Smash Pages Q&A: Evan Dorkin

The writer and co-creator of ‘Beasts of Burden’ discusses his long career in comics, his collaborations, ‘Blackwood’ and much more.

Evan Dorkin seems to have many careers. For many comics readers, he’s the writer and artist behind Dork, Milk and Cheese and The Elitingville Club. He wrote and drew Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book series for Marvel back in 1991-92, which has since been reprinted. He’s contributed to MAD Magazine and other outlets. In television, he’s worked extensively with his wife, the noted creator Sarah Dyer, on shows like Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Superman: The Animated Series and others.

He is also the writer and co-creator of the award winning comic series Beasts of Burden. Dorkin’s approach to horror and suspense and his skill at writing animal protagonists — combined with the painted artwork of initially Jill Thompson and later Benjamin Dewey — have made the books a favorite among readers and critics. Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch was just released by Dark Horse, which collects a lot of the one-shots and other stories featuring the supernatural-battling pets, including a crossover with Hellboy co-written by Mike Mignola.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alex Segura

The author and co-president of Archie Comics talks about his latest project, ‘The Black Ghost’ from comiXology.

Alex Segura has had a busy year. During the day he’s busy as the co-president of Archie Comics, where he’s editing books, including the company’s flagship title, Archie. This year he also published a new novel, Miami Midnight, which he claims will be the last book in his Pete Fernandez series for the time being.

This week comiXology starts to serialize The Black Ghost, a creator-owned miniseries that Segura co-wrote with Monica Gallagher. The comic tells the story of Lara Dominguez, a reporter trying to uncover a masked vigilante in the city, and plays with the intersections of crime fiction, pulp fiction and superheroes in interesting ways.

The first issue is out this week, and I asked Segura a few questions about the comic, crime fiction and collaboration.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jorge J. Santos, Jr.

The writer and assistant professor discusses his book ‘Graphic Memories of the Civil Rights Movement.’

Jorge J. Santos, Jr. is the author of the new book Graphic Memories of the Civil Rights Movement: Reframing History in Comics, which was recently published by the University of Texas Press. The Assistant Professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts has been a longtime comics reader, but never made comics the subject of his scholarship in college and graduate school and only recently has been examining comics.

His book, which is an important and thoughtful work which has far-reaching impacts beyond the world of comics studies, is about rethinking the legacy and meaning of the Civil Rights movement. Santos looks at five graphic novels and considers the X-Men series in an effort to look at how collective memory is constructed and the ways that comics can be particularly useful in retelling and re-contextualizing history.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ezra Claytan Daniels

The creator of ‘Upgrade Soul’ discusses ‘BTTM FDRS,’ his collaboration with Ben Passmore.

Ezra Claytan Daniels is a writer, illustrator and designer who made a huge splash in comics when Upgrade Soul first came out. It may have made a huge impact on a lot of readers and critics, winning the Dwayne McDuffie Award in 2017 and being nominated for several awards over the past few weeks, but it was a hard sell to publishers and started out as an app.

Fantagraphics just published his second book, a collaboration with Ben Passmore. BTTM FDRS is a horror story in a very best tradition of the genre. The story of gentrification in a Chicago neighborhood tackles race and class, and involves a monster that is linked to an old building. It’s thoughtful and funny, disturbing and shocking, and Daniels was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and his process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Maia Kobabe

The comics creator discusses ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir,’ working with siblings, the craft and process of creating comics, and more.

Maia Kobabe has been making comics for The Nib, and anthologies like Mine!, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, The Secrets Loves of Geeks and elsewhere for years, but eir first book is the just released Gender Queer: A Memoir from Lion Forge.

Gender Queer is an exploration of identity, an explanation of what the term means, but more than that, it’s a thoughtful look at coming to understand oneself over time and what it means to be human. Maia and I spoke recently about the book, working with eir sibling on it and reluctantly crafting a memoir.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Casey Gilly

The writer and journalist discusses her contribution to the ‘You Died’ anthology, working with Raina Telgemeier and more.

