Smash Pages Q&A: Diana Chu

The award-winning cartoonist discusses her work on the latest Patti Smith-influenced issue of “Ley Lines.”

Diana Chu is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Milwaukee, who in recent years has made an impressive body of comics and zines including Where Everything is Music, Woolies, No Mames Guey, Cloud Houseand Sudden Death. She was awarded a Gold Medal by the Society of Illustrators at last year’s MoCCA Festival.

Her new project, which comes out next month, is the new issue of Ley Lines. The issue is about Patti Smith and music, but it’s also about Jimi Hendrix, Dante Alighieri and Henri Rousseau. Chu is an artist who is not especially interested in narrative, but she’s fascinated in mood and design in interesting ways. She was kind enough to open up and talk about her work in process.

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Smash Pages Q&A: W.T. Frick

The creator of “Ipsum Lorum” discusses her issue of “Ley Lines,” which focuses on the writing of Ursula Le Guin.

W.T. Frick has made comics for Ink Brick and other publications, but she’s likely best known for her webcomic Ipsum Lorum, a remarkable work about the experience of creating and experiencing art, about doppelgängers and what that means for people. In so much of her work, Frick is less interested in narrative than she is with studying characters and exploring ideas. At one point she described her process as intuitive and her work could be described in those terms, but it also feels much too solid, too involved to ever be dreamlike, or seem unreal.

Frick is also the cartoonist behind the new issue of Ley Lines. The quarterly series is focused on crafting a dialogue between comics and the world of fine art. In the 18th issue, which was just released, Frick interrogates the writing of the late Ursula K. Le Guin along with the work of a number of visual artists. It’s arguably her best work to date and a striking introduction for those who have never encountered her work before.

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Smash Pages Q&A: L Nichols on ‘Flocks’

The ‘Ley Lines’ creator discusses the collected edition of ‘Flocks’ from Secret Acres, music, engineering and more.

L Nichols has been serializing Flocks for years, working on the comics memoir in between other projects, including overseeing the acclaimed quarterly comics series Ley Lines. Flocks is out now in a collected edition from Secret Acres. Also out now is the new issue of Ley Lines, which is written and drawn by Nichols. Nichols and I have met at various shows over the years but never sat down to talk.

Flocks is an immense achievement, but it’s also striking how well Nichols made the individual issues stand on their own and how well they work as chapters of a book — and how well it comes together into a thoughtful and emotional story arc. It is one of the best of the year, but also deserves a place among the very best graphic memoirs ever made. We spoke recently about Beethoven, engineering and religion.

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