Smash Pages Q&A: Zack Soto kickstarts ‘The Secret Voice’

‘This is me pouring all my love of adventure and fantasy narratives, artcomics, manga, and eurocomics into one misshapen container.’

Zack Soto has been making and publishing comics for years. People might know him best as the Editor in Chief and Publisher of Study Group Comics, which has published great comics and minicomics from Farel Dalrymple, Aidan Koch, Sam Alden, Jennifer Parks and others. Soto was also one of the co-founders of Linework NW, the comics festival in Portland that ended in 2016.

Soto has also been making his own comics like Power Button, but perhaps his best known work is The Secret Voice. The comic is epic fantasy, but it takes the rough outline of that genre and incorporates elements of superhero and art comics, martial arts, mysticism and psychedelia. The result is both epic fantasy and part of an unclassifiable genre that is familiar to readers of Farel Dalrymple, Michel Fiffe and many other comics creators.

Soto has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish a collection of the first volume of The Secret Voice, and I reached out to ask him about the book and his work.

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Help kickstart a classic comic book spinner rack

Jim Demonakos looks to bring a piece of comics nostalgia back to life in a new Kickstarter campaign.

If you’ve ever wanted to own a classic-looking comic book spinner rack, you can either keep an eye on eBay and hope for the best, or support a new Kickstarter that’s looking “to create something that evoked nostalgia while also being functional and cool.”

The project is the brainstorm of Jim Demonakos of nerd rock band Kirby Krackle and Emerald City Comic Con fame. He’s looking to design two different models — one black, one white — that look like they came right out of a 1980s 7-Eleven.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Gabi Mendez on ‘Lemonade Summer’

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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Smash Pages Q&A: Jason Thompson and Jumana Al Hashal on ‘Cartooner’

Jason Bradley Thompson and Jumana Al Hashal discuss going from gamer to creator.

What’s it like to go from gaming to creating your own games?

The husband-and-wife team of Jason Bradley Thompson and Jumana Al Hashal have plenty to say on that topic. Both are serious gamers who are running a Kickstarter campaign to fund their second game, Cartooner: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics. Cartooner focuses on the creative elements of comics and allows anyone who can draw a stick figure to make their own—while the clock is ticking. We talked to Jason and Jumana about how they created a game that turns the players into comics creators, and they also shared some of the game art by Konstantin Pogorelov.

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Ted Naifeh, Space Goat look to crowfund ‘Heroines’ collection

Naifeh’s superhero tale comes to Kickstarter for a ‘backpack edition’ collecting the story to date.

Probably best known for the Courtney Crumrin series published by Oni Press, Ted Naifeh turned his attention to superheroes earlier this year with Heroines, a super-team brought together via a Craigslist ad. After publishing several single issues, Naifeh and publisher Space Goat have turned to Kickstarter to fund a “backpack edition” that collects the series to date.

“All my life, I’ve been a fan of superheroes in one form or another,” Naifeh said. “And I’ve always wanted to explore the genre, to see if I could tease out something new. Working outside the mainstream and with readers directly on Kickstarter gives me the creative freedom to do just that.”

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Spies save the world from the supernatural in ‘Beasts of the Black Hand’

Paul Harding, Ron Marz, Matthew Dow Smith and Neeraj Menon look to kickstart a new graphic novel featuring a British secret service agent’s battle against the mad monk Rasputin.

Ron Marz and Matthew Dow Smith have teamed up with sculptor Paul Harding for Beasts of the Black Hand, a new graphic novel they’re funding through Kickstarter. Featuring colors by Neeraj Menon, the first volume will come out in early 2018, “laying the groundwork for an epic multi-volume story.”

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Houdini and Doyle collide in ‘The Death Defying’

Christopher Sebela, Gavin Guidry, Marissa Louise and Micah Meyers seek to crowdfund a new historical occult adventure miniseries

Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, Evolution, Short Order Crooks) returns to Kickstarter for a very timely miniseries — one set in the 1920s — that pits Harry Houdini against Arthur Conan Doyle in a “battle of wills, words, faith, science, fisticuffs, handguns and magic.” And he’s joined by artist Gavin Guidry, colorist Marissa Louise and letterer Micah Meyers on The Death Defying, which is now up on Kickstarter.

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Comics Lowdown: One cartoonist free on bail; another remains in prison

Plus: Kickstarters, Leo Baxendale, and how Chuck Rozanski escaped poverty—with comics!

Indian Cartoonist Free on Bail: A judge in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadhu, India, has granted bail to cartoonist G. Bala, who was arrested on Nov. 5 for creating a “demeaning caricature” of several local officials. The cartoon critiqued the local government, including the collector, after a laborer and his family who were in deep debt to loan sharks set themselves on fire in front of the collector’s office. The entire family, including two children ages two and four, died of their injuries.

“The self-immolation and the burning children disturbed me a lot… I could not sleep for two days as if my children had charred. I had done nothing personal against the Collector, the complainant of the case against me. When he initiated steps for the ‘Wall of Kindness’ to help the poor, I felt so proud about him. When he failed to act on the repeated petitions of a usury victim, it forced a youth to take the extreme step that disturbed me a lot and I just reflected my agony through my caricature,” a visibly moved Mr. Bala told the waiting reporters while emerging from the court after being enlarged on bail.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elizabeth LaPensée on ‘Deer Woman: An Anthology’

The professor, writer and game designer discusses her latest anthology, a collection of stories about resistance, healing, empowerment and hope.

Elizabeth LaPensée seems to lead many lives. She’s an assistant professor at Michigan State University, a visual artist and also designs games like Thunder Strike and Honour Water. She’s also a comics writer and artist and editor. Her work has appeared in both volumes of the MOONSHOT anthology, and she’s also made a number of webcomics including The Nature of Snakes, Fala, and The West was Lost. LaPensée is also writing and drawing short comics and editing or co-editing a number of upcoming anthologies including Sovereign Traces: Not Just Another and Relational Constellation.

Her comic Deer Woman was a success and struck a chord with many readers and creators and this fall Native Realities Press is publishing Deer Woman: An Anthology, which LaPensée co-edited, featuring the work of a number of creators who use the story of the deer woman to tell stories of resistance, healing, empowerment and hope. After a successful Kickstarter, the anthology is out this fall and LaPensée spoke about the project and her work.

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