This is where it all began for Storied Arcs. If you like sci-fi, 80’s nostalgia, kids on bikes, and time travel then this is right up your alley. Heck, if you love great story-telling then this is a book for you! Each episode covers one trade paperback (five issues) and will not contain spoilers for future issues. So, you can read, listen, read, listen, read, listen, until you finish the series. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, or Matt Wilson, then you may want to listen to our intro episode which will give you a background on the creators and set up the story. We hope you enjoy this series as much as we did!
Here is the synopsis from the Image Comics website:
In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds in this mysterious young adult adventure.
Grass Kings is a genre-melding series from the indie publisher Boom! Studios. Introduced in March 2017 and concluded after its 15th issue was released in May 2018. If you’re not familiar with the creators or the series, then you may want to start with our creator spotlight episode. If you’ve already read volume 1, then skip right to that episode. The zero episode does not contain spoilers, but the discussion of each volume will assume that you’ve read the volume being discussed.
In the zero episode, you’ll find our creator spotlight on Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins who began this project. At the end of the series, you’ll get an exclusive one-hour interview with colorist Hilary Jenkins who joined the creative team during the second arc. Apart from that, you’ll find our usual format where we do spoiler-free deep dives into independent and creator-owned comics. This Eisner-nominated series is grounded, yet with hints of dystopia and murder mystery. Grab a copy and read along! Be sure to read the volume before listening to the episode, unless you like spoilers, then do whatever you want.
The synopsis from Boom! Studios:
Eldest brother Robert leads a grief-stricken life, having lost his daughter to a tragic accident, followed by his wife disappearing one morning never to return.
When an enigmatic young woman named Maria flees to their community in search of safe haven, Robert takes her in. Will his decision lead to ruin and retribution dooming the Kingdom?
From The New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and Peter Panzerfaust artist Tyler Jenkins comes a rural mystery series chronicling the tragic lives of the Grass Kings, three brothers and rulers of a trailer park kingdom, a fiefdom of the hopeless and lost, of the desperate poor seeking a promised land.
Season 03: The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
One of our co-host Mike’s favorite books from Mike’s favorite authors.
Here is the synopsis from Top Shelf Productions:
As an underwater welder on an oilrig off the coast of Nova Scotia, Jack Joseph is used to the immense pressures of deep-sea work. Nothing, however, could prepare him for the pressures of impending fatherhood. As Jack dives deeper and deeper, he seems to pull further and further away from his young wife and their unborn son. Then one night, deep in the icy solitude of the ocean floor, something unexplainable happens. Jack has a mysterious and supernatural encounter that will change the course of his life forever.
Equal parts blue-collar character study and mind-bending mystery, The Underwater Welder is a graphic novel about fathers and sons, birth and death, memory and reality, and the treasures we all bury deep below the surface.
Kill or Be Killed is a series from Image Comics that was released in August 2016 and ran for 20 issues and ended in June 2018. The creators of this series, are our co-host Alex’s favorite creative team in all of comics: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips. As usual, we offer a deep dive one trade paperback at a time into the series. But wait, there is a twist! For the first time ever, our co-host Mike will be reading along with the audience. He has no future knowledge of what later issues hold and so he’ll be guessing right along with you!
Here is the synposis from Image Comics:
The twisted story of a young man who is forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret as it slowly ruins his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones.
Description coming soon!
Here is the synopsis from DC Comics:
Welcome to Bedrock, where Paleolithic humans head to dinner for a taste of artisanal mammoth after shopping at Neandertall & Big Men’s Clothing, where Wilma shows her modern art, and where, if you take a plane, you could end up sitting on the literal tail section. It’s Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, Dino, Barney, Betty and Bamm-Bamm as you’ve never seen them before! The Flintstones garnered significant critical acclaim for its modern take on the iconic Hanna-Barbera prime-time animated series. This darkly hilarious title casts an acerbic eye on issues like consumerism, religion, politics, and relationships that’s both distinctly 21st century and uniquely the Flintstones!
Description coming soon!
Here is the synopsis from AWA Studios:
In the year 2056, robots have replaced human beings in the workforce. An uneasy coexistence develops between the newly intelligent robots and the ten billion humans living on Earth. Every human family is assigned a robot upon whom they are completely reliant. What could possibly go wrong? Meet the Walters, a human family whose robot, Razorball, ominously spends his free time in the garage working on machines which they’re pretty sure are designed to kill them in this Eisner Award-winning sci-fi satire from Mark Russell (The Flintstones, Second Coming) and Mike Deodato Jr. (The Amazing Spider-Man, THE RESISTANCE, The Flash).
