Smash Pages Q&A: Saladin Ahmed on ‘Abbott’

Saladin Ahmed is an award-winning writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, best known for his epic fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon. Last year he began writing comics at Marvel. His series Black Bolt was one of the most acclaimed superhero stories of the year, and he’s writing two new series at Marvel launching this spring including the much anticipated Exiles.

This year Ahmed also has a new comic, Abbott, drawn by Sami Kivela and colored by Jason Wordie. The five-issue miniseries from Boom tells the story of Elena Abbott, a reporter in 1972 Detroit who is dealing with social and political issues of the era in addition to a supernatural threat she’s trying to understand. The series and the lead character are very much a type, the noir influenced supernatural investigator and the series is reminiscent of Jamie Delano’s run on Hellblazer, which like this was a horror/fantasy story that was very political and concerned with social issues. It’s the story of a time and place that has a lot of echoes with today as Ahmed pointed out in our conversation.

The third issue of Abbott is out this week and Ahmed was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Saladin Ahmed on ‘Abbott’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Gabi Mendez on ‘Lemonade Summer’

Gabi Mendez has been making short comics and minicomics for a few years now. Her work has appeared in anthologies like The Wicked and The Tired and now Cow House Press has launched a kickstarter to publish her first book, a collection of short comics titled Lemonade Summer.

The stories in the book are told in a variety of ways about kids of different ages and backgrounds. The stories are very different but taken together, are about queer characters coming of age in the sort of nurturing, positive, supportive environments which are so rarely depicted. The result is an all-ages book about pirates and skaters, witches and road trips, about childhood adventures and teenage uncertainty. It’s a powerful debut that is emotionally raw while being sweet, funny, and playful on many levels.

Mendez is in graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design and I spoke with her after exams to talk about the book. The Kickstarter campaign for the all-ages book runs through April 6 and can be found here.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Gabi Mendez on ‘Lemonade Summer’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell’s ‘Bizarre Romance’

Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell are immensely talented and acclaimed creators. Niffenegger is the author of the novels The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, and graphic novels like The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Night Bookmobile, among many other works. Campbell is the writer and artist of many comics. He drew From Hell and A Disease of Language, two collaborations with Alan Moore, in addition to writing and drawing Alec and Bacchus, all of which are among the best comics ever made. He has also written a new book about comics and comics history, The Goat Getters: Jack Johnson, The Fight of the Century, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics, which comes out this spring.

The two are also married and have been collaborating on a number of short projects for the past few years. This week Abrams is publishing Bizarre Romance, a collection of short comics and illustrated stories that they made together. It should be no surprise to anyone who knows their work that it is a broad-ranging collection of styles and approaches. These stories are sweet and funny, touching and strange, inventive and a lot of fun. They were kind enough to talk about their working relationship and the book.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell’s ‘Bizarre Romance’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Rick Stromoski on ‘Soup to Nutz’ and more

The cartoonist discusses his syndicated strip, a graphic novel he’s working on, how he works and more.

Rick Stromoski’s comic strip Soup to Nutz has been running on the comics pages since 2000. He had been syndicated before, but was better known for his illustration work, gag cartoons and greeting cards. He has won multiple division awards from the National Cartoonists Society over the years and has served as the organization’s president.

Soup to Nutz has its own sense of design, and it stands out on the comics page for the sense of humor, which has much more of an edge than other family strips, and for the character of Andrew, who remains unique. Stromoski has also been working on a graphic novel drawn in a very different style than the strip. Based on his mother’s life, this has been a project of many years that he’s close to finishing. We spoke recently about his strip, his graphic novel and how working digitally changed the way he’s able to work.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Rick Stromoski on ‘Soup to Nutz’ and more”

Smash Pages Q&A: Gabe Fowler on Funhouse: An Interactive Book Fair

The proprietor of Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn discusses the upcoming event, scheduled for March 24-25.

Gabe Fowler is not a cartoonist, but he is a one of the people who makes the comics world run. He’s the proprietor of Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn, one of the great comic stores in New York, and which Fowler has made a hub of comics activity. He’s one of the organizers of Comic Arts Brooklyn, the annual comics show, and he also publishes Smoke Signal, a quarterly comics anthology, and published Resist!, the two comics edited by Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman last year.

