Smash Pages’ favorite comics of 2018

See what the Smash Pages’ staff enjoyed reading this past year.

With 2018 winding down, Smash Pages’ contributors take a look back at some of their favorite comics of the year, from Hey Kiddo and Spectacular Spider-Man #310 to Wet Moon and The Secret Voice.

Brigid Alverson

Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (Yen Press)
Arakawa is best known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but you couldn’t get any farther from that series than Silver Spoon, a comedy about a city boy who goes to agricultural school in rural Hokkaido. Yuugo Hachiken worked hard and did everything he was told, but he still didn’t get into an elite high school, so he takes what he thinks is the easy way out by going to a school that’s not academically focused—or so he thinks. In fact, the students at Ooezo Agricultural High School are very knowledgeable in their fields, but those fields are things like genetics and animal husbandry. The rubber really hits the road in the practical lessons, though, and Hachiken quickly realizes he is out of his depth when it comes to herding chickens, riding a horse, or fetching a stray calf. There’s a lot of city mouse-country mouse comedy in this series, but it’s also a fascinating look at where our food comes from (at least in Japan), and the different agricultural models espoused by different farmers. In fact, like Hachiken’s classmates, this book is very smart and sophisticated in addition to being endlessly entertaining.

Meal, by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)
The idea of eating bugs may elicit an “Eeeww” from most people, but Delliquanti and Ho go beyond the ick factor in this romance about an insect cuisine enthusiast and a chef who wants to start a new restaurant based on the dishes of her youth—dishes that include ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas. There’s a love story woven in there as well. Yarrow has just moved to a new city in hopes of getting a job in the kitchen of Chandra Flores, insect chef extraordinaire, who is about to launch a new restaurant. Milani, her neighbor, is friendly and helpful but the two have a little trouble making it click. At the same time, Chandra suspects that Yarrow is only into insect cuisine because it’s sensational, while to her, it’s part of her heritage. There’s a lot in this slim volume: Love, food, bugs, and bugs that are food, and the creators even include a couple of recipes at the end of the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Michael Sheyahshe on ‘Moonshot’

The writer, artist and scholar discusses the new anthology he’s co-editing with Elizabeth LaPensée.

Michael Sheyahshe is a writer, artist and scholar who remains perhaps best known for his book Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study. He’s written stories for both volumes of the Moonshot anthology, and wrote the forward to the first one. His new project is Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 3, which he’s co-editing with Elizabeth LaPensée

The book will feature work from creators including Lee Francis, Weshoyot Alvitre, Jeffrey Veregge, Jon Proudstar and Rebecca Roanhorse, and is currently being kickstarted by AH Comics. Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and what readers can look forward to in the new volume.

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Comics Lowdown: Eric M. Esquivel fired from ‘Nightwing,’ ‘Border Town’ cancelled

Plus: Free Comics Book Day, George Freeman, Marie Javins and more!

Although it wasn’t yet announced, DC Comics has said Eric M. Esquivel will no longer co-write Nightwing. The news that Esquivel was writing the book was to be revealed today in DC’s January solicitations.

The news follows the cancellation of Border Town, a well-reviewed series Esquivel wrote with artists Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain. Both Villalobos and Bonvillain announced on social media they had quit the title after allegations of sexual abuse against Esquivel became public. In a piece titled “X, my experience with my abuser,” toy designer Cynthia Naugle detailed a history of abuse by a co-worker at a comic shop, who has since been identified as Esquivel.

Neither DC Comics nor Vertigo have commented directly on the abuse allegations. Esquivel, who had changed his Twitter account to private following the allegations, has now made it public again and posted several tweets in response. At Book Riot, writer S.W. Sondheimer says she will no longer cover Vertigo titles as a result of their silence on the matter.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Darryl Banks on ‘Harken’s Raiders’ and more

The former ‘Green Lantern’ artist and co-creator of Kyle Raynor discusses his new graphic novel with Ron Marz, his work on ‘Green Lantern’ and more.