Season 07: The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja
Speaking as a podcast that specializes in indie comic books, this is the indie comic book reader’s indie comic. Not only do we get the intersection of two great creators, we see them play with storytelling, coloring, and panels in experimental ways. Ann Nocenti has an eclectic career spanning multiple decades. She has contributed to journalism, comics, film, and more.
The hotly-anticipated eco-fiction tech thriller-meets-love-story from the award-winning, visionary team of Ann Nocenti (Daredevil, Ruby Falls) and David Aja (Hawkeye, Immortal Iron Fist)!
The bees are swarming. What do they know that we don’t?
In a broken-down world, a rebellious group of ruthless romantics have fled a tech-obsessed society to create their own& and a few cantankerous aliens have come to harvest the last seeds of humanity.
When one of them falls in love with a human, idealistic journalist Astra stumbles into the story of a lifetime, only to realize that if she reports it, she’ll destroy the last hope of a dying planet.
How far will she go for the truth?
Season 08: The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman
Jonathan Hickman has become something of a modern comics legend, especially for his work at Marvel. Before he became a sensation due to his work with the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four, he got his start at Image Comics. In particular, Hickman started with the most ambitious task imaginable: write, draw, color, ink, and letter his very first book. This effort gave us The Nightly News. To learn more about Hickman and this project in a spoiler-free way then listen to our zero episode (creator spotlight.) If you’ve read the book and you’re ready to discuss then jump into the one-shot discussion where we witness the birth of a comic writing legend.
Season 09: The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Description coming soon!
Here is the synopsis from Penguin Randomhouse (for the compendium edition):
Tom Taylor’s life was screwed from the word go. His father created the mega-popular Tommy Taylor boy-wizard fantasy novels.
But dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom that fans constantly compare him to his counterpart, turning him into a lame, Z-level celebrity. When a scandal hints that Tom might really be the boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a mysterious, deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, to all the places in world history where fictions have shaped reality.
Ok so, we bent our rule. As a podcast, we only cover completed story arcs (hence the name.) When we sat down to record this one we believed that this was a closed canon despite rumors of a fourth volume. Free comic Book Day 2023 proved that there is more story to come, so we’ll cover it when it does. If you want to learn more about these creators and this project in general without spoilers then check out our Creator Spotlight episode. If you’ve read the books then feel free to jump straight into the discussion.
Is Gerard Way a rockstar turned comic writer? Or a comic writer turned rock star? You’ll have to decide for yourself. He began the writing of The Umbrella Academy after years of success with My Chemical Romance. Gabriel Bá an incredible artistic talent with a highly recognizable style. These two men working together created a universe that felt lived-in from day one. To see everything published in this universe, check out the Dark Horse page for The Umbrella Academy. Before you get started, here is the synopsis of the first volume, “Apocalypse Suite”:
In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-three extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world.”
These seven children form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.
In this edition of the Storied Arcs deep dive into indie comics, we’re exploring the book Eight Billion Genies by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. Typically our podcast will wait until a book is collected in its final trade paperback form. We were so excited for this book that we released our discussion as soon as all of the issues were released. However, it is readily available at your library, second printings, digital copies, and a collected hardcover edition. This book was released by Image Comics in 2022 and concluded after eight issues ending in April 2023.
The synopsis from Image reads,
If you had one wish…what would you wish for? Now, what if everyone else had one wish too? That’s EIGHT BILLION GENIES, the new eight-issue series from CHARLES SOULE & RYAN BROWNE (CURSE WORDS). At exactly the same moment, everyone on earth gets a genie and one wish. All hell breaks loose, in a very entertaining way…and that’s just the beginning. Buckle in for the wildest ride of the year!
Season 12: DIE by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans
In this edition of the Storied Arcs deep dive into indie comics, we’re exploring the world of DIE by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. This book was released by Image Comics in 2018 and ran for 20 issues ending in September 2021. If you’re familiar with this book and its creators, then we suggest diving straight into volume 1. If not, then it may be helpful to start with our zero episode which explores the backgrounds of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans as well as the premise of the book. The zero episode does not contain spoilers for the series! The rest of the podcast episodes will assume you have read the content being covered. It is not a recap podcast, but rather a book club-style discussion of the plot, characters, themes, and message of the story. We hope you enjoy this book as much as we do!
Here is the synopsis from Image Comics:
DIE is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning unearthly horror they barely survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron’s in a rush, he describes it as “Goth Jumanji.” That only captures a sliver of what you’ll find in oversized debut issue-where fantasy gets all too real.
Description coming soon!
Here is the synopsis from Skybound:
Welcome to Outpost Zero, the smallest town in the universe. The people there work the land, go to the fights every Friday night, and tuck their children into bed-but the Outpost is no place for dreams or aspirations. To survive is ambitious enough. As Alea and her friends graduate to adulthood on a frozen world never meant to support human life, something stirs. Something sees…
Description coming soon!
