Smash Pages Q&A: Abraham Riesman on ‘True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee’

The author and journalist discusses his new book on the life and career of longtime Marvel editor and publisher Stan Lee.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee is, I would argue, the best book written about the longtime Marvel editor and publisher Stan Lee. It is a thoroughly researched look at Lee’s life, his family history, his business dealings at Marvel and afterwards.

Lee’s defenders have been attacking or dismissing the book since before its publication, because it dents the myth of Stan Lee that he and others built. Unfortunately much of the conversation around the book has been around whether Lee is given too little credit for Marvel’s success in the 1960s instead of seriously addressing a lot of the issues that author Abraham Riesman uncovers and writes about at length.

Abraham Riesman is a journalist best known for his work at New York Magazine’s Vulture. He’s written extensively about the comics industry over the years, but in this book, Riesman writes a story of assimilation, of the fantasy of success and the brutality reality of it, of corporate criminality. Lee was beloved by many; he is a complicated figure at best.

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Smash Pages Q&A: G Romero-Johnson on ‘SFSX: Terms of Service’

The artist of the newest volume of the queer science fiction tale discusses her process and approach to creating the new story.

Sfsx (Safe Sex) was a stunning book when it was published in 2019. Writer Tina Horn was new to comics, but the journalist and podcaster took to the language of comics in a really exciting way. The queer science fiction tale was like nothing else in comics. The dystopic series is returning in a new graphic novel coming out from Image Comics. Writer Tina Horn and editor/designer Laurenn McCubbin and other members of the team are back with a new artist, G Romero-Johnson.

SFSX: Terms of Service is currently being kickstarted and G Romero-Johnson was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk. A cartoonist and illustrator, she’s made comics like Sweet Insecurity and The Red Side of The Moon and her work has appeared in anthologies including Stratos and the upcoming Nectar.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Dean Haspiel on ‘The Red Hook: Blackout’

The versatile creator talks about the ending to his latest Webtoons series, how it fits into the broader New Brookyln saga, his theater work and more.

Dean Haspiel has always made a wide range of comics, from personal stories to cosmic epics, from realistic tales to superhero stories in books like The Alcoholic, The Fox, The Quitter and The Thing: Night Falls on Yancy Street. For the past few years he’s been writing and drawing The Red Hook at Webtoon. The story of Sam Brosia, a boxer turned super thief turned superhero and bartender. Over four seasons Sam Brosia, aka The Red Hook, has gone through a lot of changes

This week Haspiel wraps up his fourth series at Webtoon, The Red Hook: Blackout, and we spoke about Brooklyn, where things stand and his next chapter in the Red Hook saga, PTSD: Post-Traumatic Superhero Disorder.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Justin Jordan on ‘Breaklands’

The writer of ‘Urban Animals,’ ‘Luther Strode’ and many other comics discusses the second season of the comiXology title, world-building, writing a digital title and more.

Justin Jordan is the writer behind comics series like The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Dead Body Road, Reaver, Spread, Strayer and many others. He writes the Webtoon series Urban Animals, which is wrapping up its third season now. He wrote the upcoming Summoner’s War: Legacy comic launching in April.

Meanwhile the second season of his series with artist Tyasseta, Breaklands, is coming out on comiXology now, with the fifth and final issue out March 23. The first season has just been collected into a trade collection from Dark Horse Comics.

We spoke about the appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction, his approach to world-building, writing for digital vs. print, and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Foley on adapting Dan Rather’s ‘What Unites Us’ into comics

The accomplished illustrator discusses working on his first graphic novel for First Second’s World Citizen Comics imprint.

Tim Foley has had a long, accomplished career as an illustrator for a wide range of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and in books like the Who Was and What Was book series for Penguin Young Readers. But this year brings his first graphic novel.

For First Second Book’s World Citizen Comics imprint, Foley adapted the book What Unites Us by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner. The book of essays explored what Rather saw as what it means to love this country, the values that shaped it and the role of citizens. Foley is far from a beginning artist, but to make a long-form comic like this is a unique challenge, one that he makes look easy. He was kind enough to take the time to talk about What Unites Us, how he worked and wanting to make more comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente on ‘King Kirby’

The two collaborators discuss adapting their play about Jack Kirby as an audio drama.

