Smash Pages Q&A: Paul Constant

The journalist and critic discusses his newest project with AHOY Comics, ‘Planet of the Nerds.’

Paul Constant has a long career as a journalist and literary critic working for The Stranger and many other publications. He’s currently a writer at Civic Ventures, a public policy incubator in Seattle, where he writes about politics and economics, and is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books.

His new comic is Planet of the Nerds, with artwork by Alan Robinson and Randy Elliott. The first issue of the series is out this week from AHOY Comics. The comic opens in the 1980s when a science experiment goes wrong, and three jocks wake up in 2019 to find that comic conventions are massive, superhero movies rule the box office and everyone uses computers. They are horrified by this world. We spoke recently about how he ended up writing the comic, the way he uses backup stories in the series, and the different roles of editors in comics as opposed to journalism.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Dean Haspiel on ‘Starcross’

The prolific creator discusses the next chapter in his New Brooklyn universe.

Dean Haspiel has always been a creator doing many things and making many kinds of projects. From drawing books at Vertigo including The Quitter and The Alcoholic, to helping to launch webcomics first at the collective act-i-vate to the series Street Code that he made at DC’s Zuda imprint. He received an Emmy Award for designing the titles to the HBO show Bored to Death, co-wrote and drew The Fox for Archie Comics, and drew the children’s book Mo and Jo, which was written by Jay Lynch. In recent years he’s written three plays which have been produced in New York City and just launched the podcast Scene by Scene with fellow artist Josh Neufeld.

In recent years he’s been making The Red Hook, a superhero saga that he’s been serializing on Line Webtoon in two volumes, the first of which has been published in a print edition by Image Comics. Over the course of two volumes, the focus has gone from the titular character to other characters, and that focus continues to expand in this third volume in interesting ways. The third Red Hook story, Starcross, is being serialized starting this week, and we sat down to talk about the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: J.P. Ahonen

The creator of ‘Sing No Evil’ discusses the first collection of his webcomic ‘Belzebubs.’

Belzebubs is a “trve kvlt mockumentary,” a family comedy, a heavy metal family tale that involves demons, Lovecraft, child-rearing, teenage love and the problems of keeping a band together. The parents are Sloth and Lucyfer, their kids are named Lilith and Leviathan – and Lilith’s best friend is Blasphe My (who in no way resembles the beloved Moomin character Little My). Even for those who are not heavy metal fans, the strip is simply funny, with beautifully rendered artwork. The strip has become an internet sensation, with print editions in multiple countries and in multiple languages. More than a comic, Belzebubs is now an actual band with an album, Pantheon of the Nightside Gods, coming out later this month.

J.P. Ahonen made a splash when Sing No Evil was released in the United States in 2014 after being published in his native Finland, where he’s been making comics for many years. I’ve been a reader and fan of his for many years and we had a chance to speak recently in between his busy schedule to talk about Belzebubs, the collection of which is out now from Top Shelf.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Galluccio

The senior art director for LEGO talks about his first comic, ‘Space is Cold: Escape Velocity.’

Joseph Galluccio is a newcomer to comics, but he’s far from an artistic novice. A senior art director at LEGO, and he’s had his paintings and other artwork shown in galleries in various states. His first comic, which is out now is Space is Cold: Escape Velocity. The story of Betty, her dog Donut and their kid-friendly adventures, which, as set up in the first issue, demonstrate that Galluccio has a lot more story planned.

Galluccio and I share a favorite coffee house, which is how we met, and we recently spoke about how making a comic required him to approach his work differently, his lifelong love of space and science fiction, and what he does at LEGO.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Diana Chu

The award-winning cartoonist discusses her work on the latest Patti Smith-influenced issue of “Ley Lines.”

Diana Chu is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Milwaukee, who in recent years has made an impressive body of comics and zines including Where Everything is Music, Woolies, No Mames Guey, Cloud Houseand Sudden Death. She was awarded a Gold Medal by the Society of Illustrators at last year’s MoCCA Festival.

Her new project, which comes out next month, is the new issue of Ley Lines. The issue is about Patti Smith and music, but it’s also about Jimi Hendrix, Dante Alighieri and Henri Rousseau. Chu is an artist who is not especially interested in narrative, but she’s fascinated in mood and design in interesting ways. She was kind enough to open up and talk about her work in process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alex Law

The creator of ‘Bubblegum Lovers’ discusses making comics, having two Twitter accounts and more.

Alex Law has been making comics for as long as they remember, but over the past few years they’ve posted online a series of comics and illustrations like Bubblegum Lovers, Voluntary Feminization, The Cutest Gangbang and others that play with and question ideas and assumptions about gender and gender roles. Some of the work is sexually explicit and some not, some takes the form of comics, some of it is illustration, but what unites them is this sensibility and this very casual matter of factness about subverting some of these ideas around gender and sexuality. The work manages to be sexy and cute, thoughtful and funny, and sometimes startling in how those come together and play out.

Recently Law posted two comics pointing out certain tropes around female heroines and villains, and they were thoughtful and pointed at how the genre has handled certain tropes. They’ve gotten some flack for them online unfortunately, but I reached out to Law to talk about their work, drawing sex and why they have two Twitter accounts.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Chris Schweizer

The ‘Mars Attacks’ and ‘Crogan Adventures’ creator discusses his latest book from First Second on how to fix your car.

Chris Schweizer has been making comics for years and remains best known to some for his series The Crogan Adventures, which was not just three graphic novels but six radio plays as well. He’s made a number of other comics and illustrations over the years including the art book 555 Character Drawings, he made the graphic novel The Creeps, and has worked on other comics projects including the recent Mars Attacks. He’s regularly posting illustrations and short comics on social media and his Patreon. His new book is Maker Comics: Fix a Car.

Part of the new Maker series from First Second books, it’s a departure for Schweizer, which we talked about. Not just an instructional manual, the book is the story of Ms. Gritt who is running a Car Club and teaching a cast of teenagers about car maintenance and repair, about how various parts of cars and trucks operate and offering valuable information. Schweizer is masterful at integrating both these elements together, crafting an ensemble story with large blocks of information, and I was thrilled to get to talk with him about the book, how he works and his many projects.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Falynn Koch

The cartoonist and illustrator discusses her latest work from First Second, ‘Maker Comics: Bake Like a Pro!’

Falynn Koch is a cartoonist and illustrator who graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design and has been focused on making nonfiction comics. Her first two books were part of the Science Comics series from First Second Books, Bats: Learning to Fly and Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield.

Her new book is Maker Comics: Bake Like a Pro! Part of a new line of instructional comics from First Second, Koch is perhaps a perfect person to make the book, being a cartoonist who also attended culinary school. As an amateur baker, I was glad to have the chance to talk with Koch recently about the book and her process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Spike Trotman and MK Reed

The duo discuss their comiXology Originals title ‘Delver,’ the fantasy genre and much more.

Spike Trotman is the woman behind Iron Circus Comics, one of North America’s best comics publishers. She is also the creator of the webcomic Templar AZ and the book Poorcraft, the writer of Yes, Roya and Iris and Angel, and cohost of the podcast Dirty Old Ladies. MK Reed is the writer of many comics including Americus, Palefire and Science Comics: Dinosaurs, and the co-writer of The Castoffs.

The two have teamed up with artist Clive Hawken on Delver, a new series coming out from comiXology Originals. It’s the story of Temerity, whose life and town is changed when a portal opens, and the town and the region becomes overrun with adventurers. It’s a story that takes a look at the fantasy genre in a different way and asks a few of the questions that sometimes bother those who like the genre. The second issue is out tomorrow, and they were kind enough to answer a few questions about the series.

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