Halloween Q&A: Molly Ostertag on ‘The Witch Boy’

The creator of ‘Strong Female Protagonist’ discusses her new book, which is being published this week by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

In a very short time Molly Ostertag has become an incredibly busy artist. She’s one half of the team behind the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist, she works on the TV show Star vs. the Forces of Evil, she illustrated the graphic novel Shattered Warrior which was released earlier this year, and this week Scholastic’s Graphix imprint is releasing The Witch Boy.

Written, illustrated and colored by Ostertag the book is a middle grade fantasy story that’s also a thoughtful, funny, and sometimes creepy tale of magic, gender expectations, friendship and family.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eroyn Franklin

The co-founder of Seattle’s Short Run Festival discusses this year’s show, her comics and more.

Eroyn Franklin won a Xeric grant in 2008 for her comic Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory. Since then she’s gone on to make a number of comics like A New Home and Detained and Just Noise. Her work has appeared on The Nib and her work has made the Notables list in two volumes of Best American Comics. Franklin is interested in playing with style and form, in experimenting with the physicality of the object in really interesting ways and the final product is often defined as much by the shape and design as it is by the subject matter.

Franklin is also one of the co-founders and organizers of the Short Run Festival in Seattle. The seventh annual festival will take place Nov. 4 and this year has teamed up with ICAF, the International Comic Art Forum, to provide programming for the event. We spoke with her over e-mail about her work and the show.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Olivia Dinnall on ‘Bi-Assed’

‘The Purple Alien’ discusses her work on the popular Line Webtoon comic, which explores what it means to be biracial and bisexual.

Olivia Dinnall aka “The Purple Alien” is a cartoonist and illustrator whose webcomic Bi-Assed runs on Line Webtoon. The comic explores what it means to be biracial and bisexual. As Dinnall describes the book:

“You would think that ones race and sexual orientation wouldn’t have anything in common, and for the most part, that’s true. But when you’re a biracial and bisexual person growing up, you come to realize that the two have more things in common then you would think…..those things being the ridiculous stuff people say to you based on the two.”

The result is a comic that will make you cringe in sympathy – or cringe because you’ve encountered those comments in your own life. It’s a great comic, and following Dinnall on social media one can see that she’s always drawing, often in different styles and approaches. She’s working as hard as ever on the webcomic and planning future projects, but is also collaborating with a friend and making some changes to Bi-Assed, and we talked recently about how she works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: The Nib’s Eleri Harris on ‘Reported Missing’

The deputy editor of The Nib discusses her new project for the site, a long-form comic about Tasmania’s most controversial murder conviction.

Eleri Harris is the deputy editor of The Nib. The publication has emerged as one of the best and most important comics publishers in recent years — not just for its political cartoons but for long-form comics. Harris has a unique background, having worked as an editor and journalist before she went back to school and earned an MFA at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Harris’ new project launches today on The Nib, which according to the site is about:

What’s it like to have your Mum charged with murder? In 2010, a yacht was found sinking on its moorings, Sarah’s step-father was missing and her Mum was charged with his murder. There was no body, no murder weapon, no witnesses and no motive. In The Nib’s first serialized work of comics journalism, Eleri Harris explores the emotional nightmare behind Tasmania’s most controversial murder conviction — releasing just one week before the Supreme Court appeal that could change everything.

I spoke with Harris about politics, editing, Australia, The Nib and this project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elizabeth LaPensée on ‘Deer Woman: An Anthology’

The professor, writer and game designer discusses her latest anthology, a collection of stories about resistance, healing, empowerment and hope.

Elizabeth LaPensée seems to lead many lives. She’s an assistant professor at Michigan State University, a visual artist and also designs games like Thunder Strike and Honour Water. She’s also a comics writer and artist and editor. Her work has appeared in both volumes of the MOONSHOT anthology, and she’s also made a number of webcomics including The Nature of Snakes, Fala, and The West was Lost. LaPensée is also writing and drawing short comics and editing or co-editing a number of upcoming anthologies including Sovereign Traces: Not Just Another and Relational Constellation.

