Smash Pages Q&A: Ira Marcks on ‘Shark Summer’

The cartoonist and teacher discusses his latest graphic novel, which combines his love of ‘Goonies,’ ‘Jaws’ and more.

In the new graphic novel Shark Summer, three friends on Martha’s Vineyard, inspired by a film about a shark being filmed on the island, spend their summer trying to make a film and solve a local mystery. It’s a familiar story, but the middle grade adventure is a fun and dangerous kinetic adventure of three kids coming together for an unforgettable summer that will shape each of them in different ways.

Ira Marcks has been working as a cartoonist, illustrator and teacher for years. He’s made projects that range from The Exploit and Aquarium Drift to the project Creative Everyday to to the webcomic Witch Knot, to Harvey Pelican & Co., a catalogue of esoteric things that ran in Weird Tales. Shark Summer is a departure for him, but it’s also the work of a talented and dynamic storyteller and hopefully this powerful book will find him a new audience. We spoke recently about the book, our shared love of Jaws and color.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Leah Moore on ‘The Doors: Morrison Hotel’

The versatile writer discusses her latest project: an anthology for Z2 Comics based on the 1970s album by The Doors.

Leah Moore has written and co-written a long list of comics including Conspiracy of Ravens, Sway and Swords of Sorrow; characters like Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula; and publications including 2000 AD and Heavy Metal.

Moore’s newest project is The Doors: Morrison Hotel, which looks at the 1970 album by The Doors. It’s more than simply comics adaptations of the album’s tracks; the book attempts to capture a sense of the band  at this moment and the state of the country and the culture unfolding around them as they worked.

The book also manages to show what Moore does so well and makes look so easy. Each chapter of the book is drawn by a different artist – which includes Colleen Doran, Ryan Kelly, Michael Avon Oeming, Marguerite Sauvage, John K. Snyder III and Jill Thompson – which shows not just Moore’s skill at collaborating with and writing for artists, but her masterful touch at balancing tones and approaches and styles, so that the book never feels like an anthology of disparate stories, but a book seeking to capture the music, its creation and the world around it in a striking way.

Moore was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and how she works.

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Smash Pages Q&A: François Vigneault on ‘Orcs in Space’

The creator of ‘Titan’ discusses his newest collaboration with Abed and Rashad Gheith, Justin Roiland and Michael Tanner, which arrives in stores from Oni Press this week.

Orcs in Space is a new ongoing comics series from Oni Press, starring three orcs who happen upon an advanced space craft, and chaos and hilarity ensues.

The comic is drawn by François Vigneault, who is best know for his comics like Titan, and he said working on a book with a different tone and approach from his own work was part of the appeal. We spoke recently about playing with the idea of orcs, expectations and color.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marc Bernardin on ‘Adora and The Distance’

The writer, filmmaker and journalist discusses his latest graphic novel, which comes out next week from comiXology Originals.

Marc Bernardin has had long, varied career, from his years as a writer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter, to co-hosting FatMan Beyond with Kevin Smith and the Battlestar Galacticast with Tricia Helfer. In recent years he’s established a reputation as a television writer on series including Alphas, Castle Rock, Treadstone and the upcoming Masters of the Universe: Revelation, which launches in July on Netflix. Some of us, though, know him as a comics writer, co-writing Monster Attack Network, The Highwaymen, Genius and other works for more than a decade.

Bernardin’s new project, which comes out next week from comiXology Originals, is the young-adult graphic novel Adora and The Distance, which he created with artist Ariela Kristantina. A fantasy adventure that has its own twists and surprises, it’s a book that is familiar and unexpected in startlingly beautiful ways. Next week Bernardin’s Kickstarter campaign for his short film Splinter ends, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Fred Van Lente on ‘Everything’s Archie’

The writer of ‘Action Philosophers,’ ‘MODOK’s 11’ and more discusses his work on Archie’s 80th anniversary one-shot, which arrives in stores next week.

