Smash Pages Q&A | Jordan Morris on ‘Youth Group’

The writer of the new graphic novel from First Second talks about his comic book origins, character playlists, collaborating with Bowen McCurdy and more.

If you ever participated in church youth groups as a teenager, you owe it to yourself to check out Youth Group by Jordan Morris and Bowen “Bones” McCurdy.

The genuinely funny story features Kay, whose mom coerces her into attending the youth group at their church in Orange County, where Kay gets to participate in singalongs featuring pop songs where the words have been changed to celebrate Jesus and encourage abstinence, and meet overenthusiastic leaders like Meg. She also discovers that she’s a “Blight,” a person who can’t be possessed by demons, which is both helpful and a hindrance because the Stone Mission Church youth group is really a front for a group of demon hunters fighting a war, and her Blight blood makes her a target.

First Second will publish the graphic novel this week, and Morris was kind enough to answer some of my questions about it

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Steven S. DeKnight goes all in on comics with two new graphic novel projects

‘Beneath’ will debut from Comixology in August, while ‘Hard Bargain’ from Humanoids kicks off a crowdfunding campaign today.

While Steven S. DeKnight is no stranger to comics, he’s probably best known for his TV work, on shows like Smallville, Daredevil, Spartacus and many others. But that perception could change, as DeKnight has not one but two new graphic novels coming up that were both announced today.

Now up on Kickstarter is Hard Bargain, which features artwork by Leno Carvalho and will be published by Humanoids.

Hard Bargain has been a dream 30 years in the making. An idea that sprang from my love of two-fisted, hard-boiled detective stories and matinee creature-features of days gone by,” said DeKnight. “I’m thrilled to finally have that dream realized via the incredible artwork of Leno Carvalho and the good people at Humanoids.”

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Raina Telgemeier + Scott McCloud are making a comic about making comics

Scholastic will publish ‘The Cartoonists Club’ next year.

Two of comics greatest creators and ambassadors are teaming up on a new graphic novel that “blends captivating narrative, how-to, and the enchanting art of comics to inspire a new generation of young cartoonists.” The Cartoonists Club, by Raina Telgemeier and Scott MCloud, will be released by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint next year.

Telgemeier will combine her experience creating best-selling graphic novels like Smile, Drama and Guts with the expertise McCloud has shown in books like Understanding Comics and its two sequels.

“Whenever I speak to kids, they ask me what advice I have for budding cartoonists,” Telgemeier said. “I hope this book serves as a good answer, or at least a great jumping-off point! I have wanted a book like this to exist for a long time, and collaborating on it with Scott has truly been a dream come true. I’m ecstatic for younger readers to discover Scott’s insights into how comics work, what makes them special, and how to think about them!” 

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Quick Hits | Idaho graduate offers her superintendent a banned graphic novel while accepting her diploma

Plus: Tom Luth, Bram Stoker Awards, Broom Hilda and the Ernie Bushmiller Society.

One of this year’s high school graduates from the Idaho Fine Arts Academy tried to hand her superintendent a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that was removed from her school’s library earlier in the year.

The ABC affiliate KVUE reports that Annabelle Jenkins, one of 44 seniors to walk at the graduation, brought the book with her and tried to give it to Superintendent Derek Bub as she went on stage to accept her diploma. Bub would not accept the copy of the book, so Jenkins then dropped it at his feet.

Jenkins, a volunteer at her local library and a lifelong reader, said an argument between a teacher and the school librarian brought the book to her attention. “It was over the graphic novel The Handmaid’s Tale and I was just so shocked because I had never seen school staff behave that way in a school setting,” she said.

The book ended up being contested and removed from West Ada school shelves.

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Tim Bird incorporates his mother’s paintings into the stunning ‘Adrift on a Painted Sea’

Check out our exclusive preview of the new graphic novel, which Avery Hill is currently funding through Kickstarter.

Courtesy of Avery Hill Publishing, we’re happy to present a preview of Adrift on a Painted Sea, a new graphic novel by Tim Bird that also features the paintings of his mother Sue Bird. It’s currently up on Kickstarter, with a campaign that runs through June 21.

Bird is an award-winning illustrator and comic artist based in Winchester, England; his graphic novel From the City to the Sea a British Comic Award in 2015. He’s published a number of comics through Avery Hill, including The Great North Wood and Infrastructure, but this latest one may be his most personal work yet.

