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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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