Sep 18, 2013
This week on The Comics Alternative podcast, Derek is joined by Lan Dong, and the two of them discuss Gene Luen Yang’s new two-volume set, Boxers and Saints (First Second), as well as Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve #13 (Drawn and Quarterly). The Two (Guys?) with PhDs begin by briefly discussing the book that Yang is most known for, American Born Chinese, and then they segue into the new works and how Boxers and Saints differ in terms of theme, scope, and narrative approach. They point out the historical nature of the books and the ways in which Yang fictionalizes the Boxer Uprising. Along the way they discuss the work’s two-text structure, the differences between the books’ themes and perspectives, the gendered and religious differences between the two volumes, and Yang’s aesthetic approach to both. Then Lan and Derek move on to the latest issue of Adrian Tomine’s foundational series, Optic Nerve. They do so by way of issue #12, which came out two years ago, drawing parallels between that issue and the latest one. They discuss issue #13′s one-page autobiographical piece, the offbeat story “Owls” — in the process, drawing some links to both Shortcomings and Summer Blonde — and the beautiful and evocative short, “Translated, from the Japanese.” All in all, Lan and Derek cover a lot of ground, and they wholeheartedly recommend these new releases.