Her comic Deer Woman was a success and struck a chord with many readers and creators and this fall Native Realities Press is publishing Deer Woman: An Anthology, which LaPensée co-edited, featuring the work of a number of creators who use the story of the deer woman to tell stories of resistance, healing, empowerment and hope. After a successful Kickstarter, the anthology is out this fall and LaPensée spoke about the project and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Andrew White and Madeleine Witt

The editors of ‘Warmer: A Collection of Comics About Climate Change for the Fearful and Hopeful’ discuss putting together the anthology as well their own stories that appear in the collection.

Andrew White and Madeleine Witt are the editors of the new anthology Warmer: A Collection of Comics About Climate Change for the Fearful and Hopeful, which debuted at SPX last month. A collection featuring 16 stories by 19 creators, the project tries to consider the impact of global climate change from different perspectives. It’s about eco-anxiety, and responding to a world changing around us in very fundamental ways.

The anthology features the work of a number of talented cartoonists including L Nichols, Caitlin Skaalrud and Maggie Umber, as well as stories from Witt and White. The project refuses to be hopeless and yet does not traffic in “feel good” platitudes that suggest “everything will be fine.” I spoke with Witt and White about the project and walking that line in this important book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Liniers on ‘Good Night, Planet’

The creator of ‘Macanudo’ discusses his latest project from TOON Books, humor and how his daughters influence him

Since 2002, Liniers has been entertaining Argentina with the daily comic strip Macanudo and for English language readers, the fourth collection of translated strips will be published in the spring. He’s also been drawing album covers and New Yorker magazine covers, and even had a recent comic in the pages of The New York Times. Since 2013 he’s made three children’s books, all of which have been published by Toon Books.

His most recent book is Good Night, Planet, which has also been released in a Spanish language edition, Buenas Noches, Planeta. It is funny and sweet with a sense of strangeness and a feeling of adventure. It also feels like autumn in New England. Liniers and his family have been living in Vermont for the past year where Liniers was a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies and we spoke recently by phone about the book, the strip, humor, how his daughters influence him, and not being Woody Allen.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Michel Fiffe on ‘Zegas’

The ‘Copra’ creator revisits its predecessor, which will be collected and released by Fantagraphics.

Today Michel Fiffe is best known for Copra, the acclaimed Suicide Squad-inspired adventure story that he self-publishes. Before he made Copra, Fiffe started self-publishing with the series Zegas. It only lasted three issues, but the stories of siblings Emily and Boston Zegas take place in an unnamed city and combines quiet realistic stories with dynamic styles, wild backgrounds and interacts with the story in interesting ways. I made the comparison to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat who had wild backgrounds and used them to convey a feeling. Zegas doesn’t take place in a science fiction city, but it captures a lot of the energy and craziness that comes from moving to a big city and experiencing urban life for the first time.

Fantagraphics has just published a collection of Zegas, along with a brand new story Fiffe created for the collection. He continues to publish Copra, with issue #31 out now and a fifth collection coming out early next year from Bergen Street Comics, and is creating a new series Negativeland on Patreon. In addition, this week brought the news that Fiffe is working on Bloodstrike, the 1990s comic created by Rob Liefeld. This interview was conducted before that news broke.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Teva Harrison on ‘In-Between Days’

The Governor General’s Literary Award finalist discusses her graphic memoir, the first comic to be a finalist for the prize in any category.

When Teva Harrison was 37, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. This terminal diagnosis changed Harrison’s life and her work. Trained as an artist, Harrison turned to narrative for the first time and began making comics and writing stories about living with her diagnosis, coping with the many problems, and imagining a path forward. Harrison’s first book, In-Between Days, is a collection of her comics and prose, many of which appeared in The Walrus. The book was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in Canada, the first comic to be a finalist for the prize in any category, and pieces which appear in the book have been nominated for The National Magazine Award and the Canadian Magazine Award.

In-Between Days is not a saccharine, overly sunny book that claims a positive attitude is the key to survival; rather, Harrison’s work is the embodiment of Antonio Gramsci’s oft-quoted statement, “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” Harrison’s book is dark but not despairing, and that’s because of her personality. She is making comics and writing stories, going on safari in Africa and taking part in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and climbing mountains. Harrison knows that cancer will kill her, but she is determined every day to not let it destroy her. The book is passionate and overwhelming and unsparing and joyous and unsentimental and beautiful and painful. It is human and humane, and it will stay with you. As Harrison put it, “Life is rich. It is absolutely an adventure, still.”

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