Smash Pages Q&A: Sebastian Girner

The editor-in-chief of TKO Studios discusses their approach to making comics, their second year of publishing and the ‘relentless hopelessness’ of his own writing.

Sebastian Girner is the editor-in-chief of TKO Studios, where he’s overseen the publisher’s launch, its approach to publishing, and its diverse lineup of talents and approaches that we’ve seen over the past few years.

Previously Girner worked at Marvel Comics and has edited various creator-owned comics. He’s also written comics, including two projects that came out this year. The Devil’s Red Bride is a miniseries coming out from Vault Comics, and The Father Of All Things is one of the books in TKO’s inaugural line of TKO Shorts.

We spoke recently about his eventful year, about the tone that unites these two different projects, and how he uses the supernatural.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tea Fougner

The editorial director of comics at King Features talks about their website Comics Kingdom, legacy comic strips, finding new creators and more.

Tea Fougner is a writer, editor, cosplayer and currently the editorial director of comics at King Features. In this job she oversees a wide variety of strips ranging from Beetle Bailey to Zippy the Pinhead, Prince Valiant to Macanudo, Mark Trail to Rhymes with Orange.

Fougner loves comics and comics history, and in recent years has been introducing new artists, new voices and new ways to pay tribute to characters and strips like Flash Forward, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Flash Gordon movie.

Fougner and I attended college together many years ago, and we spoke recently about Comics Kingdom, newspapers and getting at the heart of legacy comic strips.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jeff Trexler on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The interim director of the CBLDF discusses the importance of the organization, their areas of focus and more.

Jeff Trexler is best known to comics fans as a writer and commentator. The lawyer has been writing about comics for years for The Beat, The Comics Journal and Newsarama, explaining legal issues around many of the court cases that have captivated comics fans. The Yale Law School graduate took on a different role earlier this year when he became the interim director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The actions of the former director have been well documented, and we did not discuss that in our recent conversation. Besides talking about Trexler’s background and his thoughts about concerns in the comics world that will be important in the coming years, he also makes the case for the continued importance of the CBLDF, mistakes that have been made in the past, and what else the group can and should do going forward.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Trung Le Nguyen on ‘The Magic Fish’

The creator known as Trungles talks about the creation of his newest graphic novel, fairy tales and the nature of stories, and more.

Trung Le Nguyen, aka Trungles, has been making comics and illustrations for years, and this year released his debut book as writer and artist, The Magic Fish, which is one of the year’s best graphic novels.

The story of a relationship between a mother and son, it’s also a story about fairy tales, about the meaning of stories and how we use them. It’s a coming out and coming of age story that’s about immigration and loss. It is a small story about two people that opens up onto some many ideas and concerns in beautiful ways. It is a strikingly beautiful book with Nuguyen’s finest artwork to date, and a deeply moving story for people of all ages.

I interviewed Nguyen in 2018 about Twisted Romance, the Image Comics anthology, and I was thrilled to get to talk with him again about The Magic Fish.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Adrienne Resha

The scholar and critic discusses her comic-related thesis and studies, Muslim and Arab superheroes, and more.

Adrienne Resha is a comics scholar and critic, a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies program at the College of William & Mary. She serves as President of the Graduate Student Caucus of the Comics Studies Society and is a contributor to and Assistant Editor of Comics Academe at the Award winning website Women Write About Comics. This year Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, published Resha’s paper “The Blue Age of Comic Books,” which had previously been presented at the first conference of the Comics Studies Society.

Resha and I have corresponded in the past, but I asked her to talk because I continue to ponder some of the ideas she raised in The Blue Age of Comic Books months later, as she tackles not just the content of comics but the medium of comics changing as digital has altered how they’re made and how they’re read. We spoke recently about her work, which focuses on Arab and Muslim representation in media, studying comics and learning to criticize art.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alexandra Beguez

The cartoonist and illustrator discusses her work on ‘Guantanamo Voices,’ her family’s escape from Cuba, her work process and more.

Alexandra Beguez is a cartoonist and illustrator whose work has appeared in The Believer, The Nib, Ink Brick, Adventure Time Comics and Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. Her technical skill as an artist is apparent, but she manages to move from heavily researched nonfiction to inventive fantasy to her breadth of illustration work with seeming ease.

Guantanamo Voices was published earlier this fall by Abrams Books and the book, written and edited by Sarah Mirk, is one of the year’s most important titles. Beguez drew the book’s third chapter about whistleblower Matthew Diaz.

We spoke recently about the project, inking and her relationship to Cuba.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mr. Fish

The cartoonist, writer and teacher talks about his latest book, ‘Nobody Left,’ and much more.

Mr. Fish is a cartoonist, writer and teacher who’s had three books out this year. Nobody Left was a collection of interviews, essays, comics and artwork. He illustrated the book The Day the Rats Vetoed Congress, a political satire written by Ralph Nader. He also edited and drew much of Long Story Short, an anthology of artwork about great works of literature.

The three books are very different and cover a lot of intellectual and emotional ground and we were able to talk recently about politics and activism, the role of art and artists, and what satire really can be.

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Smash Pages Q&A: MK Czerwiec

The editor of ‘Menopause: A Comic Treatment’ discusses the recently released anthology, her approach to Graphic Medicine and what she’d like to do next.

MK Czerwiec is a cartoonist, teacher and nurse. She is the co-author of The Graphic Medicine Manifesto, and the cartoonist behind the graphic memoir Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. She also runs the website GraphicMedicine.org.

Czerwiec’s new project is Menopause: A Comic Treatment, just published by Pennsylvania State University Press. The book is the first anthology Czerwiec edited, and she assembled an incredible lineup of comics creators and scholars to tell stories about the complicated personal experience and medical concerns of menopause. Alternately educational and funny and enlightening and heartening, the book finds a way to encompass many facets and experiences and perspectives, and in doing so, to offer a new possibility for people to understand what menopause is and what it can mean on so many levels.

Czerwiec and I met at last year’s Queers and Comics conference in New York City, and we spoke recently about her work, Graphic Medicine, and what comics can do to help medical professionals and patients learn about illness.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Yanow on ‘The Contradictions’

The creator of ‘War of Streets and Houses’ and ‘What is a Glacier?’ talks about her latest book, her process and more.

Sophie Yanow made a splash with War of Streets and Houses and in the years since has continued to make comics for outlets like The Nib, where she covered the Standing Rock protests and the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

Her new book The Contradictions is her longest work to date. It’s a more personal story, this time detailing Yanow’s time in college in France, a road trip with another student that explores politics, relationships and being young in moving and powerful ways.

When Yanow and I spoke in 2017 after the release of her collection What is a Glacier?, she mentioned working on a longer book and trying to dedicate herself to the project, and we had the chance to talk over email about developing a new process to make the book, the rhythm of her artwork, and finding the right way to dramatize one’s youth.

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