Pick of the Week Podcast

Pick of the Week #189 – Phonogram: The Singles Club #3

Show Notes

It’s podcastin’ insanity as this week’s episode of iFanboy Pick of the Week was recording LIVE in front of an audience on UStream! You never know what craziness can occur on a live show, and even Mario shows up for a little bit as well as… Dr. Tiki?

Running Time: 01:01:55

Pick of the Week:
00:01:49 – Ron apparently broke the internet with his Pick this week, Phonogram: The Singles Club #3. It’s not about the music people!

00:12:00 – There seems to have been some hoopla around Captain America #600
00:21:05 – Ron did not see the swerve coming in Captain Britain and the MI:13 #14.
00:22:57 – Invincible #63 produced the bloodiest cover and the best press release ever.
00:26:34 – Conor chimes in on the end of a great series with G.I. Joe: Cobra #4.
00:29:19 – Incognito #4 was Josh’s favorite issue so far of the series.
00:32:46 – Josh and Conor are shocked that Ron is still talking about Cable #15.
00:34:01 – Bagley’s back with Ultimate Spider Man: Requiem #1 and it’s awesome!
00:35:28 – Conor is psyched for some Paul Dini goodness with Batman: Streets of Gotham #1.
00:37:08 – It’s time for Josh’s Vertigo Corner with Jack of Fables #35!
00:38:04 – Josh’s Pick of the Week was Hellblazer #256.

User Reviews:
00:39:42 – flapjaxx reviews Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2.
00:41:36 – changingshades weighs in on The Boys: Herogasm #2.

00:43:55 – Joe AKA Frodog28 has some thoughts about Professor Xavier.
00:46:18 – Mark from Australia wants to know what Josh likes better: Sandman or Lucifer? And he wants it in an accent.
00:48:03 – Bigyanks is curious about Dead@17.
00:49:18 – Logan missed out on getting a ticket to the San Diego Comic-Con.

iFanboy Member Giveaway!
00:52:38 – We’re giving away signed copies of Joe Casey’s Godland and Nixon’s Pals which includes a sketch from Nixon’s Pals artist Chris Burnham and a The Walking Dead Compendium! Congratulations to the winners:

• Runner Up winner of Godland and Nixon’s Pals is Jake Lee from Mississippi
• Grand Prize winner of Godland, Nixon’s Pals and The Walking Dead Compendium is Frank Knight from Oregon

You can be eligible for future giveaways by signing up to be an iFanboy member at the iFanboy store!

“Make Light”
Passion Pit



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  1. brilliant review of hellblazer!


  2. Ustream was awesome once again.

  3. Herogasm started an argumment at my LCS this week.  The owner has refused to place the book on the shelves because of the content, but one of the employees felt the bokk was along the lines of Heavy Metal.  Clearly he didn’t read the book.  I looked through it as well, and while Ennis work on The Boys and Crossed is pretty out there, this is just porn with no redeeming attributes at all.

  4. @k5blazer: Seriously? Well I can definitely see why he doesnt want any of those covers to be shown to the public. Most likely his regular costumers wont notice (or care), but what happens if a newbie randomly comes in? Especially if it’s a parent with a kid.

    But my LCS owner LOVES "The Boys" so he showcased it to all of his pull bin customers.

  5. For people looking for a couch to crash on during comic-con: http://www.couchsurfing.org/ – never used it but it seems to have some ways to ensure you won’t loose a kidney. I’m not responsible. Good luck.

  6. Preach it Ron! Messiah War has been fantastic.

  7. Well Ron, you had me sold on Phonogram and then I listened to you and Conor actually talk about it and now I’m not interested any more.  I’ll at least pick up the 1st trade at the library to see if I like it. 

    Josh, I haven’t been as strong a fan of Milligan, but I agree about this Hellblazer issue.  I think it brings back the devious swindling John, which I prefer.  So I’m now fully on board to see what happens next.  Also, I know that I’ve been staunchly opposed to the ‘Great Fables’ crossover, but Wednesday’s issue was fucking sweet.

