Smash Pages Q&A: Bill Schelly’s ‘Sense of Wonder’

The writer and biographer discusses his latest book, which details his youth as a comic fan in the 1960s and beyond.

Bill Schelly is one of the great writers about comics. Currently the Associate Editor of Alter Ego, he’s written biographies of Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Kubert, Otto Binder and others in addition to writing and editing a number of art books and anthologies. Among his many awards are an Eisner Award and an Inkpot Award. Besides being one of the very best biographers who has taken on cartoonists and comics as a subject, Schelly is also one of the great writers about fandom in books like The Golden Age of Comic Fandom and Founders of Comic Fandom.

This year saw the publication of Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom–The Whole Story. Schelly had originally published an earlier version of the book, where he wrote about his youth in comics fandom. For this new edition he rewrite the original book and expanded it to nearly twice the length. Schelly has been involved since the 1960s, editing and contributing to various fanzines as a writer and artist. One aspect of this new edition of Sense of Wonder is Schelly talking openly about growing up gay in the 1960s and finding a place in fandom. He also talks about more recent decades, how he got back into reading comics, finding a creative outlet, and other aspects of his life, including the death of his son. I’ve read and admired Schelly for many years, though we’ve never met and I asked if we could talk about his new book.

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DC Universe app debuts Sept. 15

New streaming service, which includes access to comics, TV shows and more, rolls out on Batman Day.

DC’s upcoming streaming/comics service, DC Universe, will launch on Sept. 15 — “Batman Day,” appropriately enough. As previously announced, the service will cost $7.99 a month and will include comics, in an “all you can eat” subscription model similar to Marvel Unlimited and comiXology Unlimited.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Nate Powell on ‘Come Again’

Following his work on the ‘March’ trilogy, the National Book Award recipient discusses his most recent graphic novel, punk rock, politics, his influences and more.

Nate Powell is the only cartoonist to receive the National Book Award. In recent years he’s been busy drawing the March trilogy, and continues to educate and  talk about the book series, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and John Lewis. Of course Powell had a long career in comics before March, beginning with self-published zines before moving onto a series of Eisner and Ignatz Award winning graphic novels including Swallow Me Whole, Tiny Giants and Any Empire.

Powell’s new book, his first solo graphic novel in many years, is Come Again. A story set at the end of the 1970’s, it’s about a commune that is fracturing, it’s about secrets, it’s about parents and children. At the heart of the book is a supernatural force, but as in the work of Ray Bradbury and others, the force isn’t a metaphor, but it plays a key but muted role in the story, preying on people in a way that is familiar and terrifying. Powell and I have been talking for years – since before he became famous, and we talked about this new book of his, punk and politics, trying to balance personal work like this with collaboration, and the political work – artistic and otherwise – that he’s come to see as so vital.

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Small Press Expo announces the 2018 Ignatz Award nominees

The Ignatz Awards celebrates outstanding achievement in independent comics and cartooning.

The Small Press Expo (SPX), celebrates the outstanding achievements of independent comics, graphic novels and alternative political cartoons with the annual Ignatz Awards. The Ignatz Awards have been handed out since 1997 and this year will be presented at the gala Ignatz Awards ceremony held on Saturday, September 15.

Ignatz image by 2017 Promising New Talent winner Bianca Xunise.

The nominees for the ballot were determined by a panel of five of the best of today’s comic artists, Mita Mahato, Carolyn Nowak, kevin czap, Leila Abdelrazaq, and Taneka Stotts.

The votes for the awards will be cast by the attendees during SPX, which takes place in Bethesda, Maryland on September 15-16.

The Ignatz, named after George Herriman’s brick-wielding mouse from his long running comic strip Krazy Kat, recognizes exceptional work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an art form and as a means of personal expression.

And the nominees are:

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Comics Lowdown: Russ Heath, Yim Yee-King pass away

Plus: Jerusalem cartoonist fired over drawing of Prime Minister Benjamin Nettanyahu, comics at Walmart, Thi Bui and more!

Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.

In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.

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The original Defenders return at Marvel

One-shots starring the Silver Surfer, Hulk, Doctor Strange and Namor due out this December.

Marvel’s original non-team is taking back their name and returning in a series of one-shots by several different creators, as The Defenders — Hulk, Dr. Strange, Namor and Silver Surfer — reunite this December.

The Defenders first banded together back in Marvel Feature #1 in 1971. They moved to their own title in 1972, which lasted 152 issues and featured several other reoccurring members like Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat and Gargoyle. They’ve since returned in various incarnations. The most recent Defenders series took its inspiration from the Netflix TV series of the same name and included Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.

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What is best in life: Aaron, Asrar, Ribic, Wilson are Marvel’s ‘Conan’ team

The new series starring the legendary barbarian will debut in January.

After reclaiming the Conan license earlier this year, Marvel has announced the creative team for their new Conan the Barbarian series — writer Jason Aaron, interior artist Mahmud Asrar, cover artist Esad Ribic and colorist Matt Wilson.

Aaron shared his excitement about his new gig on Twitter:

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‘Pass Me By’ is a beautifully illustrated queer Canadian tragedy on Kickstarter

The risograph-printed series follows an Alberta man dealing with dementia and revisiting his past life with a glam rock band

Although there are only two days left to this Kickstarter project, this gorgeous new comic series is one worth checking out! Newcomer Kyle Simmers dove head first into comic self-publishing. The writer and illustrator, known for their larger than life murals across the city of Calgary, is teaming up with visual artist Ryan Danny Owen, to put out this little gem in Kickstarter called Pass Me By.  The series is an inverted coming of age story about understanding queer identity and what happens to the stories you never tell.

The first book, Pass Me By: Gone Fishin’ is currently available for pledges by backers. The video to promote the Kickstarter is incredibly well constructed. In this eye-catching campaign video, Simmers selectively animated certain panels to bring the story alive.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Geof Darrow

The creator of ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ talks about how he works, Moebius, Keanu Reeves and more.

Geof Darrow is one of those creators who straddles the worlds of Hollywood and comics. He’s a well known storyboard artist and designer, who remains perhaps best known for his work on The Matrix films. In comics he’s collaborated with Moebius and Frank Miller and for years now has been writing and drawing his own series, Shaolin Cowboy.

Last year Dark Horse collected the miniseries, Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign and the company just published Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek, which collects the first seven issues of the series in one collection, which has been out of print for many years. I had the chance to speak with Darrow late last year and we spoke about how he works, Kung Fu, vegetarianism, Keanu Reeves, and Darrow’s mentor and collaborator, the late great Jean Girard.

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