Smash Pages Q&A: Jesse Lonergan

The creator of ‘Hedra’ talks about that project, the recently released ‘Planet Paradise,’ his webcomic ‘Prime’ and much more.

Over the years, Jesse Lonergan has written and drawn a number of comics, including three graphic novels (Flower and Fade, Joe and Azat, and All Star) which showed off expressive fluid style, a skill at dialogue and a masterful ability at wordless storytelling.

Lonergan gained a new audience when Image republished Hedra earlier this year. Originally self-published, the comic is the story of an interstellar journey and features a very different approach to storytelling and design than what readers saw in his earlier books. This month, NBM just published Willie Nelson: A Graphic History, for which Lonergan drew a chapter, and Lonergan’s new graphic novel Planet Paradise, was just released by Image.

We spoke recently about his work, why it changed a few years ago, the new book he’s serializing on his Patreon, and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: KC Councilor

The comics creator and professor discusses his memoir ‘Between You and Me: Transitional Comics’ and much more.

KC Councilor is a cartoonist and an Assistant Professor of Communications at Southern Connecticut State University. He is the cartoonist behind the great memoir Between You and Me: Transitional Comics, and has contributed comics to various anthologies including the recently published Menopause: A Comic Treatment. He has also made comics for academic journals including a great recent article, Drawing the Body In: A Comic Essay on Trans Mobility and Materiality.

Councilor and I spoke recently about Lynda Barry, Graphic Medicine and how making comics changed his life and the way he processed the world.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Zac Thompson

The writer of ‘Lonely Receiver’ talks about the book’s themes, working with Jen Hickman and more.

Zac Thompson seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago and is now writing one comic after another for AfterShock, Black Mask, BOOM!, Marvel and Vault. There are a lot of through lines and themes that run through his work, and one of his central concerns is structures and cycles, how we build them, how we exist in them and how we break out of them. These ideas exist on a societal level and a personal level, and the ways that he uses this to interrogate people’s lives and ideas are fascinating. 

His current project is Lonely Receiver, which he’s made with Jen Hickman. It is a science fiction story, a story about putting one’s life together after a crushing breakup, and a horror story. These elements come together in organic and fascinating ways that only become more impressive as the series goes on.

Thompson’s other recent projects include the recently concluded No One’s Rose, Undone by Blood and Angel and Spike. We spoke recently about Lonely Receiver, the third issue of which was just released, and how he works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: François Vigneault

The cartoonist and designer discusses his ambitious graphic novel ‘Titan,’ the comics scene in Montreal and much more.

François Vigneault is a cartoonist and designer living in Montreal and the person behind the new book Titan, which is out this week from Oni Press. People might know Vigneault from the many things he’s done in comics over the years ranging from editing the anthology Elfworld, co-founding the Linework NW Festival, the artist of the graphic novel 13e Avenue, and one of the artists on the recently published Cayrels Ring, among many other projects. 

Titan is his best work to date, but also his most ambitious. The story of João da Silva, who arrives on the moon Titan to oversee roughly 500 Terran colonists and 50,000 Titans, oversize workers genetically modified for the moon’s conditions. What follows is a labor strike, a political battle, a shooting war. It’s also a romance comic about falling for someone at the worst possible moment. Vigneault manages to balance crafting a believable futuristic background while foregrounding a tender, unexpected love story, and the brutality of the unrest in ways that are moving and thoughtful.

We’ve met a few times over the years at different comics events and I was thrilled to get the chance to talk with him about the book, serialization and the comics scene in Montreal.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Gerardo Alba

The cartoonist and editor discusses his work on ‘Guantanamo Voices,’ working at the Latin American division of Webtoon and much more.

Gerardo Alba is a cartoonist who has had a busy year. He colored the recent graphic novel Fault Lines in the Constitution, which was adapted and drawn by his wife the artist Ally Shwed. He is one half of Little Red Bird Press, which released the anthology Votes for Women earlier in the year. Alba recently took a new job as editor at the Latin American division of Webtoon.

Alba is one of the artists on the recent book Guantanamo Voices, a great and important work of comics journalism, where he drew one of the key early chapters of the book. Alba was kind enough to take time out to talk about Guantanamo Voices and his many projects. 

