Smash Pages Q&A: Summer Pierre’s ‘All the Sad Songs’

The creator of ‘Paper Pencil Life’ discusses her latest book, poetry and more.

Summer Pierre has been making comics for years in the pages of her series Paper Pencil Life and in magazines and anthologies, including Mutha Magazine, The Rumpus, Ink Brick and Bottoms Up! She’s illustrated All the Pretty People by Ariel Gore, It’s Not You, It’s Brie by Kirstin Jackson and other books.

This month Retrofit is releasing Pierre‘s graphic novel All the Sad Songs. The book is about music, which sounds amorphous and vague, but Pierre begins by examining mix tapes she made and still has, the songs and the bands that defined her life, her own music and the years she spent in her twenties singing in clubs and cafes around Boston. Pierre and I have been running across each other at shows in recent years and often end up talking about poetry. When she mentioned that she had a book coming out, I asked if we could talk about the book and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ivan Brunetti’s ‘3×4’

The cartoonist and illustrator discusses his latest project for Toon Books.

Ivan Brunetti has had a unique career in comics. He’s the cartoonist behind comics like Schizo, Hee! and Haw! He’s a noted New Yorker cover artist and illustrator in addition to being the author of the books Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice and Aesthetics: A Memoir. In 2017 Toon Books published Brunetti’s first book for children, Wordplay, and this fall they’re publishing his second.

3×4 is about numbers and math, but also about art. It focuses on the children that readers might remember from his first book and gives them a new homework assignment. I asked him about how he worked on the new book, the relationship between art and numbers, and what he’s thinking about next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Carol Tyler’s ‘Fab4Mania’

The creator of ‘Soldier’s Heart’ discusses her latest graphic novel from Fantagraphics, which looks back at her own experiences with Beatlemania.

Carol Tyler has for many years been one of our great cartoonists. Her book Soldier’s Heart is quite simply one of the great comics of the 21st Century. After spending a decade tracing her family history and examining postwar culture, mental illness and many other issues, Tyler wanted to make something lighter.

Her new book Fab4Mania began more than 50 years ago, when Tyler became a Beatles fan. She was a fanatic, attended their 1965 concert at Comisky Park in Chicago, and in the months leading up to the anniversary of the concert, she crafted a blog about her life as a 13-year-old and life leading up to the concert. In what should be no surprise, she managed to capture that young voice in a truly striking way. We spoke recently about the book, about how she began to make sculpture and thinking like an engineer.

This weekend Tyler is a special guest at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, and on Friday afternoon she will give a talk about her work at the Library of Congress.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jordan Ellis on ‘The Sartorial Geek’

The founder of the clothing line Jordandené discusses the crowdfunding campaign for the quarterly “geeky lifestyle magazine.”

Jordan Ellis is the founder of the clothing line Jordandené, a geeky chic clothing line that’s handmade and sweat-shop free. Based in Brooklyn, the company has had a presence at shows across the country, and this year they launched The Sartorial Geek, a quarterly magazine that Ellis co-edits.

With articles that range from Sally Bowles to gatekeeping, Jane Eyre to cosplay to conversations with artists and designers, the magazine doesn’t read like anything else out there right now. Currently they’re running a Kickstarter before sending the third issue out. I reached out to Ellis to ask why anyone would launch a print magazine in this environment and trying to do something no one else is doing.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mike Norton on ‘Lil’ Donnie’

The wonderfully multitalented artist discusses his work on his political satire webcomic, the first collection of which was just released by Image Comics.

Mike Norton has been working in comics for years. He’s drawn books in a wide range of genres including The Waiting Place, Jason and the Argobots, Gravity, It Girl! and the Atomics, and Revival. He drew a fill in on Astro City, in addition to Queen and Country, The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong, and many other comics. Norton has also been writing and drawing various projects like the webcomic Battlepug, and comics like The Answer and The Curse. He’s drawing the new miniseries Grumble, which starts this November.

Norton is currently working on a couple comics series, but he’s also been making a comic strip, Lil’ Donnie. A mocking satire of the Trump administration, Norton admitted that he’s an unlikely political cartoonist. The strip was initially a webcomic and is also available on gocomics. Now Image Comics has just released a collection of the strip, Lil’ Donnie: Executive Privilege and I asked Norton about the strip and how he works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Dylan Meconis, Ben Coleman and EA Denich’s ‘The Long Con’

The creators of the “comic convention gone horribly wrong” series from Oni Press discuss the series, their own convention experiences and more.

The new Oni Comics series The Long Con is set “Five Years and One Apocalypse” in the future. At the center of the quarantine zone, the Los Spinoza Event Center, where a comic con was in full swing when disaster struck. Victor Lai was a third-rate journalist before the disaster and one of the last people to leave the convention hall before the disaster. Now he’s been convinced to return and finds that everyone inside the convention hall survived – and the convention never stopped.

Meconis is well known to readers for her comics Bite Me!, Outfoxed, and the ongoing webcomic Family Man. She’s currently finishing Queen of the Sea, a middle grade graphic novel coming out next year. Coleman is a journalist and a critic at the Portland Mercury, who has also written for the great radio show Live Wire. Artist EA Denich is know by comics readers for having drawn Yes, Roya, the acclaimed and beloved erotic graphic novel written by Spike Trotman, which was published last year. She’s contributed to various anthologies and comics including Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Rick and Morty, and has a story in the upcoming Smut Peddler Presents Sex Machine anthology, whose Kickstarter recently ended. I spoke to them about the series and Oni provided a look at issue #2, which is out Sept. 5.

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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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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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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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