Smash Pages Q&A: David F. Walker on ‘The Life of Frederick Douglass’

The writer of ‘Bitter Root,’ ‘Cyborg’ and ‘Nighthawk’ discusses his work on one of America’s historic figures.

David F. Walker has been writing comics and prose for years. He really broke out when he wrote a novel and two comics miniseries featuring John Shaft, the classic character created by Ernest Tidyman. Since then he’s written for DC (Cyborg, the upcoming Naomi), Marvel (Nighthawk, Luke Cage) and Lion Forge (Superb). Currently he’s co-writing the series Bitter Root, the third issue of which comes out this week.

Also on sale this week is The Life of Frederick Douglass. The graphic novel from Ten Speed Press, which Walker wrote, features art by Damon Smyth and colors by Marissa Louise. The book tells the story of one of the nation’s great figures and his uniquely American story. It’s a very impressive graphic biography, and I would argue that it’s Walker’s best work to date. We spoke about why this was such a personal project for him and what Douglass’ life and work say about the United States and all of its citizens.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Robert Garrett and N. Steven Harris on ‘Ajala’

“A Change in Perspective” marks a different approach to the Glyph Comics award-winning series.

Ajala is a comic series written by Robert Garrett with art by N Steven Harris, and colors by Walt Msonza Barna. It’s a comic that they have been working on in between other projects. Harris is still remembered for drawing the Grant Morrison and Mark Millar series Aztek from years back, but recently he’s been busy drawing The Wild Storm: Michael Cray for DC.

The two are now crowdfunding the next two issues of the comic, which they’re calling “A Change in Perspective.” The title has a lot of meanings, from the young protagonist who, like all teenagers, starts to question and push against what she’s been taught, to the ways that the book wants to grow, to be not just about her, but her family, her community and ways to depict them in all their complexity.

I’ve interviewed Garrett and Harris in the past and reached out to ask them a few questions about the Kickstarter and where Ajala is going from here.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Michael Sheyahshe on ‘Moonshot’

The writer, artist and scholar discusses the new anthology he’s co-editing with Elizabeth LaPensée.

Michael Sheyahshe is a writer, artist and scholar who remains perhaps best known for his book Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study. He’s written stories for both volumes of the Moonshot anthology, and wrote the forward to the first one. His new project is Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 3, which he’s co-editing with Elizabeth LaPensée

The book will feature work from creators including Lee Francis, Weshoyot Alvitre, Jeffrey Veregge, Jon Proudstar and Rebecca Roanhorse, and is currently being kickstarted by AH Comics. Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and what readers can look forward to in the new volume.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Darryl Banks on ‘Harken’s Raiders’ and more

The former ‘Green Lantern’ artist and co-creator of Kyle Raynor discusses his new graphic novel with Ron Marz, his work on ‘Green Lantern’ and more.

Darryl Banks will always be remembered by many comics fans as the co-creator of Kyle Raynor, and the artist who drew Green Lantern for more than seven years. As I told Banks, “my” Green Lantern is Kyle, but what has always stood out for me is the ways that Banks managed to visually redefine the book in exciting ways. Since he finished his run on Green Lantern, Banks has drawn a few books, but he’s mostly been working outside of comics.

The fact that he’s drawing a new book is news in itself. He’s working with his Green Lantern collaborator Ron Marz on Harken’s Raiders, a very different project for the duo, telling a World War II adventure story about a commando team extracting a German scientist from behind enemy lines. The book is being kickstarted now, and one of the rewards is The Art of Darryl Banks, the first-ever art book from Banks. I reached out to ask him a few questions about what brought him back to comics and whether we’ll be seeing more from him in the coming years.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joe Glass on ‘Acceptable Losses’

The creator of ‘The Pride’ talks about the Kickstarter for his latest project.

Joe Glass is best known by comics readers for his series The Pride, which is an old school superhero tale, but with LGBTQ characters. It manages to play with archetypes, tell very pointed and political stories, but they also very consciously called back to classic superhero stories. Glass clearly knew the genre and the kinds of stories he wanted to both celebrate and subvert.