    Conor I enjoyed what you had to say about Streets of Gotham and I think Dini is going to do an excellent job presenting the new duo. 

    I do agree with Ron about Messiah War and how it’s been fun along the way.  I’ve felt it was a little slow at times, but in general it’s been a terrific crossover.

    I know I bust your guy’s balls a lot about a variety of issues, but I greatly appreciate what you do and shy of one or two books that any of you have recommended, I’ve enjoyed them tremendously.  Seriously, thanks.  This show makes Sunday a hell of a lot better!!!!!! 

  8. I reread the Phonogram to see if I was in a bad mood when I originally read it, or if I’d missed something.  And I really still think this is a niche comic.  Apparently one that people who enjoy it are passionate about, but I don’t think it’s got the appeal that you guys do.  It certainly didn’t make me want to go back and check out the original series.  I guess they’re just not the creative team for me, as Mckelvie’s Suburban Glamour (whose first issue I really liked) became really dull to me as soon as the fairy plot came into play.


    A good review show, though.  As always.



  9. Ron did a great job trying to get people into reading Phonogram. I will give this series a try, that’s not the problem. But with you and Conor discussing it….I agree with vadamowens and akamuu about this one. You probably made it sound worse as a niche comic.

    You say it’s about the people but I just kept hearing about BritPop, dance club, magic, and some character moments. Again I dont have a problem with this being a pick; but I dont think it won me over on this not being a niche comic.

  10. What is a "niche comic", exactly? I’m certainly not in the BritPop "niche". I like interesting character studies. That’s what this book is. That’s what most good entertainment is, no matter what the medium.

  11. @conor: It means it’s for music lovers for the most part. Again it’s fine if you and Ron found something to love about this comic other then the music. But the way you were gushing about it made it just like "99% music/clubbing and 1% of character development"

    It’s also great to know there are annotations for this comic. What is this an Alan Moore book?

  12. It’s actually 99% character and 1% music for me.

    Annotations are not a bad thing. I have many comics (not to mention books) with annotations. They make for a more informed reading experience.

  13. I really don’t know how many times people can say "Phonogram is not about the music" before people actually believe you.

    Ustream was fun.  Great podcast.

  14. @TheNextChampion – You hit it square on the head.  The owner is concerned that a young person may flip through or it home to show his parents and then that will create a big problem for him as a retailer.  The owner said that from a moral standpoint he would rather not make his living selling this book.  It will only be available behind the counter, and I can’t say that I disagree with him.  That book is just too far out there, I am not saying that it shoud be banned or anything like that, but a retailer does have some say in what he does and doesn’t carry in his store.

  15. @Conor – I agree that Phonogram is about the characters, the music is part of the landscape because they are in a club and the people are very into what they want to hear and don’t want to hear, but I don’t think that the music makes it a "niche comic" whatever the hall that is.  For me it exposed me to some music that I had never heard before, some if I like and some I don’t, but I don’t feel that the music overwhelms the characters at all.

  16. Aww I think you guys are too harsh on Incognito, I loved the last issues and this one was awesome too

    I was actually curious if people scalp comic con passes since I only got a pass for thursday only sinec fri and sat were sold out.  

  17. You know a niche….like that for anyone who LOVES music; this is the comic for you.

    For anyone who loves crime, then something like Criminal is the comic for you.

    @Cooper: Considering how fucked up Herogasm is and how incredibly violent Invincible/Destroyer was. They shouldnt be selling that where children could get access to it. Then again, it’s the parents responsiblity to make sure they dont look at those things in the first place. Or just blame the people who make the product in the first place. Ya know; plan ‘C’, huge excuse, politicians ideas….the basics.

  18. If I was present for the UStream show, is there going to be any extra content that I haven’t heard? Just curious.

    Thanks for the ‘cast, guys!

  19. Beyond the opening and the bit after the music, no.

  20. I wanna check out Herogasm but don’t you think I should read The Boys first?

    Oh yeah, a hell of a lot more went down in Streets Of Gotham #1 then just Harley Quinn’s little debacle.  You totally forgot about Firefly and this new dude who punches the word "abuse" into people’s skulls.  I thought those parts where a lot more interesting, I think.  I had to read the issue three times!  That’s one more time then I read Morrison’s Batman & Robin #1 and two more times then I read the other new Batman from Judd Winick that blew!