Casey Gilly has been working in comics for years. She was one of the writers of She Changed Comics, has written essays for Winnebago Graveyard, Codename: Babushka and elsewhere in addition to writing and editing various comics, including two of the best in Andrea Leigh Shockling’s series Subjective Line Weight. Gilly has a new short comic in the upcoming Iron Circus anthology You Died, which she made with Raina Telgemeier.

Gilly and I have known each other for years, since we worked together at CBR back in the day, and I’ve read her comics work over the years, both published and unpublished, and know how talented she is. I think one of the things that has connected us is simply that we both love comics but we have very different sensibilities and tend to write about different things. The Kickstarter for You Died wraps up today, and I wanted to ask Gilly about how she started writing comics, collaboration and her highest profile project to date.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jeremy Holt

The comics writer discusses his latest project, ‘Before Houdini,’ which is about the early life of the magician and escape artist.

Though he came to comics late in life, Jeremy Holt has been making up for lost time. He’s written a number of comics in recent years including Pulp, Southern Dog, Skinned and Skip To The End.

His new book, which was just released by Insight Comics, is Before Houdini. A prequel to After Houdini, the 2018 graphic novel that Holt made with John Lucas and Adi Crossa, the new book looks at the early life of the aspiring magician and escape artist. In these books Holt and Lucas have established an entertaining supernatural universe, but his greatest gift is the sense of sprawl, both historical and fictional, that explodes from the pages, the panels offering but a glimpse into this larger world while also managing the story and plotting.

It’s a fine line to walk, and Holt and I spoke recently about the long path working on both of these books, his love of research and what comes next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Kindt, Brian Hurtt + Marie Enger

The denizens of St. Louis-based HEK Studios team up on a new anthology, which is up for funding on Kickstarter.

The depth and breadth of what you can do in comics and with comics — and I’m talking story-wise, design-wise and format-wise here — is virtually limitless. Sometimes it takes a particular project and a particular set of creators to remind us of this, and The HEK Treasury serves as just such a reminder.

The HEK Treasury is a creative project by the members of HEK Studios — Matt Kindt, Brian Hurtt and Marie Enger. The three of them have a large assortment of credits within comics — Black Badge, The Sixth Gun, Dept. H, Super-Spy, Fhtagn and Loathing, Shadow Roads, Nosferatu! and many more. The Missouri-based creators formed HEK Studios in 2015 and have purchased a vintage Route 66 garage that they’re converting into “the first full-time exclusive comic book studio in St. Louis.”

In addition to their own projects with various publishers, they’ve decided to team up on a large prestige format hardcover (8 ¾  x 11 5/8 ). This deluxe collection will feature “all new epic, experimental science fiction, fantasy and genre short stories. The HEK Treasury will showcase each creator as they unleash new ideas, using experimental art and storytelling techniques.” The project went live on Kickstarter earlier this week, and the campaign runs for 30 days. If funded, the book will be delivered to backers in the fall.

I spoke with the three of them about The HEK Treasury, HEK Studios and what they hope to accomplish together with this project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Russell

The writer of ‘The Snagglepuss Chronicles,’ ‘The Flintstones’ and more discusses ‘Second Coming,’ his new series from AHOY Comics.

In the span of a few years, Mark Russell has written a series of comics that have rethought and re-envisioned a number of characters at DC Comics. From Snagglepuss to Prez to The Flinstones, Russell has rethought the characters and their worlds in new and novel ways, finding depths and concerns that are striking and thoughtful. Russell’s first books in comics were God is Disappointed in You and Apocrypha Now, with Shannon Wheeler, which were published by Top Shelf Comix. So religion has long been an interest of his.

His new book is Second Coming with artist Richard Pace. The first issue arrived last month from AHOY Comics, with the second issue scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The controversy around it has drowned out the actual book, which is a smart look at Sunstar, a Superman-like hero, and Jesus, the character from the Bible. It’s a shocking idea, but perhaps more startling is what Russell does with the idea, which is to explore the limits of superheroes, start a conversation around power, and consider what religion and change mean today.

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