Adrift on a Painted Sea is about the life of Bird’s mother, who passed away during the height of COVID. She was an amateur painter who created countless works of art — botanical art, landscapes, still lifes and painting of the sea. She never sold her paintings, but would give them away to family and friends, and hang them in her own home. Bird has brilliantly combined his own comics work with her paintings to capture her life, and also showcase her incredible work.

You can find our preview below, along with more information on the graphic novel.

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Exclusive Preview | Take a look at Vince Locke’s artwork from ‘Essentials’

The graphic novel by Luke Arnold, Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt and a host of artists will wrap up its crowdfunding campaign this week.

With less than three days left on the clock, we’re pleased to present an exclusive preview of Essentials, the graphic novel by Luke Arnold, Chris “Doc” Wyatt and a host of artists that’s currently winding down its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

Essentials is about a mathematician who predicted the end of the world but failed to prevent it. He discovers there are other survivors, but they’re trapped in alternate “dream” realities full of zombies, robots, mythical creatures and more. Each of these alternate realities will be illustrated by a different artist, including Vince Locke, Andrea Mutti, MK Perker, Brendan McCarthy, DaNi and Jason Howard, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong, and lettering by DC Hopkins.

Today we’re sharing pages from Locke’s chapter, which appropriately is set in a reality filled with zombies.

“Somehow Essentials feels deeply personal but also the greatest collaboration I could hope to be a part of,” Arnold said. “I love writing novels on my own, but a comic is always going to be a group project, and it’s all about embracing and celebrating that partnership. Because what we write isn’t going to an audience, it’s going to a team of dedicated, talented artists who turn our dreams into reality. And then there’s The Lab, who have been with us the whole way, pushing to make this book as impactful as possible.”

Arnold told me when we initially talked about the project that he and Wyatt were afraid their publisher, the Lab Press, might shut them down when they suggested using different artist for each reality. But they were into it.

“The people at The Lab Press are deeply, deeply weird people,” Wyatt said. “Just hanging out with them, you’re like– these are strange people. Really. It’s a lot. But it worked great for us, because we had a strange story, and they were excited to publish it.”

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Smash Pages Q&A | Will Tempest on ‘Harsh Prospect’

The creator of the webcomic-turned-crowdfunded graphic novel discusses the science fiction/horror story, his approach to design and his work in the tabletop game space.

Will Tempest is an artist based out of Edinburgh in the UK, where he creates comics, tabletop RPGs and more in the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres. Last year he crowdfunded a print collection of his webcomic, Harsh Prospect, which is available to read on the web, on Webtoon or to purchase for download.

Harsh Prospect is a science fiction story in the vein of The Thing or Alien, as a struggling colony on an alien world discovers “a blob of goo” that proves to be more than they bargained for. The eerie setting is made even more so by Tempest’s designs; readers of Tempest’s work on Cities of Magick or Materials know that he has an eye for creative yet practical character and creature designs.

I spoke with Tempest about the project, as well as a tabletop game he’s developed with his brother. We discuss the comic, its influences, his approach to design, what I learned from crowdfunding and more. My thanks for his time.

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Dark Horse will collect Tom Siddell’s award-winning webcomic ‘Gunnerkrigg Court’

The first collection of the long-running comic arrives in November.

Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrigg Court webcomic has been running since 2005 and is approaching its 100th chapter — so there’s no better time for Dark Horse to announce plans to collect it into an omnibus series.

The fantasy comic has been published by BOOM!’s Archaia imprint in the past, as well as by Titan in the UK. It has been nominated for numerous awards over the years, and in 2021 took home the award for best long-form webcomic at the NCS Divisional Awards. Dark Horse will collect the first two volumes “Orientation” and “Research,” into the first volume, which amounts to 586 pages of comics. They plan to release it both in softcover and as a limited edition hardcover.  

“Anyone with a taste for mystery, an eye for the fantastic and strange, The Court welcomes you,” Siddell said. “I’m really excited for readers, new and old, to get their hands on the best version of Gunnerkrigg, from a publisher whose work I’ve been enjoying for decades!”

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Slugfest | Spawny returns to kill off … Spawn?

Plus: News and announcements on ‘Uncanny X-Men,’ ‘Gilt Frame,’ Godzilla, Blacksad, ThunderCats and more.

