Smash Pages Q&A: Ray Fawkes

The creator of ‘One Soul’ and ‘Possessions’ discusses the process of creating ‘In the Flood,’ his latest release from comiXology Originals.

Ray Fawkes is the writer of a long list of comics series including Constantine, Wolverines, Batman Eternal and Gotham by Midnight, but for many of us, no matter how many comics he writes, he will always be the cartoonist behind a long run of graphic novels and comics series including One Soul, Underwinter, Intersect, Possessions and The People Inside. He’s a creator who seems to effortlessly move between forms and approaches and genres

His new book is In the Flood. A digital comic that’s out now from comiXology Originals, Fawkes made the book with Lee Loughridge and Thomas Mauer, and though it’s hard to talk about the book involving a couple separated by a flood without giving some of the story away, it very much fits in with Fawkes’ other comics which he’s written and drawn. I spoke with Fawkes recently about how the book required a different way to work, how having a messy studio helps him to craft order on the page and his drawing practice.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Bryan Caplan

The writer and professor who “say things that a lot of people think are crazy” discusses his latest project, the graphic novel “Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration.”

Bryan Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University and the author of books like The Myth of the Rational Voter, Selfish Reasons to Have Kids and The Case Against Education. He’s a blogger at EconLog, has contributed to Freakonomics and is affiliated with the Mercatus Center and the Cato Institute.

Caplan is also the author with Zach Weinersmith of the book Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration. Simply stating that it’s a book promoting the idea of open borders will be shocking (or offensive) to many people, but through a series of reports, analyses and thought experiments, the book looks at multiple moral, legal and logistical questions around immigration. Caplan admitted that he writes books that “say things that a lot of people think are crazy” and this book manages to make this argument through a deft use of the comics medium, which will leave readers saying, “Maybe this isn’t such a crazy idea.”

It’s a startling and thoughtful book that I couldn’t stop thinking about after reading it, and Caplan was kind enough to answer a few questions about comics, economics and why the late Milton Friedman was wrong.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Aude White

The illustrator and cartoonist discusses her latest comic for The Believer, her day job (which she loves) and more.

Aude White may spend much of her time working in communications for New York Magazine, but the illustrator and cartoonist has a long list of credits she’s accumulated over the past few years, in addition to the work she posts on her own Instagram. From The Believer to Outside, The HotPod newsletter to The New York Times Book Review to The Cut to Vox, she’s managed to establish her own voice and style.

Her comics are especially personal works that manage to gain their poignancy by the ways that she draws connections between people and objects and places. Not by how they define us or describe us, but by the ways that we invest them with meaning, often at a cost.

White said that she fancied herself a poet in college, and though she laughed at that ambition today, the turns of phrase in her comics, the ways that she draws connections between people and places and objects, reframing and recontextualizing those relationships in different ways, show that poetic sensibility at work. In her new comic The Toothbrush Dilemma, which is in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of The Believer, on stands now, White tells the story of a relationship and a toothbrush. We spoke recently about that comic and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Danny Fingeroth

The writer and editor discusses his unauthorized biography of ‘the most famous person in comics.’

Danny Fingeroth has been working in comics for decades. A longtime editor at Marvel, Byron Preiss and Visionary Media, Fingeroth wrote comics like Darkhawk, Dazzler, Venom: Deathtrap – The Vault and Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, and wrote nonfiction books including Superman on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent. He’s also known to a lot of convention goers as one of the people who runs a lot of panels — interviewing and celebrating the creators who helped to invent comics at dozens of labels across the country. At the end of 2019 he came out with his biggest book to date, A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee. 

The biography of the late Stan Lee is unauthorized but affectionate, and tries to capture the man that Fingeroth got to know later in his life with the young man who has been written about at length. After reading the book, I asked Fingeroth a few questions about the project and how it fits in with his other work, including serving as chair of Will Eisner Week.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Steven Scott

The co-author of ‘They Called Us Enemy’ discusses the project, working with George Takei, his future plans and more.

When They Called Us Enemy was released this summer, it was quickly named one of the best graphic novels of the year by those who read it. George Takei, the actor and activist, has received much of the attention, and for good reason. This is his story, about how he and his family – and more than 100,000 other Japanese-Americans were interned by the American government. In recent years the actor, known best as Star Trek’s Sulu, has become best known as an activist for LGBTQ rights, but recently he has spent a great deal of time and energy to educating people about what happened in those years, both to help American citizens more fully understand our own history, but also to ensure that it never happens again.

