My Kind of Weird Podcast Episode 1
with guest: David Hazan (Nottingham, Mad Cave Studios)
My Kind of Weird is a Podcast where two people swap and pitch three kinds of media: something watchable, something readable and something listenable – to see if each person says at the end of the podcast “That’s My Kind of Weird.”
Joining host Anthony Pollock on this episode is comic book writer David Hazan (Nottingham, Mad Cave Studios) in which the obscure and wonderfully decadent Aussie film, Bad Boy Bubby, goes head to head with David’s choice of the cancelled thriller tv show Counterpart. David follows up this cancelled thriller with his pick of Kieron Gillen’s Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt which takes on the French Fantasy comic book, Aster of Pan. Before we finally close out the podcast with Salvatore Ganacci’s Horse going head-to-head with British Comedic Legends, The Goon Show.
February 11th, 2021
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Anthony Pollock: Joining us today is comic book writer David Hazan, who’s on the cusp of his comic book release, Nottingham issue one being released through Mad Cave Studios.
David, are you ready to get weird with me today?
David Hazan: I guess…
Anthony Pollock: Now, it needs to be put out there that we had a good 15 minute discussion of the pod just before we realized that we weren’t actually recording the pod. So without further ado, are you ready to present your something watchable pick?
Counterpart (TV Series)
David Hazan: So I have chosen Counterpart which is a television show starring JK Simmons. Throughout the course of the first episode, his doppelganger from the other world comes in and destroys his life. And he finds out that this agency is a front for the gateway and the interface between those two worlds. 30 years ago, during the Cold War, there was an experiment. Something went wrong. They opened up a passage. When you go through this door, you come out the other side, you had another world identical to ours.
Anthony Pollock: Starring JK Simmons, of course, who everyone knows, I guess at this point, J. Jonah Jameson, but I became familiar with them. I think we’re with OZ to be honest with you. He starred as the sort of leader of the Aryan Brotherhood and all around racist guy. Can you watch anything of JK Simmons now without feeling like; he’s still that character that you originally saw him in?
David Hazan: Absolutely, I think Counterpart is a perfect example. Because firstly, he is playing two wildly different characters who are essentially the same person from two parallel worlds, you know. You’ve got this one guy who’s this kind demure office worker who kind of accepts all the ills that are happening in his life. And then you’ve got this other person who is a man of action, who is often cruel, and they’re just the polar opposites of each other. And yet, they’re the same person. So, I think Counterpart is such a great example of the man’s range.
Anthony Pollock: So you are saying it sort of brings all of his different characters into sort of one show in a way?
David Hazan: Yeah, you could say that.
Anthony Pollock: I need to check that out. I haven’t quite gotten around to it. But the fact that it’s only two seasons, does this show finish?
David Hazan: It left with a cliff hanger. There is a pretty significant cliff hanger. But what I will say is the ending ties up all the loose story ends and then starts a new thread which could be seen as an ending but I can’t explain it without spoiling it.
Bad Boy Bubby (Film)
Anthony Pollock: Gotcha. Alright. I’m going to present my something watchable, which you and I were talking about earlier before. And you’re just like, “what the hell is this? What are you making me watch? This is all sorts of fucked up. Is that fair to somebody?”
David Hazan: Uh, yes. What I will say is I had to turn it off. Sorry to spoil the ending but this isn’t my kind of weird. I had to turn the damn thing off. I could not keep watching.
Anthony Pollock: And why was that?
David Hazan: Pitch it first before I get into why I really couldn’t watch it.
Anthony Pollock: So, Bad Boy Bubby is about this 35 year old man, played by Nicholas Hope, who’s kept in sort of locked down in his house because his mother from memory makes him believe that the air is poisonous outside. Was that correct?
David Hazan: Yeah…
Anthony Pollock: So however, he sort of breaks outside. There’s almost like post traumatic stress he needs to break through in order to get outside because there’s always that theory that he’s been brainwashed by his mother. Then he sort of discovers the world outside in all fucked up splendour of the 1990s. I guess it’s also worth mentioning to say it’s really fucked up he has sex with his mom. So there’s that. I guess you could kind of say whether it might be an issue of consent? Because she’s not only having sex with her son, but also I guess the conditions of that arrangement, if you want to call it that vibe.
