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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Fantagraphics to publish Ed Piskor’s ‘Red Room’

The comic series will be 12 issues of ‘subversive, stand alone stories that are all part of a larger, twisted narrative.’

Hip Hop Family Tree creator Ed Piskor will debut his first creator-owned, shared universe in a new comic, Red Room, which debuts in May from Fantagraphics.

“Red Room is a cyberpunk, outlaw, splatterpunk comic that you can’t unsee once you feast your eyes on the mayhem,” said Piskor in a press release. “Think of Red Room as modern day E.C. Comics, infused with the dream of Black Mirror. These are subversive, stand alone stories that are all part of a larger, twisted narrative.”

Piskor has been sharing pages from the new project on his Patreon, where he describes it as an “epic in the funnybook tradition of Faust, The Crow and other comics that make parents nervous.

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Fantagraphics’ 2021 line-up includes Windsor-Smith, Panter, Sala and more

See what the Seattle publisher will release in the first eight months of 2021.

I keep saying things like, “Man, am I going to be happy when the dumpster fire known as 2020 is finally over,” to which my wife will respond, “Hey, 2021 may not be any better.”

But here’s the thing: what my wife doesn’t realize is that 2021 has the distinct advantage of having a new Barry Windsor-Smith graphic novel coming out, courtesy of Fantagraphics. So take that, 2020.

Windsor-Smith’s Monster isn’t the only graphic novel the publisher will release, of course. They recently dropped us a note highlighting 16 other titles they have planned through August, along with their full winter and summer catalogs.

Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights you can expect from the Seattle publisher next year:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Mr. Fish

The cartoonist, writer and teacher talks about his latest book, ‘Nobody Left,’ and much more.

Mr. Fish is a cartoonist, writer and teacher who’s had three books out this year. Nobody Left was a collection of interviews, essays, comics and artwork. He illustrated the book The Day the Rats Vetoed Congress, a political satire written by Ralph Nader. He also edited and drew much of Long Story Short, an anthology of artwork about great works of literature.

The three books are very different and cover a lot of intellectual and emotional ground and we were able to talk recently about politics and activism, the role of art and artists, and what satire really can be.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Matthew Southworth

The artist of ‘The Cloven’ discusses his latest project, working with Garth Stein, the intersection of his art with his music, and more.

Matthew Southworth has been working in comics for years, pencilling and inking a long list of projects, but the odds are that most readers know him for Stumptown. He and writer Greg Rucka made two miniseries about the Portland private eye Dex Parios, and while never a bestseller, the book is beloved by its fans and the basis for the current television show on ABC.

Southworth’s new book is The Cloven, a collaboration with writer Garth Stein that was released by Fantagraphics this summer. The comic is about James “Tuck” Tucker, a genetically modified human who escapes from a research lab to live in the Pacific Northwest. And while the story sounds familiar, what Southworth and Stein do with the story is much less so. Southworth has always been an artist interested in mood and atmosphere, using pacing and color to play with the tone in different ways, and The Cloven is his most masterful work yet.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Garth Stein

The author of ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ talks about ‘The Cloven,’ his graphic novel collaboration with artist Matthew Southworth.

Garth Stein is an author, playwright, filmmaker and former race car driver who most people probably know for his international bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain. His latest project adds another descriptor to the list — graphic novel writer. Stein has teamed up with Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth for The Cloven, a three-part graphic novel series being published by Fantagraphics.

The Cloven is the story of a genetically modified human named Tuck, who is a cross between a human and a goat — a Cloven. While Tuck just wants is to live a normal life as a university student, it all goes to hell when he shows a girl his hooves. It’s a story of labs, family, loss and community, set in the streets of Seattle and the surrounding area, as Tuck searches for a place in the world. It’s also a beautiful graphic novel, showcasing the talent and skill of its creators.

Part one of the planned trilogy came out at the end of July, and Stein was kind enough to talk with me about it, working with Southworth and Fantagraphics, learning the language of comics and a whole lot more.

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Mail Call | Fantagraphics 40% off sale, Batman, Pearl Jam and more

Rounding up news from IDW, DC, Image and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we received from publishers in our mailboxes recently. Hit the links for more information.

Fantagraphics is holding a 40% off clearance sale on their website right now, which ends this Saturday. There’s a lot of good stuff to choose from, including volumes of the Mome anthology, Dungeon Quest, some Michael Kupperman books, Roger Langridge’s Fred the Clown and more.

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35 years in the making, Barry Windsor-Smith’s ‘Monsters’ arrives next January

Fantagraphics will publish the 360-page graphic novel next year.

Fantagraphics has announced that they will publish Barry Windsor-Smith’s long-in-the-making Monsters next January.

Monsters is a 360-page graphic novel that has been in development for 35 years. The publisher describes it as “part familial drama, part espionage thriller, part metaphysical journey — in sum, an intimate portrait of individuals and an epic political odyssey spanning two generations of American history.”

“After putting so much time and investing so much creative energy in this project,” Windsor-Smith said in the press release, “I’m pleased that it’s finally being published.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sami Alwani

The creator of the award-winning ‘The Dead Father’ discusses his latest work for Fantagraphics’ ‘Now’ anthology.

Sami Alwani is a Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator who, by his own admission, works slowly, but in the past few years has produced a number of comics for Vice, Broken Pencil and other publications. He received a 2018 Doug Wright Award for his comic The Dead Father.

Alwani has a new comic in NOW #8, the current issue of the Fantagraphics anthology. The Misfortunes of Virtue isn’t just a good comic, but I would argue it’s Alwani’s best work to date. We spoke recently about life during lockdown, working slowly and where that title comes from.

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Support comics retailers by buying this ‘Love and Rockets’ shirt

Sport some Gilbert Hernandez artwork while helping out a good cause.

Fantagraphics is offering a new T-shirt to raise money for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or Binc.

“Ripped straight from the pages of Love and Rockets Vol. IV #8,” the new shirt features artwork by Gilbert Hernandez:

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Comics Lockdown: Publishers react to COVID-19

With news from Marvel, Dark Horse, Humanoids, Vault Comics and more.

Marvel offers some suggestions on how to support local comic shops, along with a list of stores that are still open and what services they provide.

Christina Merkler of Discount Comic Book Service discusses the effect of the Diamond shutdown on the Collected Comics Podcast.

UK comics blogger John Freeman rounds up resources and links, including free comics sites, information on UK stores that sell by mail order, and stuff to keep homebound kids amused, at Down the Tubes.

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L.A. Times announces 2020 Book Prize nominees

Works by Eleanor Davis, Michael DeForge, Jaime Hernandez, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell received nominations.

The Los Angeles Times has announced the nominees for their annual Book Prize awards, which includes a graphic novel category. Three Drawn and Quarterly releases received nominations, along with one each from Fantagraphics and First Second.

The L.A. Times has given an award in the graphic novel category since 2009, when Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli won the award. Other previous winners include The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez, Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines and Beverly by Nick Drnaso. Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeamwon the award last year.

The nominees in the “Graphic Novel/Comics” category are:

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