The creator discusses her latest graphic novel from Fantagraphics, political activism, PowerPoint and much more.
In her new book Why Art? Eleanor Davis tackles some of the questions around what art is, how we respond to it, how artists think about it and try to use it. Which may sound dry and perhaps dull but in Davis’ hands the idea becomes something strange and unexpected and at times laugh out loud funny. Davis describes one character in the book, “If she were a bad artist her art would be a lie and people would hate it. Instead, somehow she has made the statement into her truth.” This statement could be applied to Davis and her work. For many of us over the past few years she has become one of the essential cartoonists working right now.
Davis has also become very political active and currently serves as the membership coordinator for Athens for Everyone. We spoke recently about her book, political action, finding one’s artistic voice and coming to understand that everything is easy. She also mentioned the graphic novel she’s working on now and she answered, why art?
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The legendary cartoonist discusses his latest work for Toon Books, ‘Love & Rockets’ and more.
Jaime Hernandez has long been one of the great cartoonists. Love and Rockets has been acclaimed for decades and remains beloved by generations of readers. The series continues to come out regularly, and late last year Fantagraphics published the collection Angels and Magpies in addition to a Studio Edition, which reproduces nearly 200 pages of Hernandez’s original artwork.
Toon Books is debuting a new book by Hernandez, The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America. The book is his first for younger readers and adapts stories from F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, and features an introduction by Campoy about imagination and tradition.
Hernandez will be appearing at the MoCCA Arts Festival this weekend in New York City, where he’ll be in conversation with Marc Sobel on Sunday. He will also appear at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in May as part of Toon Books’ 1oth anniversary celebration.
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Tim Fielder’s graphic novel Matty’s Rocket would be an innovative, inventive and moving comic no matter what year it was published. In a year when Black Panther has made the term “Afro-futurism” ubiquitous, the book has managed to come out at just the right moment to find a larger audience, but also offer new ways to rethink and redefine the genre. This is a project that Fielder has been working on for years about a young woman growing up in 1920s Mississippi, who moves to France in the 1930s so that she can pilot rocketships.
It’s an amazing book told in a number of styles, from the sepia-toned Mississippi Delta of 1920s to the 1930s, which resemble a recolored silent film, to a 1960s that evokes the comics and science fiction imagery of the era. The book’s real strengths, though, lie not in its imagery, but in its writing. Matty’s Rocket is great fun, but to engage with the book and Retro-Afrofuturism – as Fielder calls his approach in the series – is to be forced to rethink not just the genre and the stories we know, but the world, and the assumptions that underlie them.
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Gabi Mendez has been making short comics and minicomics for a few years now. Her work has appeared in anthologies like The Wicked and The Tired and now Cow House Press has launched a kickstarter to publish her first book, a collection of short comics titled Lemonade Summer.
The stories in the book are told in a variety of ways about kids of different ages and backgrounds. The stories are very different but taken together, are about queer characters coming of age in the sort of nurturing, positive, supportive environments which are so rarely depicted. The result is an all-ages book about pirates and skaters, witches and road trips, about childhood adventures and teenage uncertainty. It’s a powerful debut that is emotionally raw while being sweet, funny, and playful on many levels.
Mendez is in graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design and I spoke with her after exams to talk about the book. The Kickstarter campaign for the all-ages book runs through April 6 and can be found here.
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The cartoonist discusses his syndicated strip, a graphic novel he’s working on, how he works and more.
Rick Stromoski’s comic strip Soup to Nutz has been running on the comics pages since 2000. He had been syndicated before, but was better known for his illustration work, gag cartoons and greeting cards. He has won multiple division awards from the National Cartoonists Society over the years and has served as the organization’s president.
Soup to Nutz has its own sense of design, and it stands out on the comics page for the sense of humor, which has much more of an edge than other family strips, and for the character of Andrew, who remains unique. Stromoski has also been working on a graphic novel drawn in a very different style than the strip. Based on his mother’s life, this has been a project of many years that he’s close to finishing. We spoke recently about his strip, his graphic novel and how working digitally changed the way he’s able to work.
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The proprietor of Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn discusses the upcoming event, scheduled for March 24-25.
Gabe Fowler is not a cartoonist, but he is a one of the people who makes the comics world run. He’s the proprietor of Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn, one of the great comic stores in New York, and which Fowler has made a hub of comics activity. He’s one of the organizers of Comic Arts Brooklyn, the annual comics show, and he also publishes Smoke Signal, a quarterly comics anthology, and published Resist!, the two comics edited by Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman last year.
Fowler is one of the organizers of Funhouse: An Interactive Book Fair, which will take place in Manhattan on March 24-25. The event isn’t just another comics show and isn’t quite a workshop, but rather something else, and I reached out to Fowler to ask about what the event will be and trying to make a different kind of show.
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‘It’s like all the characters in the book have their own universe.’
Anneli Furmark’s Red Winter is a stunning book. It is a love story where the grand romantic scene and gesture happens in the opening pages. It is a narrative that is fractured told from multiple points of view, none of whom understand everything that’s happening. It’s about the politics of 1970’s Sweden and how they intersect with people’s lives. It is an impression of a time and of a place that is rendered and colored beautifully that lingers lost after one finishes reading he last page.
Furmark was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book and how she works.
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‘It’s a weird sci-fi biopunk adventure about colonization, autonomy, the pain of desire and the wonder, power and horror of expression.’
Comics readers might know Sloane Leong as the artist of From Under Mountains. She’s also drawn fill-in stories for a number of comics, including Prophet, Glory and Bravest Warriors, and has contributed to gallery shows, but starting this week, she will be known for Prism Stalker.
The ongoing series launches next week from Image Comics, and the first issue is simply stunning. It manages to convey a lot of information about this world, much of it through suggestion. Her pages quite frankly do not look like most comics pages but are instead complex works of design that echo the musicality within the story and defining the pacing. The story itself, which is about language and culture, memory and what is passed down, could not be more relevant today. Like the very best science fiction, the issue manages to depict something strange and truly alien, while drawing parallels to the present, the past and our own experiences.
For many, writing, drawing and coloring a monthly series is more than enough, but Leong is also finishing a graphic novel, A Map to the Sun, for First Second Books, and writing a regular review column for The Comics Journal. Happily, she somehow found the time to talk with me.
Leong will be at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend at Table #208 where she’ll have advance copies of the first issue for sale. It will be available in stores on March 7.
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The essayist, translator, editor and scholar discusses his latest work, an autobiographical graphic novel with artist Santiago Cohen.
Ilan Stavans does so many things that most of his readers likely struggle to keep track of them. Stavans is a renowned essayist, translator, editor and scholar. The publisher of Restless Books, he was the General Editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. He’s written or co-written dozens of books including Quixote: The Novel and the World, Singer’s Typewriter and Mine: Reflections on Jewish Culture, Octavio Paz: A Meditation and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years, the first of a two-volume biography. He’s the producer and host of the podcast In Contrast, a fiction writer and playwright, and his debut volume of his own poetry, The Wall, comes out this year as part of the Pitt Poetry series.
Stavans is also a lover and writer of comics. He’s collaborated with Lalo Alacaraz on two books (Latino USA: A Cartoon History and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States) in addition to writing graphic novels like Mr. Spic Goes to Washington and El Iluminado. His new book, a collaboration with artist Santiago Cohen, is Angelitos.
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