Comics Lowdown: Looking at the big picture

Comics retailers discuss the comics market, Lion Forge profiled and more.

The Biz, Part I: It’s generally agreed that 2017 was a lackluster year (at best) for comics retailers. Publisher’s Weekly’s Shannon O’Leary went to the source, asking retailers in the direct market and bookstores with a large graphic novel section to discuss what’s going wrong—and right—in the comics market. There’s lots to chew on here, with commentary about Marvel, Image, and the structural issues in the direct market.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alejandra Gutiérrez on ‘Twisted Romance’

The comics creator and designer discusses her work with Alex de Campi on the Image Comics anthology, how she came into comics and more.

Alejandra Gutiérrez has been posting comics and illustrations online for a while now on Twitter and Instagram in addition to her published art and covers. She’s shown a sense of design and fashion, a willingness to play with layout. Some of that may come from her background in design, but she’s clearly interested in multimedia, in playing with how people read the page and finding ways to tweak that.

Gutiérrez may wear her influences on her sleeve, but she’s also moved past simply imitating them and is clearly coming into her own. She’s drawing “Twinkle and Star” in Twisted Romance #2 written by Alex de Campi and so I asked her about how she came to comics and why she signed on to draw romance.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Katie Skelly brings ‘grotesquerie’ and spectacle to ‘Twisted Romance’

The creator of ‘My Pretty Vampire’ and ‘Nurse Nurse’ discusses the story she drew for Alex de Campi’s romance anthology, the romance genre, what it’s like working with another comics writer and more.

2017 saw the publication of My Pretty Vampire, which may be Katie Skelly‘s most acclaimed book to date. The writer-artist best known for books like Night Nurse and Operation Margarine has always worked on her own projects, so it was a surprise to some of us when it was announced that she would be collaborating with writer Alex de Campi on Twisted Romance, the new anthology series out this month from Image Comics.

Their story “Old Flames” opens the first issue of the series, which is out this week and I asked Skelly a few questions about the project, genre and how it fits in with her body of work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alex de Campi aims for the heart with ‘Twisted Romance’

The versatile writer discusses the weekly anthology series, which breaks hearts this month from Image Comics.

Alex de Campi has established a reputation as a versatile writer who seems to move effortless from one genre and one approach to another. Her work has ranged from Smoke and its sequel Ashes to the mobile comic Valentine, from Grindhouse to My Little Pony, and Archie vs. Predator, which is hard to classify for a number of reasons. More recently she’s written books including Mayday, No Mercy, Bankshot, Semiautomagic and Astonisher for a number of companies and worked with a broad range of artists working in a broad range of styles.

To continue her habit of working with many artists in many styles, de Campi’s new big project tackles one genre she hasn’t written – romance. Twisted Romance is a four-issue weekly series coming out this month from Image Comics. Each issue is self-contained with two comics stories and a prose story. I reached out to Alex to find out more about the project.

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Love, Image Comics Style: Alex de Campi helms ‘Twisted Romance’ anthology

Katie Skelly, Alejandra Gutiérrez, Carla Speed McNeil, Trungles and more contribute to a new miniseries featuring stories about love.

Image Comics has announced Twisted Romance, a four-issue, weekly miniseries featuring “love gone right, wrong and everything in between” that will run in the most romantic month of the year, February.

“This project is a dream for me,” said writer Alex de Campi. “I’m getting to collaborate with some of comics’ coolest creators and some amazing prose fiction voices. Everything everyone is doing looks so amazing. I’m just giddy that Image basically handed us the reins and said, ‘do whatever you want. This looks cool.’ So, yeah: come February, we’re going to break your heart, fill you with joy, and give you awkward pants feels. Sometimes in same story. Occasionally, even on the same page.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elizabeth LaPensée on ‘Deer Woman: An Anthology’

The professor, writer and game designer discusses her latest anthology, a collection of stories about resistance, healing, empowerment and hope.

Elizabeth LaPensée seems to lead many lives. She’s an assistant professor at Michigan State University, a visual artist and also designs games like Thunder Strike and Honour Water. She’s also a comics writer and artist and editor. Her work has appeared in both volumes of the MOONSHOT anthology, and she’s also made a number of webcomics including The Nature of Snakes, Fala, and The West was Lost. LaPensée is also writing and drawing short comics and editing or co-editing a number of upcoming anthologies including Sovereign Traces: Not Just Another and Relational Constellation.

Her comic Deer Woman was a success and struck a chord with many readers and creators and this fall Native Realities Press is publishing Deer Woman: An Anthology, which LaPensée co-edited, featuring the work of a number of creators who use the story of the deer woman to tell stories of resistance, healing, empowerment and hope. After a successful Kickstarter, the anthology is out this fall and LaPensée spoke about the project and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: And ‘Now’ … Eric Reynolds

The associate publisher of Fantagraphics discusses his new anthology project, which launches this month.

Eric Reynolds is the associate publisher of Fantagraphics, which means that he’s edited some of the best comics in the world. Throughout his career though he’s had a special interest in anthologies.

His new project is Now, a three-times-a-year anthology with cartoonists well known and not, working in a variety of styles from all over the world. The first issue features work by Gabrielle Bell, Noah Van Sciver and a long story by Eleanor Davis in addition to a number of cartoonists people might not know as well. Reynolds wanted to create a relatively cheap ($9.99) project with a feel and approach he didn’t see anywhere else.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson on their Planned Parenthood benefit anthology

The editors of ‘Mine! A Celebration of Freedom and Liberty for All Benefitting Planned Parenthood’ discuss the Kickstarter for the project.

Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson are writers at ComicMix and other places around the internet, but they’re also editors of Mine! A Celebration of Freedom and Liberty for All Benefitting Planned Parenthood.

The anthology, which is currently being kickstarted, is a celebration of a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that is one of the biggest and most important health care providers in the United States. The project features work by Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, Trina Robbins, John Ostrander, Rachel Pollack, Howard Cruse and others. The campaign runs through Sept. 15, and we reached out to the duo to discuss the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Hope Nicholson on ‘Gothic Tales of Haunted Love’ and more

The Canadian writer, editor and publisher discusses her work on Prairie Comics Festival, Bedside Press, Secret Loves of Geeks and her latest Kickstarter.

Hope Nicholson is one of those people working behind the scenes who make the comics industry function. The Canadian writer, editor and publisher is the founder and publisher of Bedside Press, which is responsible for books both new (Window Horses, A Minyen Yidn) and reprints (Fashion in Action, Polka Dot Pirate). She runs the Prairie Comics Festival in Winnipeg, Canada. She wrote the new book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen about female comics characters. She’s the woman behind The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, is a Kickstarter Thought Leader, and was one of the people selected to be part of Kickstarter Gold, in the company’s words, “for their creativity and ingenuity.”

Nicholson first received notice for spearheading the republication of Canadian comics like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor. She’s a consulting editor on Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird graphic novel series, which is being published by Dark Horse. Nicholson also edits and publishes a wide range of anthologies including Moonshot, Enough Space for Everyone Else, and her current project, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love.

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