Sally here with Vanesa R. Del Rey’s new book, work by Sylvie Fontaine, Fiona Smyth, and Gabriella Tito, and notes on the All Time Comics project.


Frank Santoro: Vanesa, I’m quite taken aback by your sheer technical ability which seems to be married to a poetic sensibility. There’s a lightness there. Sometimes illustrators with that ability get heavy-handed. Yet you manage the push-pull between the two sides of yourself – because you’re like a samurai. The humble samurai.

Vanesa R. Del Rey: It’s about trying to remember that. I can get all this praise, I can get all these amazing responses from strangers, but at the end of the day – I’m still a student. I’m still learning. The crown doesn’t fit. The crown should never fit.”

In May 2016 Vanesa R. Del Rey came to Pittsburgh, PA, to visit the Rowhouse and share her sketchbooks and her passion for comics with Frank and the rest of us. Their conversations about her work and experiences have been transformed into the book The Art of Vanesa R. Del Rey, which is full of gorgeous images as well. You can get a peak into the book at the pre-order site HERE – the book will be released later this month!

Vanesa is known for her work on Marvel’s Black Widow, and the Boom Studios stories Hit and The Empty Man. She is the “vertical invader” in comics that Frank has always talked about – the artist who “could employ the naturalism of the Noel Sickles/Alex Toth school but who could paint like an Alice Neel or a Jenny Saville.

Vanesa is an inspiration to me on a lot of levels, and getting to hear more of her stories and thoughts via this new book – getting to hang out with this samurai! – is a great privilege. To hear another woman voice out loud something like “I want to be a strong female – I want to be powerful” and then to watch her truly kick ass IS incredibly powerful.

Check out more of Vanesa’s work HERE.

Pre-order a copy of The Art of Vanesa R. Del Rey HERE!


Big news broke yesterday – EW revealed that Fantagraphics is going to release a line of superhero comes starting in March 2017. Wait…whut?!

Headed by writer Josh Bayer, the All Time Comics line launches in March 2017 with All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1. The supersized issue will introduce the four main characters of this shared superhero universe: Atlas, Bullwhip, Crime Destroyer, and Blind Justice, each of whom will be getting their own individual series. As proof of the line’s blending of eras, this first issue will feature the final published comics work of the late Herb Trimpe, a Marvel veteran of the Lee/Kirby era who helped co-create Wolverine. 

All Time Comics will also feature work from the likes of Al Milgrom (who co-created DC’s Firestorm), as well as younger artists like Noah Van Sciver and Ben Marra. Each issue, Bayer promises, will feature a new unique mash-up of different cartoonists.” – via EW

It’s true – here’s the pre-order page on Fantagraphics’ website. And I do think this is exciting news. I totally want to read a superhero comic that Noah Van Sciver has worked on. But Heidi MacDonald over on The Comics Beat has already voiced the thought that immediately occurred to me – the project is kind of “a throwback boys club that proves just how far comics have come….not. Tsk tsk, boys.  Haven’t you heard the news? Girl cooties are allowed around comics now and even superheroes!

Heidi shouts for Katie Skelly to get in on the project, or else. I am going to start the clamor for Lale Westvind and Anya Davidson and Vanesa R. Del Rey for heavens sake, and I’m going to keep adding to the list!

Overall I do think it’s a cool project (I look forward to collecting the issues!) and I like what Bayer has to say about it:

All Time Comics is celebration of independent comics and the best of pulpy superhero comics of the past,” Bayer tells EW. “We are making a circle complete. This is also a period when comics seem to be in danger of being eclipsed by movies and video games, and All Time Comics is here to remind people that comics, not movies, not action figures or toys, that started our cultural obsession with superheroes. All Time Comics is us, and we stand for comics. Comics are not fading. They will stand… for all time.” – via EW

The EW press release is HERE. Heidi on The Comics Beat has the whole list of who exactly is working on what issues at the end of her post, HERE.


I spend two days a week at one of the best alternative comics shops in the world – Copacetic Comics, in the Polish Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A twice-weekly perusal of the shelves or a thorough dig through the many long boxes of small press and self-published work usually turns up a few treasures.

Yesterday I poured over a little book by Sylvie Fontaine, called Miss Va-Nu-Pieds (2008). Sylvie Fontaine is a French comics maker who has been publishing work since the 90’s. Despite the fact that her book Le Poulet du Dimanche (2007) earned an introduction by Moebius himself, the internet did not reveal much more about her. I was quite content with Miss Va-Nu-Pieds though.

The black and white panels reminded me of Frans Masereel woodcuts, with a little Mary Fleener mixed in. The wordless story follows a young woman through a swiftly changing wonderland. She moves forward constantly, encountering new landscapes and beings, falling into traps and narrowly avoiding accidents, planting , dancing, until she rides a giant hand to a point of rest and possibly fulfillment.

I would say you can get a copy of this book at Copacetic, but I think I’m keeping it. So if you’re interested, you can order it through the publisher, Tanibis.


Another work that I was reminded of while looking at Miss Va-Nu-Pieds was The Rendered (2016) by Fiona Smyth. Perhaps something about the harsh black and white made me long for hot pink – although there is a slight stylistic similarity.

Speaking of Fiona Smyth, when I saw her this past summer she was bemoaning the fact that the building in Toronto where her studio has been located for years was being torn down, or was kicking all the artists out – something really depressing – and now I see on her site that she’s having a final studio sale. Boooooo. She’ll be selling drawings, paintings, zines, and prints on Dec. 10th and then Dec. 17/18th – here are the details.

In other news – much more delightful news! – I just discovered Fiona’s CHEEZ archive. CHEEZ is a weekly strip that Fiona has been publishing on the web since…2009?! It was “originally a monthly comic/drawing published in Canada’s Exclaim Magazine over a ten year period from 1992 to 2002.

Here is the first strip that appeared on the site in 2009:


And the most recent one:


Yes, you read that correctly – Fiona Smyth has drawn 489 CHEEZ strips. Check them all out HERE!


There are 4 days left to get an early application in for the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers, and get that sweet $100 off discount on the Winter Semester. Apply by Dec. 13th!

The course starts December 29th 2016, and you have until the 28th to submit an application – the course is 8 weeks long – Frank takes 10 students and you won’t find a better teacher out there. One-on-one feedback, techniques and ideas about comics that will transform your practice and push you to a whole new level. Winter is the time to hunker down and make some serious work – and have a bit of fun too. Check out the course – take the course: More details can be found HERE – or email santoroschoolATgmail.


Suzy and Cecil – 12-9-2016 – by Gabriella Tito

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