Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Kindt, Brian Hurtt + Marie Enger

The denizens of St. Louis-based HEK Studios team up on a new anthology, which is up for funding on Kickstarter.

The depth and breadth of what you can do in comics and with comics — and I’m talking story-wise, design-wise and format-wise here — is virtually limitless. Sometimes it takes a particular project and a particular set of creators to remind us of this, and The HEK Treasury serves as just such a reminder.

The HEK Treasury is a creative project by the members of HEK Studios — Matt Kindt, Brian Hurtt and Marie Enger. The three of them have a large assortment of credits within comics — Black Badge, The Sixth Gun, Dept. H, Super-Spy, Fhtagn and Loathing, Shadow Roads, Nosferatu! and many more. The Missouri-based creators formed HEK Studios in 2015 and have purchased a vintage Route 66 garage that they’re converting into “the first full-time exclusive comic book studio in St. Louis.”

In addition to their own projects with various publishers, they’ve decided to team up on a large prestige format hardcover (8 ¾  x 11 5/8 ). This deluxe collection will feature “all new epic, experimental science fiction, fantasy and genre short stories. The HEK Treasury will showcase each creator as they unleash new ideas, using experimental art and storytelling techniques.” The project went live on Kickstarter earlier this week, and the campaign runs for 30 days. If funded, the book will be delivered to backers in the fall.

I spoke with the three of them about The HEK Treasury, HEK Studios and what they hope to accomplish together with this project.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Kindt, Brian Hurtt + Marie Enger”

Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Russell

The writer of ‘The Snagglepuss Chronicles,’ ‘The Flintstones’ and more discusses ‘Second Coming,’ his new series from AHOY Comics.

In the span of a few years, Mark Russell has written a series of comics that have rethought and re-envisioned a number of characters at DC Comics. From Snagglepuss to Prez to The Flinstones, Russell has rethought the characters and their worlds in new and novel ways, finding depths and concerns that are striking and thoughtful. Russell’s first books in comics were God is Disappointed in You and Apocrypha Now, with Shannon Wheeler, which were published by Top Shelf Comix. So religion has long been an interest of his.

His new book is Second Coming with artist Richard Pace. The first issue arrived last month from AHOY Comics, with the second issue scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The controversy around it has drowned out the actual book, which is a smart look at Sunstar, a Superman-like hero, and Jesus, the character from the Bible. It’s a shocking idea, but perhaps more startling is what Russell does with the idea, which is to explore the limits of superheroes, start a conversation around power, and consider what religion and change mean today.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Russell”

Smash Pages Q&A: Will Murray

The journalist, writer and Squirrel Girl co-creator discusses his work on Doc Savage, The Shadow and other pulp heroes — and his return to Squirrel Girl.

Will Murray has long been a journalist for Starlog and other publications, but he’s best known as one of the great pulp historians. Murray’s been involved with the recent reprints of Doc Savage, The Shadow and other characters. A few years ago, Murray had two major books published, Writings in Bronze, which collected a lot of his writings about Doc Savage and Lester Dent, and Wordslingers, a book about the pulp Westerns, and more broadly, about what the Western genre was and continues to mean.

All along, Murray has also been writing fiction, something that he’s spent more time and energy on in recent years. Besides writing multiple Doc Savage novels under the pen name Kenneth Robeson, Murray has written a Pat Savage novel, crossovers between Doc Savage and The Shadow, and books featuring The Spider, Tarzan and King Kong. Murray has also written a number of comics over the years, including co-creating one of Marvel Comics’ most beloved characters with legendary artist Steve Ditko – Squirrel Girl.

I spoke with Murray about his current projects, including John Carter and The Spider, his continuing love of pulp fiction and writing Squirrel Girl again.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Will Murray”

Smash Pages Q&A: MK Reed and Greg Means

The writing team discusses ‘Penny Nichols,’ ‘a graphic novel that will warm your heart while stabbing you in the chest.’

Penny Nichols is the new graphic novel from writers MK Reed and Greg Means about the making of a low budget horror film. The titular character is an aimless 20-something who stumbles across people making a movie and becomes involved in the production, taking on an increasing number of tasks, and in the process finding herself. It is a subtle and brilliant tribute to artists with day jobs, found family, and the passions that give our lives meaning.

Means is best known as the editor of the Papercutter and Runner Runner, and the person behind Tugboat Press. Reed is currently co-writing Delver, a comiXology original, and has written a number of other comics including Palefire, The Castoffs, Americus, Science Comics: Dinosaurs, Science Comics: Wild Weather. The two have collaborated before on the graphic novel The Cute Girl Network. Penny Nichols, drawn by artist Matt Wiegle, was just released by Top Shelf Comix, and the writers answered a few questions about the book.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: MK Reed and Greg Means”

Smash Pages Q&A: Teresa Wong

‘Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression’ is a deeply personal look at the weeks after the birth of Wong’s first child.

Teresa Wong still thinks of herself as a writer, but the Calgary-based creator just had her first graphic memoir as writer and artist published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression is a deeply personal look at the weeks after the birth of her first child.

The text is written in the form of a letter to her daughter, but the book is unsparing in looking at the physical and emotional costs of motherhood. In recent years, the stigma around postpartum depression has lessened as more women have begun to open up about their experiences, and Dear Scarlet helps to open the conversation around motherhood and parenting in important ways.

Wong and I spoke recently about depression and how Raina Telegemier helped her make the book, and we laughed about Coldplay.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Teresa Wong”

Smash Pages Q&A: Cullen Bunn on ‘Blossom 666’

The writer of ‘Harrow County,’ ‘The Sixth Gun,’ ‘X-Men Blue,’ ‘Unearth’ and more discusses the recently wrapped-up Archie Horror title.

Cullen Bunn has written a lot of horror comics in recent years – along with a lot of comics in a lot of other genres. In comics ranging from Harrow County to The Empty Man to Bone Parish to The Damned, he’s played with the genre in different ways.

The five-issue miniseries Blossoms 666 which Bunn made with artist Laura Braga just wrapped up, in which Cheryl and Jason Blossom compete to become the Antichrist. The Archie Comics horror line has a reputation for being shocking and brutal in a lot of strange and creative ways, but Blossoms 666 is a much quieter book compared to the others, with the horror being much more subtle and running under the seemingly placid surface.

Now that the series has wrapped up, Bunn answered a few questions about the comic and playing with an ideal version of Riverdale.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Cullen Bunn on ‘Blossom 666’”

Smash Pages Q&A: David Pepose on ‘Going to the Chapel’

The writer of ‘Spencer & Locke’ discusses the upcoming action/romcom miniseries from Action Lab.

Fans of David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s two Spencer & Locke miniseries might be surprised to see something very different from Pepose for his sophomore project. Going to the Chapel is one part romcom, one part action heist, with a host of interesting characters, one-liners and twists along the way. And that’s just the first issue.

Pepose teams up with Gavin Guidry and Liz Kramer for this four-issue miniseries, which arrives in comic shops this September. I spoke with Pepose about his approach to the series, its influences, the differences between it and his previous work, and more.

Also, you can meet Pepose at this week’s Comic-Con International at the Action Lab Booth #1737, where they will be selling the first issue with a convention-exclusive cover by MJ Erickson.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: David Pepose on ‘Going to the Chapel’”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Jason McNamara on ‘The Cicada’”

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.

Continue reading “MAD Memories: Talking ‘Spy vs. Spy’ with Peter Kuper & John Ficarra”