Smash Pages Q&A: Sophia Foster-Dimino on ‘Sex Fantasy’

The creator of the minicomic-turned graphic novel discusses the new collection from Koyama Press, process and much more.

Sophia Foster-Dimino has been making comics for years. A designer who worked at Google for years, she crafted a number of the famous google doodles, in addition to other projects. She’s drawn the webcomic Swim Thru Fire, which was written by Annie Mok, and a number of short comics, but Foster-Dimino is best known for her minicomic series Sex Fantasy. The series manages to both live up to and not fulfill all the expectations that the name implies in different ways. Each issue of the comic was different but there were thematic links that tied the issues together in different ways.

Last year Koyama Press published a collection of Sex Fantasy. The collection is a small brick of a book, containing the eight issues that had been published in addition to two comics exclusive to the book. I reached out to Foster-Dimino to talk about the book, how the stories are connected and the ways she thought about the 10-issue structure.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Hilary Price and Rina Piccolo

Hilary Price launched the comic strip Rhymes with Orange in 1995 and it’s remained an award-winning staple of the comics page since then, winning multiple awards from the National Cartoonists Society. Rina Piccolo got her start in gag cartoons but in recent years has been making the daily strip Tina’s Groove, and she was one of the contributors of Six Chix. Last year Rina wrapped up both those gigs, and the two are now collaborating full time on Rhymes with Orange. I spoke with both of them to ask how this collaboration came about and how they adjusted to a new work routine.

Rina will be doing an “Ask Me Anything” (AMAfeed.com) on the topic of comics on Friday, January 12, starting at 11 am EST.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Leslie Stein is ‘Present’

Over the course of five books, Leslie Stein has established herself as one of the great cartoonists of her generation. One reason is the way that her work defies characterization, avoids cliches and tropes, and instead forges its own idiosyncratic path. Some of her work can seem simplistic, but it’s quickly apparent that the choices Stein has made are complicated and thought out, and that the simple choices she’s made are effective and precise. She is a skilled artist, an inventive letterer and possesses an eye for color and composition that are like very few people in comics. Stein is also quite simply one of the funniest and most philosophical cartoonists working right now.

She’s an artist who is always experimenting, and her new book is no exception. Present, which came out from Drawn and Quarterly earlier this year, is her best work to date. The book collects many of the short comics that have been serialized in recent years on Vice.com, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Annie Koyama looks back and ahead after 10 years

‘In some ways it does feel like 10 years when I look back on the over 100 titles published. In other ways, the years have passed quickly, perhaps due to the large learning curve I faced since I had to learn my job from scratch.’

It’s been a decade since Annie Koyama launched Koyama Press. By now her story has become something of comics legend. After a successful career, Koyama was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and after risky surgery and playing the stock market, Koyama made some changes in her life and began working with artists. She’s published comics and books and more, mostly with younger artists who aren’t quite as established. There’s no aesthetic that links all the work she publishes. The best known artists she’s published – and one who has established his reputation because of that work – is Michael DeForge. Koyama has also published Jessica Campbell, Eleanor Davis, Julie Delporte, Dustin Harbin, Aidan Koch, Jane Mai, Keiler Roberts, Maurice Vellekoop, Julia Wertz, Eric Kostiuk Williams and many more.

Koyama is always looking ahead, working with new talent, interested in different voices and has been key in this past decade in helping to build a comics community that encourages these individuals and build a new industry. Annie and I are friends on Facebook, have interacted online and know many people in common, but we’ve never done an interview, and I asked if she would be willing to answer a few questions about what she does. Talking with someone who’s always looking ahead seemed a good way to mark the end of the year.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cynthia von Buhler gets magical with Harry Houdini

The comics artist, author, playwright and designer discusses ‘Minky Woodcock: The Girl who Handcuffed Houdini,’ her latest comic series from Hard Case Comics.

Over the course of her career, Cynthia von Buhler has been a comics artist, illustrator, children’s book author, playwright and designer. Von Buhler has shown an affinity for and fascination with the early 20th Century, exploring the period and many real life stories in her various projects over the years. Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini is a new comic series out from Hard Case Comics that she’s writing and drawing. In it, von Buhler introduces a fictional young woman who works for her detective father, still haunted by the death of her mother. She winds up working as Harry Houdini’s assistant. Houdini’s wife wants to keep an eye on him and have an assistant that she can trust. Spiritualists loathe Houdini and how he’s been debunking them. Could there be more to Houdini’s unusual death?