Takei made the book with Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker. Scott may not be known to comics readers, but he’s been working in the comics industry for years and it’s how I first got to know him years ago. They Called Us Enemy is his first graphic novel, and I reached out to Scott to talk about how he ended up here, working with Takei and what he wants to do next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Fieldmouse Press

The four men behind the nonprofit publisher and comics criticism site discuss the initiative.

Ryan Carey, Rob Clough, Daniel Elkin and Alex Hoffman are four of the major comics critics in the U.S. right now. In Enemies of the State, Four Color Apocalypse, High-Low, Sequential State and Your Chicken Enemy, along with their writing in various other outlets, each has established a reputation as a thoughtful, insightful critic.

In comics, criticism tends to be maligned, or seen as a stepping stone to becoming a comics professional, but anyone who spends time with serious criticism – and the work of all four definitely are – can see the love for the medium, the passion for creators, the obsession with ideas and formalism. Good critics offer new ways to think about art, can introduce us to new work and inspire not just readers but creators.

It was announced recently that the four have teamed up to establish Fieldmouse Press, and in January 2020 they’re launching SOLRAD, which is just the very first aspect of the nonprofit organization. I reached out and was thrilled that they were willing to talk about criticism, their ambitions, and what people can look forward to next year.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lawrence Lindell

The cartoonist and educator discusses the Kickstarter campaign for his latest project, ‘From Truth with Truth: Kinda a Graphic Memoir.’

Lawrence Lindell is the cartoonist, educator and artist behind comics like Couldn’t Afford Therapy, So I Made This and From Black Boy with Love. In these and other projects, Lindell has found ways to make deeply personal work that manages to be both informative for other people, but also therapeutic for himself. Reading a lot of his comics shows that Lindell has an inventive visual style and has repeatedly found many really striking ways to capture so many mental and emotional states, and convey these feelings to readers.

Right now he’s kickstarting From Truth with Truth: Kinda a Graphic Memoir. Lindell was kind enough to answer a few questions about graduate school, his interest in teaching and his new book, which is being crowdfunded until the end of the month

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Smash Pages Q&A: James Romberger

James Romberger has had a long career as a comics artist, writer and fine artist. His books like 7 Miles a Second and The Late Child have been published by Fantagraphics and Vertigo, his comics have appeared in the anthologies World War 3 Illustrated and MOME, his paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum. Last year he wrote the book Steranko: The Self-Created Man, the definitive book about the cartoonist and his work, which he published through Ground Zero Books.

Romberger has two new comics on the stands. Now #7, the newest volume of the Fantagraphics anthology, features a four page comic written and drawn by Romberger. In addition, Uncivilized has just published For Real #1 by Romberger, which consists of “The Oven,” a 20 page comic, and “The Real Thing,” a 10 page essay. Both are about the life and work of Jack Kirby, his time as a soldier in World War II, his cancer diagnosis and treatment later in life, the ways he thoughts about and depicted violence. It’s some of Romberger’s very best work and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his many projects.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Huynh

The artist, painter and animator discusses ‘Cabramatta,’ his latest contribution to The Believer magazine.

Matt Huynh has been one of the creators making comics without working in the comics industry. Huynh has been making comics, illustrations, animations and paintings for years. His work has been exhibited at MoMA, The Smithsonian and elsewhere. He is known for his collaborations with the writers Nam Le (The Boat) and Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Ark and On True War Stories) and the comic Magpie Magpie.

In 2017-2018, The New York Historical Society opened The Vietnam War, 1945-1975, featuring two 24’ by 6’ murals drawn by Huynh depicting the homefront and the warfront. The exhibition was on display in Pittsburgh until recently and will be on display at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City starting on Veterans Day.

In the current issue of The Believer (The Borders Issue: October/November) Huynh wrote and drew Cabramatta, an eight-page comic about the neighborhood where he grew up as a refugee in Sydney, the way that his relationship to the place has changed, and how the neighborhood and its relationship to the majority white community has changed over time. The Believer also debuted an interactive version of the comic on the website that Huynh helped to make.

Huynh just returned from Australia, and we had a chance to speak about the project.

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