The creator of ‘Troop 142,’ ‘Angie Bongiolatti’ and more discusses the second book in his ‘The Fifth Quarter’ series.
Mike Dawson is the Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist of books including Freddie & Me, Troop 142 and Angie Bongiolatti. He’s a comics essayist whose work has been in Slate, The Nib and many other publications, some of which were collected into his 2016 book Rules for Dating My Daughter. Dawson also contributed a comic to the Rutgers University Press anthology New Jersey Fan Club.
Recently he’s been making The Fifth Quarter, a series of middle grade graphic novels about basketball – something which he admits came as a shock to him, having hated sports when he was younger, but having come to appreciate the game when his daughter started playing. The second book in the series, Hard Court, is out now from First Second Books, and I spoke with Dawson about the series, what it has in common with his earlier books, and finding a way to make personal work.
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The critically acclaimed cartoonist discusses his two latest projects, ‘Joseph Smith and the Mormons’ and ‘As a Cartoonist.’
Noah Van Sciver has always been a prolific cartoonist. This summer he released two new books, which represent the best work he’s done so far in his career.
Joseph Smith and the Mormons, which is out now from Abrams, is a project Van Sciver has been working on for more than a decade. To say that it’s Van Sciver’s best book, which I believe, is to sell it short, because the book is also the most ambitious project that Van Sciver has attempted. The book looks at the life of Smith and, without captions or word balloons, manages to convey so much information as it charts the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s an incredible work of cartooning and of history.
His other book is As a Cartoonist, a collection of short comics published by Fantagraphics, which were made in the same period, and share a number of concerns and approaches. Both books are deeply personal in different ways. I’ve talked with Van Sciver a few times over the years, and I was thrilled to be able to talk with him about these two books.
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The creator of ‘Friends with Boys,’ ‘The Nameless City’ trilogy and more discusses her latest graphic novel from First Second, ‘Ride On.’
Faith Erin Hicks is the Eisner Award-winning writer and artist of a long string of comics and graphic novels. From books like Friends with Boys and The War at Ellsmere, to her webcomics like The Adventures of Superhero Girl, to her collaborations like Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and Brain Camp, Hicks is masterful at telling stories that are about small moments, subtle changes in relationships, the ways that life often plays out in ways that are funny and relatable. She has a touch for dialogue, but it’s in depicting those small moments that become important that she’s masterful.
More recently, Hicks spent years writing and drawing the epic fantasy trilogy The Nameless City. In the years since, Hicks wrote a novel (Comics Will Break Your Heart), drew a graphic novel written by Rainbow Rowell (Pumpkinheads) and has written a series of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics. Her new book, which she wrote and drew, is Ride On. Out this week from First Second Books, it’s a book about horses and horse girls, but it’s also about growing up, about how we change, and how it can be a difficult and sometimes painful process. Funny and relatable, Ride On is one of Hicks’ best works, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.
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The artist of ‘Rapture,’ ‘The After Realm,’ ‘Sinergy’ and more discusses her deeply personal new graphic novel, her creative process and more.
Taki Soma is a writer, artist and colorist best known for comics like Rapture, The After Realm, Sinergy, Bitch Planet, The Old Guard: Tales Through Time and many others. But her new book Sleeping While Standing, which is out now from Avery Hill Publishing, is a departure from what she’s done previously.
A collection of stories four pages or less, it’s a deeply personal work, as Soma explores her father’s suicide, moving to Minnesota as a child and her complicated relationship with her mother, among other events in her life. It also looks at the horrifying way she learned that she has MS, features laugh-out-loud stories about pets and children, and shows her deep and complex storytelling skills.
It’s an incredible work by a talented creator, and Soma was kind enough to talk about why she made the book, her creative process and why she makes comics.
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The author of ‘Dirty Pictures’ talks about ‘how an underground network of nerds, feminists, misfits, geniuses, bikers, potheads, printers, intellectuals, and art school rebels revolutionized art and invented comix.’
Brian Doherty’s new book Dirty Pictures tells the story of – as the subtitle puts it – “How an underground network of nerds, feminists, misfits, geniuses, bikers, potheads, printers, intellectuals, and art school rebels revolutionized art and invented comix.” The book is simply the best and most comprehensive look at underground comics published to date.
In the book, Doherty tries to capture a wide range of what was happening in underground comix and with the people who were involved. Indeed it was the people, their lives and their stories that fascinated him more than the comics. But more than simply an account of a fascinating group of people and a notable body of work, Doherty wants to argue that comics as we know it today, which is studied in academia and widely read and respected, can be traced back to this deeply transgressive art movement.
To make the book, Doherty talked to, well, just about everyone. It is a fascinating, at times hilarious and sometimes moving account of a generation of artists, the work they made and the changes it wrought.
Doherty is an editor at Reason Magazine and the author of a number of books, including This is Burning Man. He took time out recently to talk about how the pandemic affected research, the people he wasn’t able to interview, and his relationship to underground comix.
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The creators of the critical hit ‘Wash Day’ discuss expanding the story into ‘Wash Day Diaries,’ which is out this week from Chronicle Books.
Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith teamed up for the comic Wash Day, which was funded through Kickstarter and was released in 2018. It was a critical success, but while the two thought that the story was over when they finished the comic, the story has grown and expanded into the new book Wash Day Diaries, which is out this week from Chronicle Books.
Smith was a recent graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies when she first drew Wash Day, and today is best known for working on Nubia: Real One for DC Comics. Rowser, besides writing, has been expanding Black Josei Press and is publishing new work. I spoke with the two recently about how Wash Day Diaries happened, working through the pandemic and collaborating again.
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‘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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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