Comics Lowdown: Halloween edition

Tricks and treats from Marvel, Todd Klein, Kerry Callen and more!

It’s the scariest day of the year, and to help celebrate we’re doing something a little different with Comics Lowdown today.

Let’s start with something better than candy — better than candy? — comics! Every year Diamond Comics Distributors celebrates Halloween ComicFest, an event for comic shops similar in spirit to Free Comic Book Day. You can check out the official website to see pictures from this year’s celebrations. Also of note: many comic shops are selling packs of comics that you can give out to Trick or Treaters. So check with your local retailer to see what they have on hand.

And if you’re looking for some scary comics to read today, publishers have unleashed a horde of Halloween-themed stories today. Polygon spotlights the return of Wytches, as Scott Snyder and Jock return to hex you with a one-shot today. Speaking of hexing, Hex Wives, the new title by Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo from Vertigo, debuts today, along with the last issue of Wayward, a new issue of Stranger Things and some more Ice Cream Man, if you’re looking for something both sweet and creepy. In addition, new publisher Ahoy Comics has Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Terror, featuring the work of Tom Peyer, Mark Russell, Shannon Wheeler and more, while Marvel has an Avengers Halloween Special and DC kicks off The Witching Hour crossover.

If you’re looking for a longer read, Doctor of Horror and Other Stories from Fantagraphics collects old EC horror stories, while Dark Horse has released H. P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories by manga creator Gou Tanabe.

Finally, if you’re looking for some deals, check out Dynamite’s Fall horror bundle on Groupees and ComixTribe’s Halloween flash sale.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Noah Van Sciver

The creator of ‘Blammo’ and Fante Bukowski discusses his latest projects, ‘One Dirty Tree’ and ‘A Perfect Failure.’

Noah Van Sciver has had an incredibly successful and productive year. The cartoonist released a new issue of his comic Blammo, and three books of his are out from two publishers this fall. Uncivilized Press just released One Dirty Tree, a comics memoir about his childhood and the end of a relationship just as he was about to turn thirty. Fantagraphics is publishing A Perfect Failure: Fante Bukowski Three, which completes a trilogy of books about the annoying and hilarious talentless writer who named himself Fante Bukowski, and a sketchbook by Van Sciver, Constant Companion.

One Dirty Tree and A Perfect Failure are possibly Van Sciver’s best books, and he took some time out after recovering from con crud to discuss the books and his current project.

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Inktober Spotlight: Becky Cloonan’s Oracle Cards

The creator of ‘By Chance or Providence’ shares a new deck of Oracle Cards based on her stories.

October is also known as Inktober in artist circles. During Inktober, artists from all over the world create a different ink drawing every day of the month. While the official Inktober site provides a list of “prompts” to help inspire artists, many of them choose their own themes.

With many comic artists once again participating this year — you can find a lot of them on Twitter or Tumblr using the #inktober hashtag, and we’ve been posting a bunch on our own Tumblr — we thought we’d spotlight a few of the fun ones we’ve seen so far.

Comics creator Becky Cloonan has brought her distinctive writing and artwork to mainstream comics, independents and self-published small press, including titles like Punisher, Gotham Academy, Southern Cross, Demo, Pixu, The Mire and Batman, to name just a few. For Inktober, she’s creating a deck of Oracle Cards based on her collection of minicomics, By Chance or Providence. She explains in this tweet:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Labelle

The creator of ‘Assigned Male’ discusses the long-running webcomic, her upcoming tour and more.

Sophie Labelle has been making the webcomic Assigned Male for years online and in collections like Nice Gender! Did your mom pick it out for you? and Dating Tips for Trans and Queer Weirdos. Labelle described the comic as “a bunch of very sarcastic and sassy trans and queer teenagers.” Which is true.

The adventures of Ciel, Stephie, Frank, Eirikur and others are funny and relatable, but they’re also thoughtful and poignant. Labelle has been making three and four panel comics for so long that she clearly understands the rhythm and style of them, but doesn’t necessarily deliver a punchline at the end of every strip. Sometimes she wants to make a dramatic point, other times she wants she to shock us. There are strips that have punched me in the gut and there are strips that have made me laugh out loud in public.

Labelle is touring the United States this fall and she has a novel coming out next year, and we spoke recently over e-mail about the strip, how she works and community.

