Smash Pages Q&A: Maggie Umber on ‘Sound of Snow Falling’

The co-founder of 2d Cloud discusses her latest graphic novel, her essay ‘Getting Divorced in Comics’ and more.

Maggie Umber’s most recent graphic novel Sound of Snow Falling is a wordless painted graphic novel. A beautiful and meditative look at a pair of great horned owls, it may her most recent comic, but in many respects it’s her earliest comics work and is a project that she has been thinking about and working on for many years. It is available now from 2d Cloud.

This book is Umber’s second graphic novel after 2015’s Time Capsule. She is also the co-founder of 2d Cloud and she recently stepped down as Associate Publisher – one of the many hats she wore at the publisher, events that she discusses (among other topics) in her much-discussed essay “Getting Divorced in Comics.” Umber spoke about her book, the essay, her short comic in the upcoming anthology Warmer, which comes out next month.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cory Thomas on ‘Watch Your Head’ and more

Thomas talks about his long-running comic strip turned webcomic, his post-election editorial cartoon that went viral and his work with James Patterson on ‘Public School Hero.’

Cory Thomas remains best known for his comic Watch Your Head. First launched as a comic strip in 2006, Thomas relaunched it in 2014 as a webcomic, tweaking the story and characters, though it has remained the story of a diverse cast of characters attending Douglass University, a historically black university. He continues to update the comic occasionally, though a lot of his attention has been focused on other projects like the James Patterson book Public School Superhero.

Late last year Thomas got a lot of attention for a comic he made for Fusion titled “The Weirdness of being Black in White Spaces After the Election,” which struck a nerve with a lot of people from different backgrounds. Thomas sat down to talk about the response to that comics, the status of Watch Your Head, and what he’s working on now.

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Stephan Franck puts a stake in a third volume of his vampire heist series ‘Silver’

The animator returns to Kickstarter to fund a third volume of his graphic novel series that pits conmen versus vampires.

When he’s not helping to make animated hits like The Iron Giant and Despicable Me, Stephan Franck turns to his first love, comics. The son of two comic retailers, Franck started his own company, Dark Planet Comics, to publish Silver, a pulp-inspired heist story involving vampires.

Franck has used Kickstarter to crowd fund two volumes of the series already, and now a new campaign has launched for the third volume. I spoke with Franck about the project, the campaign and the appeal of working on comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Vito Delsante on ‘The Purple Heart’

The ‘Stray’ writer discusses his contribution to the New Brooklyn Universe.

Vito Delsante has been writing comics for years, and he’s had success with stories in comics that range from Batman Adventures to Savage Tales to Scooby Doo to Superman. But recently though Delsante has been putting out his best work in a pair of projects. One of them is Stray, the story of a retired sidekick who returns to the hero game whose new solo series from Action Labs kicks off in September.

Perhaps his biggest project, though, is The Purple Heart, which is part of the New Brooklyn Universe spearheaded by Dean Haspiel, a shared universe that also includes The Red Hook and The Brooklynite and the upcoming War Cry, which launches in the fall. The weekly webcomic that Delsante is making with Ricardo Venancio wraps up this week, and Delsante spoke about working in a shared universe, and crafting a story very different from The Red Hook about Brooklyn’s Silver Surfer-like hero.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Keiler Roberts on ‘Sunburning’

The creator of ‘Powdered Milk’ discusses her newest collection from Koyama Press.

In her ongoing self-published series Powdered Milk, Keiler Roberts has been crafting some of the best autobiographical comics being made today. The main characters of the series are her and her daughter Xia, who manages to provide malapropisms and unintentional humor, but for people have read large chunks of Roberts’ work, it’s possible to see Xia growing up in a way that is clear-eyed and unsentimental and familiar, I think, both to people who have children and those of us who do not.

