Articles Published the Week of March 22nd

Stan Sakai prepares for the long-awaited return of "Usagi Yojimbo"

I've long been a fan of "Usagi Yojimbo,"and after two years the series is returning this year. I was thrilled that I was asked to talk with him about the book and we had a god conversation about returning to the book, what he's been doing for the past two years and how it's affected his work, and more.

David Michelinie talks Ant-Man, Iron Man's alcoholism, "BOZZ Chronicles" and more

Michelinie has had an incredible career in comics. There are long runs writing "Action Comics" and  "The Amazing Spider-Man," two of the biggest, most iconic comics in the world. He wrote or co-wrote the definitive run on "Iron Man." If all you know about the character is what you know from the Robert Downey Jr. movies, then that character owes a lot to what he did. He also created Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man, aka Paul Rudd in this summer's movie). He also created a really interesting short-lived series from the 1980's, "The BOZZ Chronicles" about an alien in Victorian England, which is finally being collected this summer.

Peter Bagge revisits his joke-telling, cartoon-making "Sweatshop"

Peter Bagge has been one of the funniest people in comics longer than I've been reading comics. Fantagraphics has published a collection of the short-lived series that DC published. "Sweatshop" is about the young cartoonists who do the actual work of creating a bad comic strip which is credited to an aging hack. It's a lot of fun

Articles Published the Week of March 15th

The Afterlife of the Voice: An Interview with Peter Gizzi

I've long been a fan of Peter Gizzi's poetry - and as I relate in the article's introduction, Gizzi and I met once many years ago - and we had the chance to talk about his new book, In Defense of Nothing, a selected volume of his poetry which Gizzi himself selected. We spoke about how he found a new context and order for the poems and the idea of a poem as a journey, and considering the life of a writer.

Rhianna Pratchett: Tomb Raider

Rhianna Pratchett has been writing video games for years and her work on Tomb Raider has been a huge hit. She's currently writing the Dark Horse comic series Tomb Raider, which will lead into the new video game Rise of the Tomb Raider, which will come out at the end of the year. We spoke about comics, video games, and since I had her, I asked a little about The Watch and Wee Free Men.

Doug TenNapel talks unearthing the sprawling epic of "Nnewts"

TenNapel has been making comics and working in video games and animation for years. Right now the man is as busy as he's ever been. Scholastic is publishing a new series of graphic novels, "Nnewts," the first volume of which is out now. He's also executive producer of the new "VeggieTales in the House" series from Netflix and Dreamworks. He's also the designer of "Armikrog," the video game which will be coming out later this year.


Articles Published the Week of March 8th

The Rumpus interview with LaShonda Katrice Barnett

I really loved Jam on the Vine, the debut novel of LaShonda Katrice Barnett, who has crafted an incredible novel about the early 20th Century, the black press, Red Summer of 1919, the way that incarceration has always been a part of African-American life. It's an incredible portrait of a time period and a place, but it's also incredibly contemporary in its concerns and values.

It's an incredible book, one of the best new books I've read so far this year, and I was so thrilled that I had the opportunity to speak with her about the book and the many issues embedded within the novel. We also spoke about her play, L'Echange, which will be staged in New York in May, interviewing and much more. I love the book and Barnett is someone whose name will be coming up a lot in the years to come.


Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize Finalists

Slate is one of those publications that does a good job of covering comics and the Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies just announced the nominees for the third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize.

There's some incredible, brilliant people on this list. (Also, I notice that I've interviewed more than half of them in the past year). I'll admit that I prefer Kerascoet's other 2014 release, Beauty to Beautiful Darkness, but that may just be a question of my own taste - both books are excellent. The winners will be announced in next month's Slate Book Review.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year:

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year:

Colin McEnroe and The Tournament of Books

Every year the website The Morning News holds "The Tournament of Books" which puts sixteen works of fiction from the previous year up against each other in brackets.

What makes it really interesting is the fact that most awards just present a winner, but here at every stage of the process, the judges have to explain and articulate their thoughts.

Colin McEnroe, who hosts an hour long show every weekday at WNPR in Hartford invited three of us onto the show - after having read all the books - to talk about them. So Julia Pistell and Rand Richards Cooper and I read a lot this calendar year.

We were asked at the end to name our pick for which book should win and I selected The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I'm a huge David Mitchell fan as I said on the show and as many people know. I would have loved to have had a long conversation about the fifth section of the book, which I think it's so clearly the book's weak spot.

Still, it was a lot of fun to talk books with other people. Colin said that if there's any blame, then I deserve some of it, and I'm happy to take it.

Articles published the week of March1st

John Bolton reveals the unusual macabre of "Shame"

John Bolton is one of those incredible painters in comics. He's been producing some of the most beautiful pages in comics for more than three decades. Recent years there have been some great new editions of books like "Marada the She-Wolf," "The Black Dragon," "Someplace Strange." Bolton hasn't stopped working, though. He's been painting the miniseries "Shame," the third volume of which has just been released.

Nadja Spiegelman shares how she got "Lost in NYC"

Nadja Spiegelman has a new graphic novel she wrote coming out in April from Toon Books. "Lost in NYC" is a gorgeous collaboration with the Spanish artist Sergio Garcia Sanchez that centers around the subway and features an incredibly designed page layouts making for a book that's designed for kids but is something that adults will find incredible.

The book is also being released in a simultaneous Spanish-language edition and the duo will be on tour for the book next month:


Articles Published the Week of February 22nd

Erika Moen reveals the secrets behind the funny, educational "Oh Joy, Sex Toy"

I'm a huge fan of Erika Moen's work. This dates back to "DAR," her autobiographical webcomic, which to my mind remains one of the really important and influential works of American comics in the 21st century. Her current project is "Oh Joy, Sex Toy," which is funny and educational and a really interesting work that I always read. I've met Erika a few times over the years and I always get a feel for her in her work

JP Ahonen on drawing bears, "Sing No Evil" and the Finnish Comics Scene

Way back in the fall I got to sit down with JP Ahonen and we spoke about his great graphic novel "Sing No Evil" which is incredibly fun and really interesting. We spoke about the book - and he's currently working on a sequel - working on weekly comic strips and how they differe from the graphic novel, and what the Finnish comics scene is like. (He gives a few shout outs and recommendations of people we should be reading)

John Romita, Sr. reflects on his Spider-Man legacy, Gwen Stacy's death and Stan Lee

One of the defining artists of the Silver Age of American Comics, and next only to Jack Kirby, the artist who defined Marvel Comics, John Romita, Sr. doesn't draw much anymore, but I had the opportunity to speak with him shortly after his 85th birthday. A fabulous artist, a true gentleman

Lisa Unger: Crazy Love You

I like supernatural thrillers, but honestly, I tend to like them more in theory than in practice. It's more about taste, really, but I loved Lisa Unger's new novel "Crazy Love You." Part of the reason is that the book is as much a character drama as it is a thriller. I read the entire book in about a day and it was just a fabulous book so we spoke about how she works and the way this book was a change form her typical approach.