Smash Pages Q&A: Jamila Rowser

The co-founder of Geek Girl Brunch and former Girl Gone Geek blogger discusses two comic projects, ‘Wash Day’ and ‘Wobbledy 3000.’

Jamila Rowser is familiar to a lot of people in the comics community because she created Straight Outta Gotham, co-founded Geek Girl Brunch and launched the blog Girl Gone Geek. This fall though she’s doing something different, turning her attention to writing comics.

Wash Day is a comic drawn by Robyn Smith which was kickstarted earlier this year and is out now. In addition to an English language edition, there’s a Spanish language edition of the comic, Dia de Lavado, which is also available. Rowser is following that up with her second comic, Wobbledy 3000, which is drawn by Sabii Borno and is out this month as a digital comic from Black Josei Press.

The comics are very different, made with different artists and approaches, but both of them demonstrate Rowser’s skill at dialogue, her subtle talent of characterization and, through this, a very nuanced and lovely consideration of friendship. One book may be realistic and set in the here and now, and the other is science fantasy, but they are both an effort to tell slice of life narratives, and explore the lives of characters who are rarely explored in comics. Taken together, the comics show Rowser is very interested in finding ways to use the medium to convey and explore personal experience, to both break new ground and be a part of the medium and its traditions. I caught Rowser in between shows, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.

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Smash Pages Q&A: e jackson

The cartoonist and scholar discusses ‘It’s Discourse, Archie’ and much more.

e jackson is a cartoonist and scholar. They have been drawing comics and illustrations for a few years now, making minicomics like Flux and Love Bites, webcomics like Warm Blood and Baby, and appearing in anthologies including We’re Still Here. They cohost the podcast Drawing a Dialogue with Cathy G. Johnson and are currently in the PhD program in Comics Studies at the University of Florida.

One of jackson‘s recent minicomics, It’s Discourse, Archie, captures a lot of what makes their work so interesting and so unique. The comic is autobiographical but states very clearly that it’s talking about issues as a way of commenting on the show Riverdale. The way they play with the expectation of autobio comics and of fanfiction, while also explaining and addressing ideas and theory. These are many of the same concerns that e addresses in their scholarship and I reached out to talk about how they work and being a comics creator in between classes.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Stephanie Phillips and Jamie Jones

The creators of ‘Kicking Ice’ from Ominous Press discuss their graphic novel about hockey, overcoming bullying and breaking down barriers.

The graphic novel Kicking Ice debuts this week at New York Comic Con. Written by Stephanie Phillips with line art by Jamie Jones, and published by Ominous Press, the book is the story of two girls, Bella and Skye who become fans of hockey – especially the NWHL – and become hockey players.

It’s about hockey, it’s about overcoming bullying, and breaking down barriers, but it’s also about being young, about being passionate, becoming obsessed and having the opportunities to pursue that passion. The book is also supported by the National Women’s Hockey League, including a forward by the commissioner and appearances by players in the story.

I spoke with Phillips and Jones about hockey, collaborating with the NWHL, why the book is set in Connecticut – which they don’t say is because the Connecticut Whale is best pro hockey team out there, but that’s clearly what I’m choosing to read into their answers – and their hopes to make a second volume and tell more stories.

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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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