Annie Goetzinger, RIP

A brief remembrance of French comics creator Annie Goetzinger, who died unexpectedly last week

French comics writer and artist Annie Goetzinger died unexpectedly on December 20, at the age of 66. Goetzinger had a 40-year career in French comics, but her work was relatively new to English-speaking audiences: NBM published Girl in Dior in 2015, following it up with Marie Antoinette, Phantom Queen, in 2016; her biography of the French novelist Colette, The Provocative Colette, is due out next August.

I was slightly ahead of the game: When I was at Angouleme in 2014, I asked Philippe Osterman of Dargaud to point out some French titles that would be popular with American audiences. He handed me a half-dozen graphic novels, and Girl in Dior was the one that caught my eye immediately. So when NBM brought Goetzinger to the MoCCA Fest in April 2015, I arranged to interview her.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Leslie Stein is ‘Present’

Over the course of five books, Leslie Stein has established herself as one of the great cartoonists of her generation. One reason is the way that her work defies characterization, avoids cliches and tropes, and instead forges its own idiosyncratic path. Some of her work can seem simplistic, but it’s quickly apparent that the choices Stein has made are complicated and thought out, and that the simple choices she’s made are effective and precise. She is a skilled artist, an inventive letterer and possesses an eye for color and composition that are like very few people in comics. Stein is also quite simply one of the funniest and most philosophical cartoonists working right now.

She’s an artist who is always experimenting, and her new book is no exception. Present, which came out from Drawn and Quarterly earlier this year, is her best work to date. The book collects many of the short comics that have been serialized in recent years on Vice.com, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Annie Koyama looks back and ahead after 10 years

‘In some ways it does feel like 10 years when I look back on the over 100 titles published. In other ways, the years have passed quickly, perhaps due to the large learning curve I faced since I had to learn my job from scratch.’

It’s been a decade since Annie Koyama launched Koyama Press. By now her story has become something of comics legend. After a successful career, Koyama was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and after risky surgery and playing the stock market, Koyama made some changes in her life and began working with artists. She’s published comics and books and more, mostly with younger artists who aren’t quite as established. There’s no aesthetic that links all the work she publishes. The best known artists she’s published – and one who has established his reputation because of that work – is Michael DeForge. Koyama has also published Jessica Campbell, Eleanor Davis, Julie Delporte, Dustin Harbin, Aidan Koch, Jane Mai, Keiler Roberts, Maurice Vellekoop, Julia Wertz, Eric Kostiuk Williams and many more.

Koyama is always looking ahead, working with new talent, interested in different voices and has been key in this past decade in helping to build a comics community that encourages these individuals and build a new industry. Annie and I are friends on Facebook, have interacted online and know many people in common, but we’ve never done an interview, and I asked if she would be willing to answer a few questions about what she does. Talking with someone who’s always looking ahead seemed a good way to mark the end of the year.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cynthia von Buhler gets magical with Harry Houdini

The comics artist, author, playwright and designer discusses ‘Minky Woodcock: The Girl who Handcuffed Houdini,’ her latest comic series from Hard Case Comics.

Over the course of her career, Cynthia von Buhler has been a comics artist, illustrator, children’s book author, playwright and designer. Von Buhler has shown an affinity for and fascination with the early 20th Century, exploring the period and many real life stories in her various projects over the years. Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini is a new comic series out from Hard Case Comics that she’s writing and drawing. In it, von Buhler introduces a fictional young woman who works for her detective father, still haunted by the death of her mother. She winds up working as Harry Houdini’s assistant. Houdini’s wife wants to keep an eye on him and have an assistant that she can trust. Spiritualists loathe Houdini and how he’s been debunking them. Could there be more to Houdini’s unusual death?

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‘Barrier’ jumps to print on Free Comic Book Day 2018

Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente’s pay-what-you-want digital comic lands at Image as a five-issue, weekly miniseries coming next May.

Diamond Comics Distributors has announced the 12 Gold Sponsor comic book titles for 2018’s Free Comic Book Day, which includes titles from DC, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW and more. While many publishers use the opportunity to kick off events or new series, Image is doing something interesting this year — their FCBD title is Barrier #1, bringing to print Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente’s pay-what-you-want digital comic.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jack Foster on super villains and ‘Gun’

‘I loved the idea of watching a person who as they get better at what they’re doing, they’re actually getting worse.’

Gun is a superhero comic that doesn’t look or feel quite like any other comic. Jack Foster self-publishes and distributes the comic through his own Reckless Eyeballs Press. It’s a book about superheroes (“capes”) and super villains (“guns”) and told from the point of view of a villain. Or someone trying to be a super villain, at least.

The first story arc involves a group of small time criminals coming into a windfall, and like all great stories of criminals who get one big payday, it all goes very wrong very quickly. The first arc was noir, but the second story arc has a different tone. Picking up a little later, the arc is an over the top exploitation involving a game called Slaughterball. A game that Foster describes as “half Death Race 2000, half Cannonball Run, with a little touch of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World with super villains.”

The book manages to be what one might expect of a book centered around villains, but it also manages to subvert them at the same time. It’s about characters and conversations. There’s violence, but for the most part the book manages to eschew that. Foster paints the book in watercolors which means that it doesn’t quite look or feel like other comics and the result is something that feels familiar but manages to be surprising, funny and at times, beautiful.

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‘Cyber Force’ reloads in 2018

Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill and Atilio Rojo revive Marc Silvestri’s first Image title.

An Image Comics original returns next year as Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force reboots in March, courtesy of Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill and Atilio Rojo.

“I’ve always loved Cyber Force,” said Hawkins. “These heroes are more technologically based, and we’re very close to transhumanism as it is! This story has a philosophical slant to it that is very appropriate to the changing times we’re in.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Victor Santos

The creator of Polar discusses ‘Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case,’ which was recently released by Dark Horse, as well as his webcomic ‘Guts,’ Jack Kirby, the Spain comics scene and more.

Victor Santos’ work might be more familiar to American comics readers than his name, though that is quickly changing. The man has put out a wide and varied body of work. He’s drawn comics and graphic novels, masterfully going from Filthy Rich to Mice Templar, Furious to Black Market, Godzilla to Sleepy Hollow. He’s currently drawing Violent Love, which is published by Image Comics. Santos is also the man behind Polar, the webcomic that he wrote and drew, which was collected in three volumes by Dark Horse.

In addition to Violent Love, Santos has two projects, one new and one old, that are out this fall. He’s launched a new webcomic, Guts, that’s available on polarcomic.com which he’s making monthly as a complete short story. The second story was released in early November. Dark Horse has just published Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case, which collects two books that Santos made for the Spanish market. There are two more graphic novels that Santos is drawing and coloring coming out next year, as well as a film adaptation of Polar in production. Despite this busy schedule, he was kind enough to talk about his work.

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Archie Comics announces new ‘Dick Tracy’ series

Michael Moreci, Alex Segura, Thomas Pitilli and Dee Cunniffe team up to bring the yellow-clad detective back to comic books.

Hold on to your fedora — Dick Tracy will return to comic books next April, courtesy of Archie Comics.

The series will be co-written by Roche Limit and Hoax Hunters writer Michael Moreci and Archie Comics co-president (and crime novelist) Alex Segura, with art by Thomas Pitilli and colorist Dee Cunniffe.

“Dick Tracy has always been a character that stands shoulder to shoulder amongst the best–Superman, The Shadow, Conan the Barbarian, Spider-Man, you name it,” Moreci said in a press release. “There’s been so many great Dick Tracy stories over the past 75 years, and that’s such a testament to his versatility, his amazing–unbeatable–rogues gallery, and what he represents.”

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