  21. @Kwisdumb: The "bit after the music" is very much worth listening to. It’s freaking hilarious!

  22. Um… don’t take this the wrong way but i was wondering how you guys; Ron, Conor and Josh maintain a subjective view of the comics when you personally interact with the creators. Specially considering Gillen and McKelvie were on the boards this week and josh is chummy with Joe Casey and you were giving away his stuff? There has to be some compromise between autonomy and paying the bills, right?

    And i’m totally not saying that there is a biased or anything. it’s just a question about how you deal with this

  23. RE: The whole "you have to like music to enjoy Phonogram" 

    The Wrestler was my favorite movie of 2008, and I could give two shits about professional wrestling.

    One of my favorite movies of the last 5 years was Hustle & Flow, and I’m not a huge Hip Hop fan.

  24. I think Josh should do whole shows in random stereotyped foreign accents! Great show, as usual, guys.

  25. About Phonogram:

    – It seems like any comic book that isn’t about super-heroes (or isn’t Vertigo-ish) is a hard sell, and thus could be considered niche.

    – That said, there’s like a trillion movies that have just as much of a "pop music" theme, and no one would think of them as niche. Even a movie that’s REALLY into music trivia ("High Fidelity") isn’t niche.

    So it’s like a catch-22. But just imagine if any Jennifer Aniston movie was made into a comic. That’d be "niche" too, for a comic, even though the subject matter is mainstream as hell when you look at it from a wider, general perspective.

    Good show, guys.

  26. That is an excellent point about High Fidelity, book or movie.

    Well played.

  27. @edward – it’s a good and fair question.  Basically, we just try to make sure that we’re honest.  I can guarantee you that we’re not going to give tons and praise to a book that we don’t like, no matter who’s behind it.  We’ve all got friends who work in comics, and have for a long time now.  If we made a habit of gushing about comics that weren’t very good, we wouldn’t have lasted that long.  Let’s just say that our integrity is very important to us, and we’re not going to risk that.

  28. Here’s what I think makes it niche: Nothing really happens outside of the music realm.  Yes, a girl deals with her old image, which is music reated.  That’s really it.


    Image’s Chew is about a guy who, when he eats food, recalls everything that has ever happened to the food he is eating.  He’s also a cop.  he has a brother who’s, essentially, a Food Network chef.  The FDA is involved.  Food is a central issue..  But so much happens in the story that doesn’t involve food.  It has a very complex plot, even though we’re only one issue in to the series.


    high Fidelity is a love story that happens to involve music, and obsession, yes.  But it’s a love story that involves music.  Not a music story that involves love.  It also has a plot.


    What is the plot of Phonogram, apart from: girl goes to club, talks about music, remebers when she used to be a person she didn’t like?

  29. The previous comment isn’t to say that Phonogram is a bad book, I’m just disputing that "any comic book that isn’t about super-heroes (or isn’t Vertigo-ish) is a hard sell, and thus could be considered niche."


    I don’t think a "hard sell" and "niche" are interchangable terms.

  30. akamuu — I don’t think you’re drawing a fair comparison here. Not a lot of "plot" happens in Singles Club #3 because its essentially a short story. Think of all the literary short stories where barely anything happens, but there’s a rich texture of character that is unraveled. Chew is more of an alt.history procedural story, and it has different requirements. Layman wants to play with the genre, and so he paces it as such. However, it’s also just a first issue and isn’t at all complete, whereas Singles Club #3 is a complete story in and of itself. It has a beginning, middle, and an end.

    Further, you can’t compare High Fidelity because that’s an entire novel (or movie), so yes it’s going to feel like "more happens." it’s got hundreds more pages.

    Magic and music aside, Singles Club is ostensibly a slice of life comic short story with different demands than a detective serial or a comedic novel.

