Smash Pages Q&A: Ali Fitzgerald on ‘Drawn to Berlin’

The cartoonist discusses her latest book from Fantagraphics, the comics workshops she conducted in refugee shelters in Germany and much more.

The full title of Ali Fitzgerald’s first book is Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe. The book details time that the Berlin-based cartoonist spent teaching comics workshops in a refugee center and the people she met there. To add a depth to their stories and Fitzgerald trying to understand the changing face of Berlin, she turns to Joseph Roth and his book What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933, where Roth documented the lives of refugees in Berlin, demonstrating how this is not a new phenomenon. Moreover, while the refugees have not found the Berlin they were hoping for, neither did Fitzgerald, who was first inspired to visit the city from her reading of Christopher Isherwood and others.

Fitzgerald has been making comics for years. She made Hungover Bear and Friends for McSweeney’s, and Bermuda Square for New York. Fitzgerald has contributed to many publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Bitch Magazine. She was kind enough to answer a few questions over email about her book.

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Comics Lowdown: Abrams pulls ‘A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library’ from its schedule

Plus: “Olivia Jaimes” speaks, Bill Maher doubles down on his comic book comments, a comic convention apologies for giving ‘Saga’ to kids, and much more!

Abrams has abandoned plans to publish A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library by Jack Gantos and Dave McKean following online criticism and controversy. The book is about a young boy who plans to blow up a library, but he changes his mind when he sees how captivated the people inside are with their reading.

An open letter to Abrams from the Asian Author Alliance, signed by more than 1,000 writers, teachers and readers, reads: “The simple fact is that today, the biggest terrorist threat in the United States is white supremacy. In publishing A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library, Abrams is willfully fear-mongering and spreading harmful stereotypes in a failed attempt to show the power of story.”

McKean responded to some of the controversy on Twitter: “The premise of the book is that a boy uses his mind and faith to decide for himself that violence is not the right course or action.” The book was due to be published next May.

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2018 Cyber Monday Comic Sales

It is not too late to score some last minute deals!

As the day winds down, it is not too late to score some last minute Cyber Monday sales. It is a good idea to check your own local comic store for deals closest to home. Here are some comic and comic related deals online

Fantagraphics 2018 Cyber Monday banner

Fantagraphics is offering 40% off almost everything!

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Craig Thompson gears up for his first serialized comic

‘Ginseng Roots’ will explore Thompson’s childhood ‘weeding and harvesting ginseng’ in order to buy comic books.

Craig Thompson is best known for his long-form graphic novels, including Blankets, Habibi and other titles that regularly appear on year-end “best of” lists. But now the creator is turning his attention to “the form of the medium that imprinted itself on me and my little brother, Phil, as children.”

Coming next spring from Uncivilized Books is Ginseng Roots, a bi-monthly comic book about the creator and his brother growing up in Wisconsin.

“For a decade of our childhood, Phil and I toiled in Wisconsin farms,” Thompson wrote on his blog. “Weeding and harvesting GINSENG—an exotic medicinal herb that fetched huge profits in China—funded our youthful obsession with comic books. Comics in turn, allowed us to escape our rural, working class trappings.”

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Dark Horse + Bioware team up for ‘Anthem’ comics

Prequel series to the upcoming multiplayer game debuts in February.

Dark Horse and Bioware will continue their partnership that brought Dragon Age and Mass Effect to comics as they team up for a new series based on the upcoming video game Anthem.

Alexander Freed, who worked on the game, and Mac Walters, who has worked on Dark Horse’s Mass Effect: Foundation comic, will team with artist Eduardo Francisco on a prequel series to the video game’s story.

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Zdarsky, Checchetto head to Hell’s Kitchen as the new ‘Daredevil’ creative team

New team takes over in February.

Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto will chronicle the adventures of Daredevil starting February, Marvel.com revealed this week.

The new team follows Charles Soule and Phil Noto’s run on Matt Murdock’s alter-ego — a run that ends with a storyline called The Death of Daredevil.”

“A lot of writers in the past have left Daredevil in terrible situations at the end of their runs,” Soule said in a promotional video released by Marvel in September. “Brian Michael Bendis put him in prison for Ed Brubaker to handle; Mark Waid, who preceded me, had Daredevil in San Francisco, his secret identity was blown, he wasn’t a lawyer anymore. I had to handle all of that. So, I wanted to carry on in the tradition of leaving Daredevil in the worst spot imaginable, and letting the next writer somehow deal with this impossible problem that Matt would never get out of. And I wanted to make mine the biggest one that has ever been done.”

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Comics Lowdown: Remembering Stan ‘The Man’ Lee

Plus: ‘The Brotherhood’ writer revealed! Transformers’ growing female fan base! Plus Art Spiegelman, Stan Webb and the scariest comic panel in ages!

Following the death of Marvel legend Stan Lee on Monday, many outlets covered not only his death, but turned the focus on his wide-reaching life and legacy. Some of the mainstream coverage included:

  • The New York Times not only wrote a thorough obituary of “The Man,” but also featured a comic by Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Walko and Howie Noel.
  • Peter David, freelance comics writer and a former Marvel employee, wrote a remembrance of Lee for Vulture. “Still, there was a time where Stan became the incarnation of that line from The Dark Knight: You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain. In the ’80s and ’90s, it became increasingly stylish to bash Stan, to accuse him of hogging attention for his creations from the artists. But the fact is that before Marvel Comics, comics writers and artists were anonymous. It was Stan who made the artists the centerpieces of the work, giving them snappy nicknames like ‘Stainless’ Steve Ditko, ‘Genial’ Gene Colan, ‘Larrupin’’ Larry Lieber (no, even his brother wasn’t immune), and many others. We would come to know the artists (and other writers) as well as, if not better than, members of our only families. DC editors were so disdainful of this practice that they referred to him as ‘Stan Brag,’ before eventually following suit and crediting people.”
  • Roy Thomas, a legendary comics writer in his own right, shares the memory of his last Saturday spent with Lee at the Hollywood Reporter.
  • Marvel dedicated a special section of their website to Lee, with a tribute video.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Nick Thorburn on ‘Penguins’

The Canadian musician discusses his first graphic novel.

Nick Thorburn is a Canadian musician who has fronted the bands The Unicorns, Islands, Mister Heavenly and others. He’s composed music for various projects, including the film Ingrid Goes West and the podcast Serial.

His new project is the book Penguins, which is out now from Fantagraphics. A wordless book that inventively tells short tales of penguins in stories that are mundane and fantastic and inventive and strange. It’s an inventive and darkly comic debut, and Thorburn was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book.

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Nuff Said: Stan Lee passes away at 95

The face of Marvel Comics leaves behind a lifelong legacy of superheroes and sequential art

On the morning of Nov. 12, legendary comic creator Stan Lee was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he passed away. The news was broken by TMZ, who spoke with his daughter, J.C. Lee.

It feels weird to write an obituary on a man many comic fans know so well already.

Stanley Martin Lieber’s career in comics started when he was only 17 years old as an assistant at Timely Comics. His duties included refilling inkwells and erasing pencil lines. Two years later, using Jack Kirby’s and Joe Simon’s Nazi-fighting war hero, Lieber got his chance to write his first story called “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.” Lieber used the pen name “Stan Lee.” The story was only a two-page text story in Captain America #3, but it was the story where Captain America first used his iconic shield-throwing maneuver. Two issues later, Stan Lee got his first comic break with “Headline Hunter, Foreign Correspondent,” which also showed Lee’s love for names with alliteration. Lee’s first superhero co-creation was Destroyer in Mystic Comics #6 (1941).

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