David Hazan: I mean manifestly abusive, is what I would call it. And also, I think there’s an issue of consent in terms of him being developmentally disabled, which is like clearly the case
Anthony Pollock: I mean, there’s that aspect, but I guess it’s also one of those films that also had quite a bit of, I guess, absurd qualities to it. There are some aspects of the film that are quite humorous in a very sort of Aussie way that I feel like a lot of international audiences wouldn’t quite get the sort with the Australian innuendo that’s happening. Unless, perhaps you’re from maybe the UK because we have similar humor values, but I feel like it’s one of those movies that is worth checking out. Even just to look at what a story can start with and what it can become.
David Hazan: I would put a gigantic trigger warning on that. Abuse. Rape. Gigantic trigger warnings. I think it’s really emblematic of this kind of 90s obsession with being edgy. Yeah, to me, it didn’t connect with me and when it got to him getting, you know, raped in the prison I couldn’t get past that point. I’m sorry for that spoiler, but I think it’s kind of out of context enough. Yeah. Like you’ve got this person who is clearly developmentally disabled and it’s almost like, to me as a retrospective watcher, like a kind of trauma porn. It’s corny for its own kind of abuse in a way and I really struggled with it to the point where I just don’t know what else to say.
Anthony Pollock: I think I might be able to predict your answer to that one then. So let’s move on to something readable for you.
Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt (Graphic Novel, Comic Book)
David Hazan: So my something readable is Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijingaard’s 5 issue miniseries comic, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. And it is absolutely an ingenious take on Watchmen. I think we’ve got a number of those sort of, in the last couple of years. We’ve had some really interesting takes in the past 20 odd years. But I think the last year is given copycats, so not necessarily copycats, but just like sequels, and like any sort of Watchmen continuation in any way, or adaptation, seems to me like something that we used to look at with a kind of trepidation because it just didn’t have the same magic. But I feel like this year we’ve gotten first of all, we’ve gotten the Watchman TV show. Then we got Peter Kenneth Thunderbolt, then we got Tom King’s raw shark, which is fantastic. But Peter cannon Thunderbolt does something really fun, which you can only do in comics – and it makes fun of the form of Watchmen. So for those who don’t know, watchmen has this thing, which Alan Moore does with Dave Gibbons, where almost every single page is a nine panel grid. He’ll merge some panels occasionally but almost every single page is a nine panel grid.
Anthony Pollock: I wonder if that was a direct influence of comic strips in Europe that inspired that and why but could also be that there’s lots of exchanges of looks (between characters) and there’s lots of dialogue in in Watchmen. I wonder if that’s why Moore always went that way and sort of become his hallmark. Whereas, there’s a lot of comic book creators out there, who feel a little bit of anxiety, going more than six panels per page.
David Hazan: Let me tell you, I am not one of those people. It’s sometimes cruel to artists to do that. But you obviously have to have that conversation with them and be like, “Hey man, what do you like to draw?” To be honest, it has birthed this kind of formalistic Watchmen. But this kind of formalistic thing that goes on in a lot of comics where there was like stick to a grid. And they’ll use the grid to do almost like visually poetic things. Tom King is a perfect example of this. If you’ve ever read Mr. Miracle where he does these visual things incorporating the nine panel grid, using repetition, and it turns talking heads into something which is like so much more and in a way elevated – it’s like poetry for comic books.
Anyway, so now we move to Peter cannon Thunderbolt, because that’s a lot of context for this, which took a very old comic property, revolutionized it and made the main character this kind of Ozymandias of his own Comics universe. But his character lives in a multiverse where there are many different versions of him. And he ends up having to go up against an alternate version of himself, like the other Peter Cannon, which is the other Ozymandias. The things it does with the nine panel grid makes fun of the things that Alan Moore did with the nine panel grid in that the superpower is this analogue of Ozymandias. He has this formalism in that he can manipulate the formalism of different pages.
So he (Gillen) changes the flow of the panels and it’s just an ingenious use of a comic book page. Issue 4 goes really deep into Alan Moore’s life. It’s just brilliant. And then spoiler alert, skip 30 seconds ahead, if you don’t want to hear some spoilers, because I’m about to ruin the last page. Which is the absolute kicker, because I can’t talk about it without talking about this page. So like, every single page is a nine panel grid, except the last page squeezes one extra panel at the end to make the gag of the entire book work and just inspiring.
