Smash Pages Q&A: Steven Scott

The co-author of ‘They Called Us Enemy’ discusses the project, working with George Takei, his future plans and more.

When They Called Us Enemy was released this summer, it was quickly named one of the best graphic novels of the year by those who read it. George Takei, the actor and activist, has received much of the attention, and for good reason. This is his story, about how he and his family – and more than 100,000 other Japanese-Americans were interned by the American government. In recent years the actor, known best as Star Trek’s Sulu, has become best known as an activist for LGBTQ rights, but recently he has spent a great deal of time and energy to educating people about what happened in those years, both to help American citizens more fully understand our own history, but also to ensure that it never happens again.

Takei made the book with Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker. Scott may not be known to comics readers, but he’s been working in the comics industry for years and it’s how I first got to know him years ago. They Called Us Enemy is his first graphic novel, and I reached out to Scott to talk about how he ended up here, working with Takei and what he wants to do next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Fieldmouse Press

The four men behind the nonprofit publisher and comics criticism site discuss the initiative.

Ryan Carey, Rob Clough, Daniel Elkin and Alex Hoffman are four of the major comics critics in the U.S. right now. In Enemies of the State, Four Color Apocalypse, High-Low, Sequential State and Your Chicken Enemy, along with their writing in various other outlets, each has established a reputation as a thoughtful, insightful critic.

In comics, criticism tends to be maligned, or seen as a stepping stone to becoming a comics professional, but anyone who spends time with serious criticism – and the work of all four definitely are – can see the love for the medium, the passion for creators, the obsession with ideas and formalism. Good critics offer new ways to think about art, can introduce us to new work and inspire not just readers but creators.

It was announced recently that the four have teamed up to establish Fieldmouse Press, and in January 2020 they’re launching SOLRAD, which is just the very first aspect of the nonprofit organization. I reached out and was thrilled that they were willing to talk about criticism, their ambitions, and what people can look forward to next year.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lawrence Lindell

The cartoonist and educator discusses the Kickstarter campaign for his latest project, ‘From Truth with Truth: Kinda a Graphic Memoir.’

Lawrence Lindell is the cartoonist, educator and artist behind comics like Couldn’t Afford Therapy, So I Made This and From Black Boy with Love. In these and other projects, Lindell has found ways to make deeply personal work that manages to be both informative for other people, but also therapeutic for himself. Reading a lot of his comics shows that Lindell has an inventive visual style and has repeatedly found many really striking ways to capture so many mental and emotional states, and convey these feelings to readers.

Right now he’s kickstarting From Truth with Truth: Kinda a Graphic Memoir. Lindell was kind enough to answer a few questions about graduate school, his interest in teaching and his new book, which is being crowdfunded until the end of the month

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Smash Pages Q&A: James Romberger

James Romberger has had a long career as a comics artist, writer and fine artist. His books like 7 Miles a Second and The Late Child have been published by Fantagraphics and Vertigo, his comics have appeared in the anthologies World War 3 Illustrated and MOME, his paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum. Last year he wrote the book Steranko: The Self-Created Man, the definitive book about the cartoonist and his work, which he published through Ground Zero Books.

Romberger has two new comics on the stands. Now #7, the newest volume of the Fantagraphics anthology, features a four page comic written and drawn by Romberger. In addition, Uncivilized has just published For Real #1 by Romberger, which consists of “The Oven,” a 20 page comic, and “The Real Thing,” a 10 page essay. Both are about the life and work of Jack Kirby, his time as a soldier in World War II, his cancer diagnosis and treatment later in life, the ways he thoughts about and depicted violence. It’s some of Romberger’s very best work and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his many projects.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Huynh

The artist, painter and animator discusses ‘Cabramatta,’ his latest contribution to The Believer magazine.

