Smash Pages Q&A: Maggie Umber on ‘Sound of Snow Falling’

The co-founder of 2d Cloud discusses her latest graphic novel, her essay ‘Getting Divorced in Comics’ and more.

Maggie Umber’s most recent graphic novel Sound of Snow Falling is a wordless painted graphic novel. A beautiful and meditative look at a pair of great horned owls, it may her most recent comic, but in many respects it’s her earliest comics work and is a project that she has been thinking about and working on for many years. It is available now from 2d Cloud.

This book is Umber’s second graphic novel after 2015’s Time Capsule. She is also the co-founder of 2d Cloud and she recently stepped down as Associate Publisher – one of the many hats she wore at the publisher, events that she discusses (among other topics) in her much-discussed essay “Getting Divorced in Comics.” Umber spoke about her book, the essay, her short comic in the upcoming anthology Warmer, which comes out next month.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cory Thomas on ‘Watch Your Head’ and more

Thomas talks about his long-running comic strip turned webcomic, his post-election editorial cartoon that went viral and his work with James Patterson on ‘Public School Hero.’

Cory Thomas remains best known for his comic Watch Your Head. First launched as a comic strip in 2006, Thomas relaunched it in 2014 as a webcomic, tweaking the story and characters, though it has remained the story of a diverse cast of characters attending Douglass University, a historically black university. He continues to update the comic occasionally, though a lot of his attention has been focused on other projects like the James Patterson book Public School Superhero.

Late last year Thomas got a lot of attention for a comic he made for Fusion titled “The Weirdness of being Black in White Spaces After the Election,” which struck a nerve with a lot of people from different backgrounds. Thomas sat down to talk about the response to that comics, the status of Watch Your Head, and what he’s working on now.

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Stephan Franck puts a stake in a third volume of his vampire heist series ‘Silver’

The animator returns to Kickstarter to fund a third volume of his graphic novel series that pits conmen versus vampires.

When he’s not helping to make animated hits like The Iron Giant and Despicable Me, Stephan Franck turns to his first love, comics. The son of two comic retailers, Franck started his own company, Dark Planet Comics, to publish Silver, a pulp-inspired heist story involving vampires.

Franck has used Kickstarter to crowd fund two volumes of the series already, and now a new campaign has launched for the third volume. I spoke with Franck about the project, the campaign and the appeal of working on comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Vito Delsante on ‘The Purple Heart’

The ‘Stray’ writer discusses his contribution to the New Brooklyn Universe.

Vito Delsante has been writing comics for years, and he’s had success with stories in comics that range from Batman Adventures to Savage Tales to Scooby Doo to Superman. But recently though Delsante has been putting out his best work in a pair of projects. One of them is Stray, the story of a retired sidekick who returns to the hero game whose new solo series from Action Labs kicks off in September.

Perhaps his biggest project, though, is The Purple Heart, which is part of the New Brooklyn Universe spearheaded by Dean Haspiel, a shared universe that also includes The Red Hook and The Brooklynite and the upcoming War Cry, which launches in the fall. The weekly webcomic that Delsante is making with Ricardo Venancio wraps up this week, and Delsante spoke about working in a shared universe, and crafting a story very different from The Red Hook about Brooklyn’s Silver Surfer-like hero.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Eleanor Davis on ‘You & A Bike & A Road’

The creator of ‘How To Be Happy’ discusses her latest book from Koyama Press, which details her cycling trip from Arizona to Georgia.

In 2014, Fantagraphics published How To Be Happy, a collection of short comics by Eleanor Davis, which immediately established the cartoonist as one of the major figures of her generation. In the book, Davis jumped between styles and approaches, telling different kinds of stories ranging from the fantastic to realistic. Since then she made a children’s book with Drew Weing, Flop To The Top, for Toon Books. She also made the comics novella Libby’s Dad, which came out last fall from Retrofit Comics, and was recently awarded the Slate Book Review 2017 Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic.

