The Annotated Stephen Bissette : SWAMP THINGS & TABOOS & TYRANTS

During my formative years I discovered this comic SWAMP THING by relative newcomers Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben.

I was a kid, but old enough to realize even then that this was something special. Alan Moore’s words and Bissette and Totleben’s visuals even at the time, and it was a strange time because everything felt in flux and on the brink of changing, even at the time, getting these off the stands, the combination of these three men working together felt like greatness.

And some things are hot in the moment, but some things, some work that is rushed out for the masses, to meet deadlines for a castigated medium, some work screams greatness from the go, and time only makes it more great.

More Hallowed.

From pioneers like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and O’Neil and Neal Adams and Jim Steranko and Bernie Wrightson there was a new generation building on the foundation they laid down.

Creators such as…

Don Lomax (who I had the pleasure to interview) would give us VIETNAM JOURNAL.

Doug Moench, a pioneer in his own right, off of MASTER OF KUNG FU (issues 38 and 39 remains the best two parter ever) would do some of his most heartfelt work in Moon Knight (that first 21 or 22 issues is gold, everything from dealing with the death of John Lennon, to familial abuse)

Frank Miller would give us DARK KNIGHTS and RONINS and YEAR ONES.

William Messner Loebs would create a frontier masterpiece, unfotunately a hidden gem to most, with JOURNEY.

Bruce Jones – With his TWISTED TALES would almost singlehandedly give birth to a new EC inspired golden age of Horror Comics, but making comics that were horrifying to a Reagan era age.

and of course… Alan Moore.

Alan Moore would birth many such works, particularly in the waning decades of the 20th century. SWAMP THING was one of his earliest successes and remains one of his most iconic works. And for me one of his most beautiful works, working with the art team of Bissette snd Totleben, they were visual storytellers that could really add and evolve and enrich the scope of Moore’s script, throwing in their own ideas and visuals.

It is very much the work of three young men riffing on their loves, and remains now 30 years later still very seminal work.

Bissette in the years since has become one of the most respected instructors, teaching at the celebrated Center for Cartoon Studies in vermont.

One thing you may not know about him, and I first discovered listening to an Indie Spinner Rack podcast episode (that great now defunct show) is he is a FANTASTIC speaker. He is such an engaging and erudite and interesting wealth of information on this beloved hobby and artform and the personalities behind it.

And I love podcasts to begin with, so combining this walking encyclopedia of not just comic lore, but film and film journalism, books, the art of creating, of self publishing, of blogging, and for me… that is entertainment.

So ever since I’ve listened to him, whenever I catch him interviewed on a podcast.

So here without further ado is hours of audio greatness with one of the best artists in Comics, and one of its most engaging speakers.

INDIE SPINNER RACK #79 8 May 2007 – My first introduction to Stephen Bissette post SWAMP THING, this put him on my radar as just a fantastic and informative speaker. A great interview/conversation.

Talkcast #102 8 Oct 2011 – Very annoying hosts makes this one almost unlistenable, but fast forward to where Bissette finally gets to speak about fundraising and HP Lovecraft.

LOST IN THE STATIC #99 -25 Nov 2013- Fun informative hosts lead inro a really compelling interview on Bissette, that includes Edgar Allen Poe, Greg Irons, Skull #6, Moore, Veitch, Totleben and the Saga of the Swamp Thing. Indie work on Gore Shriek, Shriek, and the ground breaking Dave Simm funded TABOO. Structure of TABOO inspired by Harlan Ellison’s brilliant DANGEROUS VISIONS and AGAIN DANGEROUS VISIONS. Bruce Jones TWISTED TALES, X-MEN’S Brood Saga. TABOO designed by Bissette to be taken seriously, and push the envelope and make people ‘drop it on the ground’. Kirby Awards. A must listen podcast.

Adam Greenfield’s great podcast MAKING COMICS has had Stephen Bissette as a guest three times, and all three are brilliant, with nice Vincent Price/Poe Intros. Well worth hunting down. Oct 2014,2015, & 2016.

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS #465,#500 – Sept 2015, June 2016

POD SEQUENTIALISM #2 – October 2015

TV GUIDANCE #228 – May 2017

RADIODROME #323 – Mar 2017

UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Come back as I flesh out the content in all the interviews and conversations!

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2015 Podcasts the Year in Review: Old Favorites ended and New ones discovered

 

Looking back over the ten year history of this blog I’ve praised my share of podcasts, and seen quite a few shuffle off this mortal coil.

2015 seemed to be a volatile year, with many of my long standing podcast favorites either no longer releasing episodes on a regular schedule or hanging up their mics.

Among some of the great ones that seem to be on hiatus or done are:

 

  • HORROR ETC
  • SIDEBAR

 

 

All of these shows are and were great, and will be missed. And join other great departed podcasts such as:

 

  • INDIE SPINNER RACK
  • GEEK SYNDICATE
  • MONDO MOVIE
  • FREQUENCY OF FEAR

 

But I completely understand, these podcast and blogs, while dearly loved, require HUGE expenditures of time and energy, and sometimes… life gets in the way. And considering most of these podcasts are not a revenue stream, it is understandable that when the effort exceeds the rewards… it’s time to stop doing it. What is amazing is that some of these shows have gone as long as they have.

