Smash Pages Q&A: Jimmy Palmiotti and Dave Johnson

The two-award-winning creators discuss their latest project together, the second issue of ‘Pop Kill’ from Paperfilms.

Dave Johnson is the award-winning cover artist of 100 Bullets, Punisher, Deadpool, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, The Butcher of Paris and many other comics. Jimmy Palmiotti began his career as an inker, but quickly became a writer and editor, co-creating comics like Ash, 21 Down and The Monolith. In recent years, Palmiotti has continued to work with his wife, the great Amanda Conner, on a variety of projects, but much of his work has been writing and co-writing creator-owned graphic novels including Killing Time in America, Retrovirus and Random Acts of Violence, which was adapted into a film just released on video-on-demand, in addition to continuing the story of his characters Painkiller Jane and The Monolith.

Many of those projects, like Pop Kill, which is currently being kickstarted, are collaborations with artist Juan Santacruz. This time they’re joined by co-writer Dave Johnson on a series that’s violent, sexy, very absurd, and they were kind enough to take a few minutes out to talk about the second issue of the series, and continuing the absurd tale of violence, sex, and corporate espionage.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Remy Boydell

The artist of ‘The Pervert’ discusses his latest, ‘920London,’ which is out now from Image Comics.

Remy Boydell’s new book, 920London, will remind a lot of readers of The Pervert, the book that Boydell made with Michelle Perez that was published by Image Comics in 2018. 920London establishes very early that this book may look similar, but it has an approach and tone of its own.

920London is an intimate love story that is raw and emotional, and will remind many of their 20s. It features a couple who see the apocalypse just over the horizon. Boydell’s great gift is the skillful mix of funny and unsettling, as the two main characters are searching for something. It is beautiful and sad and funny and painfully relatable, and Boydell was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Garth Stein

The author of ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ talks about ‘The Cloven,’ his graphic novel collaboration with artist Matthew Southworth.

Garth Stein is an author, playwright, filmmaker and former race car driver who most people probably know for his international bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain. His latest project adds another descriptor to the list — graphic novel writer. Stein has teamed up with Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth for The Cloven, a three-part graphic novel series being published by Fantagraphics.

The Cloven is the story of a genetically modified human named Tuck, who is a cross between a human and a goat — a Cloven. While Tuck just wants is to live a normal life as a university student, it all goes to hell when he shows a girl his hooves. It’s a story of labs, family, loss and community, set in the streets of Seattle and the surrounding area, as Tuck searches for a place in the world. It’s also a beautiful graphic novel, showcasing the talent and skill of its creators.

Part one of the planned trilogy came out at the end of July, and Stein was kind enough to talk with me about it, working with Southworth and Fantagraphics, learning the language of comics and a whole lot more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sean Damien Hill

The artist of ‘The Hated’ discusses how he works, his influences, drawing horses and more.

Sean Damien Hill has been working on comics for years now, on projects ranging from Dark Shaman to Route 3 to The Gilded Age. His linework shows traces of a number of influences, finding ways to incorporate manga and classic American illustrators. The result is work that manages to be detailed and dynamic, with an impressive sense of design and layout.

Hill is an immensely talented young artist, and his new project, with David Walker, is The Hated #1. The comic is a Western set in an alternative world that Walker described as part spaghetti Western and part blaxploitation. It’s out now from Solid Comix, and Hill was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and how he works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marco Finnegan

The artist of ‘Crossroad Blues’ returns with a new YA graphic novel about the Zoot Suit Riots, family tension and lizardmen.

In the early 1940s, racial tension between the Chicano community and white servicemen in the Los Angeles area led to the Zoot Suit Riots, named for the baggy suits worn by Mexican-American youths at the time.

Lizard in a Zoot Suit is a new graphic novel from Marco Finnegan (Crossroad Blues) that uses these riots as a backdrop for a socially relevant tale of racial tension, family and magical realism. Inspired by playwright Luis Valdez and movies like LA Confidential, Lizard in a Zoot Suit features two sisters who discover a lizardman — a lost member of an underground species who just wants to get home. Amidst the chaos, the sisters do what they can for their new friend in a beautiful tale told in two colors.