Davis’ new book, out now from Koyama Press, is You & A Bike & A Road. The book is a series of comics about a bike trip that Davis undertook from Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up, to her home in Athens, Georgia. We spoke recently about the book, the journey, agitprop and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Vanessa Davis on ‘Spaniel Rage,’ Then and Now

When Spaniel Rage was first published in 2005, the collection of diary comics made a splash. Vanessa Davis didn’t come from a comics background, and she had a unique way of laying out and designing pages and her own sensibility. A few years later when Drawn & Quarterly collected many of her short comics in the book Make Me a Woman, it established Davis’ reputation as one of the great cartoonists of her generation.

Since then Davis has been making short comics and illustrations for many publications, including The New York Times, Tablet, Lucky Peach, and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Comics, Nursery Rhyme Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, and Best American Comics. D&Q has just reissued Spaniel Rage with a new introduction by Davis. The book remains a striking and vivid book about life in one’s 20s, about New York City, about the life of the young artist. Davis spoke about revisiting her work, what she’s working on now, and The Terry Southern, which she was just awarded for her work for The Paris Review.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Fertig on ‘Take That, Adolf!’

Alex Dueben talks to Mark Fertig about his latest book from Fantagraphics, World War II, graphic design and more.

In his recent book Take That, Adolf!, Mark Fertig looks at Golden Age comics and how World War II transformed the industry and the content. While for many people, the appeal of the book may be the hundreds of comic book covers that feature Adolf Hitler being punched and Nazis thwarted, the highlight is Fertig’s long essay.

In that piece Fertig examines race and gender; he looks at how the comics industry was changed, the ways that it’s impossible to think about the business and many characters without the influence of the war, and many more issues. Fertig is an Associate Professor at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches graphic design, and we spoke about the book, World War II, graphic design and comics in the classroom.

I enjoyed the book – who doesn’t like seeing Hitler get punched repeatedly? When you conceived the book, I’m sure you never imagined that the media would be discussing when it’s acceptable to punch nazis.

Yeah, I did a Twitter search the other day, and the book showed up. I don’t think the book has really worked its way into the public consciousness on any level, and yet it showed up in a political tweet where somebody had linked to the book and said, “This is our book.” I thought that was pretty fascinating. When I wrote it I thought I was writing it for comic book people and World War II people, but if it’s interesting to other people, that’s fine by me.

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Smash Pages Q&A: May + Copland on ‘Kill All Monsters’ Omnibus

Michael May and Jason Copland discuss the massive collection of their giant monster series coming from Dark Horse, the future of the series and more.

Michael May and Jason Copland have been working on Kill All Monsters! for more than a decade now, and come July they — and you — will see all their work on it collected into an omnibus from Dark Horse Comics.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’ve been blogging with Michael in some form or fashion for about a decade now myself. So I’ve watched from ringside as KAM progressed from a webcomic to a Kickstarter project to a story in Dark Horse Presents and now to this giant-sized collection. It’s a fun story about an Earth overrun with giant monsters and the humans trying to take it back. I’m glad I’ve gotten to watch it come to life, just as I’m happy to talk with the two of them about the project’s origins and what comes next for this world they’ve created.

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Smash Pages Q&A: ‘Benny and Penny’ creator Geoffrey Hayes

Brigid Alverson shares a previously unpublished interview with the creator, who passed away last weekend.

Geoffrey Hayes, the creator of TOON Books’ Benny and Penny series, died last weekend at the age of 69. I met him just once, at the American Library Association midsummer meeting in 2010.

I was actually a longtime fan of his work, because my children loved his Otto and Uncle Tooth picture books. Geoffrey came to comics fairly late, after an artistic dry spell—Francoise Mouly somehow knew to call him and have him create the Benny and Penny comics for TOON Books. But he had always lived a creative life; while I was doing research to write an appreciation, I ran across this essay in which he talks about how he and his brother, Rory Hayes (who was known as an underground cartoonist) spent their childhood creating stories together.

When I heard about Geoffrey’s death, I went through my files looking for a photo of him, and I was surprised to find an interview that I had done in 2010 but never published anywhere. So here it is, seven years later. As delightful as it was to relive that moment, I was also saddened when I got to the end, where he talks about the graphic novel he was working on. That book, Lovo and the Firewolf, was to be his magnum opus, and Fantagraphics was going to publish it next year. His death leaves it incomplete.

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