Smash Pages Q&A: Vanessa Davis on ‘Spaniel Rage,’ Then and Now

When Spaniel Rage was first published in 2005, the collection of diary comics made a splash. Vanessa Davis didn’t come from a comics background, and she had a unique way of laying out and designing pages and her own sensibility. A few years later when Drawn & Quarterly collected many of her short comics in the book Make Me a Woman, it established Davis’ reputation as one of the great cartoonists of her generation.

Since then Davis has been making short comics and illustrations for many publications, including The New York Times, Tablet, Lucky Peach, and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Comics, Nursery Rhyme Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, and Best American Comics. D&Q has just reissued Spaniel Rage with a new introduction by Davis. The book remains a striking and vivid book about life in one’s 20s, about New York City, about the life of the young artist. Davis spoke about revisiting her work, what she’s working on now, and The Terry Southern, which she was just awarded for her work for The Paris Review.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Fertig on ‘Take That, Adolf!’

Alex Dueben talks to Mark Fertig about his latest book from Fantagraphics, World War II, graphic design and more.

In his recent book Take That, Adolf!, Mark Fertig looks at Golden Age comics and how World War II transformed the industry and the content. While for many people, the appeal of the book may be the hundreds of comic book covers that feature Adolf Hitler being punched and Nazis thwarted, the highlight is Fertig’s long essay.

In that piece Fertig examines race and gender; he looks at how the comics industry was changed, the ways that it’s impossible to think about the business and many characters without the influence of the war, and many more issues. Fertig is an Associate Professor at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches graphic design, and we spoke about the book, World War II, graphic design and comics in the classroom.

I enjoyed the book – who doesn’t like seeing Hitler get punched repeatedly? When you conceived the book, I’m sure you never imagined that the media would be discussing when it’s acceptable to punch nazis.

Yeah, I did a Twitter search the other day, and the book showed up. I don’t think the book has really worked its way into the public consciousness on any level, and yet it showed up in a political tweet where somebody had linked to the book and said, “This is our book.” I thought that was pretty fascinating. When I wrote it I thought I was writing it for comic book people and World War II people, but if it’s interesting to other people, that’s fine by me.

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Smash Pages Q&A: May + Copland on ‘Kill All Monsters’ Omnibus

Michael May and Jason Copland discuss the massive collection of their giant monster series coming from Dark Horse, the future of the series and more.

Michael May and Jason Copland have been working on Kill All Monsters! for more than a decade now, and come July they — and you — will see all their work on it collected into an omnibus from Dark Horse Comics.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’ve been blogging with Michael in some form or fashion for about a decade now myself. So I’ve watched from ringside as KAM progressed from a webcomic to a Kickstarter project to a story in Dark Horse Presents and now to this giant-sized collection. It’s a fun story about an Earth overrun with giant monsters and the humans trying to take it back. I’m glad I’ve gotten to watch it come to life, just as I’m happy to talk with the two of them about the project’s origins and what comes next for this world they’ve created.

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Smash Pages Q&A: ‘Benny and Penny’ creator Geoffrey Hayes

Brigid Alverson shares a previously unpublished interview with the creator, who passed away last weekend.

Geoffrey Hayes, the creator of TOON Books’ Benny and Penny series, died last weekend at the age of 69. I met him just once, at the American Library Association midsummer meeting in 2010.

I was actually a longtime fan of his work, because my children loved his Otto and Uncle Tooth picture books. Geoffrey came to comics fairly late, after an artistic dry spell—Francoise Mouly somehow knew to call him and have him create the Benny and Penny comics for TOON Books. But he had always lived a creative life; while I was doing research to write an appreciation, I ran across this essay in which he talks about how he and his brother, Rory Hayes (who was known as an underground cartoonist) spent their childhood creating stories together.

When I heard about Geoffrey’s death, I went through my files looking for a photo of him, and I was surprised to find an interview that I had done in 2010 but never published anywhere. So here it is, seven years later. As delightful as it was to relive that moment, I was also saddened when I got to the end, where he talks about the graphic novel he was working on. That book, Lovo and the Firewolf, was to be his magnum opus, and Fantagraphics was going to publish it next year. His death leaves it incomplete.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ekstrom & Brownfield on Imminent Press and ‘Terminal’

Two members of the newly formed collective discuss their current Kickstarter campaign as it nears its completion date.

In January, a new comics imprint, Imminent Press, took to Kickstarter to raise funds to bring their graphic novel anthology, titled Terminal, to life. The campaign failed.

But more importantly, they didn’t give up.

The second time’s the charm, as they dusted themselves off and retooled their project and campaign. Now with less than a week left, they’ve hit their funding goal for the first issue of a Terminal miniseries, with hopes that they can earn enough to publish the second issue as well. Contributors to the project include a mix of veteran and emerging comic and webcomic creators, along with several names you might recognize from the comic press — one of whom is even our former boss.

