Smash Pages Q&A | Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed

‘When you get right down to it, democracy is only possible if you have people with different experiences and perspectives who are willing to talk to each other and work together.’

Why The People, the new book from First Second Books’ acclaimed World Citizen Comics series, looks at democracy and other forms of government, but it manages to be less a textbook and more a conversation about what people need, how government can be responsive to people and what it can enable. At a time when the democratic consensus in the United States is fraying, books like this, which are aimed at younger readers, are more important than ever.

Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed have both previously made books for the series. Feathers is a legal advisor who has worked in more than a dozen countries helping to draft constitutions and design transitional governments in addition to writing the book Re:Constitutions. Shwed is a cartoonist and editor best known for her adaptation of the book Fault Lines in the Constitution

The book is in stores now, and the two were kind enough to answer a few questions about making an easily readable book about a very difficult and timely topic.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed”

Smash Pages Q&A | Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya

The creators of the young-adult graphic novel ‘Slip’ discuss childhood trauma, teaching art, magical realism and more.

Slip is the story of Jade, a teenager at a summer art program dealing with her best friend’s attempted suicide. It’s a difficult story about mental health, and understanding our emotions and the ways that our relationships with people change over time. Like the book’s visual style, the narrative manages to fit in with a lot of other typical YA books while finding ways to transcend expectations. It’s a moving book that’s very honest about grief and addressing complications emotions, and about what it means to be an artist.

Marika McCoola is an artist and teacher who made a splash by writing the graphic novel Baba Yaga’s Assistant, which was nominated for an Eisner Award. Slip is Aatmaja Pandya’s debut graphic novel, but the artist has been making comics for years, contributing to anthologies including Chainmail Bikini, Power and Magic, and Elements: Fire, in addition to her comic Phantom, which was originally published by Shortbox, and the webcomic Travelogue. The two have been friends for many years and we spoke recently about how the book came together, working with clay, and fantasy.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya”

Smash Pages Q&A | ‘The Woman in the Woods’ interview

The editors of the latest ‘Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales’ book discuss how the project came together and how the stories were chosen for the anthology.

Iron Circus has been publishing the Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales series, which collects folk tales from around the world and retells them in comics form for younger readers, for the past few years. Under series editors Kel McDonald and Kate Ashwin, the series has managed the incredible feat of being that rare series which contains the work of so many different artists telling stories for younger readers that is visually and stylistically exciting and just fascinating to read. 

The fifth book in the series, The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories, takes on the continent of North America, or Turtle Island, as it’s known to many Native and Indigenous communities. To curate the book, they are joined by artist and editor Alina Pete, who drew the book’s cover and drew one of the stories. The three are incredibly busy, but they were kind enough to join me on Zoom recently to talk about the book.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | ‘The Woman in the Woods’ interview”

Smash Pages Q&A | Chanan Beizer

The writer of ‘The Golem of Venice Beach’ talks about his inspirations for the story, working with multiple artists, Venice Beach and more.

Chanan Beizer’s debut graphic novel The Golem of Venice Beach is being crowdfunded now on Kickstarter. For the project, he teamed up with several artists, including Vanesa Cardinali (Image Comics’ Slumber), Jae Lee and Bill Sienkiewicz (who also draws the book’s cover).

The book tells the story of the golem who was created in 16th Century Europe living a lonely existence in contemporary California. It’s an old story that continues to have resonance, and Beizer was kind enough to answer a few questions about the comic, his collaborators and why the story has stayed with him after all this time.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Chanan Beizer”

Smash Pages Q&A | Andrew J. Kunka

The professor and author discusses his new book about the life and work of the late cartoonist Howard Cruse.

Andrew J. Kunka is the author of the book Autobiographical Comics and a professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter. The comics scholar’s new book is The Life and Comics of Howard Cruse: Taking Risks in the Service of Truth.

The book looks at the life of the late cartoonist Howard Cruse, but it primarily takes a deep dive into a lot of the short comics work that Cruse did over the course of his career. Cruse is known as the godfather of gay comics and is known for his graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, his long running comic strip Wendel and his role as the founding editor of Gay Comix. His short comics work, from the earliest stage of his career and the comics he drew in the later years of his life, have been understudied, and Kunka does a deep dive into why these comics, which are reprinted in full, are important. It is a thoughtful and deep analysis and celebration of an important and understudied cartoonist.

Kunka was kind enough to take some time out to talk about the book and his work.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Andrew J. Kunka”

Smash Pages Q&A | Amy Kim Kibuishi

The creator of ‘The Rema Chronicles: Realm of the Blue Mist’ discusses the recently released graphic novel from Scholastic.

Amy Kim Kibuishi was part of a generation of cartoonists who emerged as a force in the early 2000s. Kibuishi was an acclaimed web cartoonist, one of the contributors to the legendary Flight anthologies and a winner of the Rising Stars of Manga competition. Her Sorcerers and Secretaries duology were released through Tokyopop in 2006 and 2007.

Her new book The Rema Chronicles: Realm of the Blue Mist has been a project that Kibuishi has carried with her for many years. It began with her webcomic Reman Mythologies and has evolved into this new graphic novel series, the first volume of which is out this month from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint. 

It’s great to have new comics from her again, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about carrying the story with her for so long, and how the meaning has changed.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Amy Kim Kibuishi”

Smash Pages Q&A | Emma Hunsinger + Tillie Walden

The creators of ‘My Parents Won’t Stop Talking!’ discuss the new picture book, their creative process, the differences between making comics and children’s books, and more.

Separately Emma Hunsinger and Tillie Walden have crafted impressive bodies of work. Tillie Walden is the Eisner Award winning cartoonist of Spinning, On a Sunbeam, Are You Listening? and other books. Emma Hunsinger is known for She Would Feel the Same, which was published by Shortbox, and How To Draw a Horse, which was published in The New Yorker and nominated for an Eisner Award, a National Magazine Award and a National Cartoonist Society Divisional Award.

