Smash Pages Q&A: Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook

Ryan Estrada talks about being a globetrotting cartoonist, and his wife Kim Hyun-Sook discusses the real story behind ‘Banned Book Club.’

2020 was quite a year for Ryan Estrada: Iron Circus published two of his graphic novels: Banned Book Club (co-written with his wife, Kim Hyun Sook, with art by Ko Hyung-Ju), which was published in both Korea and North America, and the middle-grade graphic novel Student Ambassador, co-created with artist Axur Eneas.

Banned Book Club received rave reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It was also a Junior Library Guild selection and made numerous best-of-the-year lists, including NPR, The Beat and YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Student Ambassador‘s debut was a little quieter, but it’s a very clever, insightful graphic novel and one of my own choices for best of the year.

Kim Hyun-Sook and Ryan Estrada. Credit: Stacy Shmittling

I interviewed Estrada and Kim via e-mail (they live in Korea) about Banned Book Club, Student Ambassador and the comics life in general.

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American Library Association releases annual ‘Great Graphic Novels for Teens’ list

‘Almost American Girl,’ ‘Superman Smashes the Clan,’ ‘The Magic Fish’ and more make this year’s list.

The Young Adult Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, has announced their ‘Great Graphic Novels for Teens’ list for 2021.

The list includes 126 titles, which were chosen from 140 nominations. The books, recommended for teens between 12 and 18, “meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens,” the site says.

In addition YALSA also revealed the narrowed-down top 10 selections for the year, which include:

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Baron + Carbonetti open the door on the mystery of Jim Morrison’s death

The new graphic novel from the ‘Paul Is Dead’ team will arrive in June.

Image Comics has announced that the creators of Paul Is Dead, which featured the Beatles, will turn their attention to another 1960s icon for their next graphic novel — Jim Lives: the Mystery of the Lead Singer of The Doors and the 27 Club.

Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti will reunite for the graphic novel, which is about a father looking for his son — a correspondent for a popular American newspaper — who vanished after sending one last message: “jim morrison isn’t dead, he’s hiding out here in italy, i saw him with my own eyes.”

I wrote Jim Lives by continuously listening to The Doors vinyl records while I was in the small village where I set the story,” said Baron. “At one point I really saw him. I mean Jim.”

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Our favorite comics of 2020

See what comics, graphic novels, comic strips and more the Smash Pages team enjoyed in 2020.

As we continue our look back at 2020, the Smash Pages crew offer their personal picks and perspectives on their favorite comics, comic strips and graphic novels from the year. Hopefully you’ll see something in this post that you haven’t read yet but will take some joy in discovering.

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Scholastic to publish ‘Magical Boy’

The award-winning webcomic created by The Kao will be compiled into print for the first time next fall.

Scholastic has announced plans to publish Magical Boy, the award-winning webcomic created by The Kao. The comic appears on the webcomics site Tapas.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have Magical Boy be part of the Scholastic library and so thankful to Tapas for continuing to find ways to share my story,” said The Kao, aka Vincent Kao, who also creates Mondo Mango on the Tapas site. “As someone who spent my childhood reading Scholastic books, this is truly a dream come true. I can’t wait for readers everywhere to meet Max and join him on his journey of self-acceptance and magical misadventures. I hope Magical Boy will capture the hearts and imaginations of readers the same way that I was inspired by Scholastic stories when I was a younger reader.”

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Baker + Goux reteam for ‘Everyone Is Tulip’

The creators of ‘F*Ck Off Squad’ reunite for a new graphic novel about fame and the internet.

Dark Horse has announced a new graphic novel by the team of Dave Baker, Nicole Goux and Ellie Hall titled Everyone Is Tulip that examines the price of fame in the internet age.

“This project is a deeply personal work for me. It’s mined from experience, both personal and observed,” Baker said. “Everyone Is Tulip is a narrative centered around compromise. It seems to be the singular constant in the existence of most artists. How to mitigate it, how to embrace it, and how to live with it.”

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Dash Shaw announces ‘Discipline’

The new graphic novel will arrive next fall from the New York Review of Comics.

Comics creator and animator Dash Shaw, whose work includes Cosplayers, Doctors, New School and Bottomless Belly Button, among others, has announced a new graphic novel for next year.

Discipline, a graphic novel about Quakers who fought in the Civil War, will be published by New York Review Comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Trung Le Nguyen on ‘The Magic Fish’

The creator known as Trungles talks about the creation of his newest graphic novel, fairy tales and the nature of stories, and more.

Trung Le Nguyen, aka Trungles, has been making comics and illustrations for years, and this year released his debut book as writer and artist, The Magic Fish, which is one of the year’s best graphic novels.

The story of a relationship between a mother and son, it’s also a story about fairy tales, about the meaning of stories and how we use them. It’s a coming out and coming of age story that’s about immigration and loss. It is a small story about two people that opens up onto some many ideas and concerns in beautiful ways. It is a strikingly beautiful book with Nuguyen’s finest artwork to date, and a deeply moving story for people of all ages.

I interviewed Nguyen in 2018 about Twisted Romance, the Image Comics anthology, and I was thrilled to get to talk with him again about The Magic Fish.

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Fantagraphics’ 2021 line-up includes Windsor-Smith, Panter, Sala and more

See what the Seattle publisher will release in the first eight months of 2021.

I keep saying things like, “Man, am I going to be happy when the dumpster fire known as 2020 is finally over,” to which my wife will respond, “Hey, 2021 may not be any better.”

But here’s the thing: what my wife doesn’t realize is that 2021 has the distinct advantage of having a new Barry Windsor-Smith graphic novel coming out, courtesy of Fantagraphics. So take that, 2020.

Windsor-Smith’s Monster isn’t the only graphic novel the publisher will release, of course. They recently dropped us a note highlighting 16 other titles they have planned through August, along with their full winter and summer catalogs.

Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights you can expect from the Seattle publisher next year:

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