Fred Van Lente is well known as the writer behind Action Philosophers, The Comic Book History of Comics, Archer and Armstrong, MODOK’S 11 and many more. He’s written novels like The Con Artist and Ten Dead Comedians, and he co-wrote the play King Kirby, which premiered earlier this year as a podcast.

Van Lente is also the writer of the new comic Everything’s Archie. The one-shot from Van Lente and artist Dan Parent is a collection of linked short comics that center around Archie trying to make enough money to buy a new guitar. To do that, Archie signs up for an app and what follows is a satire of the gig economy with multiple jokes about late stage capitalism, and yet, it still feels like an Archie comic we’ve seen before.

Van Lente and Parent’s comic is paired with an Archie story from 1997 by the late George Gladir and Stan Goldberg, Betty in High School 2021 A.D. The story went viral because of remote learning and other not entirely inaccurate predictions about this rather unusual year. I spoke with Van Lente recently about the comic, which is out next week.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marcus Kwame Anderson

The artist of ‘Snow Daze’ and ‘Cash and Carrie’ discusses his latest graphic novel, ‘The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History.’

Marcus Kwame Anderson is the artist behind The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History. Along with writer David F. Walker, Anderson tackles an immense complicated subject, a story that isn’t just a historical topic, but remains very contemporary.

The research required to even start such a project and the skill with which Anderson is able to play with page design and layout is striking. He has an incredible eye and a visual sense that is playful, even though he’s addressing topics that are difficult. Anderson is best known as the artist behind comics like Snow Daze and Cash and Carrie, but with this book his work has reached a new level.

We had the opportunity to speak recently about what the project required and what he took away from the experience.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jason Novak

The creator of ‘Joe Frank: Ascent’ discusses adapting the radio dramas of the legendary radio producer.

Jason Novak is a cartoonist and writer perhaps best known for his collaboration with the poet Ron Padgett, How To Be Perfect: An Illustrated Guide and his books Et Tu, Brute?: The Deaths of the Roman Emperors and Baseball Epic: Famous and Forgotten Lives of the Dead Ball Era. He’s contributed to The Rumpus, The Paris Review, The Morning News, and many other publications. His new book, an adaptation of some of the radio stories of Joe Frank, is Joe Frank: Ascent.

Joe Frank is a legendary radio producer who influenced generations of producers including Ira Glass (This American Life), Jad Abumrad (Radiolab) and Jonathan Goldstein (Wiretap, Heavyweight). Frank wrote plays and a book, and he was loved by many in Hollywood, but radio was always his first love.

In the pages of Joe Frank: Ascent, Novak manages to adapt Frank’s work in really striking ways. Using the rhythms and designs of the page in ways similar to how Frank used music and the way he spoke. It’s a strange experience to see some of the pieces I know almost by heart adapted into a new medium, but Novak captured Frank’s voice in a way that’s stunning to behold. Novak was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Scott Snyder on ‘Nocterra’

The writer of ‘American Vampire,’ ‘Death Metal,’ ‘Batman’ and more discusses his newest creator-owned title, his Best Jackett Press imprint and more.

Scott Snyder has been in the driver’s seat for many of DC’s biggest projects over the last decade or so, including crossover titles like Metal and Death Metal, and of course his runs on Batman and Justice League. At the same time, he’s also kept a foot in the creator-owned world, writing titles like American Vampire, Wytches and Undiscovered Country, among others.

Last summer, he hit the gas on his creator-owned work, launching a Kickstarter for Nocterra, a new creator-owned series with Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey that’s coming out from Snyder’s Best Jackett Press imprint. The crowdfunding effort brought in more than $200,000 and set the stage for the launch of the Nocterra ongoing title, which debuted last month from Image Comics. The explosive first issue introduced readers to truck driver Val Riggs, a woman who lives in a world where the sun stopped rising 10 years ago, plunging humanity “into an everlasting night that turns all living creatures into monstrous shades.” The only defense is artificial light; luckily Riggs’ 18-wheeler is heavily illuminated.