Fred Van Lente is well known to comics readers for his many comics, including The Incredible Hercules and Archer and Armstrong, his novels The Con Artist and Ten Dead Comedians, and a string of great comics he’s made with Ryan Dunlavey including Action Philosophers, The Comic Book History of Comics and The Comic Book History of Animation. Crystal Skillman is a playwright and scriptwriter best known for the plays Open and Rain and Zoe Save the World and the musical Mary and Max

The two have collaborated in the past by writing the Webtoon series Eat Fighter, and they wrote the play King Kirby, about the legendary Jack Kirby. Originally produced in 2014, the play is currently being released as a four-part audio drama from the Broadway Podcast Network. Edited and with original music by Bobby Cronin, King Kirby stars Steven Rattazzi, Amy Lee Pearsall, Nat Cassidy, Joseph Mathers and Timothy McCown Reynolds.

The fourth episode of King Kirby is out today, a day before the release of issue #4 of The Comic Book History of Animation by Van Lente and Dunlavey, and tonight is the live reading of Pulp Verite, a new play written by Skillman. We spoke recently about Jack Kirby, theatricality and working in audio drama.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Fielder on ‘Infinitum’

The creator of ‘Matty’s Rocket’ talks about his latest graphic novel, Afrofuturism, what he’s working on next and more.

Tim Fielder had been working as an artist and animator for years before making a splash a few years ago with Matty’s Rocket. A stunning Afrofuturist graphic novel, the book was a dynamic artistic triumph on so many levels.

His new book is Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale, which was just released by Harper Collins’ Amistad Press. It’s an original Afrofuturist graphic novel published by a major American publisher, and Fielder admits that he understands the significance — just as he understands what it means to find this success after working for decades and becoming an overnight sensation.

Infinitum is an epic in every sense of the word, about a warlord from the dawn of civilization cursed to live forever. Beyond that, as the book moves ahead centuries and millennia, are a lot of twists and turns that make it difficult to talk about it without spoiling anything, but I was thrilled to talk with Fielder again about this new project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: John Jennings

The writer, artist and professor discusses his role as director of Megascope, the new publishing imprint at Abrams Books dedicated to publishing comics by and about people of color.

It’s hard to sum up John Jennings’ career. He’s a writer and artist who’s made comics like Blue Hand Mojo and collaborated on books like the recent graphic novel adaptations of Kindred and Parable of the Sower. He’s a fine artist and part of the art collective known as Black Kirby. He’s a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He’s co-editor of The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Blackness in Comics and Sequential Art, curated exhibitions across the country, and co-founded the Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and SOL-CON. Jennings also edits the back matter of the Eisner Award-winning comic series Bitter Root.

As if straddling academia and public scholarship, fine arts and comics making wasn’t enough, Jennings is also the director of Megascope. The new publishing imprint at Abrams Books launched this year with After the Rain, an adaptation of a short story by the great Nnedi Okorafor from Jennings and David Brame.

We spoke recently about his work, the imprint and what it means. He also dropped some news and announced another Megascope title in our conversation, an adaptation of Charles Johnson’s National Book Award-winning novel The Middle Passage.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sal Abbinanti on ‘The Hostage’

The creator of ‘Atomika’ returns with a new Kickstarter project that’s been 10 years in the making.

Sal Abbinanti might be familiar to comics readers for his series Atomika, but even those who read that series will be surprised by his artwork in the new graphic novel The Hostage, which is being crowdfunded now.

Abbinanti has been drawing the book on and off for years, but it has its roots in a trip he took to Brazil decades ago. Since then he couldn’t get the image out of his head of homeless children living just around the corner from the bright, colorful tourist district of Rio. In The Hostage, he found a story and an aesthetic that allowed him to tell the story in a way that is unsettling and unsentimental.

For the campaign, Abbinanti enlisted a number of friends to draw work for stretch goals, but the star is what Abbinanti was able to achieve in the pages. He was kind enough to talk about The Hostage, its road to publication and his crowdfunding campaign.

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