Smash Pages Q&A: Carolyn Nowak’s ‘Girl Town’

The Ignatz Award-winning creator discusses her latest project from Top Shelf.

Carolyn Nowak might be known to many comics readers for her work drawing Lumberjanes, but she’s also the Ignatz Award-winning creator behind comics like Radishes and Diana’s Electric Tongue. Those two stories, plus two more, along with a brand new story, have been collected in the new book Girl Town, which was just released from Top Shelf.

My feelings to the stories were similar to when I read Nowak’s comic Girl Town years ago. It was a beautifully drawn and thoughtful tale of three women who “got kicked out of astronaut school for being too good-looking to be sent to space. Now we try to make a living raising beans and cabbages, cleaning houses and curating erotic zines about staying on Earth.” It’s a funny opening, but the story itself is strange in a different way. It’s complicated and fraught, about trying to understand the emotions someone else causes in us. About getting older and trying make sense of whether this feeling is love or lust, hate or loneliness, and complexity of relationships and friendship. Nowak half-jokingly described the book as “my twenties” and for those of us who survived those years, that description will resonate in so many ways.

Besides the Lumberjanes collections that Nowak drew, she also wrote and drew the new book Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New School Nightmare, but Girl Town is the work of a masterful artist who has found her voice. Nowak was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: L Nichols on ‘Flocks’

The ‘Ley Lines’ creator discusses the collected edition of ‘Flocks’ from Secret Acres, music, engineering and more.

L Nichols has been serializing Flocks for years, working on the comics memoir in between other projects, including overseeing the acclaimed quarterly comics series Ley Lines. Flocks is out now in a collected edition from Secret Acres. Also out now is the new issue of Ley Lines, which is written and drawn by Nichols. Nichols and I have met at various shows over the years but never sat down to talk.

Flocks is an immense achievement, but it’s also striking how well Nichols made the individual issues stand on their own and how well they work as chapters of a book — and how well it comes together into a thoughtful and emotional story arc. It is one of the best of the year, but also deserves a place among the very best graphic memoirs ever made. We spoke recently about Beethoven, engineering and religion.

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1.5 million copies of new Raina Telgemeier graphic novels coming next year

A how-to guide to creating comics and a new memoir called ‘Guts’ will arrive in April and September, respectively.

Scholastic/Graphix has announced two new Raina Telgemeier graphic novels for 2019, including a new OGN and a “how to” book for creating comics.

Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story will be released April 30, with a print run of 500,000 copies. Schlastic says it’s for “readers interested in writing, drawing or both” and “will guide readers in brainstorming ideas, making lists, featuring their personal photos and using their imagination as a catalyst for storytelling. For additional inspiration, Share Your Smile also features a behind-the-scenes look at Telgemeier’s work, including a teaser to her new memoir.”

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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: Summer Pierre’s ‘All the Sad Songs’

The creator of ‘Paper Pencil Life’ discusses her latest book, poetry and more.

Summer Pierre has been making comics for years in the pages of her series Paper Pencil Life and in magazines and anthologies, including Mutha Magazine, The Rumpus, Ink Brick and Bottoms Up! She’s illustrated All the Pretty People by Ariel Gore, It’s Not You, It’s Brie by Kirstin Jackson and other books.

This month Retrofit is releasing Pierre‘s graphic novel All the Sad Songs. The book is about music, which sounds amorphous and vague, but Pierre begins by examining mix tapes she made and still has, the songs and the bands that defined her life, her own music and the years she spent in her twenties singing in clubs and cafes around Boston. Pierre and I have been running across each other at shows in recent years and often end up talking about poetry. When she mentioned that she had a book coming out, I asked if we could talk about the book and her work.

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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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D + Q to publish Rumi Hara’s ‘Nori’

The Ignatz Award-nominated story about a girl and her grandmother gets the graphic novel treatment in 2020.

Drawn and Quarterly has announced plans to publish Nori, the the debut graphic novel from Rumi Hara, in the spring of 2020.

Nori is quietly enchanting, drawing you into the adventures of this little girl,” Drawn & Quarterly Publisher and acquiring editor Peggy Burns said. “At times it’s surreal and haunting yet simultaneously a light-hearted depiction of childhood and friendship. Rumi’s draftsmanship is gorgeous and she draws in many folkloric elements in the standalone stories.”

Nori’s story began in a series of minicomics. “It started as a minicomic first printed in 2016 about a little girl and her grandma’s encounter with an army of bats,” Hara said on her website. “I couldn’t stop thinking about this little sassy girl, and now there are 3 minicomics completed in the series.”

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Titan to bring ‘The Prisoner: Shattered Visage’ back into print

Motter and Askwith’s comic book sequel to The Prisoner returns to print for the first time in decades.

Back in the late 1980s Dean Motter and Mark Askwith created a comic book sequel to the cult classic TV show The Prisoner, which was published by DC Comics. In San Diego this week, Titan Comics announced that they will republish the long out-of-print story, The Prisoner: Shattered Visage, with Motter’s character sketches and notes.

“When I was approached to do a series based on The Prisoner, I leapt at the chance. It was one of my favorite TV shows when it first aired. My thinking turned to doing it as a post-modernist fable – one that took place in the current era, but that would re-open the questions from the original saga,” Motter said in a press release. “However, doing the research was going to take more resources than I had – so I drafted my friend and colleague Mark Askwith to help me with that aspect of the project. It became a collaboration almost instantly. I am honored to see it re-presented as part of Titan’s ongoing celebration of The Prisoner‘s ongoing 50th anniversary.”

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Top Shelf announces ‘Surfside Girls’ sequel

Sam and Jade solve mysteries once again in a new volume from Kim Dwinell.

Top Shelf has announced a sequel to one of last year’s “perfect summer reads,” as our own Brigid Alverson called it. Surfside Girls (Book Two): The Mystery at the Old Rancho, finds best friends Sam and Jade tackling a two-hundred-year-old mystery to help one of the local ghosts.

“I’ve had so much fun this last year watching readers of all ages discover Sam and Jade’s world,” says author Kim Dwinell. “I packed Surfside Girls with Southern California sunshine, and I hope everyone enjoys spending time with it as much as I do. I’m absolutely stoked to show you what the girls get up to in Book Two!”

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