Darryl Banks will always be remembered by many comics fans as the co-creator of Kyle Raynor, and the artist who drew Green Lantern for more than seven years. As I told Banks, “my” Green Lantern is Kyle, but what has always stood out for me is the ways that Banks managed to visually redefine the book in exciting ways. Since he finished his run on Green Lantern, Banks has drawn a few books, but he’s mostly been working outside of comics.

The fact that he’s drawing a new book is news in itself. He’s working with his Green Lantern collaborator Ron Marz on Harken’s Raiders, a very different project for the duo, telling a World War II adventure story about a commando team extracting a German scientist from behind enemy lines. The book is being kickstarted now, and one of the rewards is The Art of Darryl Banks, the first-ever art book from Banks. I reached out to ask him a few questions about what brought him back to comics and whether we’ll be seeing more from him in the coming years.

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James Kochalka helps Santa ‘Pack the Sack’

The creator of ‘American Elf’ returns with a new holiday tune.

In addition to creating comics like Mechaboys, American Elf and Johnny Boo, James Kochalka is also a singer, regularly sharing songs on his YouTube channel. For the past few years, he’s released various singles for the holiday, adn this year he returns with a new tune, “Pack the Sack.”

Check it out below:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joe Glass on ‘Acceptable Losses’

The creator of ‘The Pride’ talks about the Kickstarter for his latest project.

Joe Glass is best known by comics readers for his series The Pride, which is an old school superhero tale, but with LGBTQ characters. It manages to play with archetypes, tell very pointed and political stories, but they also very consciously called back to classic superhero stories. Glass clearly knew the genre and the kinds of stories he wanted to both celebrate and subvert.

His new book, which he’s made with Danny Flores, Moose Baumann and Michael Stock, is Acceptable Losses. The book is being kickstarted right now, and it’s a very different story than The Pride, but it shows how Glass is interested in playing with comics concepts that we’re familiar with and finding ways to subvert archetypal and stereotypical characters in interesting ways.

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Athens cartoonists create anthology to benefit Patrick Dean

A new issue of ‘Bezoar’ will benefit the cartoonist, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

Bezoar is a minicomics anthology put together by a group of Athens, Georgia-based comic creators with a monster theme. With two issues under their belt, the crew decided to use the third issue to help raise money for cartoonist Patrick Dean, who was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in June.

Joey Weiser explains on Tumblr:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Campbell on ‘Wet Moon’

The creator of the seven-part graphic novel series discusses the final volume from Oni Press.

I have read Sophie Campbell’s work since the beginning of her career, and as I told her, I still have a battered first edition of Wet Moon Volume 1, her debut as a writer and artist. Since that book came out in 2005, she’s worked on a number of projects. She wrote and drew the graphics novels The Abandoned and Water Baby, in addition to two Shadoweyes books. She’s drawn Glory at Image, Jem and the Holograms at IDW and many issues of TMNT. For some people, her best work, her most intimate and personal work, has been Wet Moon. Oni Press just published the seventh and final book of the series. It’s been a long time coming, but it is a beautiful and perfect ending to the series.

The book doesn’t get enough credit or attention, but I’m far from the only person who loves the books so passionately. Campbell was able to write characters, to craft mysteries with such precision, and she was able to make a series that for the most part was plotless slice-of-life stories about a few months in the lives of these characters and make them so compelling. It is an immense work and even today stands out for so many reasons. Campbell and I have spoken a few times over the years, and I wanted to mark the book’s release by talking with her again.

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Comics Lowdown: Chris Ryall rejoins IDW; Joe Illidge out at Valiant

Plus: top comics and graphic novels at comic shops in November! Next ‘Dog Man’ book gets a 5 million copy print run! Kieron Gillen plays ‘Die,’ for real! And much more!

Chris Ryall, who left IDW Publishing in March after serving as editor-in-chief for about 14 years, has rejoined the company as president, publisher and chief creative officer.

“IDW is where I’ve spent the majority of my career, and I consider the company and its employees like family, so I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to return,” Ryall said in a press statement. “I believe that IDW has very significant opportunities to become even more valuable and important, and I am excited to further expand on what I started with the company nearly 15 years ago. I am also eager to help the company celebrate its 20th year anniversary in 2019 in varied and creatively invigorating new ways.”

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