What Are You Reading? | Death Metal and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has checked off their ‘to read’ list lately.

Speaking of this week’s comics, the big release this week was probably Dark Knights: Death Metal #1, DC’s big crossover series. Although the pandemic slowed down its release, it’s appropriate that it came out right here at the beginning of summer, kicking off the season with something big and brash and, as Carla puts it, “Stupid.” Summertime is the right time for crossovers and comics.

Oh, hey, welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what we’ve been reading. You can play along in the comments or on social media if you’d like.

Let’s get to it …

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‘The Hard Tomorrow’ wins the L.A. Times Book Prize

Davis’ graphic novel about an activist couple takes home the prize in the “Graphic Novel/Comics” category.

The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis has won the L.A. Times Book Prize in the “Graphic Novel/Comics” category this year. The graphic novel was published by Drawn and Quarterly.

The Hard Tomorrow tells the harsh-yet-optimistic story of Hannah and Johnny, an activist couple trying to have a baby as they live in their truck while Johnny works on building them a house.

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L.A. Times announces 2020 Book Prize nominees

Works by Eleanor Davis, Michael DeForge, Jaime Hernandez, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell received nominations.

The Los Angeles Times has announced the nominees for their annual Book Prize awards, which includes a graphic novel category. Three Drawn and Quarterly releases received nominations, along with one each from Fantagraphics and First Second.

The L.A. Times has given an award in the graphic novel category since 2009, when Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli won the award. Other previous winners include The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez, Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines and Beverly by Nick Drnaso. Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeamwon the award last year.

The nominees in the “Graphic Novel/Comics” category are:

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Comics Lowdown: Chelsea Saunders wins Locher Award

Plus Riverdale 10 years later, UK war comics reprinted, and a Scott Adams controversy… again.

Awards: Chelsea Saunders, whose work is often published at The Nib, is the winner of the 2019 Locher Award for emerging editorial cartoonists. Hit that link for some good reading, because the runners-up have a lot of talent as well.

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Smash Pages’ favorite comics of 2018

See what the Smash Pages’ staff enjoyed reading this past year.

With 2018 winding down, Smash Pages’ contributors take a look back at some of their favorite comics of the year, from Hey Kiddo and Spectacular Spider-Man #310 to Wet Moon and The Secret Voice.

Brigid Alverson

Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (Yen Press)
Arakawa is best known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but you couldn’t get any farther from that series than Silver Spoon, a comedy about a city boy who goes to agricultural school in rural Hokkaido. Yuugo Hachiken worked hard and did everything he was told, but he still didn’t get into an elite high school, so he takes what he thinks is the easy way out by going to a school that’s not academically focused—or so he thinks. In fact, the students at Ooezo Agricultural High School are very knowledgeable in their fields, but those fields are things like genetics and animal husbandry. The rubber really hits the road in the practical lessons, though, and Hachiken quickly realizes he is out of his depth when it comes to herding chickens, riding a horse, or fetching a stray calf. There’s a lot of city mouse-country mouse comedy in this series, but it’s also a fascinating look at where our food comes from (at least in Japan), and the different agricultural models espoused by different farmers. In fact, like Hachiken’s classmates, this book is very smart and sophisticated in addition to being endlessly entertaining.

Meal, by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)
The idea of eating bugs may elicit an “Eeeww” from most people, but Delliquanti and Ho go beyond the ick factor in this romance about an insect cuisine enthusiast and a chef who wants to start a new restaurant based on the dishes of her youth—dishes that include ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas. There’s a love story woven in there as well. Yarrow has just moved to a new city in hopes of getting a job in the kitchen of Chandra Flores, insect chef extraordinaire, who is about to launch a new restaurant. Milani, her neighbor, is friendly and helpful but the two have a little trouble making it click. At the same time, Chandra suspects that Yarrow is only into insect cuisine because it’s sensational, while to her, it’s part of her heritage. There’s a lot in this slim volume: Love, food, bugs, and bugs that are food, and the creators even include a couple of recipes at the end of the book.

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Athens cartoonists create anthology to benefit Patrick Dean

A new issue of ‘Bezoar’ will benefit the cartoonist, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

Bezoar is a minicomics anthology put together by a group of Athens, Georgia-based comic creators with a monster theme. With two issues under their belt, the crew decided to use the third issue to help raise money for cartoonist Patrick Dean, who was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in June.

Joey Weiser explains on Tumblr:

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Davis, Ostertag and more take home 2018 Ignatz Awards

Annual awards presented at the Small Press Expo honor excellence in independent comics.

Eleanor Davis, Richie Pope, Molly Ostertag and Carta Monir are among the winners of the 2018 Ignatz Awards, as presented last night at a ceremony held in conjunction with the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ignatz image by 2017 Promising New Talent winner Bianca Xunise.

The Ignatz, named after George Herriman’s brick-wielding mouse from his long running comic strip Krazy Kat, recognizes exceptional work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an art form and as a means of personal expression. The nominees for the ballot were determined by a panel of comic artists: Mita Mahato, Carolyn Nowak, kevin czap, Leila Abdelrazaq and Taneka Stotts. The votes for the awards were cast by the attendees at the show

The complete list of nominees can be found below, with the winner in bold.

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Drawn + Quarterly announces 2019 titles

At Comic-Con International, Drawn and Quarterly announced new titles by Lynda Barry, Vanessa Davis, Eleanor Davis, Yoshiharu Tsuge and more.

Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly announced many of their upcoming 2019 graphic novels in San Diego earlier this month, revealing new titles from Lynda Barry, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Kevin Huizenga, Vanessa Davis and more.

Take a look at what they have planned below, and note that none of the cover art is final …

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eleanor Davis on ‘Why Art?’

The creator discusses her latest graphic novel from Fantagraphics, political activism, PowerPoint and much more.

In her new book Why Art? Eleanor Davis tackles some of the questions around what art is, how we respond to it, how artists think about it and try to use it. Which may sound dry and perhaps dull but in Davis’ hands the idea becomes something strange and unexpected and at times laugh out loud funny. Davis describes one character in the book, “If she were a bad artist her art would be a lie and people would hate it. Instead, somehow she has made the statement into her truth.” This statement could be applied to Davis and her work. For many of us over the past few years she has become one of the essential cartoonists working right now.

Davis has also become very political active and currently serves as the membership coordinator for Athens for Everyone. We spoke recently about her book, political action, finding one’s artistic voice and coming to understand that everything is easy. She also mentioned the graphic novel she’s working on now and she answered, why art?

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