AT SKYLIGHT: ERIC ORNER presents SMAHTGUY with MIMI POND

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Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank (Metropolitan Books)

Eric Orner, the acclaimed cartoonist of one of the country’s most popular and longest-running gay comic strips, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, presents his debut graphic novel—a dazzling, irreverent biography of the iconic and iconoclastic Barney Frank, one of the first gay and out congressmen and a front-line defender of civil rights.

What are the odds that a disheveled, zaftig, closeted kid with the thickest of Jersey accents might wind up running Boston on behalf of a storied Irish Catholic political machine, drafting the nation’s first gay rights laws, reforming Wall Street after the Great Recession, and finding love, after a lifetime assuming that he couldn't and wouldn’t?

In Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank, one of America’s first out members of Congress and a gay and civil rights crusader for an era is confirmed as a hero of our age. But more than a biography of an indispensable LGBTQ pioneer, this funny, beautifully rendered, warts-and-all graphic account reveals the down-and-dirty inner workings of Boston and DC politics.

As Frank’s longtime staff counsel and press secretary, Eric Orner lends his first-hand perspective to this extraordinary work of history, paying tribute to the mighty striving of committed liberals to defend ordinary Americans from an assault on their shared society.

Eric Orner is an author and cartoonist whose groundbreaking LGBTQ comic The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, is anthologized in 4 books from St. Martin’s Press, and a 2016 omnibus from Northwest Press. The comic was adapted as a feature film in 2006.  His politically charged work has appeared widely in publications including Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and McSweeneys.

Eric’s had a bifurcated career, working on Capitol Hill as an attorney and communications director, and in the world of visual arts—doing a stint as a storyboard artist at Walt Disney animation, as well as illustrating many books by his brother, novelist Peter Orner. His debut graphic novel, Smahtguy, the Life and Times of Barney Frank was published by Henry Holt Metropolitan Books in May 2022. Smahtguy was included on a number of Best Books of 2022 lists, including NPR’s which said; “Eric Orner’s sweeping graphic novel about the life of Congressman Barney Frank isn’t just a great story, it’s an enveloping visual experience by a terrific artist. Even if you were to page through this book without looking at any of the words, it would still be a great read”.

Mimi Pond is a lifelong cartoonist and televison writer who has published work in many periodicals such as the Village Voice, the New Yorker Magazine and the Los Angeles TImes. She is the author of seven books.Her works include The “Valley Girls’ Guide to Life” and two best-selling graphic novels, “Over Easy” and “The Customer is Always Wrong,” published in 2014 and 2017 by Drawn and Quarterly. She is currently at work on a graphic biography of the six Mitford Sisters, to be entitled, “Do Admit: Making Sense of the Mitford Sisters.” She is the recipient of the Pen Center USA Award for her body of work, an Inkpot Award and an Eisner Award. Her tv credits include the premiere episode of the Simpsons, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” episodes of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and Designing Women.