Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Fielder on ‘Infinitum’

The creator of ‘Matty’s Rocket’ talks about his latest graphic novel, Afrofuturism, what he’s working on next and more.

Tim Fielder had been working as an artist and animator for years before making a splash a few years ago with Matty’s Rocket. A stunning Afrofuturist graphic novel, the book was a dynamic artistic triumph on so many levels.

His new book is Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale, which was just released by Harper Collins’ Amistad Press. It’s an original Afrofuturist graphic novel published by a major American publisher, and Fielder admits that he understands the significance — just as he understands what it means to find this success after working for decades and becoming an overnight sensation.

Infinitum is an epic in every sense of the word, about a warlord from the dawn of civilization cursed to live forever. Beyond that, as the book moves ahead centuries and millennia, are a lot of twists and turns that make it difficult to talk about it without spoiling anything, but I was thrilled to talk with Fielder again about this new project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mike Phillips on ‘The Tessellation’

The writer of the alternate-reality comic talks about the project, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

Alternate history novels and comic series like Marvel’s What If? have explored what happens when a major change occurs in history, but what about the minor choices we make every day? A new comic project on Kickstarter explores the idea that every choice we make creates a different outcome — and a new reality.

The Tessellation is written by Mike Phillips and explores this idea that multiple realities and alternate timelines are created every time we make a choice. The story will explore those different realities in an interesting way on the comics page. “Think of it as the most unique anthology you’ve ever read, at least formatting-wise,” Phillips said.

Phillips is working with the art team of Hernán Gonzalez and Javi Laparra to create the comic, along with publisher Martian Lit,and is currently running a Kickstarter to fund its publication. I spoke with Mike about the project, alternate realities, the comic’s unique structure and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook

Ryan Estrada talks about being a globetrotting cartoonist, and his wife Kim Hyun-Sook discusses the real story behind ‘Banned Book Club.’

2020 was quite a year for Ryan Estrada: Iron Circus published two of his graphic novels: Banned Book Club (co-written with his wife, Kim Hyun Sook, with art by Ko Hyung-Ju), which was published in both Korea and North America, and the middle-grade graphic novel Student Ambassador, co-created with artist Axur Eneas.

Banned Book Club received rave reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It was also a Junior Library Guild selection and made numerous best-of-the-year lists, including NPR, The Beat and YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Student Ambassador‘s debut was a little quieter, but it’s a very clever, insightful graphic novel and one of my own choices for best of the year.

Kim Hyun-Sook and Ryan Estrada. Credit: Stacy Shmittling

I interviewed Estrada and Kim via e-mail (they live in Korea) about Banned Book Club, Student Ambassador and the comics life in general.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sebastian Girner

The editor-in-chief of TKO Studios discusses their approach to making comics, their second year of publishing and the ‘relentless hopelessness’ of his own writing.

Sebastian Girner is the editor-in-chief of TKO Studios, where he’s overseen the publisher’s launch, its approach to publishing, and its diverse lineup of talents and approaches that we’ve seen over the past few years.

Previously Girner worked at Marvel Comics and has edited various creator-owned comics. He’s also written comics, including two projects that came out this year. The Devil’s Red Bride is a miniseries coming out from Vault Comics, and The Father Of All Things is one of the books in TKO’s inaugural line of TKO Shorts.

We spoke recently about his eventful year, about the tone that unites these two different projects, and how he uses the supernatural.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Tea Fougner

The editorial director of comics at King Features talks about their website Comics Kingdom, legacy comic strips, finding new creators and more.

Tea Fougner is a writer, editor, cosplayer and currently the editorial director of comics at King Features. In this job she oversees a wide variety of strips ranging from Beetle Bailey to Zippy the Pinhead, Prince Valiant to Macanudo, Mark Trail to Rhymes with Orange.

Fougner loves comics and comics history, and in recent years has been introducing new artists, new voices and new ways to pay tribute to characters and strips like Flash Forward, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Flash Gordon movie.

Fougner and I attended college together many years ago, and we spoke recently about Comics Kingdom, newspapers and getting at the heart of legacy comic strips.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jeff Trexler on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The interim director of the CBLDF discusses the importance of the organization, their areas of focus and more.

Jeff Trexler is best known to comics fans as a writer and commentator. The lawyer has been writing about comics for years for The Beat, The Comics Journal and Newsarama, explaining legal issues around many of the court cases that have captivated comics fans. The Yale Law School graduate took on a different role earlier this year when he became the interim director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The actions of the former director have been well documented, and we did not discuss that in our recent conversation. Besides talking about Trexler’s background and his thoughts about concerns in the comics world that will be important in the coming years, he also makes the case for the continued importance of the CBLDF, mistakes that have been made in the past, and what else the group can and should do going forward.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Trung Le Nguyen on ‘The Magic Fish’

The creator known as Trungles talks about the creation of his newest graphic novel, fairy tales and the nature of stories, and more.

Trung Le Nguyen, aka Trungles, has been making comics and illustrations for years, and this year released his debut book as writer and artist, The Magic Fish, which is one of the year’s best graphic novels.

The story of a relationship between a mother and son, it’s also a story about fairy tales, about the meaning of stories and how we use them. It’s a coming out and coming of age story that’s about immigration and loss. It is a small story about two people that opens up onto some many ideas and concerns in beautiful ways. It is a strikingly beautiful book with Nuguyen’s finest artwork to date, and a deeply moving story for people of all ages.

I interviewed Nguyen in 2018 about Twisted Romance, the Image Comics anthology, and I was thrilled to get to talk with him again about The Magic Fish.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Adrienne Resha

The scholar and critic discusses her comic-related thesis and studies, Muslim and Arab superheroes, and more.

Adrienne Resha is a comics scholar and critic, a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies program at the College of William & Mary. She serves as President of the Graduate Student Caucus of the Comics Studies Society and is a contributor to and Assistant Editor of Comics Academe at the Award winning website Women Write About Comics. This year Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, published Resha’s paper “The Blue Age of Comic Books,” which had previously been presented at the first conference of the Comics Studies Society.

Resha and I have corresponded in the past, but I asked her to talk because I continue to ponder some of the ideas she raised in The Blue Age of Comic Books months later, as she tackles not just the content of comics but the medium of comics changing as digital has altered how they’re made and how they’re read. We spoke recently about her work, which focuses on Arab and Muslim representation in media, studying comics and learning to criticize art.

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Smash Pages Q&A: MK Czerwiec

The editor of ‘Menopause: A Comic Treatment’ discusses the recently released anthology, her approach to Graphic Medicine and what she’d like to do next.

MK Czerwiec is a cartoonist, teacher and nurse. She is the co-author of The Graphic Medicine Manifesto, and the cartoonist behind the graphic memoir Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. She also runs the website GraphicMedicine.org.

Czerwiec’s new project is Menopause: A Comic Treatment, just published by Pennsylvania State University Press. The book is the first anthology Czerwiec edited, and she assembled an incredible lineup of comics creators and scholars to tell stories about the complicated personal experience and medical concerns of menopause. Alternately educational and funny and enlightening and heartening, the book finds a way to encompass many facets and experiences and perspectives, and in doing so, to offer a new possibility for people to understand what menopause is and what it can mean on so many levels.

Czerwiec and I met at last year’s Queers and Comics conference in New York City, and we spoke recently about her work, Graphic Medicine, and what comics can do to help medical professionals and patients learn about illness.

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