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Monstress continues to maul the awards circuit with British Fantasy Award win

The Best Comic/Graphic Novel award is the 10th win for the epic fantasy series this year

For the second consecutive year in a row, Monstress has won the British Fantasy Award for Best Comic/Graphic Novel.

Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s epic fantasy story is about a teenaged girl who shares a mysterious link with a powerful monster. Monstress is one of the most decorated comics of 2018, sweeping the Eisners with a whopping five awards, taking home two Hugo Awards, as well as a Harvey Award and a National Cartoonist Society Divisional Award.

Winning was no small feat as the other nominees were Bitch Planet Vol 2: President Bitch (Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma & Valentine de Landro), Grim & Bold (Joshua Cornah), Tomorrow (Jack Lothian & Garry Mac), and  The Wicked + The Divine Vol 5: Imperial Phase Part 1 (Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie).

The awards were announced at the 2018 FantasyCon in Chester, UK.

Comics Lowdown: Asterix translation genius Anthea Bell passes away

PLUS: Dwayne McDuffie Award submissions open, Fiona Staples shows her art process, anime does superheroes better, black and white vs. colour, Amazing Spider-Man #300

The translator credited in bringing Asterix to Engish speaking audiences has passed away at the age of 82. Anthea Bell first began translating Asterix in 1969, where she needed to up with jokes and puns that made sense to the readers without the book losing its meaning and charm.  In her version, Obelix’s small dog Idéfix became Dogmatix, and the druid Panoramix became Getafix. The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation describes her work on Asterix as ingenious and superbly recreated, displaying “the art of the translator at its best”.

According to the novelist Will Self, “it’s doubtful that the eminence of WG Sebald would be quite so great in the English reading world were it not for Anthea Bell’s magnificent translations of his works”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Gustavo Borges on ‘Petals’

The Brazilian creator discusses the American printing of his wordless tale, his webcomics and more.

Petals, the new book out from BOOM! Studios, isn’t a new release. Gustavo Borges, who wrote and drew the book, originally published it in his native Brazil in 2015. The book is presented as an oversized hardcover and the wordless tale owes as much to picture books as it does to comics. The story of three characters – two foxes and a bird – dealing with a hard winter, it manages to be both sweet and fable-like, but also serious. It’s a story about three people coming together to survive a long, difficult winter and the result is a book that is truly striking and moving.

This is Borges first book to be released here in the United States, but he’s been making comics for many years. He’s made webcomics like Edgar and A Entediante Vida de Morte Crens, and books like Escolhas and Até o Fim. Borges was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book.

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Inktober Spotlight: Colleen Coover’s hands and feet (really!)

The co-creator of ‘Bandette’ participates in Inktober in a unique way this year.

October is also known as Inktober in artist circles. During Inktober, artists from all over the world create a different ink drawing every day of the month. While the official Inktober site provides a list of “prompts” to help inspire artists, many of them choose their own themes.

With many comic artists once again participating this year — you can find a lot of them on Twitter or Tumblr using the #inktober hashtag, and we’ve been posting a bunch on our own Tumblr — we thought we’d spotlight a few of the fun ones we’ve seen so far.

Today’s spotlight is on Colleen Coover, creator of Banana Sunday, Small Favors and Bandette, with Paul Tobin.

Coover has taken a different approach to Inktober — she’s drawing hands and feet, all month long! She’s even shared a video of her process for one of the pieces, which you can check out below:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Craig Hurd-McKenney on ‘The Magic If’ and more

The publisher of Headless Shakespeare Press discusses his return to publishing, his latest Kickstarter and more.

Craig Hurd-McKenney was writing, editing and publishing comics for years in the early 2000s. He edited and published the anthology Stalagmite, collaborated with Rick Geary on multiple books and received a Xeric grant to publish The Brontes: Infernal Angria. After many years away, Hurd-McKenney has come back to comics with a new printing of a comic he’s written and published through his own Headless Shakespeare Press, with some other comics available for free on the site, a Kickstarter for a new book and plans for at least two more books a year for the next few years.

The Magic If is a departure for Hurd-McKenney. While most of his work is fantastic, this is a comic about a relationship involving a self-destructive magician, and the result is a deeply felt story about jealousy and anger, and a queer romance that isn’t like anything else on comics stands right now.

I asked why he wrote about the Brontes, why he left comics and coming back after years away. Hurd-McKenney is also currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Some Strange Disturbances, a Victorian Horror comic featuring artwork by The Magic If art team, Gervasio and Carlos Aon. It went live after this interview was conducted.

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