Smash Pages Q&A: Erin Williams

The creator of ‘Commute’ discusses her latest project for “The Believer,” her nontraditional approach to page design, the long-lasting effects of trauma and more.

In the February/March issue of The Believer magazine, Erin Williams has a new short comic “Dust and Doubt” which builds on the ideas and concerns of her acclaimed debut book Commute. One of the best books published last year, Commute was a look at Williams’ day but also at her life, at the male gaze, at taking up space in the world, about alcoholism and trauma, and how we dissociate in order to survive. It’s about what it means to live in a culture that tries to monetize this trauma, promising a “cure” for the trauma the society causes.

Reading Williams’ work, one sees echoes of other creators who have used the medium in nontraditional ways to try to convey these physical  understandings of how being in our bodies, the complicated interactions of mental and physical pain of the aftermath of trauma and finding not just new ways to consider this but depict and convey that experience. In both this short comic and her book, it’s clear that Williams doesn’t think in terms of a comics page or that formatted structure of paneled designs, instead using the openness of the page to explore how the words and the images can interact. We spoke recently over email about her work.

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Comics Lockdown: The latest on comics and COVID

Featuring news from Valiant, Archie Comics, MICE and more.

As the news that Diamond Comics Distributors is putting shipments on hold as of April 1 reverberated throughout the comics industry, reactions came from many quarters. Here’s a roundup of as many as I could find, with more (I’m sure) tomorrow:

Let’s start with some perspective: At Comichron, John Jackson Miller looks at the history of the comics retail market and offers some hope for the future.

At ICv2, editor, comics market analyst, and former distributor Milton Griepp gives his perspective.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Aude White

The illustrator and cartoonist discusses her latest comic for The Believer, her day job (which she loves) and more.

Aude White may spend much of her time working in communications for New York Magazine, but the illustrator and cartoonist has a long list of credits she’s accumulated over the past few years, in addition to the work she posts on her own Instagram. From The Believer to Outside, The HotPod newsletter to The New York Times Book Review to The Cut to Vox, she’s managed to establish her own voice and style.

Her comics are especially personal works that manage to gain their poignancy by the ways that she draws connections between people and objects and places. Not by how they define us or describe us, but by the ways that we invest them with meaning, often at a cost.

White said that she fancied herself a poet in college, and though she laughed at that ambition today, the turns of phrase in her comics, the ways that she draws connections between people and places and objects, reframing and recontextualizing those relationships in different ways, show that poetic sensibility at work. In her new comic The Toothbrush Dilemma, which is in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of The Believer, on stands now, White tells the story of a relationship and a toothbrush. We spoke recently about that comic and her work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Matt Huynh

The artist, painter and animator discusses ‘Cabramatta,’ his latest contribution to The Believer magazine.

Matt Huynh has been one of the creators making comics without working in the comics industry. Huynh has been making comics, illustrations, animations and paintings for years. His work has been exhibited at MoMA, The Smithsonian and elsewhere. He is known for his collaborations with the writers Nam Le (The Boat) and Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Ark and On True War Stories) and the comic Magpie Magpie.

In 2017-2018, The New York Historical Society opened The Vietnam War, 1945-1975, featuring two 24’ by 6’ murals drawn by Huynh depicting the homefront and the warfront. The exhibition was on display in Pittsburgh until recently and will be on display at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City starting on Veterans Day.

In the current issue of The Believer (The Borders Issue: October/November) Huynh wrote and drew Cabramatta, an eight-page comic about the neighborhood where he grew up as a refugee in Sydney, the way that his relationship to the place has changed, and how the neighborhood and its relationship to the majority white community has changed over time. The Believer also debuted an interactive version of the comic on the website that Huynh helped to make.

Huynh just returned from Australia, and we had a chance to speak about the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Kristen Radtke on ‘The Believer’

The creator of ‘Imagine Wanting Only This’ discusses her role as art director and deputy publisher of ‘The Believer’ magazine.

When The Believer magazine returned last year with a new publisher and a mostly new masthead, one of the new hires was Kristen Radtke. Comics readers know her for graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This, which was published by Pantheon in 2017. As Art Director and Deputy Publisher, Radtke has been overseeing the cover, the magazine’s redesign, and the comics section. Originally edited by Alvin Buenaventura, under Radtke the comics section has gone in a different direction. It’s longer, focused on longer-form work, in a way that brings it much more in conversation with the rest of the magazine.

Over the course of a few issues, the magazine has published work by Jennifer Camper, Leela Corman, Danica Novgorodoff and Yvan Alagbe. The June/July issue features work by Ben Passmore, Andrea Tsurumi and Anders Nilsen. I had spoken with Radtke when her book came out last year and asked if we could talk about her job as editor, how she sees the comics section and overseeing the look of one of the few magazines still focused on illustration in this way.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ben Passmore on ‘Daygloayhole’ and more

The creator of ‘Your Black Friend’ discusses his work for Fantagraphics’ ‘Now’ anthology, The Nib, his influences and much more.

Ben Passmore’s short comic Your Black Friend was a sensation when it was published in 2016. It was nominated for an Eisner Award, won an Ignatz Award, was on NPR’s 2017 list of 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels, and was turned into an animated short film. Passmore has become a regular contributor to The Nib and many other outlets, but for people who have been reading Passmore for years, this recent political work has been something of a departure for him. He first came to notice with Daygloayhole, which is a very different kind of comic, but shares a lot of the same sensibilities and ideas that motivate his political and essayistic comics.

This year saw the publication of Your Black Friend and Other Strangers, which collects a number of short comics by Passmore. Silver Sprocket is publishing a print version of Daygloayhole, the second issue of which is out this summer. Passmore has a comic in the current issue of the Fantagraphics anthology Now and has a comic in the June/July issue of The Believer.

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