Stella is such a great, underrated show! What's your favorite episode/gag? Do you have a favorite of the guys? (Also, I'm going to head off your more pretentious readers by acknowledging that yes, the uncensored short films are great too, but I get so sick of everybody being so quick to mention that they've seen and prefer those that nobody wants to discuss the also excellent TV series, which had to be funny with pulling out a plastic dong every five minutes.)
I think the TV show is way better than those shorts are, honestly. It has to be more abstract and odd to make up for not having dildoes everywhere all the time. It forced them to be more creative, and that was great.
My favorite one has to be the one where the guys get a paper route and get hassled by bullies, and then end up trying to win them over with a rap song about friendship. Showalter’s rap in that part is just the best (and he probably has my favorite character of the three).
I also really love the one where they get an office job and decide that, since they already wear suits all the time, they should wear tuxedoes to work.
Do WRA guests go through any kind of screening to verify that they'd perform well on a podcast? What would happen if you booked a great comics creator who turns out to be totally awkward in verbal conversation?
There is no screening. Most people are just really good, and we try to make it as comfortable and easy a conversation as possible.
I've got into a lot of great comedies based on your recs on WRA. I just finished Silicon Valley and I'm gonna start Last Week Tonight soon. What are your all-time favourite TV comedies?
Most of them you could guess. “The Simpsons,” “Seinfeld,” “Mr. Show,” “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.”
One I’d definitely suggest seeking out is “Stella,” the one-season Comedy Central series starring Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain. It’s my sense of humor almost exactly, in that it’s both very silly and occasionally very dark. I love it to pieces.
Serious question: I know you probably hate back-door writing as a writer and a critic (I know I do myself as a person who dabbles on both of those things) but I am curious about what you would do with a third season of Arrow. So far, the show's been pretty good for me but I fully admit that there are some rather glaring flaws at the very core of the show that its still grappling with and I'd like to hear you talk about that.
I’d take it full superhero.
The second season did a lot to move it into that direction, but it’s still kind of clinging to this notion of being a serious drama, and that it has to have some kind of larger societal philosophy like the Nolan Batman movies did. The thing is, the society they’ve built for the show is 100 percent a silly, cartoon world. There are people who constantly carry homemade signs around any chance they get.
So I’d play that up. Embrace the silliness. It doesn’t have to be Batman 66 or anything, but trying to still be dark and serious just doesn’t work.
Also, I’d make Ollie less of a dick (though it’s kind of entertaining how much of a shithead he is, honestly).
What are your thoughts on Spider-Man company-wide crossovers (like Spider-Island) or grand, epic stories tied to Spider-man (like Ends of the Earth or any of the "Spider-Man visits another universe" stories)? I've always thought they can be fun but can also sometimes seem too grandiose for the character.
They can be great or they can be terrible.
I don’t really subscribe to the notion that certain stories are too big for certain characters or that others are too small for others. If the tone is right, then its fine. Spider-Man can be the center of a huge story, as long as he’s clearly overwhelmed and in over his head. I thought Spider-Island did that really well.
Are you interested in Spider-Verse? To me it sorta seems like when the X-Men have a big ol' space adventure or Superman has to deal with clones, in that it's interesting but so not a fit for the character.
How is Spider-Man meeting a bunch of other Spider-characters not in line with Spider-Man? That’s like, 100 percent classic Spider-Man.
I’m actually quite interested, but the prospect of crazy amounts of tie-in stuff isn’t too appealing to me.
Heard you talking about Space Ghost Coast to Coast on WRA, who's your favorite character on that show? What's your favorite episode?
Moltar. I absolutely love Moltar.
The one I always find myself quoting is “King Dead,” the episode where Moltar and Zorak kidnap Jon Benjamin and take him to Space Ghost’s house. I also really love “Warren” (the one with Gary Cole) and “Kentucky Nightmare” will always have a special place for me.
If you had the opportunity to live forever, would you take it?
Probably not. Earth’s going to be destroyed eventually, right? So you’d have to assume that after it point it would be floating endlessly through empty space, or at best, wandering a lifeless, ruined planet. No thanks.
I don't mean this to be mean toward a previous questioner, but what is up with people STILL getting excited about a character they loved being reintroduced in the New 52, as though they'll be anything like they were before? Is there any reason to believe this might ever possibly go well?
Where is cheesecake art's place in the current comic landscape that is trying to be more inclusive to women?
I think the general consensus is that cheesecake art can be fine, as long as it’s equitable, and treats male characters the same way it treats women. That seems to be part of the point of the Hawkeye Initiative (along with pointing out some poses are flat-out impossible).
And, you know, it also helps that the people in the art look at least somewhat like human beings and not lifeless sex dolls.
Are there any classic graphic novel/comic critics that have work worth reading based on their own merits? Is there a Pauline Kael of comic criticism?
I can’t think of anyone, and I think that’s in part because serious comics criticism as we know it now, where it’s akin to film or book criticism, is not that old of a discipline. For a long time, publications about comics were largely fannish and came in the form of zines. Even mainline magazines (namely Wizard) weren’t didn’t have much real criticism, you know? It was only after some watershed comics came out that people believed they had enough value to be worth the ink.
Maybe you could dig up some old issues of The Comics Journal and read those? It’s the only example of what you’re talking about that I can think of, though I’m sure academics and historians certainly would have more.
Ahh, are you not a fan of the Geoff Johns Flash stories and what he did to the Flash's Rogues Gallery in General? (I'm sort of indifferent to it, but I do think Scottish Mirror Master > Old Mirror Master)
Mirror Master is probably the only one of them I care about at all, and that’s because of Animal Man more than any Flash story he’s ever been in. (And be aware that Grant Morrison and Chris Truog created that version of Mirror Master, not Johns.)
I don’t really think so (even though Mark Hamill did portray him). I also don’t really love the character. Outside of Gorilla Grodd, I have little love for any of The Flash’s bad guys, to be perfectly honest.
Thoughts on Flash Thompson as Agent Venom? And, I suppose, how do you feel about Venom in general?
Flash Thompson Venom is the first time the character really made sense to me. I hated the process of getting there—the Flash-as-veteran stories were the worst in all of Brand New Day largely because they manipulated the audience and hit hot buttons just to elicit a response—but the Venom stuff made a ton of sense, and was handled nicely.
In general, I think Venom can be OK, but he’s usually not. The black costume stuff that led up to him is still a good, long-game sort of story, and he worked for a while as a Spidey villain who was Just Too Powerful, but all the effort that went into making him 2 KEWL ended up ruining him.