See what the Smash Pages’ staff enjoyed reading this past year.
With 2018 winding down, Smash Pages’ contributors take a look back at some of their favorite comics of the year, from Hey Kiddo and Spectacular Spider-Man #310 to Wet Moon and The Secret Voice.
Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (Yen Press)
Arakawa is best known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but you couldn’t get any farther from that series than Silver Spoon, a comedy about a city boy who goes to agricultural school in rural Hokkaido. Yuugo Hachiken worked hard and did everything he was told, but he still didn’t get into an elite high school, so he takes what he thinks is the easy way out by going to a school that’s not academically focused—or so he thinks. In fact, the students at Ooezo Agricultural High School are very knowledgeable in their fields, but those fields are things like genetics and animal husbandry. The rubber really hits the road in the practical lessons, though, and Hachiken quickly realizes he is out of his depth when it comes to herding chickens, riding a horse, or fetching a stray calf. There’s a lot of city mouse-country mouse comedy in this series, but it’s also a fascinating look at where our food comes from (at least in Japan), and the different agricultural models espoused by different farmers. In fact, like Hachiken’s classmates, this book is very smart and sophisticated in addition to being endlessly entertaining.
Meal, by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)
The idea of eating bugs may elicit an “Eeeww” from most people, but Delliquanti and Ho go beyond the ick factor in this romance about an insect cuisine enthusiast and a chef who wants to start a new restaurant based on the dishes of her youth—dishes that include ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas. There’s a love story woven in there as well. Yarrow has just moved to a new city in hopes of getting a job in the kitchen of Chandra Flores, insect chef extraordinaire, who is about to launch a new restaurant. Milani, her neighbor, is friendly and helpful but the two have a little trouble making it click. At the same time, Chandra suspects that Yarrow is only into insect cuisine because it’s sensational, while to her, it’s part of her heritage. There’s a lot in this slim volume: Love, food, bugs, and bugs that are food, and the creators even include a couple of recipes at the end of the book.
Continue reading “Smash Pages’ favorite comics of 2018”
‘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.
Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Zack Soto kickstarts ‘The Secret Voice’”
The Study Group editor ‘will be hanging up his publishing hat’ to focus on making comics.
Comic book store-turned-publisher Floating World Comics announced this week that they will publish a collection of one of my favorite comics of last year, The Secret Voice, in the spring of 2019. Created by Study Group Comics editor Zack Soto, The Secret Voice is about a warrior monk named Doctor Galapagos and his battles with The Smog Emperor.
“The Secret Voice is my own personal version of an epic fantasy saga,” Soto said. “Because I’m me, it’s a trippy, sometimes meandering affair that’s just as focused on the sense of space and atmosphere as it is on the big picture plot stuff. This project is a place for me to pour all my love of adventure & fantasy narratives, artcomics, manga, and eurocomics into one misshapen container. It’s about a big old fashioned land war driven by the invasion of a despot; it’s about a bunch of weird psychic warrior monks; it’s about wild kung fu magic battles; it’s about monsters and supernatural beings.. But it’s also about someone over their head and not being honest with themselves or the people they love, and figuring out how to own their mistakes.”
Continue reading “Floating World Comics to publish Soto’s ‘The Secret Voice’ collection”