    As stated above, the only way to compare HIgh Fidelity to Singles Club is to talk about how music informs the lives of the characters in each. And that comparison is totally apt.

  31. How can you tell me that I can’t compare High Fidelity and Phonogram, but people who agree with your point of view can?  You either can or can’t.  And, honestly, you can compare any two pieces of media together.


  32. Also, you can fill eight pages with lots of plot, if you so choose.  I’m not saying that Phonogram should have filled the pages with plot, I’m just saying that you can’t claim that it is exempt from criticism because it isn’t as long.

  33. @akamuu: Your criticism seems to be that there was no plot. There was a plot. It might not have been to your liking, but that’s a different criticsm.

  34. They are different comparisons. You’re talking about the plot, the others were talking about characters who relate through music. Two very different things. Fiction is made up of more than one component.

    Conor’s absolutely right — there is a "plot" in Singles Club, but it’s a very simple one. Again I cite literary short stories which could just be about… oh, two people having a conversation while sitting on a train. You could SAY that not much happens there, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a deep and nuanced short story. Different types of stories dictate different types of plotting.

  35. And to your second comment — who said Phonogram was "exempt from criticism?" I didn’t suggest that at all. You just said it yourself, "I’m not saying that Phonogram should have filled the pages with plot…" Why not? Because it’s a different type of story and thus has a DIFFERENT set of criteria by which we judge it. That’s all I’m saying. I’ve seen short stories filled with too much plot, and they don’t usually work too well. Similarly, a mystery novel or an action movie with very little plot would also be disappointing. Different types of stories have different needs.

  36. Agreed that different types of stories require different types of plotting.  I’ve gotten way off topic, because I’ve been responding to specific arguments.


    I stand by my statement that this is a niche comic, one that many people on this site obviously feel very passionate about.  I’m glad it has an audience. 


    As per the Herogasm situation, the owner of our store is hugely conservative (he actually changed the Obama comic to Barack Obama: Road To The Poor House on our new release page), and doesn’t like to carry anything that people could find objectionable.  But he’s also not one for losing sales to competition, so we just bag it before it goes on the shelves.  The covers, while incredibly suggestive, don’t have any nudity on them.  

  37. Seriously, a fight broke out over Phonogram? If there’s one thing iFanboy has set the precedent for over the last few years, it’s that comics can tell all kinds of stories. You may not always agree, but isn’t that the point? To talk about all comic books?

    I love Phonogram, and I only found it through iFanboy. If you don’t like it, that’s cool. Just don’t rag on the guys for liking it. It’s their pick.

    And it’s not about music, it’s about people in a specific environment. Can someone enjoy Scott Pilgrim if they don’t play video games? Or like Captain America if they’re not American?

    Of course they can. It’s not about the setting, it’s about the characters.

    When did the term "niche" become a bad word?

    Anyone seen ‘Short Cuts’?

  38. @akamuu: Wow….your LCS owner is crazy 🙂

  39. I’m suprised Ron didn’t see the Cap. Britain swerve coming, as pretty much the same thing happend to Doom in the last Fantastic Four issue

  40. I won something. I actually won something. That’s awesome. Thanks, iFanboy!

  41. There is actually a couple different San Diego Comicon passes up on eBay right now. 

  42. In Hawaii right now and the start of the cast made me check my phone (FM station I’m using occassionally gets blasted by PBS).
    Just for that I’ll head to one of the not so nice LCS’s and pick up the pick of the week.
    See you guys in San Diego…next to the sunshine, my next favorite about living there.

  43. @Eyun-It is actually illegal to read Captain America if you are, in fact, not American.

    @Poopmonster-What island are you on?  I’m heading over to Oahu tomorrow and need to find an LCS that I can go to next week!!  Preferably close to UH Manoa.

  44. I have to second Ron’s thoughts on "Cable."

    This book has zero reason to be as good as it is. It’s almost as if the writer sat down, wrote a list of things that I hated from ’90s X-Men X-Cess, and said, "I make it work." This crossover has been an excellent example of what a storyline can be that bobs and weaves through two on-going series.


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