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Smash Pages Q&A: First Second’s Mark Siegel discusses World Citizen Comics

The editorial and creative director of First Second Books discusses the origins of the new line of nonfiction graphic novels.

Mark Siegel is the artist and author of books like Sailor Twain and Moving House and the co-writer of the 5 Worlds series. He is also the editorial and creative director of First Second Books, where one of his major recent projects has been the release of World Citizen Comics. The series released its first two books this year, Unrig: How To Fix Our Broken Democracy by Daniel G. Newman and George O’Connor, and Fault Lines in The Constitution by Cynthia Levinson, Sanford Levinson,and Ally Shwed. 

The books attempt to provide civics education, media literacy and historical context to current events, which are all too lacking today, but that damns the books with faint praise. They are also inventive, entertaining and informative, and artistically dynamic. Each stands in the very best tradition of nonfiction comics.

Today is Election Day in the United States, but that’s far from the only notable thing happening around the world. The people of Chile overwhelmingly voted to draft a new constitution to replace the one written when the country was ruled by a military junta. Poland has been rocked by days of mass protests, the largest since the fall of communism in 1989. Tanzania’s presidential elections were held last week, featuring an incumbent using government power to undermine the press and his political opposition. Protests continue in Belarus, Nigeria, Thailand and elsewhere.

We live in a moment of a great change and possibility, and Siegel was kind enough to mark the occasion with us by answering a few questions about why he launched the series, being global citizens and his ambitions for the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: James Otis Smith

The creator of ‘Black Heroes of the Wild West’ discusses the book, which is out now from Toon Books.

James Otis Smith made a splash in 2019 with two books. Gang of Fools, which came out from Lion Forge, was a webcomic about a dystopian future, gentrification, the mob and more. The other book was Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem’s Legendary Theater, a nonfiction book from Abrams. The two were radically different books but showed an artist who was able to work in different styles and approaches, as skillful at tackling fiction as nonfiction, conveying lots of information in dynamic ways. 

His new book, which is out now from Toon Books, is Black Heroes of the Wild West. The book looks at three real life figures from the Old West, each of whom was unique and stood out – then and now. But more than simply being fascinating, interesting people, they complicate our understanding of the Old West and how the West was settled. Black people were ignored when the history was written, erased when fiction and myths were crafted, and sometimes redlined and banned from towns and even entire states. Black Heroes of the Wild West is an important glimpse of what’s been lost and ignored.

Smith was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, which is an artistically masterful work, and what he wants to do next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ethan Heitner

Heitner discusses co-editing this year’s volume of ‘World War 3 Illustrated,’ this year’s contributions, working with cover artist José Muñoz and more.

Ethan Heitner may not be the most well-known contributor to World War 3 Illustrated, but he’s co-edited this year’s volume of the long-running anthology with co-founders Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman.

World War 3 Illustrated is one of the best comics anthologies of recent decades and the new volume, which has the theme “The World We Are Fighting For,” is more evidence of the artistic scope and skill of the publication, but also of the depth and power of the work. It shows how important and powerful political comics can be. The best work is not about what happened yesterday but has history and perspective, and offers ways to think about the past, present, and the future in new ways.

It’s a great project and Heitner was kind enough to answer questions about the book and the process of assembling it, and his own work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Chuck Brown

The co-creator of ‘Bitter Root’ and ‘On the Stump’ discusses both projects, his background, the Harlem Renaissance and more.

2020 has been a big year for Chuck Brown. Bitter Root, the Image series he makes with David Walker and Sanford Greene, wrapped up its second story arc and received an Eisner Award for “Best Continuing Comics Series.” Brown also launched On the Stump, a new series from Image Comics.

Since it first came out, Bitter Root has been acclaimed as one of the best American comics in recent years, but for Brown its the culmination of many years’ work, and a long friendship and collaboration with Sanford Greene. The two have worked together on different projects like Rotten Apple at Dark Horse and 1000 on Webtoon. That’s in addition to Brown’s other comics work including The Quiet Kind, Godstorm: Hercules Payne and Trenchcoats, Cigarettes and Shotguns.

Bitter Root: Rage and Redemption, the second volume of the series, is out this week. And the first week of November sees the release of the collection of On the Stump. Brown and I spoke recently about his career, these two different books, and using history as setting and subject.

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