Smash Pages Q&A: Summer Pierre’s ‘All the Sad Songs’

The creator of ‘Paper Pencil Life’ discusses her latest book, poetry and more.

Summer Pierre has been making comics for years in the pages of her series Paper Pencil Life and in magazines and anthologies, including Mutha Magazine, The Rumpus, Ink Brick and Bottoms Up! She’s illustrated All the Pretty People by Ariel Gore, It’s Not You, It’s Brie by Kirstin Jackson and other books.

This month Retrofit is releasing Pierre‘s graphic novel All the Sad Songs. The book is about music, which sounds amorphous and vague, but Pierre begins by examining mix tapes she made and still has, the songs and the bands that defined her life, her own music and the years she spent in her twenties singing in clubs and cafes around Boston. Pierre and I have been running across each other at shows in recent years and often end up talking about poetry. When she mentioned that she had a book coming out, I asked if we could talk about the book and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ivan Brunetti’s ‘3×4’

The cartoonist and illustrator discusses his latest project for Toon Books.

Ivan Brunetti has had a unique career in comics. He’s the cartoonist behind comics like Schizo, Hee! and Haw! He’s a noted New Yorker cover artist and illustrator in addition to being the author of the books Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice and Aesthetics: A Memoir. In 2017 Toon Books published Brunetti’s first book for children, Wordplay, and this fall they’re publishing his second.

3×4 is about numbers and math, but also about art. It focuses on the children that readers might remember from his first book and gives them a new homework assignment. I asked him about how he worked on the new book, the relationship between art and numbers, and what he’s thinking about next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jordan Ellis on ‘The Sartorial Geek’

The founder of the clothing line Jordandené discusses the crowdfunding campaign for the quarterly “geeky lifestyle magazine.”

Jordan Ellis is the founder of the clothing line Jordandené, a geeky chic clothing line that’s handmade and sweat-shop free. Based in Brooklyn, the company has had a presence at shows across the country, and this year they launched The Sartorial Geek, a quarterly magazine that Ellis co-edits.

With articles that range from Sally Bowles to gatekeeping, Jane Eyre to cosplay to conversations with artists and designers, the magazine doesn’t read like anything else out there right now. Currently they’re running a Kickstarter before sending the third issue out. I reached out to Ellis to ask why anyone would launch a print magazine in this environment and trying to do something no one else is doing.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Bill Schelly’s ‘Sense of Wonder’

The writer and biographer discusses his latest book, which details his youth as a comic fan in the 1960s and beyond.

Bill Schelly is one of the great writers about comics. Currently the Associate Editor of Alter Ego, he’s written biographies of Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Kubert, Otto Binder and others in addition to writing and editing a number of art books and anthologies. Among his many awards are an Eisner Award and an Inkpot Award. Besides being one of the very best biographers who has taken on cartoonists and comics as a subject, Schelly is also one of the great writers about fandom in books like The Golden Age of Comic Fandom and Founders of Comic Fandom.

This year saw the publication of Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom–The Whole Story. Schelly had originally published an earlier version of the book, where he wrote about his youth in comics fandom. For this new edition he rewrite the original book and expanded it to nearly twice the length. Schelly has been involved since the 1960s, editing and contributing to various fanzines as a writer and artist. One aspect of this new edition of Sense of Wonder is Schelly talking openly about growing up gay in the 1960s and finding a place in fandom. He also talks about more recent decades, how he got back into reading comics, finding a creative outlet, and other aspects of his life, including the death of his son. I’ve read and admired Schelly for many years, though we’ve never met and I asked if we could talk about his new book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Nate Powell on ‘Come Again’

Following his work on the ‘March’ trilogy, the National Book Award recipient discusses his most recent graphic novel, punk rock, politics, his influences and more.

Nate Powell is the only cartoonist to receive the National Book Award. In recent years he’s been busy drawing the March trilogy, and continues to educate and  talk about the book series, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and John Lewis. Of course Powell had a long career in comics before March, beginning with self-published zines before moving onto a series of Eisner and Ignatz Award winning graphic novels including Swallow Me Whole, Tiny Giants and Any Empire.