I spoke with Snyder about the comic, its villain, the differences between launching a creator-owned comic vs. a DC title, his plans for Best Jackett Press and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alex Segura on ‘The Dusk’

The editor, author and comics writer discusses his current project that’s up on Kickstarter, as well as his next comics-themed novel, Micro-Face and more.

Alex Segura has many irons in many fires on any given day. He serves as co-president of Archie Comics, where he has also been known to write comics featuring the flagship character meeting bands like the Ramones and the B-52s. And when he’s not in Riverdale, he’s working on his own projects, whether that’s novels like the Peter Fernandez mystery series and Poe Dameron: Free Fall, or comics like The Black Ghost and The Dusk.

It’s the latter that’s occupying a lot of his time right now. It’s a new comic he’s made with Elizabeth Little, David Hahn, Ellie Wright, Taylor Esposito and Joseph Illidge, and it currently has 10 days left in its Kickstarter campaign. It’s about a lawyer/divorced dad by day, superhero by night who tries to take a different approach to fighting crime.

Segura was kind enough to speak with me about this project, as well as his next novel, Secret Identity, and an upcoming comic he’s made with the folks at NPR’s Planet Money podcast, among other topics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Abraham Riesman on ‘True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee’

The author and journalist discusses his new book on the life and career of longtime Marvel editor and publisher Stan Lee.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee is, I would argue, the best book written about the longtime Marvel editor and publisher Stan Lee. It is a thoroughly researched look at Lee’s life, his family history, his business dealings at Marvel and afterwards.

Lee’s defenders have been attacking or dismissing the book since before its publication, because it dents the myth of Stan Lee that he and others built. Unfortunately much of the conversation around the book has been around whether Lee is given too little credit for Marvel’s success in the 1960s instead of seriously addressing a lot of the issues that author Abraham Riesman uncovers and writes about at length.

Abraham Riesman is a journalist best known for his work at New York Magazine’s Vulture. He’s written extensively about the comics industry over the years, but in this book, Riesman writes a story of assimilation, of the fantasy of success and the brutality reality of it, of corporate criminality. Lee was beloved by many; he is a complicated figure at best.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mat Groom on ‘Inferno Girl Red’

The co-writer of Marvel’s ‘Ultraman’ discusses his latest graphic novel, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

After writing Self/Made and working with Kyle Higgins on Marvel’s Ultraman comics, Mat Groom is focusing his love for tokusatsu superheroes and boarding school dramas into a new project — Inferno Girl Red, which is currently up on Kickstarter and has already surpassed its goal just two days in.

The 100-page graphic novel is about a pragmatic girl named Cássia with a secret legacy and a magical dragon bracelet that gives her the means to stop the ancient cult attempting to offer her home, Apex City, to their demonic dark lord. Unfortunately, the bracelet is powered by belief, and Cássia doesn’t have much of that to spare.

Groom has teamed up with artist Erica D’Urso, colorist Igor Monti, letterer Becca Carey and design group For The People, with Higgins serving as editor. We spoke about the project, how it came together and what the best boarding school dramas are.

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Smash Pages Q&A: G Romero-Johnson on ‘SFSX: Terms of Service’

The artist of the newest volume of the queer science fiction tale discusses her process and approach to creating the new story.

Sfsx (Safe Sex) was a stunning book when it was published in 2019. Writer Tina Horn was new to comics, but the journalist and podcaster took to the language of comics in a really exciting way. The queer science fiction tale was like nothing else in comics. The dystopic series is returning in a new graphic novel coming out from Image Comics. Writer Tina Horn and editor/designer Laurenn McCubbin and other members of the team are back with a new artist, G Romero-Johnson.

SFSX: Terms of Service is currently being kickstarted and G Romero-Johnson was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk. A cartoonist and illustrator, she’s made comics like Sweet Insecurity and The Red Side of The Moon and her work has appeared in anthologies including Stratos and the upcoming Nectar.

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