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jack Foster on super villains and ‘Gun’

‘I loved the idea of watching a person who as they get better at what they’re doing, they’re actually getting worse.’

Gun is a superhero comic that doesn’t look or feel quite like any other comic. Jack Foster self-publishes and distributes the comic through his own Reckless Eyeballs Press. It’s a book about superheroes (“capes”) and super villains (“guns”) and told from the point of view of a villain. Or someone trying to be a super villain, at least.

The first story arc involves a group of small time criminals coming into a windfall, and like all great stories of criminals who get one big payday, it all goes very wrong very quickly. The first arc was noir, but the second story arc has a different tone. Picking up a little later, the arc is an over the top exploitation involving a game called Slaughterball. A game that Foster describes as “half Death Race 2000, half Cannonball Run, with a little touch of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World with super villains.”

The book manages to be what one might expect of a book centered around villains, but it also manages to subvert them at the same time. It’s about characters and conversations. There’s violence, but for the most part the book manages to eschew that. Foster paints the book in watercolors which means that it doesn’t quite look or feel like other comics and the result is something that feels familiar but manages to be surprising, funny and at times, beautiful.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Victor Santos

The creator of Polar discusses ‘Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case,’ which was recently released by Dark Horse, as well as his webcomic ‘Guts,’ Jack Kirby, the Spain comics scene and more.

Victor Santos’ work might be more familiar to American comics readers than his name, though that is quickly changing. The man has put out a wide and varied body of work. He’s drawn comics and graphic novels, masterfully going from Filthy Rich to Mice Templar, Furious to Black Market, Godzilla to Sleepy Hollow. He’s currently drawing Violent Love, which is published by Image Comics. Santos is also the man behind Polar, the webcomic that he wrote and drew, which was collected in three volumes by Dark Horse.

In addition to Violent Love, Santos has two projects, one new and one old, that are out this fall. He’s launched a new webcomic, Guts, that’s available on polarcomic.com which he’s making monthly as a complete short story. The second story was released in early November. Dark Horse has just published Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case, which collects two books that Santos made for the Spanish market. There are two more graphic novels that Santos is drawing and coloring coming out next year, as well as a film adaptation of Polar in production. Despite this busy schedule, he was kind enough to talk about his work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Takeshi Miyazawa on ‘Mech Cadet Yu’

The artist discusses his latest project with writer Greg Pak, involving giant robots, an interstellar war and the teenager in the middle of it all.

Takeshi Miyazawa has been drawing comics for years now. Some of us first noticed his work in Sidekicks and Love in Tights, others noticed his work when he started working for Marvel, with his runs on Runaways and Mary Jane and Ms. Marvel.

His current project, Mech Cadet Yu, is a book he co-created with writer Greg Pak and is about an interstellar war, an alien invasion and the unlikely teenager who finds himself at the center of this. It’s hard to make a book about giant robots that looks and feels new and dynamic, but Pak and Miyazawa have done just that. In every issue they manage to expand and deepen the world they’ve established in fascinating ways.

Next month the fifth issue of the series, and a collection of the first four issues come out, and Miyazawa answered a few questions about the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Rich Tommaso on ‘Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix’

The creator of ‘She Wolf’ and ‘Dark Corridor’ discusses the first collection of his all-ages series ‘Spy Seal.’

From The Cavalier Mr. Thompson to Clover Honey, from 8 1/2 Ghosts to Dark Corridor, Viking’s End to She Wolf, to the Eisner Award-winning Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, Rich Tommaso doesn’t just jump from one genre to another, but plays with tone and approach, style and color, and the result is an expansive body of work.

Spy Seal is a different book for him, but in truth, almost every comic he’s done has been a departure in some way. It’s an all-ages story about a spy who is, well, a seal. Set in the 1960s in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, it owes a lot to Tintin and any number of cartoons. It’s a very different book than I admit to being used to from Tommaso but I was charmed by its inventiveness and world building – not to mention the fact that Tommaso is clearly having a lot of fun. Image just announced that Tommaso will be returning to his crime fiction roots early next year with Dry County, before returning with another Spy Seal series in the fall. With the collection, Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix out next month and Tommaso was kind enough to answer a few questions about how he works.

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