Matt Huynh has been one of the creators making comics without working in the comics industry. Huynh has been making comics, illustrations, animations and paintings for years. His work has been exhibited at MoMA, The Smithsonian and elsewhere. He is known for his collaborations with the writers Nam Le (The Boat) and Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Ark and On True War Stories) and the comic Magpie Magpie.

In 2017-2018, The New York Historical Society opened The Vietnam War, 1945-1975, featuring two 24’ by 6’ murals drawn by Huynh depicting the homefront and the warfront. The exhibition was on display in Pittsburgh until recently and will be on display at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City starting on Veterans Day.

In the current issue of The Believer (The Borders Issue: October/November) Huynh wrote and drew Cabramatta, an eight-page comic about the neighborhood where he grew up as a refugee in Sydney, the way that his relationship to the place has changed, and how the neighborhood and its relationship to the majority white community has changed over time. The Believer also debuted an interactive version of the comic on the website that Huynh helped to make.

Huynh just returned from Australia, and we had a chance to speak about the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Paul Maybury

The writer of ‘Last Stop in the Red Line’ discusses the Boston-based mystery/horror series and more.

Most comic fans probably know Paul Maybury from his work as an artist. Now living in Austin, Texas, the Boston native made a name for himself on books like Sovereign, Valhalla Mad, Catalyst Comix and D.O.G.S. of Mars, among other titles. While in the past he’s either worked with other writers or drew his own stories, his most recent work, Last Stop on the Red Line, has seen him move into the role of writing for another artist.

Drawn by Sam Lofti, the supernatural mystery brings Detective Migdalia Torres into contact with a very interesting and fun ensemble of characters, as she tries to solve a vicious strangling on the Boston subway.

With the final issue arriving this week from Dark Horse, I spoke to Maybury about the story’s conclusion, stepping into the writer role and what he’s working on next. If you missed the series, it’s a perfect reading for Halloween. You can find all four issues on comiXology, and a trade paperback should be out in February.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elsa Charretier

The artist of ‘November’ and ‘Star Wars’ discusses her Kickstarter campaign for her new artbook.

Elsa Charretier seemed to come out nowhere a few years ago when the miniseries The Infinite Loop was released. Since then, she’s drawn Superfreaks, Bitch Planet, Bombshells, Star Wars, Starfire, Harley Quinn and the Unstoppable Wasp, along with co-writing a number of comics, and drawing covers for everything from Archie to Black Panther, Nancy Drew to Domino, Ms. Marvel to Sex Criminals.

Charretier has shown that she has a versatile style and sensibility that shows her equally at home whether telling all-ages adventure tales, adult stories, comedy or action.

Next month Image is publishing November, which she drew and co-created with writer Matt Fraction, but today Charretier has launched a Kickstarter for an artbook that collects a lot of her covers and commissions, and also details her process and provides some insight into the production of November. Just a few hours after launch, the project has already reached its funding goal.

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10 thoughts on interviewing cartoonists

Alex Dueben reflects on recent comments from writer Kieron Gillen and others about interviewing and comics journalism.

Last Wednesday, Kieron Gillen made a few statements on Twitter, going after people conducting email interviews.

While I agree with what he said in general and responded that there is a place for such questions, I also hesitate to avoid making such broad statements. Just like with “rules” about writing comics, they don’t NEED to be followed, but one should have a good reason when they are not following them. I am aware that Gillen would likely agree with me on that point.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Rebeckah Murray and Jill Hackett

The creators of ‘Magical Boy Basil’ discuss their creative process, going from a webcomic to print and much more.

Rebeckah Murray and Jill Hackett are longtime friends and the creative team behind the comic Magical Boy Basil. A weekly queer webcomic about undercover teenage magicians who fight monsters, it represents the duo playing with the magical girl genre, making it about a boy and playing with a lot of the tropes and ideas found in work like Cardcaptor Sakura.

In addition to coming out weekly online, they’ve been publishing each chapter in print editions. The fourth chapter came out this summer, and I spoke with the two about how they met, the way they make the comic and how life can get in the way.

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