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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Smash Pages Q&A: Jamila Rowser

The co-founder of Geek Girl Brunch and former Girl Gone Geek blogger discusses two comic projects, ‘Wash Day’ and ‘Wobbledy 3000.’

Jamila Rowser is familiar to a lot of people in the comics community because she created Straight Outta Gotham, co-founded Geek Girl Brunch and launched the blog Girl Gone Geek. This fall though she’s doing something different, turning her attention to writing comics.

Wash Day is a comic drawn by Robyn Smith which was kickstarted earlier this year and is out now. In addition to an English language edition, there’s a Spanish language edition of the comic, Dia de Lavado, which is also available. Rowser is following that up with her second comic, Wobbledy 3000, which is drawn by Sabii Borno and is out this month as a digital comic from Black Josei Press.

The comics are very different, made with different artists and approaches, but both of them demonstrate Rowser’s skill at dialogue, her subtle talent of characterization and, through this, a very nuanced and lovely consideration of friendship. One book may be realistic and set in the here and now, and the other is science fantasy, but they are both an effort to tell slice of life narratives, and explore the lives of characters who are rarely explored in comics. Taken together, the comics show Rowser is very interested in finding ways to use the medium to convey and explore personal experience, to both break new ground and be a part of the medium and its traditions. I caught Rowser in between shows, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: e jackson

The cartoonist and scholar discusses ‘It’s Discourse, Archie’ and much more.

e jackson is a cartoonist and scholar. They have been drawing comics and illustrations for a few years now, making minicomics like Flux and Love Bites, webcomics like Warm Blood and Baby, and appearing in anthologies including We’re Still Here. They cohost the podcast Drawing a Dialogue with Cathy G. Johnson and are currently in the PhD program in Comics Studies at the University of Florida.

One of jackson‘s recent minicomics, It’s Discourse, Archie, captures a lot of what makes their work so interesting and so unique. The comic is autobiographical but states very clearly that it’s talking about issues as a way of commenting on the show Riverdale. The way they play with the expectation of autobio comics and of fanfiction, while also explaining and addressing ideas and theory. These are many of the same concerns that e addresses in their scholarship and I reached out to talk about how they work and being a comics creator in between classes.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Stephanie Phillips and Jamie Jones

The creators of ‘Kicking Ice’ from Ominous Press discuss their graphic novel about hockey, overcoming bullying and breaking down barriers.

The graphic novel Kicking Ice debuts this week at New York Comic Con. Written by Stephanie Phillips with line art by Jamie Jones, and published by Ominous Press, the book is the story of two girls, Bella and Skye who become fans of hockey – especially the NWHL – and become hockey players.

It’s about hockey, it’s about overcoming bullying, and breaking down barriers, but it’s also about being young, about being passionate, becoming obsessed and having the opportunities to pursue that passion. The book is also supported by the National Women’s Hockey League, including a forward by the commissioner and appearances by players in the story.

I spoke with Phillips and Jones about hockey, collaborating with the NWHL, why the book is set in Connecticut – which they don’t say is because the Connecticut Whale is best pro hockey team out there, but that’s clearly what I’m choosing to read into their answers – and their hopes to make a second volume and tell more stories.

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