Smash Pages Q&A: Catel Muller and José-Louis Bocquet on ‘Josephine Baker’

The duo discuss their work on the biography of the actress, dancer and Civil Rights activist.

Catel Muller and José-Louis Bocquet have been working together for a number of years, though American readers likely first read them in 2012 when SelfMadeHero/Abrams released Kiki de Montparnasse, which was awarded the Audience Prize at the 2008 Angoulême International Comics Festival. Bocquet is a writer, editor and former journalist with a long list of credits both in and out of comics. Muller, who goes by “Catel” has received a number of awards for her solo work and her collaborations including the 2005 Audience Prize at Angoulême for Le Sang des Valentines, and the 2014 Prix Artémisia for Ainsi soit Benoîte Groult.

The two have set out to tell the stories of great women and their most recent book is a biography of and tribute to one of the great figures of the 20th Century, Josephine Baker. Perhaps more beloved in France than in her home country of the United States, she was a dancer and actress. Baker fought her whole life for Civil Rights and was a member of the French Resistance. At the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, she told the crowd, “I do not lie to you when I tell you I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents, but I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee.”

The result is Josephine Baker, a lengthy book with more than a hundred pages of bibliography and supplemental material. It is also a visual masterpiece and perhaps Catel’s most inventive work to date. The two were kind enough to talk about the project and answered their questioned together. Thanks to Maya Bradford at Abrams for arranging this.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eli Valley on ‘Diaspora Boy’

The political cartoonist discusses his first book from OR Books.

Eli Valley has been making comics for just over a decade. Unlike most political cartoonists, though, most of his work aren’t single panel comics, but rather long page-size comics intended for a broadsheet publication. In The Forward, +972 Magazine, The Nib and other publications, Valley has been skewering politics and individuals in hilarious, grotesque and inventive ways.

In these longer comics, which show the influence of EC Comics and other horror artists, Valley shows himself a gifted artist, though sometimes his own exaggerations aren’t nearly as grotesque as the actual words spoken by actual people that he’s skewering. Some of his comics have their own shock and awe, as Valley is not afraid to offend people or worry about people’s sensibilities. This has led to problems with some editors, he’s been denounced by individuals, but he refuses to shy away from controversy.

His first book Diaspora Boy has just been released by OR Books with an introduction by Peter Beinart. He took time out to talk about the book and how his work has changed in the past year.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alberto Ledesma on ‘Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer’

In his first book, Alberto Ledesma combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States.

Alberto Ledesma’s first book, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a pre-American Life combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States. It’s a deeply moving book that is very personal, but Ledesma is also interested in using his own story as a springboard to discussing other topics and towards a larger conversation. Ledesma has a love of comics, and makes clear in the book that keeping a sketchbook is key to how he works. It is a deeply felt, very political book that eschews narrative and seeks many ways to think about these political concerns and the artistic approaches of combining text and art.

The book is the first of a new imprint, Latinographix, part of Mad Creek Books at Ohio State University. Ledesma holds a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and works there today, but he’s very interested in starting a much wider conversation around these issues and how they relate to questions of American identity.

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Smash Pages Q&A: And ‘Now’ … Eric Reynolds

The associate publisher of Fantagraphics discusses his new anthology project, which launches this month.

Eric Reynolds is the associate publisher of Fantagraphics, which means that he’s edited some of the best comics in the world. Throughout his career though he’s had a special interest in anthologies.

His new project is Now, a three-times-a-year anthology with cartoonists well known and not, working in a variety of styles from all over the world. The first issue features work by Gabrielle Bell, Noah Van Sciver and a long story by Eleanor Davis in addition to a number of cartoonists people might not know as well. Reynolds wanted to create a relatively cheap ($9.99) project with a feel and approach he didn’t see anywhere else.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Glynnis Fawkes on ‘Greek Diary’ and more

The creator discusses working as an illustrator on archeological digs, co-editing a new issue of ‘The Strumpet,’ upcoming projects and more.

