic a look anyway.

  3. Joe I says:

    Martin, that’s arguably the original sin of Image— pretty much all the founders except maybe Larsen and Valentino very quickly started farming out their books to other creators to work on.

  4. Mark Coale says:

    Which quickly gave us the whole Angela saga with Todd and Neil.

  5. Omar Karindu says:

    Which quickly gave us the whole Angela saga with Todd and Neil.

    That was extra-funny, because Todd brought in a slew of creators who’d turned their backs on corporate comics to do a series of one-off plots-n-scripts for Spawn, from Alan Moore to Gaiman to Dave Sim to Frank Miller.

    He thereby gleefully tweaked the noses of the big, creator-unfriendly publishers he felt had stifled his creativity all those years.

    And then Todd was shocked! shocked! when Gaiman didn’t like Todd taking ownership of Angela and, worse, Miracleman and ignoring the original creative work to do whatever Todd wanted with ’em.

  6. Mike Loughlin says:

    Not recommending people listen to it, but the Comics Kayfabe YouTube channel* did a few episodes in which they read transcripts from the Gaiman v. McFarlane case. It was fascinating to see how McFarlane’s glad-handling and ego came back to bite him.

    * I’ve watched my fair share of CK, but I found one of the hosts obnoxious and haven’t watched it in awhile.

  7. Mathias X says:

    I really appreciated y’all taking the time to discuss the price point on Ultimate Invasion. My partner’s work contract recently ended, so with lean times ahead, I had to make the tough call to cancel my comic subscription from “every X-Book” to 0 comics for now. Ultimate Invasion’s $9.99 price point was the big motivator — it made me feel like I can’t trust the next event book I’d be interested in won’t be the same, and I just have no room for that in my budget.

  8. Andrew says:

    I’ve always found the course charted by the Image founders to be really interesting.

    Lee obviously sold out and went to DC, Liefeld fell out with the rest, sold his shares in Image and ended up back there eventually while continuing to do work for Marvel.

    McFarlane continues his Spawn saga which has a core audience while Silvestri’s Top Cow was obviously a major success during its first decade but that dropped off by the early-mid 2000s, particularly after Michael Turner departed.

    Valentino, never an especially prolific creator, stuck with his occasional Shadowhawk books and running the company while Larsen was more or less the only one who stay on his book and continues to write/draw it today.

  9. Alastair says:

    Romita is so often overlooked but he did so much to set the house style at Marvel and with out a doubt as much as Dikto developed Spider-man. It’s Romita’s Peter Parker that became the archetype that has been used ever since.

    On Ulitmate invasion that price point is ludicrous especially as for no much more you can read it on Unlimited in 3 months.

  10. Daibhid C says:

    Every time someone talks about the Untold Tales Flashback Month, I remember a Spidey/X-Men crossover novel I read in which Peter learns about this for the first time and is just like “Wolverine is practically my godfather. Sure, why not?”

    I had a similar experience to Al the first time I saw Frank Castle described as a Vietnam vet. “Okay … for K9 forces? Was that a thing they had in the Vietnam War? I’m almost certain they didn’t still have cavalry…”

    (I’ve since learned they did have “cavalry units”, but they weren’t cavalry cavalry; they were the helicopters. And helicopters don’t need vets.)

    I love Glob as Unbranded Man-Thing. “What if I replaced the ‘Man’ part? Like, it all happened in a swamp, so I could be … wait, no.”

  11. Mark Coale says:

    The marvel “-1” month is one of my all-time gimmicks. The Atlas era monster with scientist Reed Richards vs Venom as 50s monster is one I always cite,

  12. Moo says:

    “The marvel “-1” month is one of my all-time gimmicks.”

    It certainly is one of the gimmicks of all-time, isn’t it? It definitely happened. And of all the people who frequent this site, you are definitely one of them. Now, I need to whip up something for dinner. Perhaps one of my all-time meals. Something I’ve definitely had for dinner before.

    @Mark – I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  13. Andrew says:

    The -1 Flashback issues are something which I enjoyed a few of but developed a somewhat unrelated dislike of them purely because they absolutely clogged the back-issue bins through the late 90s and mid-2000s at the various comic shops I frequented in that era.

    There were so many unsold copies.

  14. Mark Coale says:

    I thought you were going to say “because they mess up my comics filing.”

  15. CalvinPitt says:

    I think Untold Tales of Spider-Man is the only -1 issue I have, and I only picked that up a couple of years ago, when i decided to track down that series. By which point I was so used to Wolverine having met everyone at some point that I think my reaction was basically what Daibhid described for Spider-Man.

    I was fond of “‘Nuff Said” myself, though I only read the ones for the series I was already buying. I especially liked the Peter Parker: Spider-Man issue Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham did, where Spidey’s attacked by an entire army of criminal mimes.

  16. Josie says:

    “Not recommending people listen to it, but the Comics Kayfabe YouTube channel*”

    I’ll recommend it. Their interviews are fantastic and their longform reviews and pretty informative.

  17. Mike Loughlin says:

    When they talk about, say, Barry Windsor-Smith comics, I like Cartoonist Kayfabe. When they act like they’re too cool for, say, ‘90s X-Men even though they still look back on Liefeld comics fondly, I find them unpleasant annd immature. I got tired of the channel and only check it out occasionally.

  18. Pascal says:

    Your discussion on price point was exactly my thoughts 10 years ago when I stopped buying single comics – and they were 2,99$ US then! I just buy TPB or hardback collections for the few series I want to follow, with absolutely no regrets. Also I reread the comics I already have – often I forgot what the stories were about and it feels like brand new.

