Smash Pages Q&A: Gabrielle Bell

The creator of ‘Everything is Flammable’ and ‘The Voyeurs’ discusses her latest short story collection, ‘Inappropriate.’

Gabrielle Bell is one of our great cartoonists. In books like The Voyeurs, Truth is Fragmentary, Cecil and Jordan in New York, and in the hundreds of comics she’s made for print and online, she’s developed a style and approach to storytelling that is deceptively simple.

I don’t mean her linework, which is beautiful and deliberate, but the way she approaches story. One can read a few of the realistic stories she tells, and think that one understands her work, but then she crafts a story in that same style with that same tone and approach, which goes off in strange fantastic directions. Some of them are colorful, fantastic tales. Others loop back and force the characters and the readers to reconsider the opening scenes differently. It’s this way that she seems to effortlessly move from dirty realism to magical realism, always grounded in lived in details and psychology, which allow the reader to feel grounded even as the story spins off in any direction.

Bell’s new book Inappropriate is the first since the release of her acclaimed graphic memoir Everything is Flammable. In these short comics, some of which have seen print in The New Yorker, Spiralbound and elsewhere, Bell effortlessly shifts from the autobiographical to the fantastic, the personal to the strange. Recently she also got attention for her comic Utopia, which was posted during the pandemic. It’s always a joy to pick her brain and Gabrielle took some time out to chat about the book, how she works and thoughts during the pandemic.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sanford Greene

The artist and co-creator of ‘Bitter Root’ talks about the series’ origins and how current events are shaping its direction.

Sanford Greene has been drawing comics for years, working on projects that ranged from Wonder Girl and Rotten Apple to Runaways and Galactic. But until a few years ago, he was probably best known for his run on Power Man and Iron Fist with David Walker, and though the series didn’t last long, it showed off Greene’s kinetic figurework, his skill at capturing a sense of place, not bound by the constraints of realism, instead attempting to convey a sense of the world as it feels, in the best tradition of superhero comics.

Greene is currently the artist and co-creator of the acclaimed series Bitter Root, which is his finest work to date. This is the saga of the Sangerye family, who hunt monsters in 1920s Harlem — though as we discussed in our conversation, the story is ultimately about far more, about hate and monstrous behavior and American history. Greene’s artwork manages to capture the era but also depicts its own world in ways that have had me re-reading every page. Issue #9 of the series comes out this week from Image Comics, and I spoke with Greene about the series, his career and how recent events have changed both our understanding of history and the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mariah McCourt

The comics editor and writer talks about writing the new AHOY title ‘Ash & Thorn,’ creating art, baking and more.

Mariah McCourt has had a long career as a comics editor at DC and IDW. It was also at IDW that she first started writing comics, though she is an artist who attended the School of Visual Arts, majoring in illustration. Since then she’s written comics like September Mourning and Stitched, and adapted Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones

Her new comic, which she wrote and created, is Ash & Thorn. Drawn by Soo Lee with colors by Pippa Bowland and covers by Jill Thompson, the book involves Lady Peruvia Ashlington-Voss arriving at the home of Lottie Thorn, the new chosen one, who will fight off the demonic hordes. She was not expecting to find an elderly retired art teacher. The result is a comedic horror tale that pokes fun at the genre.

After being delayed due to the pandemic shutdown, the first issue is out tomorrow, June 24, and McCourt was kind enough to answers a few questions about her career path, her art practice and pie.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sara Century and S.E. Fleenor

Learn more about ‘Decoded,’ a daily anthology for Pride Month featuring comics and fiction from a wide range of LGBTQ+ creators.

Sara Century is a writer and artist who’s written for Bustle, The Los Angeles Review of Books, SyFy, and one of the creators behind the webcomic. S.E. Fleenor is a freelance writer who’s contributed to Electric Literature, them, Vice and is a managing editor at Bella Media Channel. Together, the two host one of the best podcasts about comics that there is, Bitches on Comics.