Earlier this year Glynnis Fawkes published Greek Diary, a collection of comics about the previous summer that was spent working on an archeological dig in Greece and a trip through the Greek islands. Fawkes has been working since art school as an illustrator for archeological digs, and has illustrated a number of scholarly books including Three Stones Make a Wall by Eric Cline and Kinyras: The Divine Lyre by her husband John Curtis Franklin. This interest can be seen in a lot of Fawkes’ comics work like Corinthian Diary, Time Out in Palestine and Alle Ego, which was given a MoCCA Art Festival Award of Excellence in 2016.

When it debuted at this year’s MoCCA Arts Festival, Greek Diary received the Silver Medal for Long Form Work. This year also saw the release of Reign of Crumbs from Kilgore Books, which collects many of Fawkes’ diary comics that have appeared in Mutha Magazine, The New Yorker.com and elsewhere. Fawkes has also been in both of issues of Resist!, and is co-editing and contributing to the new issue of The Strumpet coming out this fall.

Fawkes will be at the Small Press Expo, or SPX, this weekend in Bethesda, Maryland. You can find her at SPX table I7B and will have copies of Cinderbunny and the “spanking new” Strumpet 5, as well as Reign of Crumbs and Greek Diary.

Fawkes and I spoke after she returned from this year’s trip to Greece.

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Smash Pages Q&A: M.T. Anderson on ‘Yvain: The Knight of the Lion’

M.T. Anderson has written everything from picture books to young adult novels. Anderson received the National Book Award in 2006 and he’s written contemporary stories, historical ones, fantasy and science fiction novels including Feed, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, and the recent Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. His first graphic novel, Yvain: The Knight of the Lion, illustrated by Andrea Offermann, is out now from Candlewick Press.

The book is a retelling of a 12th Century epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes. Though not well known today, de Troyes is considered one of the greatest and most influential medieval writers. Anderson and Offermann made a number of striking and inspired artistic choices as far as how they approached and presented the story, which is both very much about the 12th-13th centuries, but also very contemporary in some ways.

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Kirby Q&A: Ed Piskor

The ‘X-Men: Grand Design’ and ‘Hip Hop Family Tree’ creator reflects on the work of comics legend Jack Kirby.

All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. You can find other Kirby-related articles here.

Ed Piskor was already well known for comics like Wizzywig, Macedonia and other work, but it was Hip Hop Family Tree that really brought his work to a new audience and won him an Eisner Award. Right now Piskor is working on X-Men: Grand Design, a series from Marvel that he’s writing, drawing, coloring and lettering that launches at the end of the year. Piskor has talked about his love for Kirby in the past and we reached out to talk about his thoughts about the man and his work.

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Kirby Q&A: Mike Allred

The creator of ‘Madman’ talks about the ‘power’ of Jack Kirby’s work, the difference between Kirby’s Marvel and DC work, and his love for the Silver Surfer

All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. Watch for more interviews and posts as the week continues.

Mike Allred is the perfect person to talk to about Jack Kirby for a number of reasons. Right now he’s drawing two books, the ongoing Silver Surfer series at Marvel and the miniseries Bug! The Adventures of Forager at DC. Both characters are Kirby creations, as was Allred’s previous project, Marvel’s FF. Allred remains perhaps best known for his own creations, though, which range from Madman to Red Rocket 7 to The Atomics to iZombie. More than simply being an immensely talented creator, Allred is one of those creators who has long acknowledged his debt to Kirby and his style, and he talked a little about what that has meant to him.

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Kirby Q&A: Tom Scioli

The artistic creator behind ‘Gødland’ and ‘The Transformers vs G.I. Joe’ discusses the influence Jack Kirby had on his art and career.

All this week we’ll celebrate the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. Watch for more interviews and posts as the week continues.

Tom Scioli has established a reputation as an artist who is working in what many have described as the Kirby tradition. In work like The Myth of 8-Opus, American Barbarian, Gødland and The Transformers vs G.I. Joe, Scioli has demonstrated the clear influence of Jack Kirby on his work, but Scioli isn’t an imitator. Kirby’s sensibility and style is one of Scioli’s biggest influences, but he’s carving his own path and crafting a style that is recognizably his own from that. This month he’s been posting comics and drawings about Kirby on his Twitter feed to mark the centennial, and he spent a few minutes to talk about Kirby’s work.

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