Powell’s new book, his first solo graphic novel in many years, is Come Again. A story set at the end of the 1970’s, it’s about a commune that is fracturing, it’s about secrets, it’s about parents and children. At the heart of the book is a supernatural force, but as in the work of Ray Bradbury and others, the force isn’t a metaphor, but it plays a key but muted role in the story, preying on people in a way that is familiar and terrifying. Powell and I have been talking for years – since before he became famous, and we talked about this new book of his, punk and politics, trying to balance personal work like this with collaboration, and the political work – artistic and otherwise – that he’s come to see as so vital.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ariel Bordeaux

The creator of ‘Deep Girl’ and ‘No Love Lost’ discusses her latest autobiographical comics, which she has been posting daily to Facebook.

Ariel Bordeaux began making in comics in the 1990s, and quickly established herself as a powerful voice with her own artistic style. Her minicomic Deep Girl, which was collected 2013, is one of the standout zines from that era, autobiographical, funny, feminist, with a memorable energy in the writing and art. She went on to make the comic No Love Lost. She contributed to Bizarro Comics, Measles, Stuck in the Middle and other anthologies. She and her husband Rick Altergott made the five-issue comic series Raisin Pie, which was published by Fantagraphics. In more recent years she’s been making fine art and working on a graphic novel.

Earlier this year, Bordeaux started posting daily comics on her Facebook page. They were simple, mostly four-panel comics that Bordeaux drew in pencil and then photographed, but they were also thoughtful, funny, surprising, and beautifully done in the way that only a masterful artist is able to work simply and quickly. We’re friends because we know a number of people in common and after reading through a number of her comics, I reached out to see if she might be willing to talk about the project, making comics and related topics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jen Bartel on ‘Crystal Fighters’

The artist of the forthcoming ‘Blackbird’ talks about her early work on ‘Crystal Fighters,’ which will be collected by Dark Horse Comics in September.

Jen Bartel’s artwork has become familiar to many comics readers. She’s drawn dozens of covers for BOOM! and Marvel, IDW and Archie, Valiant and more. She’s drawn issues and stories for comics like Jem and the Holograms and Mighty Thor, and contributed to anthologies including The Secret Loves of Geek Girls.

Her first comic as co-writer and artist was Crystal Fighters. First published digitally on Stela, a print edition of the webcomic is in stores Sept. 5 from Dark Horse Comics. If that’s not enough, in October, Bartel and writer Sam Humphries are launching a new ongoing series from Image Comics, Blackbird. This coming weekend, Bartel will be a special guest at Flame Con in New York City, and we reached out to ask her a few questions about the experience of putting together her first book and what comes next.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Weshoyot Alvitre on ‘Sixkiller’ and more

The writer, artist and colorist talks about her latest project for Native Realities Press, her contributions to ‘Sovereign Traces’ and ‘Deer Woman,’ and much more.

Weshoyot Alvitre has been working in comics for years now as a writer, artist and colorist. She’s drawn covers for Satellite Falling, 10th Muse, and Tribal Force, drawn stories for Once Upon a Time Machine and Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, and contributed to Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. She’s colored Tribal Force and the upcoming Scout: Marauder, co-edited and contributed to last year’s acclaimed Deer Woman: An Anthology and has drawn the cover for the upcoming ninth volume of the acclaimed Dirty Diamonds anthology.

Michigan State University Press has just published Sovereign Traces Volume 1: Not (Just) (An)Other, which includes a poem by Joy Harjo that Alvitre adapted and illustrated. Native Realities Press has also just released Sixkiller #1 by Lee Francis and Alvitre. A new series that Francis described as “Alice in Wonderland meets Kill Bill in Cherokee country,” the book is a stunning writing debut by Francis. The two projects also represent Alvitre’s best work to date, beautifully rendered with dynamic page designs, and make the case that Alvitre is no longer a promising young artist – she’s arrived. Her influences can be seen in her pages, but the result isn’t derivative of anyone and her work is simply stunning. She was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lee Francis IV on ‘Sixkiller’

The publisher, retailer and convention organizer talks about writing his first comic.

Lee Francis IV has been the CEO and founder of Native Reality Press for many years now, publishing books like Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers and Deer Woman, and comics like Tribal Force and Hero Twins. While Francis is a writer, it’s not until now that he sat down to write a comic. The first issue of Sixkiller has just been released. Written by Francis and drawn by Weshoyot Alvitre, the book is a mixture of influences, both pop culture and real life issues. I reached out to Francis to talk about the story and why he needed to write this story.

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