I spoke with Finnegan about the book, his inspiration for it and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Schultz

The creator of ‘Xenozoic Tales’ talks about the Kickstarter project for three new books, which include an Al Williamson book and more.

Mark Schultz has had a long career as a writer and artist. People might know him for writing the long-running comic strip Prince Valiant, which he’s been writing since 2004. He’s written graphic novel The Stuff of Life and comics ranging from Superman to Aliens vs. Predator to The Spirit. As a writer and artist, he made the acclaimed series Xenozoic Tales, wrote the heavily illustrated novella Storms at Sea and has had a long career as an illustrator.

Today Flesk Publications launched a Kickstarter for three new books: a new Carbon, the most recent in a series of art books by Schultz; a new edition of Xenozoic; and a book about Al Williamson. Schultz was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and the Kickstarter campaign.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sarah Mirk

The writer, editor and journalist discusses her two most recent projects — ‘Year of Zines’ and ‘Guantanamo Voices.’

Sarah Mirk is mostly known as a writer and editor for her work at Bitch Media, and for her books like You Do You and Sex From Scratch. She’s also written comics for The Nib and Symbolia, and has done cartoons for The New Yorker.

This year, though, she has two major projects coming out that show the breadth and depth of her work and her talent. Year of Zines is out now. The book collects 100 of the comics that Mirk made in 2019 where she made literally a zine a day. In the fall, Abrams is publishing Guantanamo Voices, which Mirk wrote and edited, telling the stories of veterans, prisoners, lawyers and government officials, with a number of artists.

Taken together, the books show off the inventiveness, skill and roving mind of a creator who is clearly just getting started. More recently, Mirk has been covering the protests in Portland in work that can be seen on her Twitter and Instagram. Mirk was kind enough to chat about her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Steenz

The cartoonist who took over ‘Heart of the City’ this year discusses the comic strip process, her focus on the characters, her other projects and more.

Christina “Steenz” Stewart has been making comics for years, but earlier this year, she took over making the daily syndicated comic strip Heart of the City when its creator Mark Tatulli stepped down. Since then, as a reader I think she’s managed to improve the strip, but she’s also found a way to transform the strip while remaining true to what it’s always been. Instead of a gag strip, as Tatulli did, Steenz has focused more on character, introducing new people and grounding the comic and the characters as middle schoolers getting older and starting to see the world and their lives in new ways.

Even before taking over the strip, Steenz has emerged as a writer, artist and editor to be reckoned with. She was the artist of the award-winning graphic novel Archival Quality and is working on a graphic novel about the history of tabletop roleplaying. She’s been a contributor to anthologies like Elements and Dead Beats. A former editor at Lion Forge, Steenz edited the recent graphic novel adaptation of Work For A Million and teaches cartooning at Webster University. We spoke recently about how she worked on the strip, bringing her own voice and approach to it, and why she’s not addressing COVID-19 in the strip.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cole Pauls

The creator of ‘Dakwäkãda Warriors’ discusses his work, making a bilingual comic, the influence of ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ on his comics and more.

In his comics series Dakwäkãda Warriors, which was recently collected by Conundrum Press, Cole Pauls tells a story that draws equally from pop culture and from Southern Tutchone culture. If that weren’t enough, the book is bilingual, intended to help teach the Southern Tutchone language. Before I reached the end of the book, I found myself not needing the notes as I had picked up the ability to read a few words. 

It’s hard to say what’s more impressive, the ways that Pauls is able to craft a comic that is both entertaining and educational, or the way that he manages to craft a story that references and pays tribute to his culture, that is wonderfully specific, but also uses these pop culture elements to make it familiar, though Pauls is intent on using and subverting the stories in interesting ways. 

Conundrum just announced that they’ll be publishing Pauls’ second book, Pizza Punks, next year, and we have a preview of the book here. I spoke with Pauls recently about his work, what he doesn’t like about a lot of indigenous picture books, and the influence of Calvin and Hobbes.

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