Their current project is Decoded, a daily anthology for Pride Month featuring comics and fiction from a wide range of LGBTQ+ creators. The work coming out runs the gamut from fantasy to horror to science fiction to superheroes, from long stories to short ones, from prose to comics. This year Pride will be a virtual event because of the pandemic, and in the anthology and their podcast, Century and Fleenor are doing a great job of centering queer voices and perspectives in a way that is exciting to see. They were kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Chip Mosher on ‘Blacking Out,’ bande dessinée and billboards

The writer of ‘Left on Mission’ returns with a new comic that’s currently up on Kickstarter.

As the Head of Content for comiXology Originals, Chip Mosher already has a pretty great day job, working with creators to bring original content to the digital comics provider.

But before working there and for his previous employer, BOOM! Studios, he wanted to write comics, and in fact wrote Left on Mission, with artist Francesco Francavilla, which was published by BOOM! before he joined them

Now, more than a decade later, he’s returned to the creative side and has written something new, Blacking Out, featuring artwork by Peter Krause, Giulia Brusco and Ed Dukeshire. It’s currently up on Kickstarter, where it blew past its modest $500 goal in the first 8 minutes of the campaign.

I spoke with Mosher at length about the new project, what inspired the format, how he’s promoting it and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sami Alwani

The creator of the award-winning ‘The Dead Father’ discusses his latest work for Fantagraphics’ ‘Now’ anthology.

Sami Alwani is a Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator who, by his own admission, works slowly, but in the past few years has produced a number of comics for Vice, Broken Pencil and other publications. He received a 2018 Doug Wright Award for his comic The Dead Father.

Alwani has a new comic in NOW #8, the current issue of the Fantagraphics anthology. The Misfortunes of Virtue isn’t just a good comic, but I would argue it’s Alwani’s best work to date. We spoke recently about life during lockdown, working slowly and where that title comes from.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Claudia Aguirre

The artist of ‘Lost on Planet Earth’ shares some early character designs for the comic and discusses her process for creating characters, working with Magdalene Visaggio and more.

Claudia Aguirre has been working in comics for years as an artist and colorist on books like Morning in America, Hotel Dare, Kim & Kim and Open Earth. She’s one half of Boudika Comics with Eva Cabrera. Her new project is the comiXology Originals series Lost on Planet Earth, which she made with her longtime collaborator Magdalene Visaggio.

The slice-of-life science fiction tale launched last month and with issue #2 coming out on May 19, I asked Aguirre a few questions about how she works, and she provided some character designs to show how she thinks – and give a first look at a character appearing in the new issue.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Chip Mosher

The head of content for comiXology Originals discusses his role, what he looks for in a project, the launch of ‘Youth’ and more.

Chip Mosher got his start in comics as a creator, writing the miniseries Left on Mission that was published by BOOM! Studios back in 2008. From there he joined BOOM! in a public relations and marketing role, before eventually moving over to comiXology.

While serving in a marketing role for the digital comics provider, he added responsibilities as head of content back in 2016, when the company launched its comiXology Originals imprint. These are original, digital comics created in conjunction with either existing publishers or directly with creators, and are available to buy on comiXology or to read if you subscribe to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Prime Reading.

Since then, the imprint has published comics in conjunction with Archie, Kodansha, Marvel and other publishers, as well as creators like Chip Zdarsky, Kel McDonald, Tyler Crook, Ray Fawkes, Magdalene Visaggio, Claudia Aguirre and many more. Today sees the launch of their latest title, Youth by Curt Pires and Alex Diotto, which will run weekly for four issues. I spoke with Mosher about this latest project, the imprint’s evolution, his approach to finding new content and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Robin Ha

The creator of “Cook Korean!” talks about her latest graphic memoir, “Almost American Girl.”

Robin Ha’s graphic memoir Almost American Girl came out earlier this year, and it’s a stunning work that recounts not just her own childhood, but her mother’s life in South Korea and why they emigrated to the United States.

For those who knew Ha for her book Cook Korean! which began life as a cooking blog, to spend time with how she draws, with the ways that she plays with color and tone, is to understand just how good an artist and storyteller she is. And reading the two books together make it clear that she’s just begun to show what she’s capable of doing.

I reached out to Ha recently to talk about the book and her career, about trying to make projects that are very dissimilar from each other, and trying to focus on the emotion of the story.

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