Slugfest is a roundup of cool announcements about projects coming to a shelf near you that we haven’t otherwise covered. Hit the links for more information.

McFarlane Productions has been on a roll introducing Spawn into various genres, and this summer they’ll return to the world of humor and satire with Spawn Kills Every Spawn. Like the previous Spawn Kills Everyone and Spawn Kills Everyone Too, this comic features the tiniest Spawn, Spawny, deciding to kill another set of comic characters — the Spawn universe.

Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob “Sketchcraft” Duenas and colorist Robert Nugent, the five-issue miniseries sees Spawny arrive at a Spawn convention filled with Spawns from around the multiverse, all of whom are more popular than him. So he decides to become the most popular by eliminating the competition.

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Smash Pages Q&A | Josh Hicks on ‘Hotelitor’

The creator of ‘Glorious Wrestling Alliance’ discusses his latest graphic novel about a hotel shaped like a giant robot.

Josh Hicks has worked many odd jobs in his life, which is relevant to the topic of this interview, but right now he is a Welsh animator, cartoonist and director. His work spans comics, animation and music videos. As a filmmaker, he directed Spectre of the Bear, and he helped create animated music videos for the Foo Fighters and Tyler Childers.

On the comics side, Hicks created Glorious Wrestling Alliance, a comic about the surreal world of professional wrestlers, and he’s followed that with a new graphic novel, Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit, which comes out next Wednesday from Graphic Universe. It’s the story of a mobile hotel, shaped like a giant Shogun Warrior or other manga-inspired robot, and the denizens that work and stay in it. When a giant alien monster attacks the hotel, the surviving guests and staff find themselves stranded in deep space, leading to all sorts of chaos, and it’s up to 18-year-old intern Anna Greene and her fellow workers to find a way home.

It’s a fun story about giant robots and aliens, but also has deeper themes around the struggle between classes, how we think of thr service industry and late-stage capitalism. I spoke with Hicks about the project and the themes it touches on, as well as the UK wrestling scene and what he’s working on next. My thanks for his time.

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Daniel Freedman + CROM return for a third volume of ‘Birdking’

The journey to the golden city of Atlas continues this November in the dark fantasy graphic novel.

The Raiders creative team of Daniel Freedman and CROM return to Dark Horse Comics this fall with a third volume of Birdking, their graphic novel series about a teenage girl Bianca and the guardian spirit known only as the “Birdking.”

Together, they spent the previous two volumes trying to reach the city of Atlas, but it looks like only one of them might complete the quest.

“Volume 3 marks a huge turning point for both Bianca and Birdking,” said Freedman, “ and we couldn’t be more excited for readers to experience the next stage of their journey and relish in their self-discoveries and hard-fought triumphs.”

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Smash Pages Q&A | Luke Arnold + Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt on ‘Essentials’

The writing duo discusses their crowdfunding project for the new graphic novel from The Lab Press.

Luke Arnold is an actor and writer best known for his roles as Long John Silver in Black Sails and INXS frontman Michael Hutchence in Never Tear Us Apart. His first novel The Last Smile in Sunder City came out in 2020 as part of the ongoing series The Fetch Phillips Archives.

Chris “Doc” Wyatt is a writer and producer whose work includes independent films like Napoleon Dynamite and Coyote, as well as animated series like Rocket and Groot, Lego Ninjago: Dragons Rising, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. He’s also written comics for Marvel, Dark Horse, 1First Comics and more.

Together, they are the writing team for Essentials, a new graphic novel coming from the newly formed The Lab Press. The story centers on a mathematician who predicted the end of the world but failed to prevent it. He discovers there are other survivors, but they’re trapped in alternate realities full of zombies, robots, mythical creatures and more.

Each of these alternate realities will be illustrated by a different artist, including Vince Locke, Andrea Mutti, MK Perker,Brendan McCarthy, DaNi and Jason Howard, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong, and lettering by DC Hopkins. Bill Sienkiewicz provides a chilling main cover.  

The graphic novel is currently up on Kickstarter, and has already reached its goal. (Please note that the interview was conducted prior to the project’s launch). I spoke with Arnold and Wyatt about the project, working with seven different artists and what’s “Essential” in this story. My thanks to them both for their time.

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