Image Comics on Indie Radio

Comic-Con, the Eisner Awards, stormtroopers, bulimia, Japanese-Korean tensions, the Olsen twins, pornography, the writers' strike, Sarah Silverman and music were just some of the topics discussed over the airwaves in Los Angeles last week, when Image Comics creators Rob Schrab (writer-illustrator of "Scud: The Disposable Assassin" and director of "The Sarah Silverman Program"), Joe Casey (writer of "Gødland" and "Charlatan Ball"), Mark Sable (writer of "Hazed" and "Two-Face: Year One"), and Abrams Publishing's Lela Lee (the "Angry Little Girls" franchise) sat on the bench in the latest episode of Jonsey's Jukebox Jury on Indie 103.1 FM.

CBR News stopped by the studio to photograph the players and bring you the broadcast highlights before the Jukebox Jury podcast becomes available for download later this week.

Broadcast every Friday at 12:00PM PST, the Jury is a routinely chaotic and often hilarious program in which a panel of guests judge the quality of new songs by various artists -- "mustard" for good, "pants" for bad. Typically, very few songs are played, with the panelists choosing instead to discuss with each other whatever happens to be on their minds, be it video games, film, or, in this case, comic books.

Sitting in for regular host Steve Jones (guitarist, The Sex Pistols) was Dave Navarro (guitarist, Jane's Addiction, Camp Freddy), himself a longtime comics fan. "I was an avid collector, the Batman comics were a huge part of my life growing up. I had them dating back to the teens, a massive, massive collection," said Navarro, who has spoken publicly about his history with drug addiction. "[I spent] hundreds of thousands of dollars on [comic books], and I ended up selling them so I could shoot heroin and cocaine into my arms!"

"At least it was for a good cause," Joe Casey joked.

"I got very high off the Dark Knight, but I don't have the collection anymore," Navarro continued. "I have one left that's framed in my home, it's 'Love And Rockets' #1 -- the color one, not the black and white one. I had that one but I sold that, I can't find it!"

Later, Navarro was intrigued by the idea of sellouts in comics, explaining that in the world of music, he's considered a sellout because he's "done television" and other such commercial ventures.

"If you can make a living off of comics, you're probably considered a sellout," Rob Schrab remarked.

"Then I'm a total sellout," Casey laughed, before reminding listeners that he also works such creator-owned projects as "Gødland" and "Charlatan Ball," both published by Image Comics.

"I've been trying to sellout," said Lela Lee. "But it's just not working out!"

The panel of course mentioned their plans to attend this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, prompting Navarro to compare and contrast the comics convention to Erotica LA, the adult industry convention he attends regularly.

"People are probably wearing the same outfits," said Mark Sable. "The Slave Leia, you'll see they should not be wearing those outfits."

"They have enough stormtroopers to actually guard the place!" said Schrab, who will at Comic-Con be premiering "Scud: The Whole Shebang," a collection of all 24 issues of his cult hit series, "Scud: The Disposable Assassin." Additionally, Schrab said, the first season of "The Sarah Silverman Program" is available on DVD, with ten new episodes coming this year.

Joe Casey will be attending the Eisner Awards ceremony in San Diego, having been recognized for his work on "Gødland." "I won't win," Casey sighed.

"I voted for you, Joe!" said Mark Sable, who will be signing copies of "DC Special: Cyborg," the first ever Cyborg solo title from DC Comics, as well as "Hazed," his dark comedy graphic novel about sorority girls and eating disorders.

The topic of eating disorders led to a discussion of obesity, which led to a discussion of the numerous personal conveyances seen at comic conventions, which led to a discussion of disabilities, which led to an in-depth discussion of DC's Cyborg, perhaps for the first time ever on Los Angeles radio.

For her part, Lela Lee is preparing for Comic-Con her back-to-school line, with products including pencils, calculators that say, "Stupid people get on my nerves" and alarm clocks that say, "I hate school." In addition to her "Angry Little Girls" books, Lee's handbags, shirts, wallets and other merchandise has been available in Hot Topic, and will be available in San Rio stores.

