Smash Pages Q&A: Robert Garrett and N. Steven Harris on ‘Ajala’

“A Change in Perspective” marks a different approach to the Glyph Comics award-winning series.

Ajala is a comic series written by Robert Garrett with art by N Steven Harris, and colors by Walt Msonza Barna. It’s a comic that they have been working on in between other projects. Harris is still remembered for drawing the Grant Morrison and Mark Millar series Aztek from years back, but recently he’s been busy drawing The Wild Storm: Michael Cray for DC.

The two are now crowdfunding the next two issues of the comic, which they’re calling “A Change in Perspective.” The title has a lot of meanings, from the young protagonist who, like all teenagers, starts to question and push against what she’s been taught, to the ways that the book wants to grow, to be not just about her, but her family, her community and ways to depict them in all their complexity.

I’ve interviewed Garrett and Harris in the past and reached out to ask them a few questions about the Kickstarter and where Ajala is going from here.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Duncan Tonatiuh on ‘Undocumented’

The children’s author discusses his first book aimed at adults, which is about the daily battles that undocumented worker face.

Duncan Tonatiuh has been writing and drawing picture books for children for many years, but his new book Undocumented is something very different. The book for adults is designed in an accordion format, in a way that calls to mind Mixtec codex. Throughout his career, Tonatiuh has been influenced by pre-Columbian art. His children’s books have looked at the lives of Diego Rivera and Amalia Hernandez, re-imagined legends, and looked at how Sylvia Mendez and her family helped to end segregated schools in California.

Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight is about the daily battle that so many workers in the country face and is both an inspirational story of people coming together to create change and improve their lives, and a guide to how people can organize. It’s more important and timely than ever, and one of the year’s most important books. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work.

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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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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: Lilah Sturges on ‘Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass’

The writer of ‘Jack of Fables,’ ‘Everafter’ and more discusses her work on an original graphic novel based on BOOM! Studios’ popular title.

Lilah Sturges has been writing comics for more than a decade. People may remember her long runs co-writing Jack of Fables and writing House of Mystery. At DC she worked on Blue Beetle, Justice Society of America and many other titles. More recently she’s written Fables: The Wolf Among Us, Muirwood, Everafter and other comics. She’s also the author of the novels Midwinter and The Office of Shadow and has written the graphic novel The Magicians: Alice’s Story, which has been announced and will be released next year.

Her new project is Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass, an original graphic novel that she wrote and is illustrated by the Austrian artist Polterink. The standalone story is centered around an orienteering activity, a cursed compass, and Mal and Molly’s relationship. The story has a member of Her Majesty’s Club for Lady Explorers, Adventurers, and Other Die-Hard Womanly Sorts, fully articulated gear-driven, flywheel-powered service automatons (not robots) and more craziness, but it’s the relationship between Molly and Mal and in particular Molly’s fears over being alone and that her relationship might destroy her friendships is what gives the book its emotional weight. Sturges was kind enough to chat about the book and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jordan Crane on ‘We Are All Me’

The creator of ‘Uptight’ and ‘The Last Lonely Saturday’ discusses his latest from TOON Books, cartooning and design, the forthcoming ‘Keeping Two’ and more.

Jordan Crane is the Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist and designer behind comics like The Last Lonely Saturday and The Clouds Above. He was the editor and publisher of the anthology NON. In recent years he’s been making the series Uptight.

His new book is something of a departure for him. We Are All Me was just released by Toon Books, and it’s a picture book, but it’s also a design project. It’s an abstract visual poem that tries to express this idea of the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things. It is beautifully designed, thoughtful, and moving. I was thrilled to talk with Crane about the book and his other comics projects.

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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: Joamette Gil on ‘Heartwood’ and more

The publisher of Power & Magic Press discusses her latest anthology, editing and coloring, and more.

Joamette Gil is a comics artist, writer and illustrator, who’s contributed to The Nib, Oni Press’ Draw Out the Vote, Everyday Feminism, and elsewhere. She is a comics letterer who’s worked for Oni Press and Lion Forge. She’s also the person behind Power and Magic Press. She’s edited and published the acclaimed and award-winning anthologies Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology and Immortal Souls. She’s just finished kickstarting Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, which is the first-ever all non-binary comics anthology

I’ve admired Gil’s artwork and her sense of design and color, and wanted to reach out to her to talk about Power & Magic Press, anthologies and color.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Craig Hurd-McKenney on ‘The Magic If’ and more

The publisher of Headless Shakespeare Press discusses his return to publishing, his latest Kickstarter and more.

Craig Hurd-McKenney was writing, editing and publishing comics for years in the early 2000s. He edited and published the anthology Stalagmite, collaborated with Rick Geary on multiple books and received a Xeric grant to publish The Brontes: Infernal Angria. After many years away, Hurd-McKenney has come back to comics with a new printing of a comic he’s written and published through his own Headless Shakespeare Press, with some other comics available for free on the site, a Kickstarter for a new book and plans for at least two more books a year for the next few years.

The Magic If is a departure for Hurd-McKenney. While most of his work is fantastic, this is a comic about a relationship involving a self-destructive magician, and the result is a deeply felt story about jealousy and anger, and a queer romance that isn’t like anything else on comics stands right now.

I asked why he wrote about the Brontes, why he left comics and coming back after years away. Hurd-McKenney is also currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Some Strange Disturbances, a Victorian Horror comic featuring artwork by The Magic If art team, Gervasio and Carlos Aon. It went live after this interview was conducted.

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