Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan

The duo discuss their latest graphic novel, “An Embarrassment of Witches,” now available from Top Shelf Comix.

An Embarrassment of Witches is the new book from Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan. Goldstein has made a name for herself in recent years with her comics like House of Women and The Oven, but before those books came out, Goldstein and Jordan made the webcomic Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell, a colorful romp about life in Brooklyn where mythological creatures and minor deities live next to artists and hipsters, and the protagonist is dealing with a karmic deficit and trying to save his immortal soul.

An Embarrassment of Witches is very much a related project, mixing the fantastic and the mundane in different ways. The book is about the friendship of Rory and Angel, two longtime friends after college, each of whom are foundering in different ways that strain their friendship. It’s about relationships and changing relationships with parents. It’s also about interdisciplinary magicks, botanical alchemy, and combines these elements in a way that makes the world feel new and fantastic, but is always about character and emotional above all.

I met Goldstein and Jordan years ago at Webcomics Weekend and was thrilled to talk with them about their new book, which I think is the best work they’ve done to date.We spoke recently over email.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tyler Chin-Tanner

The co-publisher of A Wave Blue World discusses his latest writing project, “Mezo: Volume One,” and much more.

Tyler Chin-Tanner is the founder and co-publisher of A Wave Blue World, which in the past few years has built a reputation as a dynamic small publisher with an editorial focus and point of view all its own. The company has published a long run of anthologies like Dead Beats, From Hell’s Heart, All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World and This Nightmare Kills Fascists. That’s in addition to books like Dead Legends, Kismet: Man of Fate, The Killing Jar and the recently released Cayrels Ring. In the past year the company has been ramping up production, hired new people including comics veteran Joseph Illidge.

A Kubert School graduate, Chin-Tanner has been making comics of his own for years including Adrenaline with James Boyle. He has written a new project that the company just released, Mezo: Volume One, Rise of the Tzalekuhl. The first volume of a fantasy series, it draws upon Mesoamerican lore and settings for a story that doesn’t look and feel like a typical fantasy story. Chin-Tanner talked to me recently about the book’s origins, the company’s name and plans for the future.

Please note this interview was conducted earlier this year, before the coronavirus made its impact on, among other things, the comics industry.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Melody Cooper

The filmmaker and playwright discusses her plans for Humanoids’ ‘Omni.’

Melody Cooper is a filmmaker, TV writer and playwright who was a resident at Yaddo and is currently in the HBO Access writing program. Her new project is the Humanoids series Omni.

Taking over writing the book from Devin Grayson, Cooper is continuing the politically charged stories of Dr. Cecelia Cobbina, who continues to try to uncover what’s behind the ignition of superpowers in the world. Cooper answered a few questions about how she works, politics and writing the smartest woman in the world.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Simon Roy, Daniel M. Bensen + Artyom Trakhanov

The creators of ‘Protector’ discuss the miniseries, how they collaborate and more.

Simon Roy first came to a lot of people’s attention with Prophet, or perhaps people know him for his projects like Habitat or Jan’s Atomic Heart and Other Stories. His new project, which has been coming out from Image Comics this year, is the miniseries Protector.

A collaboration with novelist Daniel M. Bensen (Junction) and artist Artyom Trakhanov (The 7 Deadly Sins), the book is a science fantasy adventure set in 3241 AD in the remote regions of North America (or what’s left of it) as Iron Age humans are dealing with demons and aliens and slavers and warring tribes. Issue #3 is out this week from Image, and I had a chance to speak with the team about the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tracy Butler

The creator of ‘Lackadaisy’ discusses her new Kickstarter for an animated version of the popular webcomic.

Tracy Butler has worked as a game designer and illustrator, but for many of us, Butler is the best known as the person behind the webcomic Lackadaisy. Set in St. Louis during Prohibition, the comic has followed a band of anthropomorphic cats in story involving speakeasies, bootleggers, jazz musicians. It manages to both simultaneously romanticize the past, while never straying into sentimentality. Butler depicts the hardships, the violence, the sacrifices, the tough choices and losses that characters face along with many of the real life details and complexities that marked that period.