His new book, which he’s made with Danny Flores, Moose Baumann and Michael Stock, is Acceptable Losses. The book is being kickstarted right now, and it’s a very different story than The Pride, but it shows how Glass is interested in playing with comics concepts that we’re familiar with and finding ways to subvert archetypal and stereotypical characters in interesting ways.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Campbell on ‘Wet Moon’

The creator of the seven-part graphic novel series discusses the final volume from Oni Press.

I have read Sophie Campbell’s work since the beginning of her career, and as I told her, I still have a battered first edition of Wet Moon Volume 1, her debut as a writer and artist. Since that book came out in 2005, she’s worked on a number of projects. She wrote and drew the graphics novels The Abandoned and Water Baby, in addition to two Shadoweyes books. She’s drawn Glory at Image, Jem and the Holograms at IDW and many issues of TMNT. For some people, her best work, her most intimate and personal work, has been Wet Moon. Oni Press just published the seventh and final book of the series. It’s been a long time coming, but it is a beautiful and perfect ending to the series.

The book doesn’t get enough credit or attention, but I’m far from the only person who loves the books so passionately. Campbell was able to write characters, to craft mysteries with such precision, and she was able to make a series that for the most part was plotless slice-of-life stories about a few months in the lives of these characters and make them so compelling. It is an immense work and even today stands out for so many reasons. Campbell and I have spoken a few times over the years, and I wanted to mark the book’s release by talking with her again.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Amanda Lafrenais on ‘FTL, Y’ALL’ and more

The creator of ‘Love Me Nice’ discusses her newest anthology project for Iron Circus, her own webcomics and more.

Amanda Lafrenais is the creator behind the webcomics Love Me Nice and Titty Time. She’s one of the co-hosts and editor of the Dirty Old Ladies podcast. She’s also an editor who worked on the Iron Circus anthology Tim’rous Beastie and the new anthology FTL, Y’ALL: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive. The anthology has an incredible premise that attracted creators who readers will know, along with plenty of newcomers.

Lafrenais’ webcomics show a range of artistic and storytelling influences. She clearly understands comics and it’s been fascinating to see her guide two very different anthologies, overseeing very different artists than herself. Lafrenais is a great talent and I took the opportunity to ask her about the new anthology, the graphic novel she’s drawing and her own comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Duncan Tonatiuh on ‘Undocumented’

The children’s author discusses his first book aimed at adults, which is about the daily battles that undocumented worker face.

Duncan Tonatiuh has been writing and drawing picture books for children for many years, but his new book Undocumented is something very different. The book for adults is designed in an accordion format, in a way that calls to mind Mixtec codex. Throughout his career, Tonatiuh has been influenced by pre-Columbian art. His children’s books have looked at the lives of Diego Rivera and Amalia Hernandez, re-imagined legends, and looked at how Sylvia Mendez and her family helped to end segregated schools in California.

Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight is about the daily battle that so many workers in the country face and is both an inspirational story of people coming together to create change and improve their lives, and a guide to how people can organize. It’s more important and timely than ever, and one of the year’s most important books. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ali Fitzgerald on ‘Drawn to Berlin’

The cartoonist discusses her latest book from Fantagraphics, the comics workshops she conducted in refugee shelters in Germany and much more.

The full title of Ali Fitzgerald’s first book is Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe. The book details time that the Berlin-based cartoonist spent teaching comics workshops in a refugee center and the people she met there. To add a depth to their stories and Fitzgerald trying to understand the changing face of Berlin, she turns to Joseph Roth and his book What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933, where Roth documented the lives of refugees in Berlin, demonstrating how this is not a new phenomenon. Moreover, while the refugees have not found the Berlin they were hoping for, neither did Fitzgerald, who was first inspired to visit the city from her reading of Christopher Isherwood and others.

Fitzgerald has been making comics for years. She made Hungover Bear and Friends for McSweeney’s, and Bermuda Square for New York. Fitzgerald has contributed to many publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Bitch Magazine. She was kind enough to answer a few questions over email about her book.

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