Paul’s Top 10 Comics of 2014 (and AJ’s Lament)

'Saga' art by Fiona Staples.

‘Saga’ art by Fiona Staples.

Last week, we brought you our top 10 films of the year. It was different from past years in that while I still wrote words and words and words, Paul presented his list without comment. He continues that trend with his top 10 comics of 2014. Meanwhile, I’m getting into some unusual territory by admitting that I don’t have a list. Sure, I could have scraped something together, but it wouldn’t have felt right.

I adore comic books–look no further than the year-long Four-Color Flashback series on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman we just wrapped in December–but this was the year they unfortunately fell by the wayside of my pop culture habits. There are a few reasons: comics are expensive, often going for $2.99, $3.99, or even more for a bundle of 20-25 sheets of paper; reading is a solitary, time-consuming activity which requires laser focus, unlike a lot of movies and TV (I’ll probably get in trouble for that), and this year I chose to devote much more of my reading time to prose; and lately, I’ve grown to prefer sitting down with one-and-done graphic novels or trade paperback collections to only getting a single hit of a story each month.

Then there’s the fact that 2014 was the year I (and Paul, and frenemy of the show Eric Sipple) published a book. I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but actually putting blood, sweat, and tears into finishing a real product available for purchase left me with a lot less free time. Video games were the first casualty–I played the very comics-oriented LEGO Marvel Superheroes for a few days, but that was about it–and then, completely by chance, I noticed comics becoming the second. Which is ironic, considering how heavily indebted The Deli Counter of Justice is to superhero comics.

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Listen to Episode 211, “The Sandman: Vol. X – The Wake (feat. Eric Sipple, Greg Sahadachny, K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey)”

Art from 'The Sandman' #72 by Michael Zulli and Daniel Vozzo.

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #72 by Michael Zulli and Daniel Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 211, “The Sandman: Vol. X – The Wake (feat. Eric Sipple, Greg Sahadachny, K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mark the end of our year-long Four-Color Flashback discussion of Neil Gaiman’s epic fantasy series The Sandman. On hand to discuss Vol. X: The Wake with Paul and AJ are all of their past Sandman guests: Broken Magic author/The Deli Counter of Justice cohort Eric Sipple; The Debatable Podcast host Greg Sahadachny; and Wanna Cook? authors K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey. The six of them discuss Morpheus’ wake, its many attendees, Daniel’s ascendance as the Dream King, and the series’ three epilogues. This episode? Well, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Next: for the final episode of 2014, you’ll get to hear Paul, AJ, Eric, Thomas Dorton, and Alyssa Herron doing a Deli Counter of Justice reading at Rickert & Beagle Books in Pittsburgh, PA.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. X – The Wake.”)

Listen to Episode 209, “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones”

Art from 'The Sandman' #68 by Marc Hempel, Richard Case, and Daniel Vozzo.

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #68 by Marc Hempel, Richard Case, and Daniel Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 209, “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

All good things got to finish some time. Paul and AJ have reached the climax of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, in its penultimate installment, Vol IX: The Kindly Ones. As Morpheus’ strict adherence to rules proves to be a cage of his own making, the Furies come down upon his head, wreaking havoc in the Dreaming and tying together many of this epic series’ loose ends. Meanwhile, Lucifer plays piano, Rose meets Jack (non-Titanic edition), Matthew lacks pennies, and Lyta’s hair drinks most of the water. It’s been a hell of a ride.

Next: the boys get in the twisted Christmas spirit with a look back at Scrooged.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones.”)

Listen to Episode 202, “The Sandman: Vol. VIII – Worlds’ End (feat. Ensley F. Guffey)”

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Art from ‘The Sandman’ #54 by Michael Allred and Daniel Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 202, “The Sandman: Vol. VIII – Worlds’ End (feat. Ensley F. Guffey),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

After scaling the high point of The Sandman last week with Brief Lives, Paul and AJ fall a little closer to earth with a discussion of Vol. VIII – Worlds’ End. Joining them is Wanna Cook? author Ensley F. Guffey…and they all agree it’s likely the series’ weakest collection. But weak Sandman is still better than most comics, so there’s plenty to say about Neil Gaiman’s final attempt at telling short stories in the Endless’ domain. There’s the return of Hob Gadling, a look at the mythic side of American politics, and a funeral procession passing by the inn at the end of all worlds. Plus, the gang grouses about Gotham and discusses Marvel’s settlement with the Jack Kirby estate.

