Smash Pages Q&A: Dean Haspiel on ‘Starcross’

The prolific creator discusses the next chapter in his New Brooklyn universe.

Dean Haspiel has always been a creator doing many things and making many kinds of projects. From drawing books at Vertigo including The Quitter and The Alcoholic, to helping to launch webcomics first at the collective act-i-vate to the series Street Code that he made at DC’s Zuda imprint. He received an Emmy Award for designing the titles to the HBO show Bored to Death, co-wrote and drew The Fox for Archie Comics, and drew the children’s book Mo and Jo, which was written by Jay Lynch. In recent years he’s written three plays which have been produced in New York City and just launched the podcast Scene by Scene with fellow artist Josh Neufeld.

In recent years he’s been making The Red Hook, a superhero saga that he’s been serializing on Line Webtoon in two volumes, the first of which has been published in a print edition by Image Comics. Over the course of two volumes, the focus has gone from the titular character to other characters, and that focus continues to expand in this third volume in interesting ways. The third Red Hook story, Starcross, is being serialized starting this week, and we sat down to talk about the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: J.P. Ahonen

The creator of ‘Sing No Evil’ discusses the first collection of his webcomic ‘Belzebubs.’

Belzebubs is a “trve kvlt mockumentary,” a family comedy, a heavy metal family tale that involves demons, Lovecraft, child-rearing, teenage love and the problems of keeping a band together. The parents are Sloth and Lucyfer, their kids are named Lilith and Leviathan – and Lilith’s best friend is Blasphe My (who in no way resembles the beloved Moomin character Little My). Even for those who are not heavy metal fans, the strip is simply funny, with beautifully rendered artwork. The strip has become an internet sensation, with print editions in multiple countries and in multiple languages. More than a comic, Belzebubs is now an actual band with an album, Pantheon of the Nightside Gods, coming out later this month.

J.P. Ahonen made a splash when Sing No Evil was released in the United States in 2014 after being published in his native Finland, where he’s been making comics for many years. I’ve been a reader and fan of his for many years and we had a chance to speak recently in between his busy schedule to talk about Belzebubs, the collection of which is out now from Top Shelf.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Galluccio

The senior art director for LEGO talks about his first comic, ‘Space is Cold: Escape Velocity.’

Joseph Galluccio is a newcomer to comics, but he’s far from an artistic novice. A senior art director at LEGO, and he’s had his paintings and other artwork shown in galleries in various states. His first comic, which is out now is Space is Cold: Escape Velocity. The story of Betty, her dog Donut and their kid-friendly adventures, which, as set up in the first issue, demonstrate that Galluccio has a lot more story planned.

Galluccio and I share a favorite coffee house, which is how we met, and we recently spoke about how making a comic required him to approach his work differently, his lifelong love of space and science fiction, and what he does at LEGO.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Diana Chu

The award-winning cartoonist discusses her work on the latest Patti Smith-influenced issue of “Ley Lines.”

Diana Chu is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Milwaukee, who in recent years has made an impressive body of comics and zines including Where Everything is Music, Woolies, No Mames Guey, Cloud Houseand Sudden Death. She was awarded a Gold Medal by the Society of Illustrators at last year’s MoCCA Festival.

Her new project, which comes out next month, is the new issue of Ley Lines. The issue is about Patti Smith and music, but it’s also about Jimi Hendrix, Dante Alighieri and Henri Rousseau. Chu is an artist who is not especially interested in narrative, but she’s fascinated in mood and design in interesting ways. She was kind enough to open up and talk about her work in process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alex Law

The creator of ‘Bubblegum Lovers’ discusses making comics, having two Twitter accounts and more.

Alex Law has been making comics for as long as they remember, but over the past few years they’ve posted online a series of comics and illustrations like Bubblegum Lovers, Voluntary Feminization, The Cutest Gangbang and others that play with and question ideas and assumptions about gender and gender roles. Some of the work is sexually explicit and some not, some takes the form of comics, some of it is illustration, but what unites them is this sensibility and this very casual matter of factness about subverting some of these ideas around gender and sexuality. The work manages to be sexy and cute, thoughtful and funny, and sometimes startling in how those come together and play out.

Recently Law posted two comics pointing out certain tropes around female heroines and villains, and they were thoughtful and pointed at how the genre has handled certain tropes. They’ve gotten some flack for them online unfortunately, but I reached out to Law to talk about their work, drawing sex and why they have two Twitter accounts.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Falynn Koch

The cartoonist and illustrator discusses her latest work from First Second, ‘Maker Comics: Bake Like a Pro!’

Falynn Koch is a cartoonist and illustrator who graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design and has been focused on making nonfiction comics. Her first two books were part of the Science Comics series from First Second Books, Bats: Learning to Fly and Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield.

Her new book is Maker Comics: Bake Like a Pro! Part of a new line of instructional comics from First Second, Koch is perhaps a perfect person to make the book, being a cartoonist who also attended culinary school. As an amateur baker, I was glad to have the chance to talk with Koch recently about the book and her process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cathy G. Johnson

The creator of ‘Gorgeous’ and ‘Jeremiah’ discusses her new book, ‘The Breakaways.’

Cathy G. Johnson is the cartoonist behind books like Gorgeous and Jeremiah. Her new book, coming out this week from First Second Books, is The Breakaways.

It’s larger than Johnson’s previous books in many regards. The book has an ensemble cast, and it manages to find ways to reveal how each girl is much more complex than they initially seem or than they try to present. It is a beautifully made and thoughtful book that avoids a lot of the cliches around sports stories. They don’t win. They are bad at soccer. But that’s not what’s important. And the ways that this is shown in small, relatable ways, eschewing a melodramatic or sentimental approach, is what makes the book resonate in so many ways.

Johnson is a teacher and podcaster who is one half of Drawing a Dialogue with e jackson, and she was kind enough to talk about the book and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: David Pepose on the influences behind ‘Spencer & Locke’

With a sequel set to debut in April, the writer of the surprise hit series breaks down the comics DNA of the book.

It’s been called “What if Calvin and Hobbes grew up in Sin City?” but David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s Spencer & Locke proved to be more than that. While it does wear those two inspirations on its sleeve, the DNA of this particular project goes deeper than its tagline.

With the followup to the surprise hit set to debut in April (and a movie in the works), I spoke with David about some of the influences on the series that go beyond the surface, including Moon Knight, Criminal, Batgirl and more. Admittedly this was a really fun interview to conduct, as it gave me an excuse to re-read several great comics and discover one that I need to add to my own “to read” list.

You can find out more about Spencer & Locke 2 on Twitter or Facebook. And you can buy the first volume at your local comic shop or ComiXology.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Kel McDonald

The cartoonist discusses her latest project, now up on Kickstarter, as well as the urban fantasy genre, ‘The Stone King’ and more.

Kel McDonald has been making comics for years. I read her webcomic Sorcery 101 years ago, but she’s also made comics series like Misfits of Avalon, written Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and contributed to Dark Horse Presents. Late last year Comixology Originals released The Stone King, a comics series that McDonald made with artist Tyler Crook. Her work is always interesting because she clearly loves fantasy, but she wants to do interesting things with the genre, telling different kinds of stories in really exciting ways.

In recent years she’s been making the series The City Between, composed of different books with different characters and genres set in the same world. Right now she’s kickstarting the third book in the series, The Dead Deception. I’ve been reading McDonald’s work for years and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about urban fantasy, werewolves, her future plans for the series, and how Kickstarter has changed over the years for the better.

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