Smash Pages Q&A: Jason McNamara on ‘The Cicada’

The writer of “The Rattler” and “Sucker” returns to Kickstarter for a new project about small town horror.

Jason McNamara is the writer behind Sucker, The Rattler and other graphic novels that fall into, or at least somewhere close to, the horror genre. Using Kickstarter, he has brought his character-driven visions to life over the last few years, establishing himself as a “go to” creator for chills on the comic book page.

His latest project is The Cicada, a five-issue comic series he’s kickstarting in conjunction with Evoluzione Publishing. The first issue introduces the town of Braddock, Texas, where a serial killer returns every 13 years to target children. But this killer may have met their match in teenage prodigy Emma Dale.

I spoke to McNamara about the project, working with a publisher and what else he has planned as part of his new venture, Polite Strangers.

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MAD Memories: Talking ‘Spy vs. Spy’ with Peter Kuper & John Ficarra

As MAD Magazine closes its doors, we flash back to 2013, when Peter Kuper had just taken over ‘Spy vs, Spy.’

The internet is reverberating this week with the sad news of the changes coming for MAD Magazine. I’m one of the mourners; when I was growing up, we always had MAD in the house, and I’m one of those people who got more pop culture knowledge from the movie and TV satires than from actual movies and TV.

When I saw the news, I remembered an interview I did with Peter Kuper and then MAD editor John Ficarra back in 2013, when Kuper took over the venerable Spy vs. Spy feature. As sometimes happens, the interview slid to the bottom of the pile and never got published. Until now.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Maria Llovet

The multi-faceted comic creator talks about illustrating Faithless, collaborating with Azzarello, and gives insight on her work.

The big name on the new comics series Faithless is writer Brian Azzarello, but it’s artist and colorist Maria Llovet who has really blown readers away with her style and aesthetic choices, her sense of fashion and her use of color. Her approach has helped to define and shape the book in the way that a good artist and a good collaboration should be able to do.

Llovet has written and drawn a number of books that were published in Spain, including Eros/Psyche, Porcelain, Heartbeat and Insecto. She also drew There’s Nothing There, which was written by Patrick Kindlon and published in the U.S. Spending some time on her website and social media, it’s clear that Llovet is a busy and inventive artist with an agile mind. She was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions by email about Faithless, another book coming out in the U.S. later this year and how she works.

Please note this interview includes preview art containing nudity that is NSFW or for kids.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Kelsey Wroten

The illustrator and cartoonist discusses her debut graphic novel, ‘Cannonball,’ from Uncivilized Books.

Kelsey Wroten is an illustrator and cartoonist who’s made an impact with her comics like Crimes and her illustrations, which seemed to have appeared almost everywhere in the past few years, from The New Yorker to Vice to Lucky Peach and elsewhere.

Her debut graphic novel is Cannonball, which was just released by Uncivilized Press. The book is the story of Caroline Bertram, a young writer who struggles with failure and goes on to have an even greater struggle with success. The book is more than simply a great character study, but throughout the book, Wroten is also illustrating in very different styles, the stories that Caroline is writing. In the final chapter of the book the story comes to a head not through text, but by utilizing the art as the real world and the world of her novel come crashing together in a striking way.

It’s a brilliant debut, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Wroten about writing complicated characters, structure, and color – as Avril Lavigne played in the background.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marguerite Dabaie

The creator of ‘The Hookah Girl and Other Two Stories’ discusses her latest project, ‘A Voyage to Panjikant.’

Marguerite Dabaie is a cartoonist perhaps best known for The Hookah Girl and Other Two Stories, which was first self-published in two volumes before collected last year in a new edition by Rosarium Publishing. With Tom Hart, Dabaie made the sadly short-lived comic strip Ali’s House, which is available now on gocomics.com. She’s been a contributor to The Nib, The Believer, Electronic Intifada and many other publications, but her current project is the graphic novel A Voyage to Panjikant.