Butler’s new project is an animated version of Lackadaisy. To help her, she’s enlisted Fable Siegel, an animation veteran that Butler is co-directing the film with, and C. Spike Trotman, the woman behind Iron Circus Comics. The Kickstarter for the project launched this week and hit its goal in a matter of hours, but Butler answered a few questions about the project and offered us a look at some of the design work for the film.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Disa Wallander

The creator of ‘The Nature of Nature,’ ‘Remember This?,’ and ‘Help Yourself’ discusses ‘Becoming Horses,’ her latest graphic novel from Drawn and Quarterly.

In recent years, Disa Wallander has been crafting a small but deliberate and brilliant body of work in comics like The Nature of Nature, Remember This?, Help Yourself, and in her webcomic, Slowly Dying. Her new book, Becoming Horses, which was just released by Drawn & Quarterly, is her longest work to date, and perhaps her best.

In the book she uses collage, mostly watercolors and photography, overlaid with a precise but delicate linework that’s been compared to Jules Feiffer. Like Feiffer, Wallander is interested in shape, gesture and an interest in dialogue, but the similarity ends there. In this book Wallander is crafting a series of conversations about art and life, which doesn’t sound exciting or visually interesting when phrased that way, but in Wallander’s hands, these conversations are at the center of this stunning and moving dream-like journey.

There are scenes and images form the book that have stayed with me through multiple readings, and I was so thrilled that Wallander agreed to answer a few questions over email about existentialism, how she works and Tove Jansson’s influence.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tom Peyer on ‘Penultiman’

The prolific writer and editor discusses his upcoming title from Ahoy Press, the state of the company and more.

Tom Peyer has been writing and editing comics for years, but in the past two years since he helped to launch Ahoy Comics, Peyer has been writing up a storm. From the two very different titles that launched the publisher, The Wrong Earth and High Heaven, to subsequent books like Hashtag: Danger and Dragonfly and Dragonflyman, Peyer has shaped the sensibility and approach of the company.

Last year Ahoy released Steel Cage #1, which contained three short comics: Bright Boy by Stuart Moore and Peter Gross, Noah Zark by Mark Waid and Lanna Souvanny, and True Identity by Peyer and Alan Robinson. Readers were encouraged to vote for their favorite, but because of voting irregularities, the company declared that all three would get their own series. Now Peyer and Robinson have their series, renamed Penultiman, launching on May 6. People can read the short comic from Steel Cage for free on ComiXology right now, and Peyer stopped by to answer a few questions about superheroes and the Silver Age, and show off some of Robinson’s artwork.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ayize Jama-Everett

The author of ‘The Liminal People’ discusses the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Box of Bones.’

Ayize Jama-Everett made a splash a few years go with the publication of his novel The Liminal People. Since then he’s published two more novels, The Entropy of Bones and The Liminal War, but his new project is the graphic novel Box of Bones. Currently being kickstarted, the book is the result of a conversations with Jama-Everett and his friend John Jennings, the writer-artist-editor-publisher-scholar-festival organizer, who Jama-Everett interviewed recently for The Believer.

Box of Bones is described as “Tales from the Crypt meets Black History” and involves an anthropologist searching for evidence of a box which has appeared throughout history in the Africa diaspora. It is that rare project that manages to be both a deeply researched historical work, and an entertaining horror ride. We spoke recently about writing comics, working with multiple artists and a winning formula for horror.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Russell on ‘Billionaire Island’

The writer of ‘Second Coming’ discusses his new release from Ahoy Comics, which imagines an island where the rich escape from the end of the world.

Mark Russell has made a name for himself as one of the leading satirists in comics and a deeply subversive writer. I think it’s fair to say that no one envisioned The Flintstones or Snagglepuss the way that Russell wrote them, as these complex, thoughtful and tragic stories that addressed social issues in such pointed ways.

In addition to those books, there’s the two books where, with Shannon Wheeler, he reinterpreted The Bible (God is Disappointed in You, Apocrypha Now). He also wrote The Wonder Twins series for DC, which recently wrapped up, and Second Coming, which was originally going to be published by Vertigo, but the company dropped the series about Jesus becoming roommates with the world’s mightiest superhero. 

Russell is back with a new series from Ahoy Comics, Billionaire Island. Taking place in 2044, it concerns an artificial island where the wealthiest can take their money and avoid the problems that come from dealing with humanity – and all the problems that the wealthy created. It is funny and outrageous – and someone is probably working on how to build such an island as we speak. I spoke with Russell about the book, being outrageous and taking guidance from Winston Churchill.

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