Smash Pages Q&A: Kelsey Wroten

The illustrator and cartoonist discusses her debut graphic novel, ‘Cannonball,’ from Uncivilized Books.

Kelsey Wroten is an illustrator and cartoonist who’s made an impact with her comics like Crimes and her illustrations, which seemed to have appeared almost everywhere in the past few years, from The New Yorker to Vice to Lucky Peach and elsewhere.

Her debut graphic novel is Cannonball, which was just released by Uncivilized Press. The book is the story of Caroline Bertram, a young writer who struggles with failure and goes on to have an even greater struggle with success. The book is more than simply a great character study, but throughout the book, Wroten is also illustrating in very different styles, the stories that Caroline is writing. In the final chapter of the book the story comes to a head not through text, but by utilizing the art as the real world and the world of her novel come crashing together in a striking way.

It’s a brilliant debut, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Wroten about writing complicated characters, structure, and color – as Avril Lavigne played in the background.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marguerite Dabaie

The creator of ‘The Hookah Girl and Other Two Stories’ discusses her latest project, ‘A Voyage to Panjikant.’

Marguerite Dabaie is a cartoonist perhaps best known for The Hookah Girl and Other Two Stories, which was first self-published in two volumes before collected last year in a new edition by Rosarium Publishing. With Tom Hart, Dabaie made the sadly short-lived comic strip Ali’s House, which is available now on gocomics.com. She’s been a contributor to The Nib, The Believer, Electronic Intifada and many other publications, but her current project is the graphic novel A Voyage to Panjikant.

She is also the co-host and co-founder of Pete’s Mini Zine Fest, which will be held again in July in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve long been an admirer of Dabaie’s work, and we recently spoke about her work, research and how she thinks about comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Rory Frances and Jae Bearhat

The creators of ‘Little Teeth’ discuss the recently released collection from Czap Books, how they first started working together and more.

Rory Frances had been making comics like Boys Are Slapstick for years before connecting with Jae Bearhat, who’s currently the editor of ZEAL Magazine. The two teamed up to make the serial comic Little Teeth, parts of which were first published on Hazlitt in 2015-16, and has just been published by Czap Books in a collected edition.

Little Teeth is a story of a group of friends living in an unnamed city. The characters are never named and the reader is immediately dropped into the story, to try and make sense of the relationships between characters and the larger dynamics. The anthropomorphic animals allow the creators to play with questions and expectations of gender and gender identity. There were scenes that made me laugh out loud and scenes that made me cringe in recognition. It is a thoughtful, funny and insightful comic about characters who are all too human, and simply one of the best graphic novels out so far this year. I recently spoke with Rory and Jae over Skype.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Brian Azzarello and Sierra Hahn

The writer and editor of Faithless from BOOM! Studios discuss the lead character, working with artist Maria Llovet and more.

Faithless is a new miniseries written by Brian Azzarello, and it’s a somewhat different project for him.

It’s the story of a young woman who is playing around with magic, and by the end of the first issue, it’s clear that she’s in much deeper than she thought. Which admittedly, structurally sounds like a lot of the crime stories that Azzarello has written.

I spoke recently with Azzarello and Faithless editor Sierra Hahn. The two have known each other for years but never worked together, and we spoke about how this project came together, working with artist Maria Llovet, and Dante Alighieri.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mariko Tamaki

The award-winning author discusses her latest graphic novel from First Second, ‘Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.’

Mariko Tamaki is the award-winning author of the graphic novels This One Summer and Skim, both of which she made with her cousin, the artist and writer Jillian Tamaki. Mariko has written a number of comics series including Tomb Raider, She Hulk, Supergirland X-23. She’s written graphic novels like Emiko Superstar and the upcoming Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, in addition to writing a trilogy of Lumberjanes novels and various other works of fiction and nonfiction.

Her new book, with artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, is Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, which is just out from First Second Books. Frederica Riley is dating Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school, who is amazing — and a horrible girlfriend. While Freddy is writing to an advice columnist about what she should do, her friends are dealing with their own problems and trying to be delicate, and inanimate objects around Freddy are offering their own ignored Greek chorus in the background. It is a brilliant work that manages to balance comedy and drama, and capture something truly essential about relationships and teenage life.

Tamaki is a featured guest at this weekend’s Queers and Comics Conference in New York, and we spoke recently about the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Blue Delliquanti

The creator of ‘O Human Star’ discusses entomophagy, working with food writer Soleil Ho and much more.

Blue Delliquanti is best known for the webcomic O Human Star, which has been running since 2012. Delliquanti has also made shorter comics which have appeared in The Nib, Mine!, Beyond and the just-released Smut Peddler: Sex Machine, but Delliquanti’s new book is something of a departure. Meal was co-written with food writer and journalist Soleil Ho and centers around Yarrow, who moves to Minneapolis to work at a restaurant that serves insects.

The book is an enthusiastic and thoughtful primer for those who are unaccustomed to entomophagy (that’s eating bugs), but it’s more than that. It’s a story about food and our connections to it. It’s about the communities that have eaten and have a relationship to these foods for generations, and what it means for others to “discover” that. It’s a love story that captures some of that feeling from moving to a new place and working at a job that’s much more than a job. The tagline for the book is “Dreams. Love. Entomophagy.” I recently talked about those things and more with Delliquanti, who will be appearing this coming weekend at the Queers and Comics Conference in New York.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Maggie Umber

The co-founder of 2d Cloud discusses their latest Kickstarter, their 2019 lineup, her latest project and more.

Maggie Umber is the acclaimed cartoonist behind the books 270˚, Sound of Snow Falling, Time Capsule and other comics. She is also one of the founders of 2d Cloud, which in the past decade has established itself as one of the most important comics publishers in North America.

Umber wrote a blog post recently about the state of 2D Cloud and her own health, and about how the company plans to move forward. The company has just launched Artist Book Boxes at the Center of the Universe, a Kickstarter for the company’s 2019 lineup. We spoke recently about her new book, what kinds of books 2d Cloud will be publishing this year and why they just couldn’t walk away from the company.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ben Nadler

The creator of ‘Sonder’ and ‘Heretics!’ discusses his newest project, ‘The White Snake’ from Toon Books.

Ben Nadler‘s first book was a collaboration with his father, the noted philosopher Steven Nadler. In addition to Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy, Nadler also makes the comic series Sonder, both of which are very different from his new book.

The White Snake, just out from Toon Books, is an adaptation of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, and it’s not just Nadler’s first book for children, but also his first adaptation. We spoke recently about the book, how he works and underplaying the violence in the original story.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Darryl Ayo

The cartoonist and comics critic discusses his work, the differences in comic strips vs. comic books, and much more.

Darryl Ayo has been making comics for years and remains known today for not just his comics, including the series Little Garden, but for his criticism. He has been published in The Comics Journal, Comixcube, Comics MNT, The Hooded Utilitarian and elsewhere. Little Garden features mythological creatures and humans in a world that is clearly not ours, but the focus of the series is centered around more mundane events and interactions. It also possesses Darryl’s sense of humor and a great sense of design and composition.

Ayo and I have met at shows for years and we’ve interacted on Twitter, but we’ve never before sat down to talk in a formal interview. So we took the opportunity to chat about his work and process.

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