Anthony Pollock: Very nice. I haven’t read it. I think I need to check it out.
David Hazan: The genius of them traveling through different dimensions by using formalism. So, like all the characters arranged themselves in a grid, and then the main character uses the grid to push them through different dimensions.
Aster of Pan (Comic Book)
Anthony Pollock: Interesting. You’re all about dimensions tonight. Alright, something readable for me is Aster of Pan Issue 1. Have you tried it?
David Hazan: I did check it out. I didn’t get all the way through it but I did check it out. I didn’t quit because I didn’t like it. I have some feelings about it but I’ll let you go first.
Anthony Pollock: Issue one is by Merwan Chabane, French comic book creator, it’s a 50 Plus page comic book, which I flirts with the idea of what life could be like post-apocalypse in terms of what happens to nature, what happens to society, all those sorts of things. Pan is considered not only a place, also to be Pan is you have to be wanted within society. And the heroine/protagonist of the issue is not Pan. She’s an orphan. So you kind of see where I’m getting at. It’s a cute little homage to not only post apocalypse (storytelling), but also the Absurdism of French creation in terms of how they look at the way that the world is viewed in aspects of the comic book.
It’s quite cute in the way that Aster relates to her best friend. There’s an almost Stand by Me appeal to discovery, loss of innocence and going from a friend to the next level. It also covers things like classism in a way. So it covers a whole range of different things, with the only disappointing thing that I feel a reader would come across is that it (Aster of Pan Issue 1) is over 50 pages long. And is that necessary for the first issue of a book? Probably not. But then on the flip side, you can grab it for $3 on Comixology.
David Hazan: I think that 50 pages is edging towards where the future of comics is going to be. I think we’ll start to see instead of monthly publications, quarterly publications that are much larger.
Anthony Pollock: Why do you feel that?
David Hazan: I just think that print is only viable in larger chunks. If you can guarantee someone’s gonna buy a first issue, but can’t guarantee they’re gonna buy the second and third, why not make them buy the first, second and third together? But yeah, there are publishers out there who are already doing this and new publishers out there who have started publishing as graphic novellas. I know Zenescope has started doing this. Not my particular cup of tea in terms of the things I like to read but I can respect the innovation in terms of form and format.
In terms of this book, what I think really gives the 50 pages, the kind of legs is the fact that it is, by and large for me, an art book. The art is very pretty. It’s got this like attractive watercolor thing going on sometimes the faces kind of, like the detail kind of lets me down. But I really liked the watercolor aesthetic of the whole thing. I thought it worked really well. And I agree with you, in terms of the friendship, is sort of what kind of makes the plot work. Because the dialogue and banter between the two leads is fantastic.
But I just thought the structure of those 50 pages didn’t punch through for me. It felt very meandering. And sometimes I get the invite your reader into the world kind of like JRR Tolkien Hobbit in the ground and he invites you literally into back end, but it just didn’t grab me enough to pull me in. And I think part of that is also a personal thing, which is I’m not a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre. No shade to your upcoming anthology, which I will read because I would love to see some fresh takes. But I feel like the genre has been sort of suffering from oversaturation in the last 10-15 years. It and cyber punk need a little bit of a break.
Anthony Pollock: To be fair with you, though, if I see another Lovecraftian inspired horror comic book anthology, I’m going to put my head in an incinerator.
David Hazan: I think there’s value in being able to take the things that you like from a genre and leave the rest at the door. But I just think that if you’re not adding anything particularly new then you’re starting to run into problems. And I feel very strongly about this, particularly with cyberpunk. More so than Lovecraftian, horror, or post apocalypse, because I think, when William Gibson, the father of the genres, decides that there’s no more legs in the genre, you kind of have to look at it and go, “you know what, maybe he’s right.”
And his opinion is simply this, the human mind in its imagination has stopped being able to outpace the technological advancements that we’re having. And that’s part of it. But I think a lot of people to me, this apprehend the entirety of the genre, there, you tend to lose the kind of punk part of it often, and I think this has been kind of a crime that’s been committed by a certain video game. Particularly when you kind of lose out on the punk part and lose the whole point of the genre in order to have a cyber punk story that is not anti-authoritarian. Then it’s really hard for me to connect with it.
