Smash Pages Q&A: Annie Koyama looks back and ahead after 10 years

‘In some ways it does feel like 10 years when I look back on the over 100 titles published. In other ways, the years have passed quickly, perhaps due to the large learning curve I faced since I had to learn my job from scratch.’

It’s been a decade since Annie Koyama launched Koyama Press. By now her story has become something of comics legend. After a successful career, Koyama was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and after risky surgery and playing the stock market, Koyama made some changes in her life and began working with artists. She’s published comics and books and more, mostly with younger artists who aren’t quite as established. There’s no aesthetic that links all the work she publishes. The best known artists she’s published – and one who has established his reputation because of that work – is Michael DeForge. Koyama has also published Jessica Campbell, Eleanor Davis, Julie Delporte, Dustin Harbin, Aidan Koch, Jane Mai, Keiler Roberts, Maurice Vellekoop, Julia Wertz, Eric Kostiuk Williams and many more.

Koyama is always looking ahead, working with new talent, interested in different voices and has been key in this past decade in helping to build a comics community that encourages these individuals and build a new industry. Annie and I are friends on Facebook, have interacted online and know many people in common, but we’ve never done an interview, and I asked if she would be willing to answer a few questions about what she does. Talking with someone who’s always looking ahead seemed a good way to mark the end of the year.

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Comics Lowdown: Artist OK with defacement of Zunar mural

Also: Moto Hagio returns to the Poe saga, Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez talk ‘Assassinistas,’ and Annie Koyama looks back at her first decade as a comics publisher

Someone has defaced a mural of the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar—but the artist who created the mural is OK with that. “I don’t see it as ruined but as a response, and it does not matter to me who is responding,” said Bibichun, the artist. “It’s in the public domain and it’s for members of the public to consume in their own way.” The mural depicted Zunar with his mouth covered by the flag of UMNO, the dominant political party of Malaysia (and therefore a frequent target of Zunar’s cartoon). Recently, an unknown man painted the flag black. “The piece was a response to the suppression of Zunar’s exhibition at the Penang Literary Festival last year,” said Bibichun. “I’m surprised it took Umno supporters such a long time to respond.” Zunar recently canceled a planned exhibit of his work out of concern that it, too, would be attacked.

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Dustin Harbin covers 10 years of Koyama Press history

Annie Koyama’s publishing venture celebrates a milestone with this special poster by one of the creators associated with the publisher.

Annie Koyama founded Koyama Press 10 years ago, and ever since the former documentary producer has been introducing the world to talented creators.

To celebrate Koyama’s big anniversary, artist Dustin Harbin — whose Diary Comics Koyama published a couple years back — has created a poster featuring some of the creators Koyama has published. Check out the poster below.

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Comics Lowdown: Creator Eleanor Davis arrested in Georgia protest

Get today’s comics news and updates in new feature here at Smash Pages.

Cartoonist Eleanor Davis was one of eight people arrested at a Georgia Board of Regents meeting on May 16 for protesting the board’s policies with regard to undocumented immigrants. The University of Georgia does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend its five best schools and requires them to pay out-of-state tuition at the others. The protestors, described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a mix of faith leaders and current and former University System of Georgia students,” were taken to the Fulton County Jail. Davis’s husband, Drew Weing, reported on his Facebook page that she had been released after the Georgia Civil Disobedience Fund paid her bail. Davis’s newest book, You & a Bike & a Road, has just been published by Koyama Press, and Slate ran an excerpt on Tuesday—showing a man being arrested at the border.

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