Next: Gobbledyween 2014 gets off to a slashing start with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho. The boys will be joined by Mike Brooks.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. VIII – Worlds’ End.”)

Listen to Episode 201, “The Sandman: Vol. VII – Brief Lives (feat. Eric Sipple)”

sandman7

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #49 by Jill Thompson, Vince Locke, and Danny Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 201, “The Sandman: Vol. VII – Brief Lives (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Change is important. It’s also a bitch. The Endless turn and face the strain as Paul and AJ continue their Four-Color Flashback exploration of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman with Vol. VII: Brief Lives. Joining them by request (his request) is Broken Magic author and The Deli Counter of Justice cohort Eric Sipple. The gang discusses Dream and Delirium’s quest to find their brother, Morpheus growing as a person (or whatever he is), the brief stories and briefer lives embedded within the volume’s arc, and how nothing ever stays the same. Brief Lives is the pivotal installment of the series…everything after is fallout. Plus, Paul and Eric gush over Gwen Stacy’s resurgence in Edge of Spider-Verse.

Next: before Gobbledyween takes over the month of October, the boys are joined by Wanna Cook? authors K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey to discuss the next Sandman book, Vol. VIII: Worlds’ End.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. VII – Brief Lives.”)

Listen to Episode 196, “The Sandman: Vol. VI – Fables & Reflections”

Art from 'The Sandman: Fear of Falling' by Kent Williams and Sherilyn Van Valkeburgh.

Art from ‘The Sandman: Fear of Falling’ by Kent Williams and Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh.

Gobbledygeek episode 196, “The Sandman: Vol. VI – Fables & Reflections,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Rulers–whether they be corrupt, wise, or both–make rules. They establish boundaries, set parameters within which a person lives their life. Should those rules be broken, there will be consequences. Neil Gaiman explores some of those consequences, joined by an incredibly talented string of artists including Bryan Talbot and Jill Thompson, in The Sandman: Vol. VI – Fables & Reflections. Paul and AJ continue their year-long Four-Color Flashback exploration of The Sandman, discussing everything from barophobia to Greek myth, from the once-great city of Baghdad to the “Thriller” video. Plus, Donald Glover finally gets to be Spider-Man and AJ offers his thought’s on Netflix’s first animated series for adults, BoJack Horseman.

Next: on September 1, Paul and AJ kick off an epic podcrawl (see information on participating podcasts in the show notes) discussing the Alien and Predator films with a look back at Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. VI – Fables & Reflections.”)

Listen to Episode 193, “The Sandman: Vol. V – A Game of You (feat. K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey)”

Art from 'The Sandman' #35 by Shawn McManus and Daniel Vozzo.

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #35 by Shawn McManus and Daniel Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 193, “The Sandman: Vol. V – A Game of You (feat. K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey),” is available for listening or right here, and on iTunes here.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, it might just be because Thessaly’s pulled it to Earth, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the ground. This Paul and AJ learn in the latest installment of our year-long Four-Color Flashback analyzing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, this time focusing on Vol. V – A Game of You. Joining the boys again are Wanna Cook? authors K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey, who have much insight to offer on Gaiman’s depiction of transgender character Wanda, artist Shawn McManus’ use of the classic nine-panel layout, and, uh, polar bears. Add to this many Wizard of Oz illusions and discussions of identity, and you’ve got something we promise makes sense. Sort of. Plus, the gang riffs on Comic-Con, including the unveiling of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

Next: ooga-chaka, ooga-chaka, it’s the Guardians of the Galaxy.