The Goon Show
Anthony Pollock: Moving on to something listenable, present your pitch.
David Hazan: Alright, so my pitch is The Goon Show. This is BBC madness. Basically, it’s absurdist comedy radio dramas. They were the predecessor of Monty Python which is hugely influenced by the Goon Show. And basically, it’s got this weird post-colonial bent. It takes some stuff from everything. From Sherlock Holmes to bits and pieces of British culture and kind of creates these hodgepodge stories about this guy called Medici Goon, who is, for all intents and purposes, a complete and utter fool. And yet he still manages to outwit the villain of the story, who is coincidentally also called Mariotti in every episode.
Anthony Pollock: So you were always gonna have me on board for The Goon Show. The Goon show is basically the godfather of all that is funny in humor. Even today there’s comedians which will look back to it. And see, the Goon Show is sort of the blueprint for comedy as a whole. I mean, from its absurdist qualities to its slapstick qualities, and the melding of the two and it’s use of language – is always an important one. And in terms of how the goons, which sort of take the English language and take it for its its ways, and how it can be interpreted, and then sort of inserted into humor itself. I mean, not to make your pitch better but I would always recommend that you can go on to YouTube and find the goons last ever show which was performed live with a live orchestra. I think it’s an hour and a half. It really just sums up the career of The Goons.
David Hazan: I think almost all of it is on Spotify, if not all of it. Maybe listen to a few episodes. First, he gives you context on some of the jokes that get made in that final one. But I also think that the wordplay is like, obviously huge, and there’s no visual comedy because it’s all audio dramas, or audio comedies, but there’s no visual gags. So it’s literally all with words and sound effects
Anthony Pollock: I think that’s what makes the last episode that they did alive so interesting, because it’s still in that medium. But the fact that it was live on air, and they recorded it. And just the fact that they were the first fictional podcast that performed live…
David Hazan: It’s pretty much a podcast. I’m not like the hugest podcast listener. So I mostly listen to podcasts about comics and pop culture naturally, but I wonder if anybody has really done a comedy audio drama in a way in the same kind of way that the goons have and how you would do that today?
Horse – Salvatore Ganacci (Song)
Anthony Pollock: Good Food for Thought. Now my pitch was a track by a DJ from Sweden, whose name is Salvatore Ganacci. I hope I haven’t butchered that name.
It’s kind of a blending of a pitch. I find the theme monotonous nature of the bait completely ridiculous. So in the film clip, it basically just has random people, even the DJ himself in that are just kicking their feet to the beat of the drum, but what they’re kicking their feet into are a mix of people or mix of animals or a mix of all sorts of things. So just, I have no other way to pitch this than to say its just utter ridiculous. And it just had to be mentioned in this podcast. What did you think?
David Hazan: I agree, it’s completely ridiculous. Mostly because I think it’s almost borderline can’t really be equal. I mean, it feels like, there should be more to it. And it’s just not there. But that’s fair enough. I’m not shaming anyone for enjoying it. I just don’t particularly understand it or why it’s enjoyable to listen to. And also the other part was not only were they like kicking people’s heads, but they were like slamming their heads in like, the hood of a car and an adult.
Anthony Pollock: I like to think when music artists create stuff that they’re not that music artists as a whole aren’t so two dimensional, when it comes to what influences their stuff, is about their surroundings. And that’s it. But Salvatore Ganacci is a Bosnian born citizen who grew up in Sweden. So I’ve got to think that some of the ridiculousness of those two cultures, that he would have been exposed to have to play a part in if not this track then in the creation of some of these other tracks. I mean, it’s certainly possible. I like Europe. It’s a strange place. That’s all I have to say.
Anthony Pollock: Alright, let’s do a round out. My kind of weird, your pitch was first full counterpart? I would take that as my kind of weird. Okay now, for my pitch. How would you would you take?
David Hazan: That is definitely not My Kind of Weird. I don’t know how else to describe it. You know, it’s very 90s that like that there should be huge trigger warnings on that. You know, racism, homophobia, rape, abuse. The list is too long. And I suppose that it passed it off as societal commentary. I don’t know that I can deal with that.