The two have collaborated on a new picture book, My Parents Won’t Stop Talking! which is hilarious and visually exciting. The main character Molly just wants to go to the park, and what follows is deeply relatable but also beautifully bizarre and inventive in all the best ways.

I spoke with both Hunsinger and Walden about the new book, the differences between creating children’s books and comics, their inspirations and boring “adult chit chat.”

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Emma Hunsinger + Tillie Walden”

Smash Pages Q&A | Alek Shrader

The opera singer and comics writer discusses the graphic novel adaptation of ‘Carmen’ that is currently being crowdfunded by the Arizona Opera.

Alek Shrader is a an opera singer and director, and the writer behind the new graphic novel Carmen. It’s an adaptation of the opera by Georges Bizet, one of the most popular and successful operas of all time, which has been adapted to other mediums a lot of over the years.

Joining Shrader on this project is the great P. Craig Russell, who has adapted many operas in the past, and artist Aneke, who is drawing the critically acclaimed Bylines in Blood on the stands now. The project from Arizona Opera is being kickstarted now, and I spoke with Shrader and about his background as a comics reader, his approach to adaptation and his thoughts on the opera.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Alek Shrader”

Smash Pages Q&A | Otava Heikkilä

The Finnish cartoonist discusses the latest volume of ‘Letters for Lucardo,’ which is currently being crowdfunded by Iron Circus Comics.

Otava Heikkilä has been making the series Letters for Lucardo in recent years, and this week Iron Circus Comics will be crowdfunding the third volume in the series, Letters for Lucardo: The Silent Lord.

The series is about the relationship between a vampire and a mortal, and Heikkilä has brought a unique take and sensibility to the project. It’s a beautiful drawn and very delicately told love story with explicit sex scenes and it’s been striking to see how Heikkilä has grown as an artist and storyteller.

I’ve spoken with Heikkilä in the past, and we spoke briefly about this third volume, which is being crowdfunded starting today through April 28.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Otava Heikkilä”

Smash Pages Q&A | Alisa Kwitney on ‘G.I.L.T.’

The comics writer, novelist and former Vertigo editor discusses her latest comic from Ahoy Comics, which she describes as ‘The Golden Girls’ meets ‘Sex and the City’—by way of ‘The Twilight Zone.’

Alisa Kwitney is a name familiar to many comics readers. For many years, she was an editor at Vertigo, overseeing The Dreaming and many other projects, in addition to being the Eisner-nominated writer of comics like Vertigo Visions: Phantom Stranger, Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold and A Flight of Angels. She’s also written number of other comics, including Token for the short-lived Minx imprint and Mystik U. Kwitney is also a well known novelist of books including The Dominant Blonde, Sex As a Second Language, and Cadaver & Queen, in addition to being one-half of the people behind the Endless podcast.

In the new Ahoy Comics series that launches next week, Kwitney and artist Alain Mauricet introduce us to G.I.L.T. An acronym, we come to learn, that stands for “Guild of Independent Lady Temporalists.” The book opens in 1973 before jumping to 2017 and to say much more would spoil it, but Kwitney was kind enough to talk about the book without, we hope, saying too much.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Alisa Kwitney on ‘G.I.L.T.’”

Smash Pages Q&A | Kendra Wells

The creator of ‘Real Hero Shit’ discusses the role-playing origins of the graphic novel, working with publisher Iron Circus, their work at The Nib and more.

For years now, cartoonist and illustrator Kendra Wells has been one of those people making short comics for various outlets including The Nib, where they excel at finding ways to make readers laugh out loud as their blood pressure skyrockets, remembering just how angry they are at what’s happening in the world. Last year they collaborated with writer Sam Maggs on the graphic novel Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas, and Iron Circus just released Wells’ debut as a writer and artist, Real Hero Shit.

Real Hero Shit features a mismatched group of adventurers who, in between attacking each other, do actually stumble onto a mystery and manage to help a village. It’s funny and weird, and it manages to walk that very fine line of loving and paying tribute to the genre and its tropes, while also undermining and mocking almost all of them. And while it’s no surprise that Wells is able to write funny dialogue, they deftly manage to juggle writing a long narrative with character moments, humor and making a story that feel familiar but also surprising.

The first of hopefully many such books, Real Hero Shit is out now and next week, a new dating sim game that Wells is the lead writer for, Kiss U, goes live on Kickstarter. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their book.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Kendra Wells”

Smash Pages Q&A | Alex Segura’s ‘Secret Identity’

The comics writer, novelist and industry veteran discusses his newest book, which combines his love of mysteries with the comic book industry.

Alex Segura is known to comics readers for various comics projects ranging from The Dusk to The Black Ghost to Archie Meets the B-52’s to the upcoming The Awakened, but the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Oni-Lion Forge has another career as a novelist. Segura has written an acclaimed series of novels featuring journalist-turned-private eye Pete Fernandez, and his new novel Secret Identity bridges these two worlds.

A murder mystery set in 1970s New York, the novel centers around Carmen Valdez, an assistant at Triumph Comics who aspires to be a writer. After a co-worker is murdered, Valdez tries to understand what happened. Chapters of the novel are also interspersed with pages from the fictional The Lynx comic book, which Valdez co-wrote in the novel, but are drawn by real-life artist Sandy Jarrell.

The novel is a departure for Segura, less focused on plot but more about character and atmosphere, focused on evoking another era and a look inside the comics industry of that time. It’s his best and richest work to date, and we had a chance to talk recently about the novel, which is out this week.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Alex Segura’s ‘Secret Identity’”