Smash Pages Q&A: Tara O’Connor

The creator discusses an expanded edition of her ‘Roots’ comic from Top Shelf and her upcoming book from Oni Press, ‘The Altered History of Willow Sparks.’

Tara O’Connor’s Roots begins with her divorce as she falls into that fugue state familiar to many that accompanies the collapse of a relationship, moving back in with one’s parents and the very specific kind of depression that comes with those life-altering events. It also depicts how O’Connor pulled herself out of this, through work and starting a new project, and what happened when she traveled to Ireland to research her family history. The trip didn’t turn out the way she expected, and neither did the resulting book.

Roots was originally self-published a few years ago, but Top Shelf is now publishing a new, longer version of that story. In addition, O’Connor has The Altered History of Willow Sparks, a fictional graphic novel coming out from Oni Press early next year. Both are about changing one’s life and O’Connor sat down to talk about her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Anders Nilsen on ‘Tongues’

‘It’s a weird amalgam of other stories I’ve done.’

In recent years Anders Nilsen has published a number of books that have been hard to categorize. From Rage of Poseidon to Poetry is Useless to the reissue of his earlier Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Nilsen has shown himself to be not just a talented artist and storyteller but a gifted designer whose books are carefully considered objects in their own right.

As brilliant as each of those books are, like a lot of comics readers I’ve been waiting for Nilsen to announce his next big project. Big Questions, which was published in a single volume in 2011, was an epic story in a way that goes far beyond the book’s length. Nilsen has just published Tongues #1, the first part of a much longer story, and he was kind enough to take time to talk about the comic, his plans and the book’s landscape.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jake Parker on Inktober and more

The founder of October’s ‘Inktober’ event discusses this year’s event, his latest chidlren’s books and his forthcoming graphic novel ‘SkyHeart.’

For some people, Jake Parker is the talented children’s book illustrator behind books like The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair, The Little Snowplow, and the just-released The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Some of us though remember Parker as one of the artists who first made a splash in the Flight anthologies and went onto write and draw the Missile Mouse series of graphic novels and The Antler Boy and Other Stories, which collected his short comics work.

He is also the man who started Inktober, which went from a personal challenge to himself that he posted online to something much bigger. This year Inktober was bigger than it’s ever been. In 2015, just under 330,000 posts on Instagram were tagged #inktober2015, and this year more than 3.2 million were tagged #inktober2017. This doesn’t mean that everything was without controversy. Parker responded to the question of whether it’s possible to participate in Inktober if one works digitally and Parker’s statement, which read in part “The spirit of Inktober is self improvement, and there’s no better way to master your craft than to draw without a safety net” was not liked by some people and so I asked him about Inktober and his new book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Remnant on ‘Cartoon Clouds’

The creator of ‘Blindspot’ and artist of Harvey Pekar’s ‘Cleveland’ discusses his first solo graphic novel from Fantagraphics, balancing his work as a storyboarding artist with his own projects, and more.

Like most comics fans I first got to know Joseph Remnant’s work from The Pekar Project. The web project featured the late great Pekar working with a number of artists and Remnant went on to draw Cleveland, a very personal graphic novel written by Pekar that was published after his death.

Remnant was making short work in his comic series Blindspot, in addition to recording music and working on various other projects, but Fantagraphics just released his first solo graphic novel, Cartoon Clouds. The book is about a group of students who have just graduated from art school, and are trying to find their own way and understand their feelings about art. Remnant admits that working on the project over the course of many years has meant that his own feelings about the characters and some of the issues he raises in the book have changed over time, though his linework is masterful throughout.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Nilah Magruder on ‘M.F.K.’

The animator, illustrator and storyboard artist discusses the collection of her popular webcomic.

Nilah Magruder’s webcomic M.F.K. has been on hiatus recently but it remains a beloved by its fans (including me). The animator, illustrator and storyboard artist received the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for the webcomic, an epic fantasy adventure about a hero on a quest – but not the kind of hero, epic or quest that most fantasy fans think about when they hear those words. Although it is very epic in a sense – journeys are hard for social recluses.

Last year saw the release of Magruder’s debut picture book, How To Find a Fox, and she’s currently working on a new book project, Creaky Acres. A print version of the the first three chapters of M.F.K. are out now from Insight Comics and Magruder answered a few questions about the book, promises she’s working on the comic, and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Roger Langridge on ‘The Iron Duchess’

The cartoonist discusses his latest book from Fantagraphics, as well as ‘Zoot!’, the status of ‘Criminy’ and more.

Roger Langridge has had a long career in comics, crafting a unique body of work that ranges from Fred the Clown to Abigail and the Snowman, The Fez to The Baker Street Peculiars, Art d’Ecco to Snarked. Langridge however is likely best known for a lot of the licensed projects he’s worked on which include Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, The Muppet Show, and Popeye. It’s a shame, and not just because people who love The Muppet Show could pick up Fred the Clown and some of his other work and find that same love of wacky characters, vaudeville, silent comedy, music and hijinx.

Fred the Clown: The Iron Duchess shows Langridge’s love for old silent films, in particular those of the late great Buster Keaton. Langridge likes to use Fred as a character the way old silent comedians played the same “character” in one film after another. The book manages to combine a mad scientist, a wealthy man and his daughter, the making of a film, a horse, a pig, a train chase, and much more. It manages to be a madcap adventure, but also a beautifully structured story with multiple threads moving along and leading to some strange and hilarious surprises by the end. The Iron Duchess is out now from Fantagraphics Books, and Langridge has also released Zoot! #1, a new one-man anthology that is a available from his website.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lee Francis on The Indigenous Comic-Con and more

The publisher, retailer and convention organizer talks about Albuquerque’s upcoming convention, Native Realities Publishing and much more.

Dr. Lee Francis IV is the CEO and publisher of Native Realities Publishing, which has made a mark with comics like Tribal Force, Hero Twins and The Wool of Jonesy, and graphic novels like Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers and the upcoming Deer Woman: An Anthology.

Francis also runs Red Planet, a bookstore in Albuquerque, NM, and The Indigenous Comic-Con. The show takes place next weekend, November 10-12, in Albuquerque with additional events on Nov. 9. We spoke about publishing, the convention, and being an indigenerd.

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Halloween Q&A: Gareth Hinds on ‘Poe’

The creator discusses how he’s adapted a number of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems into comics form.

Gareth Hinds has made a career of adapting great works of literature into comics. From The Odyssey to MacBeth, Beowulf to King Lear.

His new book Poe adapts a number of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems into comics form and is out now from Candlewick Press. Adapting the work of Poe has a number of technical challenges and Hinds found some inventive and striking ways to think through them. From the way he adapts the poems into comics to the complicated ways he draws and colors The Pit and the Pendulum, Hinds finds visual inventive ways to make these familiar stories new.

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Halloween Q&A: Molly Ostertag on ‘The Witch Boy’

The creator of ‘Strong Female Protagonist’ discusses her new book, which is being published this week by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

In a very short time Molly Ostertag has become an incredibly busy artist. She’s one half of the team behind the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist, she works on the TV show Star vs. the Forces of Evil, she illustrated the graphic novel Shattered Warrior which was released earlier this year, and this week Scholastic’s Graphix imprint is releasing The Witch Boy.

Written, illustrated and colored by Ostertag the book is a middle grade fantasy story that’s also a thoughtful, funny, and sometimes creepy tale of magic, gender expectations, friendship and family.

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