Anthony Pollock: To be honest, I haven’t seen it since I was 21. Maybe I do need to watch it again and revisit my thoughts on the film?
David Hazan: Is my something readable your kind of weird?
Anthony Pollock: Yeah, I think it is my kind of weird to some degree. I haven’t read all of the issues, but I feel like it’s something that I need to go back to. I kind of get your year going, I guess throwing back to sort of what’s been done with watchmen and deconstructed and stuff like that of different sort of characters and how they can look and feel and how, how they the different spin that can be taken from those characters. But yeah, I think that is My Kind of Weird. Now for something listenable, I’ll definitely take The Goon Show any day of the week.
Alright, that’s it, folks. We’re gonna go to a quick sponsor break. And when we come back, I’m going to interview David, we’re going to have a quick chat about Nottingham issue one.
Interview with David Hazan about Nottingham (Comic Book Series)
David Hazan: So what we’ve done is we’ve taken the Robin Hood legend and turned it on its head. The story stars the Sheriff of Nottingham as the main character who basically (in our story) is a detective in a noir/police procedural who’s hunting a serial killer that is targeting Nottingham tax collectors. So you’ll get a little Law and Order, a Witcher vibe, where nobody is trustworthy. And none of the choices are good choices for any of the characters. So you’re getting a bit of everything that makes up the noir genre. Crime, Thriller, Suspense, and really bad people doing horrible things.
Anthony Pollock: So what I like about it (and I’ve read the first issue) is how you deconstruct the lore of one of history’s most well known, well loved and well repeated fables, or at least English fables. And you’ve really, like you said, have turned it on its head. The Merry Men are more like terrorists in this than anything else. They’re very well written. They’ve got high ideologies in terms of how things should be done, how society should be run. I like where the first issue goes in terms of looking at (there’s a certain character who I won’t name names or spoil anything), but he takes the mission too far. And then the Merry Men have to deal with him.
David Hazan: I think that I tried to frame this whole thing in a clash of ideologies. But we tried to sort of ground it so that the clash of ideologies has faces, you know? It’s not just the ideas being smashed together. But it’s really people taking action and putting those ideas into practice, in their lives, to sometimes horrific and disastrous effect. Well, I mean, you know the character in question, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on, but the character in question is essentially motivated by this ideology, but not supported by the person who indoctrinated him. Let’s put it that way. None of his actions are endorsed and I think the first issue to me is a little parable on the dangers of taking ideology to extremes.
Anthony Pollock: I also like what you did with Lady Marian and how she’s not referred to as Maid Marian in this because there’s a lot of older versions of the whole Robin Hood legend that always refer to her as “Maid” for… just looking back at the times of when those pieces of media have been released. A sign of the times in terms of society’s view on sex? But what I like about your version of Lady Marian is she owns herself, she knows exactly what she wants to achieve and how she’s going to go about it in this world of men.
David Hazan: Yeah. I think there’s sometimes a danger to men writing women who have owned their sexual power. But I think, to a certain extent, what I like about writing Marian is that, or at least our version is that she isn’t sure of the outcome of her actions. But what she is sure of is that she will interact with the world in order to gain power and influence on every axis that is available to and some of those axes are violent and some of those axes are sexual. And some of those axes are social.
She will use whatever she has available to her in order to get the job done. And in some respects, I wanted to totally throw this idea of that virgin figure out the window. That’s also something that she essentially uses to her advantage. I think it is something I’ve tried to mobilize as one of the tools in her varied arsenal, in order to achieve her own goals.
Anthony Pollock: Now, where will people be able to pick this up and when?
David Hazan: 3rd of March (2021) is the release of Issue One. You can grab it on Comixology, on Mad Cave Studios’ website, or you can grab it from your local comic shop using the diamond code JAN211424.
Anthony Pollock: I’ll put that in notes as well. Now, where can we find you?
Anthony Pollock: And that’s it for today, folks. I’d like to thank David Hazan for stopping by. If you want to reach out to us you can go to My Kind of Weird pod on Twitter. David, thanks very much for stopping by.
David Hazan: Thanks for having me.
Anthony Pollock: My name is Anthony Pollock. And you’re listening to My Kind of Weird. Have a good day everyone.