Smash Pages Q&A: Victor Santos

The creator of Polar discusses ‘Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case,’ which was recently released by Dark Horse, as well as his webcomic ‘Guts,’ Jack Kirby, the Spain comics scene and more.

Victor Santos’ work might be more familiar to American comics readers than his name, though that is quickly changing. The man has put out a wide and varied body of work. He’s drawn comics and graphic novels, masterfully going from Filthy Rich to Mice Templar, Furious to Black Market, Godzilla to Sleepy Hollow. He’s currently drawing Violent Love, which is published by Image Comics. Santos is also the man behind Polar, the webcomic that he wrote and drew, which was collected in three volumes by Dark Horse.

In addition to Violent Love, Santos has two projects, one new and one old, that are out this fall. He’s launched a new webcomic, Guts, that’s available on polarcomic.com which he’s making monthly as a complete short story. The second story was released in early November. Dark Horse has just published Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case, which collects two books that Santos made for the Spanish market. There are two more graphic novels that Santos is drawing and coloring coming out next year, as well as a film adaptation of Polar in production. Despite this busy schedule, he was kind enough to talk about his work.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Victor Santos”

Smash Pages Q&A: Rich Tommaso on ‘Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix’

The creator of ‘She Wolf’ and ‘Dark Corridor’ discusses the first collection of his all-ages series ‘Spy Seal.’

From The Cavalier Mr. Thompson to Clover Honey, from 8 1/2 Ghosts to Dark Corridor, Viking’s End to She Wolf, to the Eisner Award-winning Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, Rich Tommaso doesn’t just jump from one genre to another, but plays with tone and approach, style and color, and the result is an expansive body of work.

Spy Seal is a different book for him, but in truth, almost every comic he’s done has been a departure in some way. It’s an all-ages story about a spy who is, well, a seal. Set in the 1960s in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, it owes a lot to Tintin and any number of cartoons. It’s a very different book than I admit to being used to from Tommaso but I was charmed by its inventiveness and world building – not to mention the fact that Tommaso is clearly having a lot of fun. Image just announced that Tommaso will be returning to his crime fiction roots early next year with Dry County, before returning with another Spy Seal series in the fall. With the collection, Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix out next month and Tommaso was kind enough to answer a few questions about how he works.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Rich Tommaso on ‘Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Pamela Ribon on ‘Slam!’

The novelist and screenwriter discusses her work on ‘Slam! The Next Jam,’ the BOOM! Box series that wraps up next week. Check out exclusive artwork from the final issue!

Pamela Ribon has had a long, successful writing career. She’s the author of novels including Going in Circles and Why Moms Are Weird and the memoir Notes To Boys (And Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public). She’s a member of the Disney Animation StoryTrust and has written or co-written a number of films including Moana, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and the upcoming Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2. In 2016 Variety named her one of “10 Screenwriters to Watch” and she is a 2017 Film Independent Directing Lab Fellow.

Ribon also co-created and writes Slam! The series from BOOM! Studios’ BOOM! Box imprint revolves around roller derby derby and two very different women – Jen and Maisie – who become friends through the sport. The first miniseries featured artwork by Veronica Fish, while the second one, Slam! The Next Jam, features art by Marina Julia and covers by Fish.

It’s a series that spends a great deal of care and attention on how the sport works, on injuries, on depicting bodies and body types properly. More than that, it’s a also a comic that takes advantage of being a comic, playing with the form in a number of small but powerful and dynamic ways that demonstrate that Ribon has a deep understanding of how the medium works and what it is capable of doing. But really it’s a story of people and passion and obsession told with care and a great sense of fun.

If that weren’t enough Ribon wrote the just-released Rick and Morty #32, and has a graphic novel coming out next year, My Boyfriend is a Bear. The second miniseries, Slam! The Next Jam wraps up next week, and BOOM! sent an exclusive look at the issue to accompany my discussion with Ribon on roller derby, relationships and Chris Ware.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Pamela Ribon on ‘Slam!’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Andrea Tsurumi on ‘Accident!’

The creator of ‘Zootrope’ and ‘Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch’ discusses her new children’s book, ‘Accident!’

Comics fans have known Andrea Tsurumi’s work for years. Comics like Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch and Zootrope, and her books Why Would You Do That? and But Suddenly an Octopus showed her inventiveness, and an ability to switch between styles. She’s made comics for The Nib, illustrations for The New York Times, and her picture book Accident! was just published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been named one of the best picture books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly.

The story of an armadillo named Lola, it starts with an accident and then becomes an out of control chase that ends as people (and armadillos) learn a lesson. It’s something that will look and feel familiar to people who have read Tsurumi’s comics and is an entertaining, madcap story that feels very much like her work. She was kind enough to take time out to talk about comics, picture books and more.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Andrea Tsurumi on ‘Accident!’”

Smash Pages Q&A: GG on ‘I’m Not Here’

The Canadian cartoonist discusses her latest project, published by Koyama Press.

