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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Annie Koyama looks back and ahead after 10 years”

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?

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Cynthia von Buhler gets magical with Harry Houdini”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Jack Foster on super villains and ‘Gun’”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Victor Santos”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Takeshi Miyazawa on ‘Mech Cadet Yu’”

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.

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

Smash Pages Q&A: Pamela Ribon on ‘Slam!’

The novelist and screenwriter discusses her work on ‘Slam! The Next Jam,’ the BOOM! Box series that wraps up next week. Check out exclusive artwork from the final issue!

Pamela Ribon has had a long, successful writing career. She’s the author of novels including Going in Circles and Why Moms Are Weird and the memoir Notes To Boys (And Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public). She’s a member of the Disney Animation StoryTrust and has written or co-written a number of films including Moana, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and the upcoming Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2. In 2016 Variety named her one of “10 Screenwriters to Watch” and she is a 2017 Film Independent Directing Lab Fellow.

Ribon also co-created and writes Slam! The series from BOOM! Studios’ BOOM! Box imprint revolves around roller derby derby and two very different women – Jen and Maisie – who become friends through the sport. The first miniseries featured artwork by Veronica Fish, while the second one, Slam! The Next Jam, features art by Marina Julia and covers by Fish.

It’s a series that spends a great deal of care and attention on how the sport works, on injuries, on depicting bodies and body types properly. More than that, it’s a also a comic that takes advantage of being a comic, playing with the form in a number of small but powerful and dynamic ways that demonstrate that Ribon has a deep understanding of how the medium works and what it is capable of doing. But really it’s a story of people and passion and obsession told with care and a great sense of fun.

If that weren’t enough Ribon wrote the just-released Rick and Morty #32, and has a graphic novel coming out next year, My Boyfriend is a Bear. The second miniseries, Slam! The Next Jam wraps up next week, and BOOM! sent an exclusive look at the issue to accompany my discussion with Ribon on roller derby, relationships and Chris Ware.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Pamela Ribon on ‘Slam!’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Andrea Tsurumi on ‘Accident!’

The creator of ‘Zootrope’ and ‘Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch’ discusses her new children’s book, ‘Accident!’

Comics fans have known Andrea Tsurumi’s work for years. Comics like Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch and Zootrope, and her books Why Would You Do That? and But Suddenly an Octopus showed her inventiveness, and an ability to switch between styles. She’s made comics for The Nib, illustrations for The New York Times, and her picture book Accident! was just published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been named one of the best picture books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly.

The story of an armadillo named Lola, it starts with an accident and then becomes an out of control chase that ends as people (and armadillos) learn a lesson. It’s something that will look and feel familiar to people who have read Tsurumi’s comics and is an entertaining, madcap story that feels very much like her work. She was kind enough to take time out to talk about comics, picture books and more.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Andrea Tsurumi on ‘Accident!’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Melanie Gillman

The creator discusses ‘As the Crow Flies,’ now available from Iron Circus Comics, as well as the upcoming ‘Stage Dreams,’ Colorado, colored pencils and more.

Since it launched in 2012, As the Crow Flies has been a webcomic beloved by many people. Drawn in colored pencil by Melanie Gillman, the comic tells the story of Charlie, a black queer 13 year old on an all-white Christian youth backpacking trip. It is not just a striking beautiful comic that looks like nothing else, but it tells an important story in a thoughtful, nuanced way. It is a story of identity and religion, community and discrimination with a cast of real, relatable and beautifully drawn characters.

Gillman just finished writing a run of Steven Universe comics for BOOM! Studios and has already announced their next project, Stage Dreams, a graphic novel that Gillman described as a “queer western romance adventure story.” The first half of As the Crow Flies was just published in a print edition by Iron Circus Comics and Gillman was kind enough to talk about writing, life, Colorado and colored pencils.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Melanie Gillman”