I described one of her comics to Roberts as “funny, relatable and horrifying” and that sums up a lot of her comics – particularly those about parenting. Roberts may sentimentally want to capture these moments, but she depicts everything and everyone – especially herself – without sentimentality. Roberts has crafted something truly outstanding, a portrait of her life at the moment, which, of course, is all too fleeting. It is a striking and singular accomplishment. Roberts won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series in 2016, and now Koyama Press has just released Sunburning, a new collection of Roberts’ recent work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elizabeth Beier on ‘Bisexual Trials and Errors’

Elizabeth Beier only started working in comics a few years ago, but the graphic designer has made a name for herself self-publishing two issues of the comic Bisexual Trials and Errors, and comics like We Belong and I Like Your Headband. The winner of the 2016 Queer Press Grant from Prism and a Moth StorySLAM winner, this fall Northwest Press is publishing Beier’s first full length book, The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors.

The spine of the collection is Beier’s own autobiographical story of starting to date after a six year relationship and being intimidated and finding her way through the entertaining confusion. Those comics, along with the flow charts and infographics that Beier enjoys crafting, manage to be funny and relatable in a way that transcends age and orientation. But the book is also much more that. Beier mentioned that she loves to draw faces, but she’s also interested in voice, and that interest in authenticity, in specificity, in capturing individuals and their stories is at the heart of her work. This is a coming of age story about a twenty-something woman, but it’s also about a woman situating herself in and coming to understand her community.

The book will be coming out this fall from Northwest Press, and the book is currently up as part of Kickstarter Gold, which highlights new projects by creators who have used the crowdfunding site in the past “making new works inspired by their past projects, so backers can discover extra-amazing ideas.” In 2013 Northwest published Anything That Loves, a comics anthology of comics story that took place in “the world outside of gay and straight boxes,” as editor and publisher Zan Christensen put it. The book was a critical and commercial success and Northwest will be publishing Beier’s book as a companion to and a continuation of that conversation. The campaign, which can be found here, runs through July 27.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Yanow

The creator of ‘War of Streets and Houses’ talks about her journalism comics collection, ‘What is a Glacier?,’ and her work translating ‘Pretending is Lying.’

Since her book War of Streets and Houses was published by Uncivilized Books, it seems as though Sophie Yanow has been publishing work on a regular basis. She’s become a significant comics journalist, regularly publishing pieces in The Nib and The Guardian and elsewhere, covering the protests at Standing Rock and the U.S. elections. This year she has two very different comics coming out. The New York Review of Comics has just released Pretending is Lying, a comics memoir by Dominique Goblet that Yanow translated. At TCAF, Retrofit Comics released What is a Glacier, which collects some of Yanow’s journalism comics.

Yanow is currently teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont and this career model – making nonfiction comics, teaching, translation – has existed among prose writers and poets for generations, but it’s something new to comics. We spoke recently about Goblet, translation, nonfiction and the idea that Pretending is Lying.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Transience and forgotten memories

Do you remember yesterday? I often barely remember where I parked but I more or less know what I do day to day. In Transience, Leo Johnson and Ricardo Mo have assembled a collection of stories that build a world wrecked from amnesia.

In a unique science fiction premise, they’ve imagined a world where a series of biological attacks have left cities and towns around the world without the ability to form new memories. Each morning, people wake up with the previous day lost to them. Each story is set in a different city around the world where years have passed since the attack.

The creative teams tackling these stories often come from the location of their story, and make up an international team of collaborators that helped form this world.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eleanor Davis on ‘You & A Bike & A Road’

The creator of ‘How To Be Happy’ discusses her latest book from Koyama Press, which details her cycling trip from Arizona to Georgia.

In 2014, Fantagraphics published How To Be Happy, a collection of short comics by Eleanor Davis, which immediately established the cartoonist as one of the major figures of her generation. In the book, Davis jumped between styles and approaches, telling different kinds of stories ranging from the fantastic to realistic. Since then she made a children’s book with Drew Weing, Flop To The Top, for Toon Books. She also made the comics novella Libby’s Dad, which came out last fall from Retrofit Comics, and was recently awarded the Slate Book Review 2017 Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic.

Davis’ new book, out now from Koyama Press, is You & A Bike & A Road. The book is a series of comics about a bike trip that Davis undertook from Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up, to her home in Athens, Georgia. We spoke recently about the book, the journey, agitprop and more.

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