She is also the co-host and co-founder of Pete’s Mini Zine Fest, which will be held again in July in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve long been an admirer of Dabaie’s work, and we recently spoke about her work, research and how she thinks about comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Rory Frances and Jae Bearhat

The creators of ‘Little Teeth’ discuss the recently released collection from Czap Books, how they first started working together and more.

Rory Frances had been making comics like Boys Are Slapstick for years before connecting with Jae Bearhat, who’s currently the editor of ZEAL Magazine. The two teamed up to make the serial comic Little Teeth, parts of which were first published on Hazlitt in 2015-16, and has just been published by Czap Books in a collected edition.

Little Teeth is a story of a group of friends living in an unnamed city. The characters are never named and the reader is immediately dropped into the story, to try and make sense of the relationships between characters and the larger dynamics. The anthropomorphic animals allow the creators to play with questions and expectations of gender and gender identity. There were scenes that made me laugh out loud and scenes that made me cringe in recognition. It is a thoughtful, funny and insightful comic about characters who are all too human, and simply one of the best graphic novels out so far this year. I recently spoke with Rory and Jae over Skype.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mariko Tamaki

The award-winning author discusses her latest graphic novel from First Second, ‘Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.’

Mariko Tamaki is the award-winning author of the graphic novels This One Summer and Skim, both of which she made with her cousin, the artist and writer Jillian Tamaki. Mariko has written a number of comics series including Tomb Raider, She Hulk, Supergirland X-23. She’s written graphic novels like Emiko Superstar and the upcoming Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, in addition to writing a trilogy of Lumberjanes novels and various other works of fiction and nonfiction.

Her new book, with artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, is Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, which is just out from First Second Books. Frederica Riley is dating Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school, who is amazing — and a horrible girlfriend. While Freddy is writing to an advice columnist about what she should do, her friends are dealing with their own problems and trying to be delicate, and inanimate objects around Freddy are offering their own ignored Greek chorus in the background. It is a brilliant work that manages to balance comedy and drama, and capture something truly essential about relationships and teenage life.

Tamaki is a featured guest at this weekend’s Queers and Comics Conference in New York, and we spoke recently about the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Blue Delliquanti

The creator of ‘O Human Star’ discusses entomophagy, working with food writer Soleil Ho and much more.

Blue Delliquanti is best known for the webcomic O Human Star, which has been running since 2012. Delliquanti has also made shorter comics which have appeared in The Nib, Mine!, Beyond and the just-released Smut Peddler: Sex Machine, but Delliquanti’s new book is something of a departure. Meal was co-written with food writer and journalist Soleil Ho and centers around Yarrow, who moves to Minneapolis to work at a restaurant that serves insects.

The book is an enthusiastic and thoughtful primer for those who are unaccustomed to entomophagy (that’s eating bugs), but it’s more than that. It’s a story about food and our connections to it. It’s about the communities that have eaten and have a relationship to these foods for generations, and what it means for others to “discover” that. It’s a love story that captures some of that feeling from moving to a new place and working at a job that’s much more than a job. The tagline for the book is “Dreams. Love. Entomophagy.” I recently talked about those things and more with Delliquanti, who will be appearing this coming weekend at the Queers and Comics Conference in New York.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Maggie Umber

The co-founder of 2d Cloud discusses their latest Kickstarter, their 2019 lineup, her latest project and more.

Maggie Umber is the acclaimed cartoonist behind the books 270˚, Sound of Snow Falling, Time Capsule and other comics. She is also one of the founders of 2d Cloud, which in the past decade has established itself as one of the most important comics publishers in North America.

Umber wrote a blog post recently about the state of 2D Cloud and her own health, and about how the company plans to move forward. The company has just launched Artist Book Boxes at the Center of the Universe, a Kickstarter for the company’s 2019 lineup. We spoke recently about her new book, what kinds of books 2d Cloud will be publishing this year and why they just couldn’t walk away from the company.

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