Fowler is one of the organizers of Funhouse: An Interactive Book Fair, which will take place in Manhattan on March 24-25. The event isn’t just another comics show and isn’t quite a workshop, but rather something else, and I reached out to Fowler to ask about what the event will be and trying to make a different kind of show.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Gabe Fowler on Funhouse: An Interactive Book Fair”

Smash Pages Q&A: Anneli Furmark on ‘Red Winter’

‘It’s like all the characters in the book have their own universe.’

Anneli Furmark’s Red Winter is a stunning book. It is a love story where the grand romantic scene and gesture happens in the opening pages. It is a narrative that is fractured told from multiple points of view, none of whom understand everything that’s happening. It’s about the politics of 1970’s Sweden and how they intersect with people’s lives. It is an impression of a time and of a place that is rendered and colored beautifully that lingers lost after one finishes reading he last page.

Furmark was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book and how she works.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Anneli Furmark on ‘Red Winter’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Tee Franklin on ‘Bingo Love’

Following a successful Kickstarter, Franklin discusses how the graphic novel landed at Image Comics.

Last month Bingo Love came out from Image Comics. Written by first-time graphic novelist Tee Franklin and illustrated by Jenn St-Onge, it’s a realistic love story that jumps from 1963 to the present before ending in 2038. It tells the story of two women, Hazel and Mari, who meet when they’re young and are reunited decades later. It’s a story with a happy ending, which is not to say that the book is not also a fraught and complicated journey for the characters.

Franklin is known to many in the comics community for her journalism. She’s written short comics for various anthologies, but after a successful Kickstarter, the book looks to be one of the breakout comics of the year. The book has already gone into a second printing before it was ever published, and Image isn’t run by fools; Franklin announced her next project at Image Expo shortly after Bingo Love hit the shelves.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Tee Franklin on ‘Bingo Love’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Sloane Leong on ‘Prism Stalker’

‘It’s a weird sci-fi biopunk adventure about colonization, autonomy, the pain of desire and the wonder, power and horror of expression.’

Comics readers might know Sloane Leong as the artist of From Under Mountains. She’s also drawn fill-in stories for a number of comics, including Prophet, Glory and Bravest Warriors, and has contributed to gallery shows, but starting this week, she will be known for Prism Stalker.

The ongoing series launches next week from Image Comics, and the first issue is simply stunning. It manages to convey a lot of information about this world, much of it through suggestion. Her pages quite frankly do not look like most comics pages but are instead complex works of design that echo the musicality within the story and defining the pacing. The story itself, which is about language and culture, memory and what is passed down, could not be more relevant today. Like the very best science fiction, the issue manages to depict something strange and truly alien, while drawing parallels to the present, the past and our own experiences.

For many, writing, drawing and coloring a monthly series is more than enough, but Leong is also finishing a graphic novel, A Map to the Sun, for First Second Books, and writing a regular review column for The Comics Journal. Happily, she somehow found the time to talk with me.

Leong will be at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend at Table #208 where she’ll have advance copies of the first issue for sale. It will be available in stores on March 7.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Sloane Leong on ‘Prism Stalker’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Ilan Stavans

The essayist, translator, editor and scholar discusses his latest work, an autobiographical graphic novel with artist Santiago Cohen.

Ilan Stavans does so many things that most of his readers likely struggle to keep track of them. Stavans is a renowned essayist, translator, editor and scholar. The publisher of Restless Books, he was the General Editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. He’s written or co-written dozens of books including Quixote: The Novel and the World, Singer’s Typewriter and Mine: Reflections on Jewish Culture, Octavio Paz: A Meditation and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years, the first of a two-volume biography. He’s the producer and host of the podcast In Contrast, a fiction writer and playwright, and his debut volume of his own poetry, The Wall, comes out this year as part of the Pitt Poetry series.

Stavans is also a lover and writer of comics. He’s collaborated with Lalo Alacaraz on two books (Latino USA: A Cartoon History and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States) in addition to writing graphic novels like Mr. Spic Goes to Washington and El Iluminado. His new book, a collaboration with artist Santiago Cohen, is Angelitos.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Ilan Stavans”