I spoke with two members of their “board,” Steve Ekstrom and Troy Brownfield, about Imminent Press, Terminal, their Kickstarter campaign and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: David Pepose on ‘Spencer & Locke,’ gritty crime and imaginary friends

“What if this imaginary friend wasn’t so benign?”

Debuting in comic shops tomorrow, David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s Spencer & Locke imagines a world where Calvin and Hobbes went on to join the police force and take down bad guys. But when Sophie Jenkins — you remember Susie, right? — turns up dead in back alley, well … that’s where the story begins.

Published by Action Labs Entertainment, Spencer & Locke is a four-issue miniseries written by Pepose, whose name comics fans might recognize from his reviews at Newsarama, with art by Santiago (Curse of the Eel), colorist Jasen Smith and letterer Colin Bell.

On the eve of the book’s debut, I spoke with Pepose about the secret origins of the project.

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Interview | 5 Minutes with Emi Gennis

The creator talks about her SPX debut from last year, “Baseline Boulevard,” and more in an interview from last year’s show.

Emi Gennis does short comics on fascinating topics, usually quirky stories from history. I first discovered her work when I picked up her minicomic on trepanation (warning: includes graphic images of people drilling holes in their skulls) at TCAF last year. Her other work includes The Radium Girls, about women who were exposed to radium while working in a watch factory in the 1930s; and Franz Reichelt: The Flying Tailor, the story of a man who invented a parachute suit and died testing it on himself. The latter is one of Gennis’s comic adaptations of stories from Wikipedia’s list of unusual deaths.

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Delsante & Izaaske return to Kickstarter to give you more ‘Stray’

The duo discuss how the Kickstarter campaign is going, what to expect from the series, some news on back-ups and more.

After funding a miniseries featuring their independent superhero character in 2013, Stray co-creators Vito Delsante and Sean Izaakse returned to Kickstarter this month to raise money for an ongoing series. They reached their goal fairly quickly, which is when the real work began.

The story focuses on Rodney Weller, the former teen sidekick to the superhero known as Doberman. When his mentor is killed, Rodney returns to action after five years to solve the murder as Stray. In addition to the miniseries, Stray also appeared in Action Lab‘s Actionverse crossover series with Molly Danger and Midnight Tiger. Joining the creative team for the first arc is artist Phil Cho. As the first arc takes place in both the past and present, Cho will draw the flashback sequences while Izaakse will draw the present-day story.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Wade von Grawbadger

Over the years Wade von Grawbadger has made a name for himself by bringing out the best of whoever’s work he happens to be inking. The Eisner, Harvey and Inkwell award-winning artist/inker’s most recent work includes Batman/Superman with Robson Rocha and Astro City with Gary Chaloner. Always of note, though, is his work with Stuart Immonen. The duo have worked together on New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New Captain America and Star Wars, just to name a few titles, and as von Grawbadger describes below, their tight collaboration has helped the inker become more versatile. The duo will work together again on the upcoming Empress, written by Mark Millar.

A year ago you were reintroduced to the awesomeness that is Matthew Clark. What makes his art so great?

There is a life and character to his art that is infectious to me. Many can draw a cool face, but Matthew’s have the depth of thought behind them. Subtle information about the personality is evoked that many can’t quite accomplish … and it’s cool! He also has a great graphic sense; his use of blacks really crank up the drama.

What do you most enjoy about inking the recent issue of Astro City?

Inking over Gary Chaloner was great fun, mostly because it was a challenge for me. He’s out of my usual wheelhouse, forcing me to stretch and use inking muscles I don’t often use. His characters have so much life to them. It was simply a lot of fun.

How gratifying is it to be inking Star Wars prior to the film’s release?

How do you quantify something like that? To be in the conversation when one of the more heralded films in a long time is about to hit the scene is an honor, to say the least. There are so many people getting attention for their work on Star Wars-related books right now, I can only say that I am extremely proud to be among them!

A few days ago you ran some of your work from 2009. How has your work evolved over the years?

Thanks in no small part to Stuart Immonen, I have become more versatile. He changes his approach often to fit how he sees a particular project. So if you look at Ultimate Spider-Man, Next Wave and Star Wars, you will see a strikingly different take on each. This forces me to keep up! We have long email conversations about ideas for the the take on a given project, and then it’s an evolution. I may think I know what he means but don’t, and make adjustments based on his suggestions, or I may do something slightly different that he feels fit the situation and he adjusts. Other changes have come as tools or inks change or are discontinued. It’s a never-ending battle to keep current!

Anything we should discuss that I neglected to ask?

I recently did part of issue 28 of Batman/Superman over Robson Rocha that’s due out in January that was a blast. Intense detail and fun figure work. I love that sort of style and don’t get to do it that often. Check it out!

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