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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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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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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Smash Pages Q&A: Noah Van Sciver

The creator of ‘Blammo’ and Fante Bukowski discusses his latest projects, ‘One Dirty Tree’ and ‘A Perfect Failure.’

Noah Van Sciver has had an incredibly successful and productive year. The cartoonist released a new issue of his comic Blammo, and three books of his are out from two publishers this fall. Uncivilized Press just released One Dirty Tree, a comics memoir about his childhood and the end of a relationship just as he was about to turn thirty. Fantagraphics is publishing A Perfect Failure: Fante Bukowski Three, which completes a trilogy of books about the annoying and hilarious talentless writer who named himself Fante Bukowski, and a sketchbook by Van Sciver, Constant Companion.

One Dirty Tree and A Perfect Failure are possibly Van Sciver’s best books, and he took some time out after recovering from con crud to discuss the books and his current project.

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Gentrification and body horror collide in ‘BTTM FDRS’

Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore’s new graphic novel set to debut from Fantagraphics next summer.

Fantagraphics has announced plans to publish BTTM FDRS by writer Ezra Claytan Daniels (Upgrade Soul) and artist Ben Passmore (Daygloayhole) next summer.

Here’s how Fantagraphics describes the book: “Once a thriving working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, The ‘Bottomyards’ is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer, Darla, and her image-obsessed BFF, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they discover something far more seductive… and deadly.”

“Writing BTTM FDRS was a very therapeutic way to work through my feelings about issues like cultural appropriation, gentrification and representation. By reinterpreting these ideas through a candy-coated lens of body horror and snarky dialogue, they became, for me at least, a little less intimidating,” Claytan Daniels said.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Carol Tyler’s ‘Fab4Mania’

The creator of ‘Soldier’s Heart’ discusses her latest graphic novel from Fantagraphics, which looks back at her own experiences with Beatlemania.

Carol Tyler has for many years been one of our great cartoonists. Her book Soldier’s Heart is quite simply one of the great comics of the 21st Century. After spending a decade tracing her family history and examining postwar culture, mental illness and many other issues, Tyler wanted to make something lighter.

Her new book Fab4Mania began more than 50 years ago, when Tyler became a Beatles fan. She was a fanatic, attended their 1965 concert at Comisky Park in Chicago, and in the months leading up to the anniversary of the concert, she crafted a blog about her life as a 13-year-old and life leading up to the concert. In what should be no surprise, she managed to capture that young voice in a truly striking way. We spoke recently about the book, about how she began to make sculpture and thinking like an engineer.

This weekend Tyler is a special guest at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, and on Friday afternoon she will give a talk about her work at the Library of Congress.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Bill Schelly’s ‘Sense of Wonder’

The writer and biographer discusses his latest book, which details his youth as a comic fan in the 1960s and beyond.

Bill Schelly is one of the great writers about comics. Currently the Associate Editor of Alter Ego, he’s written biographies of Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Kubert, Otto Binder and others in addition to writing and editing a number of art books and anthologies. Among his many awards are an Eisner Award and an Inkpot Award. Besides being one of the very best biographers who has taken on cartoonists and comics as a subject, Schelly is also one of the great writers about fandom in books like The Golden Age of Comic Fandom and Founders of Comic Fandom.

This year saw the publication of Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom–The Whole Story. Schelly had originally published an earlier version of the book, where he wrote about his youth in comics fandom. For this new edition he rewrite the original book and expanded it to nearly twice the length. Schelly has been involved since the 1960s, editing and contributing to various fanzines as a writer and artist. One aspect of this new edition of Sense of Wonder is Schelly talking openly about growing up gay in the 1960s and finding a place in fandom. He also talks about more recent decades, how he got back into reading comics, finding a creative outlet, and other aspects of his life, including the death of his son. I’ve read and admired Schelly for many years, though we’ve never met and I asked if we could talk about his new book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ellen Forney on ‘Rock Steady’

The creator of ‘Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me’ discusses her latest project, which is out now from Fantagraphics.

Ellen Forney has made many comics over the years that were collected in the books I Love Led Zeppelin and I Was 7 in ’75. She collaborated on the National Book Award winning novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Forney curated the traveling exhibition Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived & Well-Drawn. Most readers though know her for her book Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me.

Marbles was a stunning book. Both a personal story of her bipolar diagnosis, Forney also investigated the many myths around art and artists and how she has considered and lived with them in her own life. Her new book Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, which has just been published by Fantagraphics, is a self help guide designed to help people dealing with anxiety, depression and other disorders. It is beautifully drawn, thoughtfully written, and provides a great deal of insight into these issues. She also created a helpful and hilarious mascot to help readers, Smedmerts!

Forney is on book tour right now. She’ll be at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena with Maria Bamford on Friday night before going to the East coast next week. I spoke with her at home before she left about the book and her work.

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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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