  19. Mark Coale says:

    As someone who cares less and less about current big 2 comics, things like Unlimited are definitely worth the money. I had a free trial for the DC version when I did a pod recently about Stanley and his Monster, there are so many holes in what they offer. Marvels version is def the better of the two.

  20. Josie says:

    “When they act like they’re too cool for, say, ‘90s X-Men”

    That’s the opposite of their channel. It’s literally a love letter to comics of the ’90s and their youth. They don’t love everything, and they don’t even treat the books they love uncritically, but they’re rarely dismissive, and in the rare instances they’re downright negative (on Kelly and Bachalo’s Steampunk, for example), it’s because they know the creators have put out much better work.

  21. Josie says:

    For the record, I’m not saying people have to watch or like Cartoonist Kayfabe. I’m just disagreeing with the characterization of what the channel is and does.

  22. Mike Loughlin says:

    “For the record, I’m not saying people have to watch or like Cartoonist Kayfabe. I’m just disagreeing with the characterization of what the channel is and does.”

    Understood, appreciate the clarification. I watched the Steampunk video you wrote about, and agreed with their criticisms. I’m a Bachalo fan, and I thought that comic was incomprehensible.

    I have enjoyed some of their videos in which they talk about art and storytelling, and the channel is probably more positive than negative on balance (haven’t watched all or even most of them). I’m not saying, “all/most of CK is negative/bratty/etc.” After watching a decent amount of their content, the annoying, smirking asides and comments occurred often enough to make me not want to watch their videos.

    It irks me when they go out of their way to call certain writers and artists “jobbers” (not even people I’m fans of) or snark about comics that they think they’re above. The tone rubs me the wrong way. Even if such asides happened in a third or less of the videos I watched, that’s enough to tell me I’ll only check out their stuff occasionally.

  23. Mark Coale says:

    I hope these are at least younger folk (never consumed their content).

    I know I was guilty of some very dubious and snarky writing in my 20s at the dawn of the Web, that probably exists in some site but I’ve never gone back to try and read it out of potential mortification.

  24. Josie says:

    “It irks me when they go out of their way to call certain writers and artists “jobbers””

    I think it’s pretty interesting when they do it. They just covered a recent issue of Wizard where Peter David is ranked #1 on the top ten writers list, and they mention he’s a “jobber” and probably at the top of his game at this point. I think the label is accurate because PAD has no vanity about his role or his assignments; he is respectful of the properties and does his best to maintain continuity and service the franchises. Compare that to prima donnas like JMS and, hey, Morrison (who I like), who come in and get to dictate what they want the books and characters to be.

    And Kurt Busiek straddles both lines, a jobber at Marvel/DC and an auteur at Image/Wildstorm.

  25. Another Sam says:

    I don’t know if that’s exactly what they mean. I’m with Mike, in that I enjoy the channel at times, but am often put off by what feels like a desire to be contrary and ironic alongside an obvious genuine love for much of the work they are looking at.

    When I hear the term jobber, I don’t think ‘person who performs a task to their utmost without vanity’, I think ‘loser’. I appreciate your mileage may vary, but it feels like contempt to me.

    Their philosophy seems to be that working at Image in the 90s was akin to smuggling the outlaw comics they admire into the mainstream, whereas working at Marvel or DC in that time, particularly as a writer, probably that meant your work was toothless and horribly verbose.

    And to be honest, I can see the merit in that take, or at least appreciate the energy Image were injecting into comics back then. I just wish the point was made with less snark.

  26. Mike Loughlin says:

    See, when you write “jobber” and give a reason why someone like Peter David is a jobber (which I’m not arguing), it sounds like you’re putting him in a category with no judgement. When the hosts say it, it sounds like an insult. Calling people “Scott Job-dell” (not a writer whose work I like) and “Kay-Fabian Nicieza” (a much better writer and, reportedly, human being) is bratty. I don’t like it.

  27. Adam says:

    “I know I was guilty of some very dubious and snarky writing in my 20s at the dawn of the Web…”

    Oh god, yeah. House to Astonish itself has been going on long enough that I’ve undoubtedly got some wince-inducing comments in the archives, to say nothing of stuff over on Bleeding Cool, Savage Critic…

    Hell of a thing, growing up on the Internet.

  28. Josie says:

    “When I hear the term jobber, I don’t think ‘person who performs a task to their utmost without vanity’, I think ‘loser’”

    I will gladly admit that I find it disappointing when certain creators still exclusively to Marvel and DC. Yeah, I can see the self-publishing brings a wide range of challenges, especially if your name is linked to a popular corporate franchise, like Dan Jurgens and Superman, but time has shown that plenty of creators can balance franchise work with independent books, especially writers. James Tynion seems to be doing extremely well with this approach lately, given the awards he’s been taking home.

    Like, it’s always disappointed me that you’d rarely see Tim Sale’s name on an independent book, or Chris Bachalo, or Doug Mahnke, etc. Maybe they do commissions that I’m just not aware of, and get plenty of enjoyment from that, but I really wish they’d stretch their talents a bit more. I remember Lenil Yu did that one Cliffhanger book, Silent Dragon, and it likely bombed, and then he went right back to Marvel for the next 15+ years.

  29. For what it’s worth (two months later) Sandman *is* also a Hulk villain, albeit a minor one. He’s only made a handful of appearances as a Hulk villain, but enough that he made it into the Hulk volume of those Marvel character guidebooks Dorling Kindersley put out.

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