All that said, you may or may not still find old episodes online. I recommend grabbing them if you can. SIDEBAR particularly interviewed some great artists, and for those interviews to be not easily accessible, seems… a loss.

INDIE SPINNER RACK  had the best interviews with both Alan Moore (One of the greatest and most influential writers in the comics/graphic novel medium – it is a crime that companies, marvel and dc, are releasing books missing his name , and shorn of his insightful interviews. the reasons for this are both well documented and trivial. yes, alan moore can be something of a bridge burner, but his brilliance makes him worth the effort to mend those fences. when he passes off this mortal coil, as we all must, no one wants to be remembered as the company that stole his characters, and froze him out of work. pay alan moore and get him at least authorizing director’s cut versions or writer approved versions of his most celebrated works. it’s one of the reasons i will not part with my swamp thing paperbacks, it is because later introductions are devoid of his introductions, which are as entertaining and informative as his stories. )

and Stephen Bissette (Who remains to this day, with his run on swamp thing, one of the greatest and most influential artists to work in the medium).

 

So the above are the podcasts lost in 2015. Here are some select podcasts enjoyed in 2015:

 

Head over to the German Music Magazine GROOVE and pick up two of the best mix tapes of 2015:

 

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS – anytime you get the chance to hear Stephen Bissette speak, take it. Not only one of the great superstar artists of the 80s with his game changing work on Swamp Thing, but simply an informed, erudite speaker on a number of topics.. including the history of horror and cinema. This Sept 2015 podcast is a recommended listen. They also have an episode of huge interest to any fan of either Edgar Allen Poe or Richard Corben. They also offer a Transformers episode that offers reviews on recent transformer comics.

 

 

THE DOLLAR BIN (Also a show that appears to be on indefinite hiatus) had a couple intriguing episodes in 2015, one covering HIP HOP FAMILY TREE, and one with Golden Age artist Allen Bellman:

 

And if these guys really are  done producing new shows, some of their classic shows that you want to get, while avaiilable, are:

I grew up on Steve Englehart comics and you don’t get today’s sophisticated comics, without first going through him. One of the first to help transition comics from kids entertainment to college and beyond entertainment.

Not one, but two interviews with one of the most elusive, and one of the most talented and innovative writers in comics, Christopher Priest (His SPIDERMAN VS WOLVERINE remains one of the joys of my collection, as well as his excellent run on BLACK PANTHER and QUANTUM AND WOODY).

 

A Bob McLeod interview (Made important because Bob McLeod’s work on the NEW MUTANTS is burned into my brain. That fight with the New Mutants and the Sentinels in a mall, blew my mind as a kid. And as an adult, those images still define for me what great artwork and storytelling should be.)

So quite a few of my favorite podcasts slowed down or completely stopped in 2015. However when one door closes another, as they say, opens.

So some podcasts I started listening to in 2015, and have added to my subscriptions are:

 

  • THE COMICS ALTERNATIVE- Their monthly preview episodes helped me all last year put in my monthly comics order
  • INKSTUDS- Interviews with Comic Book  Creators… some really indispensable interviews.
  • READING LIVES- Interviews with Writers… LOVE IT.
  • WTF- I think without argument the most listened to and successful podcast, with guests from  comedians, musicians, actors, and now a sitting president, Marc Maron out of his garage has created podcast as both high art, and passionate conversation.
  • FILMSPOTTING:SVU- Reviews for the streaming age
  • GILBERT GODFREY PODCAST – I do not find Gilbert Gottfried funny, but his knowledge and love for classic film and television, means he interviews people I want to hear, and he has had some GREAT gustd this year. Thankfully co-host Frank is there to get the podcast back on track when Gilbert starts amusing himself and no one else
  • FAT MAN ON BATMAN- Kevin Smith’s love for the creative process and all things Batman… is an addictive listen
  • HOUSE TO ASTONISH – A comic book podcast from across the pond

AND WRAPPING UP MY 2015 REVIEW, WANT TO GIVE ACCOLADES TO SOME OF MY FAVORITE, AND LONGEST RUNNING PODCASTS THAT ARE STILL GOING STRONG. ALL AWARD WINNING PODCASTS (they all won my Welles Award a few years back, and in my mind have been award winners every year since):

  • CGS – Comic Geek Speak -one of the oldest podcasts, and with great losses, and welcome additions, still an eagerly awaited listen
  • 11′ OCLOCK- One of the most informative and jam-packed and fun of any podcast. The chemistry these three have… works.
  • B-MOVIE CAST – Love this podcast on classic, crazy, genre cinema. Wonderful chemistry between the hosts.

Well folks, that is the podcast scene here as 2015 ends and 2016 takes the stage. Please use this list to see what was special about those shows we lost, and to jump aboard and support those we still have.

Thanks for reading and be well!