Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Yanow

The creator of ‘War of Streets and Houses’ talks about her journalism comics collection, ‘What is a Glacier?,’ and her work translating ‘Pretending is Lying.’

Since her book War of Streets and Houses was published by Uncivilized Books, it seems as though Sophie Yanow has been publishing work on a regular basis. She’s become a significant comics journalist, regularly publishing pieces in The Nib and The Guardian and elsewhere, covering the protests at Standing Rock and the U.S. elections. This year she has two very different comics coming out. The New York Review of Comics has just released Pretending is Lying, a comics memoir by Dominique Goblet that Yanow translated. At TCAF, Retrofit Comics released What is a Glacier, which collects some of Yanow’s journalism comics.

Yanow is currently teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont and this career model – making nonfiction comics, teaching, translation – has existed among prose writers and poets for generations, but it’s something new to comics. We spoke recently about Goblet, translation, nonfiction and the idea that Pretending is Lying.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eleanor Davis on ‘You & A Bike & A Road’

The creator of ‘How To Be Happy’ discusses her latest book from Koyama Press, which details her cycling trip from Arizona to Georgia.

In 2014, Fantagraphics published How To Be Happy, a collection of short comics by Eleanor Davis, which immediately established the cartoonist as one of the major figures of her generation. In the book, Davis jumped between styles and approaches, telling different kinds of stories ranging from the fantastic to realistic. Since then she made a children’s book with Drew Weing, Flop To The Top, for Toon Books. She also made the comics novella Libby’s Dad, which came out last fall from Retrofit Comics, and was recently awarded the Slate Book Review 2017 Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic.

Davis’ new book, out now from Koyama Press, is You & A Bike & A Road. The book is a series of comics about a bike trip that Davis undertook from Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up, to her home in Athens, Georgia. We spoke recently about the book, the journey, agitprop and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Vanessa Davis on ‘Spaniel Rage,’ Then and Now

When Spaniel Rage was first published in 2005, the collection of diary comics made a splash. Vanessa Davis didn’t come from a comics background, and she had a unique way of laying out and designing pages and her own sensibility. A few years later when Drawn & Quarterly collected many of her short comics in the book Make Me a Woman, it established Davis’ reputation as one of the great cartoonists of her generation.

Since then Davis has been making short comics and illustrations for many publications, including The New York Times, Tablet, Lucky Peach, and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Comics, Nursery Rhyme Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, and Best American Comics. D&Q has just reissued Spaniel Rage with a new introduction by Davis. The book remains a striking and vivid book about life in one’s 20s, about New York City, about the life of the young artist. Davis spoke about revisiting her work, what she’s working on now, and The Terry Southern, which she was just awarded for her work for The Paris Review.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Fertig on ‘Take That, Adolf!’

Alex Dueben talks to Mark Fertig about his latest book from Fantagraphics, World War II, graphic design and more.

In his recent book Take That, Adolf!, Mark Fertig looks at Golden Age comics and how World War II transformed the industry and the content. While for many people, the appeal of the book may be the hundreds of comic book covers that feature Adolf Hitler being punched and Nazis thwarted, the highlight is Fertig’s long essay.

In that piece Fertig examines race and gender; he looks at how the comics industry was changed, the ways that it’s impossible to think about the business and many characters without the influence of the war, and many more issues. Fertig is an Associate Professor at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches graphic design, and we spoke about the book, World War II, graphic design and comics in the classroom.

I enjoyed the book – who doesn’t like seeing Hitler get punched repeatedly? When you conceived the book, I’m sure you never imagined that the media would be discussing when it’s acceptable to punch nazis.

Yeah, I did a Twitter search the other day, and the book showed up. I don’t think the book has really worked its way into the public consciousness on any level, and yet it showed up in a political tweet where somebody had linked to the book and said, “This is our book.” I thought that was pretty fascinating. When I wrote it I thought I was writing it for comic book people and World War II people, but if it’s interesting to other people, that’s fine by me.

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