Louis / Flickr

When Alyssa Varner’s college apartment was torn apart by a tornado in 2006, it got her thinking about the weather.

“I started thinking about tornadoes as villains,” she says. “I was living with 9 other people in a house, and we were all scrambling because of the tornado. It didn’t hit the house next to us, and I got to thinking about how selective severe weather can be.”

Jennifer Percy/Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Iowa novelist Benjamin Percy is branching out into the world of comics. He was asked to author the newest Green Arrow series for DC Comics.

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Percy about the difference between a novel and a comic, Oliver Queen, and his alter ego.

"It’s been a long apprenticeship," says Percy.

"I started as a reader. I can remember distinctly going to the mercantile with my mother, and I was always permitted one issue. I would read all these comics over and over again."

Courtesy of the Justice Corps of Iowa / Facebook

With comic books, science fiction, and superheroes, geek culture is having a moment. Phil Hester, a comic book illustrator and author from North English, Ia, says that is due to its traction in mainstream movies.

“Now all this stuff that you couldn’t dream of looking real, sounding real, and moving in a real way, now can be done on screen. That has opened it up to a sea of people that wouldn’t be caught dead walking in a comic book store.”

Gilad Rom / Flickr

Today we listen back to a conversation from November on Superman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and many other superheroes have been fighting for truth, justice and the American way for decades. Many of the men who created these characters were Jewish and, in his new book, philosopher Harry Brod explores how Jewish culture is reflected in the lives of our favorite superheroes. Then, comic book artist Phil Hester joins the conversation to talk about his work.