Recalling a grim cover illustration he'd seen in the '90s, Navarro asked the panel, "How many times can superheroes die?"

"As many times as you want," Casey said.

"Every couple of years there's a big, 'This time he's really dying!' How do they bring him back?" asked Navarro.

"Shamelessly," Casey answered. "Every time. It's yet another marketing opportunity; anther way to promote the books. Everything old is new again. The nostalgia wheel turns and Superman is back."

Following those lines, the panel brought up the recently deceased Captain America, who Navarro declared was "just a guy in a suit and would have been taken out a long time ago," and added, "The suit didn't die. The man may have died, but the suit will live on forever in our hearts."

"That's so metaphorical," Lee laughed. "That's great stuff."

Navarro questioned the panel on comic book movies, asking, "Is that the kiss of death? Or is that the Holy Grail?"

"To have a really good movie, something like 'Iron Man,' that's the Holy Grail," stated Schrab. "But to have something like 'Tank Girl'..."

Lee chimed in, "I think comic book fans are smart enough to know the movie people have nothing to do with the books."

"'Iron Man' is a fantastic translation," added Casey. "It references all kinds of things from the comics, and not only do comic book fans embrace it, everybody loves it."

The panel also discussed the new Hulk and Batman films, agreeing they intensely disliked Ang Lee's "Hulk" but that they're eager to see Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight."

Navarro confessed he preferred the comics of DC to those of Marvel. "It's hard for me to explain. It's not the characters, it's not the writing. There's something about DC that seems more streamlined, and something about Marvel that seems thicker."

"Batman, Superman, these are very simple ideas," Casey explained. "You can tell all kinds of stories with those kinds of characters because at their essence they're very, very simple. With Marvel characters, they have a lot of history involved. It's about their lives. It's not just about one idea or one concept."

"I feel Marvel's more of a 'pop-y' kind of comic," Schrab said.

"I think DC's stuff is just really iconic, they're archetypes," Sable said. "Batman is the darkness, Superman is the light."

"That makes sense why I would gravitate towards them," Navarro said. "As a musician, growing up my heroes were icons like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. You get it. They're awesome."

In response to a question from Navarro about what's new and exciting in comics, Mark Sable plugged the upcoming anthology "Comic Book Tattoo," featuring stories based on the music of Tori Amos. "There's a lot of good anthology stuff," said the writer, mentioning Image's "PopGun" and "24Seven." "I think those books are things I would recommend people check out, you get a real variety of the things that are out there -- not just superhero stuff."

The subject of comics piracy was broached, with Navarro characterizing the comics industry as relatively healthy in contrast to the industries of music and film. "My stuff gets downloaded," said Schrab. "But it hasn't affected my sales."

"I don't think anybody has really figured out a way to make it fun to read on a screen," Sable remarked. "I just get a headache from it."

Dave Navarro agreed, saying, "I remember, as a collector, there was something about the smell of the pages and the ink and putting your comics in the plastic thing --"

"Dave, you bagged and boarded your comics?" asked Casey.

"Oh yeah, are you kidding me?" Navarro said, explaining that when he did sell his near-mint comics, the low resale value shocked him. "You just get raked! Is it really an investment? You're never going to get back what you put in."

The panel agreed, adding "Action Comics" #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, is the most valuable comic.

The Jury concluded the show with a further round of plugs, including some shout-outs to local retailers Meltdown, Golden Apple and Earth-2.

Keep an eye on Indie 103.1's website for the podcast of the full Comic Book Jury episode of Jonsey's Jukebox Jury, which you will be able to download and listen to for free later this week.

Special thanks to Image Comics PR & Marketing Coordinator Joe Keatinge and Sherri J. Trahan of Evil Ink Comics.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Image Comics forum.

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