Smash Pages Q&A: Jen Bartel on ‘Crystal Fighters’

The artist of the forthcoming ‘Blackbird’ talks about her early work on ‘Crystal Fighters,’ which will be collected by Dark Horse Comics in September.

Jen Bartel’s artwork has become familiar to many comics readers. She’s drawn dozens of covers for BOOM! and Marvel, IDW and Archie, Valiant and more. She’s drawn issues and stories for comics like Jem and the Holograms and Mighty Thor, and contributed to anthologies including The Secret Loves of Geek Girls.

Her first comic as co-writer and artist was Crystal Fighters. First published digitally on Stela, a print edition of the webcomic is in stores Sept. 5 from Dark Horse Comics. If that’s not enough, in October, Bartel and writer Sam Humphries are launching a new ongoing series from Image Comics, Blackbird. This coming weekend, Bartel will be a special guest at Flame Con in New York City, and we reached out to ask her a few questions about the experience of putting together her first book and what comes next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Weshoyot Alvitre on ‘Sixkiller’ and more

The writer, artist and colorist talks about her latest project for Native Realities Press, her contributions to ‘Sovereign Traces’ and ‘Deer Woman,’ and much more.

Weshoyot Alvitre has been working in comics for years now as a writer, artist and colorist. She’s drawn covers for Satellite Falling, 10th Muse, and Tribal Force, drawn stories for Once Upon a Time Machine and Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, and contributed to Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. She’s colored Tribal Force and the upcoming Scout: Marauder, co-edited and contributed to last year’s acclaimed Deer Woman: An Anthology and has drawn the cover for the upcoming ninth volume of the acclaimed Dirty Diamonds anthology.

Michigan State University Press has just published Sovereign Traces Volume 1: Not (Just) (An)Other, which includes a poem by Joy Harjo that Alvitre adapted and illustrated. Native Realities Press has also just released Sixkiller #1 by Lee Francis and Alvitre. A new series that Francis described as “Alice in Wonderland meets Kill Bill in Cherokee country,” the book is a stunning writing debut by Francis. The two projects also represent Alvitre’s best work to date, beautifully rendered with dynamic page designs, and make the case that Alvitre is no longer a promising young artist – she’s arrived. Her influences can be seen in her pages, but the result isn’t derivative of anyone and her work is simply stunning. She was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lee Francis IV on ‘Sixkiller’

The publisher, retailer and convention organizer talks about writing his first comic.

Lee Francis IV has been the CEO and founder of Native Reality Press for many years now, publishing books like Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers and Deer Woman, and comics like Tribal Force and Hero Twins. While Francis is a writer, it’s not until now that he sat down to write a comic. The first issue of Sixkiller has just been released. Written by Francis and drawn by Weshoyot Alvitre, the book is a mixture of influences, both pop culture and real life issues. I reached out to Francis to talk about the story and why he needed to write this story.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Priya Huq on ‘Mana’ and more

The webcomics creator discusses painting and watercolors, her minicomic ‘The Bride’s Quarry,’ working on anthologies and much more.

Priya Huq is a painter and comics maker who is probably best known for her webcomic Mana — the story of a woman who has a vision of the sea, in a culture where tradition requires her to go on a quest after such a vision.

Huq is a prolific maker of short comics and her work has been found in many recent anthologies including The Secret Loves of Geeks, Habibi, and multiple volumes of Dirty Diamonds in addition to minicomics like the recent The Bride’s Quarry. Her work is typically painted in watercolor and it’s beautiful and striking, and she’s managed to craft a tone and sensibility that make her work stand out even more than her art does. I reached out to Huq to ask about how she works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Dan Schkade on ‘Lavender Jack’

The creator of ‘San Hannibal: The City of Love and Fear’ discusses his latest comic, which is now available on Line Webtoon.

Dan Schkade has been working in comics for a few years now. Readers might remember his artwork from books like Will Eisner’s The Spirit, which Matt Wagner wrote; Battlestar Galactica: Gods and Monsters; or San Hannibal: The City of Love and Fear, which he wrote and drew, among other projects. His new project is Lavender Jack, a new weekly series on Line Webtoon. The titular character is a thief and vigilante exposing the misdeeds of his town’s corrupt and wealthy elite. Desperate the Mayor seeks out the world’s greatest detective, Theresa Ferrier.