Here is the synopsis from Image Comics:
Writer PORNSAK PICHETSHOTE’s long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed INFIDEL with stunning art by ALEXANDRE TEFENKGI (OUTPOST ZERO)
Following Edison Hark-a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective-on the trail of a killer in 1936 Chinatown, THE GOOD ASIAN is Chinatown noir starring the first generation of Americans to come of age under an immigration ban, the Chinese, as they’re besieged by rampant murders, abusive police, and a world that seemingly never changes.
Season 15: Gospel by Will Morris (with Vers)
Here you can find our intro to and discussion of Gospel by Will Morris from Image Comics. In addition to that, you can also hear our exclusive interview with Will Morris where we discuss everything from manga to feminist histories of the Middle Ages.
Here is Image Comics’ synopsis of the series:
When opportunity refuses to knock for restless hero Matilde the devil comes knocking instead. Thrust into action by the hellish arrival Matilde and storyteller Pitt will quest for renown the soul of their community and answers to the toughest question of all: “Who am I?”
Inspired by the work of Hayao Miyazaki and set in the chaos of King Henry VIII’s reign GOSPEL is a thrilling fantasy adventure that explores the truth behind the stories we tell.
Season 16: Plume by K. Lynn Smith
Here is our in-depth podcast discussion of the indie comic, Plume by K. Lynn Smith. You can read the entire series online for free at http://www.plumecomic.com/. It is also available in single-issue, four trades, or one hardcover omnibus edition.
The series is a self-described “western fantasy…”
Plume is a western adventure about Vesper Grey and her supernatural (and reluctant) guardian Corrick. On their way to recover some stolen artifacts, they start to learn the gritty truth about the past and how far they’re willing to go to amend it. Started in March 2011, Plume is now a complete series of nearly 500 pages. – plumecomic.com
A manga? On an indie comics podcast?
Don’t worry, we haven’t gone insane (yet.) This is great sci-fi, great detective/mystery, and great story-telling so we’re game! For this series, we cover Pluto by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki based on the original Astro Boy manga. Since Alex and Mike aren’t experts, they partnered with the Tankobon podcast for this 4-episode series. The podcast covers two volumes at a time. You can purchase all eight volumes in beautiful paperback or read for free at plutomanga.com. The spoiler-free synopsis is:
Pluto follows the Europol robot detective Gesicht in his attempts to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths around the world where all the victims have objects shoved into or positioned by their heads, imitating horns. The case becomes more puzzling when evidence suggests a robot is responsible for the murders, which would make it the first time a robot has killed a human in eight years. All seven of the great robots of the world, the most scientifically advanced which have the potential to become weapons of mass destruction, seem to be the killer’s targets, and the murdered humans are connected to preserving the International Robot Laws which grant robots equal rights. – Wikipedia
Season 18: The Apocalyptic Trilogy by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan
The apocalyptic trilogy isn’t so much a sequential story trilogy as it is a creative, spiritual, and idealogical trilogy. Now superstar writer James Tynion IV teams up with Eryk Donovan to explore three different scenarios for the end of the world. Each book contains only three issues and is collected in its own trade. There are no plot points, characters, or concepts that crossover from one book to another, yet a savvy reader can’t help but see a connection.
Here is a preview from ComicsAlliance for Memetic:
The story of Memetic is kicked into motion by the unleashing of the kind of adorable animal image many of us have seen and shared. In this case, it’s “Good Times Sloth,” and it becomes the most viral piece of internet content in history. Unfortunately, Good Times Sloth turns out to be weaponized meme that leads straight to the end of the human world as we know it.
Here is a preview from ComicBookRealm.com for Cognetic:
Every human believes that they are self-reliant, self-determined individuals, each set on their own course. They’ve built civilizations, they’ve built culture, they’ve built lives… But what if that isn’t the right track? What if there is a singular mind ready to take back control and finally right the destiny of mankind and build a better tomorrow? Cognetic is the story of a powerful psychic being that once controlled one-third of the world’s population as a part of its hivemind, and his return to humanity in modern-day New York City. It’s a psychic action thriller, precariously positioned on the edge of outright apocalypse. It’s also the story of a young woman, the assistant to the director of the FBI, who might be the only one who can save humanity, but at a terrible, terrible cost.
Here is the preview from Boom Studios for Eugenic:
When a plague ravages the world, one scientist discovers the cure and saves everyone. What nobody realized is that this scientist didn’t just set out to cure an illness—he decided to cure mankind of all differences, setting humanity on an evolutionary path that forever alters the definition of “normal.”