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CSBG Archive

House to Astonish Episode 86

Paul and I are a couple of days late due to super-busy schedules, but we’re back (albeit slightly late) and we’ve got discussion of Chris Roberson’s Monkeybrain Comics, Grant Morrison’s MBE, the DC cancellations and launches, Carlos Pacheco being honoured by Getafe and a canter through the solicits. We’ve also got reviews of ?The Massive, Spider-Men and ?Extermination?, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe takes tea with the vicar. All this plus the Phantom Stranger’s business card, the embroidered teacosies of Amanda Conner and a knighthood for services to disco.

We’re still looking for your input as ever, on a multitude of topics not limited to the following:

  • Is DC’s one-in, one-out system of comics launches something that makes sense? Are they best off keeping the line at 52, or should the stories dictate the number of comics published?
  • How much “writing for the trade” still really happens in superhero comics? Is decompression still a problem?
  • With books like The Massive ending up at Dark Horse, what is the future like for Vertigo?


The podcast is here, or on Mixcloud here, or on Stitcher.com (or their free iPhone or Android apps) or available via iTunes.

Or use the Mixcloud player right here:

Let us know what you think, either in the comments, on Twitter (I’m @housetoastonish and Paul’s @ifdestroyed), via email (you can get us at housetoastonish@gmail.com) or on our Facebook fan page.


I’ll listen to this very soon, but I’ll answer the questions first to get the discussion going…

— It seems best that DC keeps the line constrained, if only to ensure better quality control. Of course, given the state of the Teen Titans books, I’m not sure that they have the best quality control to begin with.

— Quite a bit, but at this point decompression has become so commonplace that I find it harder to read old superhero comics. The kind where there always has to be a big fight scene and a resolution each issue. As long as the decompression means a focus on character development and long-term plotting, as opposed to just padding out the comic with a lot of big beige panels, I’m fine.

Also, it occurs to me that part of the reason decompression is employed is to make the comic read more fluidly. What I noticed in Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s Iron Man is that they stick largely to widescreen panels, don’t use many panels during action scenes (but plenty during dialogue scenes), don’t switch scenes in the middle of a page, and generally stick to a horizontal grid layout. I’ve found that a lot of people who don’t’ regularly read comics are baffled by some comic book layouts, especially the ones with two-page spreads of horizontal panels, triangular slices mid-page, and other tricky layouts. The most important thing to comic storytelling is clarity, and it’s best that the message get across slowly if it gets across easily.

— Not sure; does Vertigo have anything really great upcoming? I’m a bit out of the loop there, but I know iZombie is ending, and Sweet Tooth is ending, and without those there isn’t any current Vertigo book that I follow.

While Scalped is also ending, you should definitely be reading Scalped.

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