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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Marcus Kwame Anderson”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Jason Novak”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Scott Snyder on ‘Nocterra’”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Alex Segura on ‘The Dusk’”

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.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Mat Groom on ‘Inferno Girl Red’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Justin Jordan on ‘Breaklands’

The writer of ‘Urban Animals,’ ‘Luther Strode’ and many other comics discusses the second season of the comiXology title, world-building, writing a digital title and more.

Justin Jordan is the writer behind comics series like The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Dead Body Road, Reaver, Spread, Strayer and many others. He writes the Webtoon series Urban Animals, which is wrapping up its third season now. He wrote the upcoming Summoner’s War: Legacy comic launching in April.

Meanwhile the second season of his series with artist Tyasseta, Breaklands, is coming out on comiXology now, with the fifth and final issue out March 23. The first season has just been collected into a trade collection from Dark Horse Comics.

We spoke about the appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction, his approach to world-building, writing for digital vs. print, and more.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Justin Jordan on ‘Breaklands’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente on ‘King Kirby’

The two collaborators discuss adapting their play about Jack Kirby as an audio drama.

Fred Van Lente is well known to comics readers for his many comics, including The Incredible Hercules and Archer and Armstrong, his novels The Con Artist and Ten Dead Comedians, and a string of great comics he’s made with Ryan Dunlavey including Action Philosophers, The Comic Book History of Comics and The Comic Book History of Animation. Crystal Skillman is a playwright and scriptwriter best known for the plays Open and Rain and Zoe Save the World and the musical Mary and Max

The two have collaborated in the past by writing the Webtoon series Eat Fighter, and they wrote the play King Kirby, about the legendary Jack Kirby. Originally produced in 2014, the play is currently being released as a four-part audio drama from the Broadway Podcast Network. Edited and with original music by Bobby Cronin, King Kirby stars Steven Rattazzi, Amy Lee Pearsall, Nat Cassidy, Joseph Mathers and Timothy McCown Reynolds.

The fourth episode of King Kirby is out today, a day before the release of issue #4 of The Comic Book History of Animation by Van Lente and Dunlavey, and tonight is the live reading of Pulp Verite, a new play written by Skillman. We spoke recently about Jack Kirby, theatricality and working in audio drama.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente on ‘King Kirby’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Fielder on ‘Infinitum’

The creator of ‘Matty’s Rocket’ talks about his latest graphic novel, Afrofuturism, what he’s working on next and more.

Tim Fielder had been working as an artist and animator for years before making a splash a few years ago with Matty’s Rocket. A stunning Afrofuturist graphic novel, the book was a dynamic artistic triumph on so many levels.

His new book is Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale, which was just released by Harper Collins’ Amistad Press. It’s an original Afrofuturist graphic novel published by a major American publisher, and Fielder admits that he understands the significance — just as he understands what it means to find this success after working for decades and becoming an overnight sensation.

Infinitum is an epic in every sense of the word, about a warlord from the dawn of civilization cursed to live forever. Beyond that, as the book moves ahead centuries and millennia, are a lot of twists and turns that make it difficult to talk about it without spoiling anything, but I was thrilled to talk with Fielder again about this new project.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Fielder on ‘Infinitum’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Mike Phillips on ‘The Tessellation’

The writer of the alternate-reality comic talks about the project, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

Alternate history novels and comic series like Marvel’s What If? have explored what happens when a major change occurs in history, but what about the minor choices we make every day? A new comic project on Kickstarter explores the idea that every choice we make creates a different outcome — and a new reality.

The Tessellation is written by Mike Phillips and explores this idea that multiple realities and alternate timelines are created every time we make a choice. The story will explore those different realities in an interesting way on the comics page. “Think of it as the most unique anthology you’ve ever read, at least formatting-wise,” Phillips said.

Phillips is working with the art team of Hernán Gonzalez and Javi Laparra to create the comic, along with publisher Martian Lit,and is currently running a Kickstarter to fund its publication. I spoke with Mike about the project, alternate realities, the comic’s unique structure and more.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Mike Phillips on ‘The Tessellation’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook

Ryan Estrada talks about being a globetrotting cartoonist, and his wife Kim Hyun-Sook discusses the real story behind ‘Banned Book Club.’

2020 was quite a year for Ryan Estrada: Iron Circus published two of his graphic novels: Banned Book Club (co-written with his wife, Kim Hyun Sook, with art by Ko Hyung-Ju), which was published in both Korea and North America, and the middle-grade graphic novel Student Ambassador, co-created with artist Axur Eneas.

Banned Book Club received rave reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It was also a Junior Library Guild selection and made numerous best-of-the-year lists, including NPR, The Beat and YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Student Ambassador‘s debut was a little quieter, but it’s a very clever, insightful graphic novel and one of my own choices for best of the year.

Kim Hyun-Sook and Ryan Estrada. Credit: Stacy Shmittling

I interviewed Estrada and Kim via e-mail (they live in Korea) about Banned Book Club, Student Ambassador and the comics life in general.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook”

Smash Pages Q&A: Sebastian Girner

The editor-in-chief of TKO Studios discusses their approach to making comics, their second year of publishing and the ‘relentless hopelessness’ of his own writing.

Sebastian Girner is the editor-in-chief of TKO Studios, where he’s overseen the publisher’s launch, its approach to publishing, and its diverse lineup of talents and approaches that we’ve seen over the past few years.

Previously Girner worked at Marvel Comics and has edited various creator-owned comics. He’s also written comics, including two projects that came out this year. The Devil’s Red Bride is a miniseries coming out from Vault Comics, and The Father Of All Things is one of the books in TKO’s inaugural line of TKO Shorts.

We spoke recently about his eventful year, about the tone that unites these two different projects, and how he uses the supernatural.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Sebastian Girner”

Smash Pages Q&A: Tea Fougner

The editorial director of comics at King Features talks about their website Comics Kingdom, legacy comic strips, finding new creators and more.

Tea Fougner is a writer, editor, cosplayer and currently the editorial director of comics at King Features. In this job she oversees a wide variety of strips ranging from Beetle Bailey to Zippy the Pinhead, Prince Valiant to Macanudo, Mark Trail to Rhymes with Orange.

Fougner loves comics and comics history, and in recent years has been introducing new artists, new voices and new ways to pay tribute to characters and strips like Flash Forward, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Flash Gordon movie.

Fougner and I attended college together many years ago, and we spoke recently about Comics Kingdom, newspapers and getting at the heart of legacy comic strips.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Tea Fougner”