Set in a vague time early in the 20th Century, the book is witty and erudite, and feels familiar in many ways even as it strikes its own path as a woman who was once the world’s greatest detective is now older and disillusioned comes face to face with a new kind of adversary in a new kind of century. It’s a book about crime and conventions with a love of design and verbal wordplay. Lavender Jack updates every Tuesday and I reached out to ask Schkade about how he works and the unique but familiar world he’s created.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Kristen Radtke on ‘The Believer’

The creator of ‘Imagine Wanting Only This’ discusses her role as art director and deputy publisher of ‘The Believer’ magazine.

When The Believer magazine returned last year with a new publisher and a mostly new masthead, one of the new hires was Kristen Radtke. Comics readers know her for graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This, which was published by Pantheon in 2017. As Art Director and Deputy Publisher, Radtke has been overseeing the cover, the magazine’s redesign, and the comics section. Originally edited by Alvin Buenaventura, under Radtke the comics section has gone in a different direction. It’s longer, focused on longer-form work, in a way that brings it much more in conversation with the rest of the magazine.

Over the course of a few issues, the magazine has published work by Jennifer Camper, Leela Corman, Danica Novgorodoff and Yvan Alagbe. The June/July issue features work by Ben Passmore, Andrea Tsurumi and Anders Nilsen. I had spoken with Radtke when her book came out last year and asked if we could talk about her job as editor, how she sees the comics section and overseeing the look of one of the few magazines still focused on illustration in this way.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ben Passmore on ‘Daygloayhole’ and more

The creator of ‘Your Black Friend’ discusses his work for Fantagraphics’ ‘Now’ anthology, The Nib, his influences and much more.

Ben Passmore’s short comic Your Black Friend was a sensation when it was published in 2016. It was nominated for an Eisner Award, won an Ignatz Award, was on NPR’s 2017 list of 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels, and was turned into an animated short film. Passmore has become a regular contributor to The Nib and many other outlets, but for people who have been reading Passmore for years, this recent political work has been something of a departure for him. He first came to notice with Daygloayhole, which is a very different kind of comic, but shares a lot of the same sensibilities and ideas that motivate his political and essayistic comics.

This year saw the publication of Your Black Friend and Other Strangers, which collects a number of short comics by Passmore. Silver Sprocket is publishing a print version of Daygloayhole, the second issue of which is out this summer. Passmore has a comic in the current issue of the Fantagraphics anthology Now and has a comic in the June/July issue of The Believer.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Peter Hoey + Maria Hoey on ‘Coin-Op Comics Anthology’

The sibling comics creators discuss their latest collection from Top Shelf Comix, their work on ‘Blab!’ and much more.

Peter and Maria Hoey are the siblings behind Coin-Op Studio. Their illustration and advertising work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time and many other publications. They’re masterful creators of inforgraphics and maps, animation and portraits, and oh yes, they also make comics. For more than 20 years they’ve been making comics together, first for the anthology Blab and then for their own series Coin-Op Comics.

Top Shelf has just published Coin-Op Comics Anthology 1997-2017. The book collects the first six issues of their comics series along with the short comics for Blab! and they represent one of the most inventive and dynamic collections of comics published in recent years. Every story the Hoeys make they set out to find a new way to tell the story, think of a different way for the page to look, another way to present information and reveal character. This collection in addition to a new issue of Coin-Op, #7, are out now and I asked them a few questions about the book and how they work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: M.S. Harkness on ‘Tinderella’

Minnesota-based artist M.S. Harkness has been making comics and minicomics for a few years now, like Prizefighter, Normal Girl and A Savage Journey to the Heart of an Anime Convention. Kilgore Books just released her debut graphic novel, Tinderella.

The autobiographical tale is about dating, as the title makes clear, and it’s funny, living up to the title’s promise. It’s also a sharp and thoughtful look at life in one’s 20s — or a nightmarish and horrifying reminder of life in one’s 20s, depending on the reader. The book was excerpted in The Comics Journal before it was published, and I reached out to M.S. to ask about the book and how she works.

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