GG is the pen name of a Canadian cartoonist who in recent years has produced a small but beautiful body of work. In a series of short comics like Semi-Vivi, Valley, Don’t Leave Me Alone and I’m Crazy she’s established herself as an amazing talent. GG’s artwork is clean and precise, and the clarity of the art stands in sharp contrast to her writing, where she leaves the meaning of the narrative up to the reader. There’s a way in which her comics are very quiet and yet simultaneously unsettling and off-putting. They’re tales of transformation, disruption, and told in a way that the reader is never instructed what to think, how to react or how to feel. The result can be unsettling and strange and a difficult read, as every panel should be scoured to understand what’s happening. It can also be transcendent and brilliant.

This year Koyama Press published I’m Not Here, GG’s longest work to date and her first book. It is arguably her best work to date. The book features a young woman who is caretaker for her mother and walks around town taking photographs. What happens next, well, that depends on the reader. As someone who has been a caretaker and likes to walk, I have my own take on what happens and what it means – which is no doubt different from many readers and no doubt different from GG – but that is precisely the response she wants to create. That sense of narrative uncertainty requires readers to engage with the story differently. I’m Not Here is quite simply one of the most affecting and best comics of the year and GG was kind enough to open about the book and how she works.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: GG on ‘I’m Not Here’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Tara O’Connor

The creator discusses an expanded edition of her ‘Roots’ comic from Top Shelf and her upcoming book from Oni Press, ‘The Altered History of Willow Sparks.’

Tara O’Connor’s Roots begins with her divorce as she falls into that fugue state familiar to many that accompanies the collapse of a relationship, moving back in with one’s parents and the very specific kind of depression that comes with those life-altering events. It also depicts how O’Connor pulled herself out of this, through work and starting a new project, and what happened when she traveled to Ireland to research her family history. The trip didn’t turn out the way she expected, and neither did the resulting book.

Roots was originally self-published a few years ago, but Top Shelf is now publishing a new, longer version of that story. In addition, O’Connor has The Altered History of Willow Sparks, a fictional graphic novel coming out from Oni Press early next year. Both are about changing one’s life and O’Connor sat down to talk about her work.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Tara O’Connor”

Smash Pages Q&A: Anders Nilsen on ‘Tongues’

‘It’s a weird amalgam of other stories I’ve done.’

In recent years Anders Nilsen has published a number of books that have been hard to categorize. From Rage of Poseidon to Poetry is Useless to the reissue of his earlier Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Nilsen has shown himself to be not just a talented artist and storyteller but a gifted designer whose books are carefully considered objects in their own right.

As brilliant as each of those books are, like a lot of comics readers I’ve been waiting for Nilsen to announce his next big project. Big Questions, which was published in a single volume in 2011, was an epic story in a way that goes far beyond the book’s length. Nilsen has just published Tongues #1, the first part of a much longer story, and he was kind enough to take time to talk about the comic, his plans and the book’s landscape.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Anders Nilsen on ‘Tongues’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Jake Parker on Inktober and more

The founder of October’s ‘Inktober’ event discusses this year’s event, his latest chidlren’s books and his forthcoming graphic novel ‘SkyHeart.’

For some people, Jake Parker is the talented children’s book illustrator behind books like The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair, The Little Snowplow, and the just-released The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Some of us though remember Parker as one of the artists who first made a splash in the Flight anthologies and went onto write and draw the Missile Mouse series of graphic novels and The Antler Boy and Other Stories, which collected his short comics work.

He is also the man who started Inktober, which went from a personal challenge to himself that he posted online to something much bigger. This year Inktober was bigger than it’s ever been. In 2015, just under 330,000 posts on Instagram were tagged #inktober2015, and this year more than 3.2 million were tagged #inktober2017. This doesn’t mean that everything was without controversy. Parker responded to the question of whether it’s possible to participate in Inktober if one works digitally and Parker’s statement, which read in part “The spirit of Inktober is self improvement, and there’s no better way to master your craft than to draw without a safety net” was not liked by some people and so I asked him about Inktober and his new book.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Jake Parker on Inktober and more”

Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Remnant on ‘Cartoon Clouds’

The creator of ‘Blindspot’ and artist of Harvey Pekar’s ‘Cleveland’ discusses his first solo graphic novel from Fantagraphics, balancing his work as a storyboarding artist with his own projects, and more.

Like most comics fans I first got to know Joseph Remnant’s work from The Pekar Project. The web project featured the late great Pekar working with a number of artists and Remnant went on to draw Cleveland, a very personal graphic novel written by Pekar that was published after his death.

Remnant was making short work in his comic series Blindspot, in addition to recording music and working on various other projects, but Fantagraphics just released his first solo graphic novel, Cartoon Clouds. The book is about a group of students who have just graduated from art school, and are trying to find their own way and understand their feelings about art. Remnant admits that working on the project over the course of many years has meant that his own feelings about the characters and some of the issues he raises in the book have changed over time, though his linework is masterful throughout.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Remnant on ‘Cartoon Clouds’”