The Virtual Memories Show

Cartoonist James Sturm checks in from Hartland, VT. We talk about how COVID-19 has affected learning at the Center for Cartoon Studies (he's the founder and director of that institution), his weekly digital Sabbath, recording video-dispatches with cartoonists about this experience, missing Tom Spurgeon and how he would have helped us cope with this, and more. • Follow James Instagram and follow CCS on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2019 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_James_Sturm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EDT

Urban fantasy horror writer Richard Kadrey checks in from San Francisco. We talk about how self-isolation impacts his writing, the history of urban plagues, his stab at passing the time by learning to use Windows, Clive Barker as "comfort food" reading, why he doesn't binge on TV series, risking his life for his favorite bourbon, the difference between folk horror and rural horror, and more. • Follow Richard on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Richard_Kadrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31am EDT

Artist & writer Dmitry Samarov checks in from Chicago to talk about self-isolating in a packed-up apartment (he's supposed to move in a month). We talk about his paintings, the lack of social distancing in some neighborhoods he's seen, his current reading (Tropic of Cancer and Ben Katchor's The Dairy Restaurant), and more. • Follow Dmitry through his weekly e-mail • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35am EDT

From St. Louis, my brother Boaz Roth checks in to talk about how his role as a teacher has changed in the COVID-19 era. We get into how this whole experience measures up with the time his house burned down and his family had to live in a rental for 9 months while they rebuilt, the books he's reading, and the optimal size for an online seminar. • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Covid_Check-In_with_Boaz_Roth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44am EDT

From Arlington, MA, essayist and AGNI co-editor Sven Birkerts checks in to let us know what books and poems provide him some degree of solace during the pandemic. We talk about what normal might look like in future and the way the recent past seems unreal, his daily challenge of taking an interesting photo for Instagram, the theme of ongoingness in literature, caring for his 92-year-old mom, and more. Follow Sven on Instagram and Twitter • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2017 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Sven_Birkerts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EDT

It's legendary science fiction author Samuel R. Delany's birthday! Chip checks in from Philadelphia, where he's found himself working on a new piece of fiction. We talk about comparisons with his AIDS-era experiences, his partner Dennis's willingness to share him with Rachel Maddow, his recent binge of Tiger King on Netflix and his disappointment in Da Vinci's Demons, his new website, samueldelany.com, the advantages of turning into his grandmother, his virtual birthday plans, and more. • Follow Chip on Facebook and on his new site • More info at our site • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2017 • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Samuel_R._Delany.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm EDT

Horror fiction editor Ellen Datlow checks in from the West Village of NYC. She talks about the low-grade anxiety of day-to-day life, getting by when USPS services drops to 1-2x/week, turning down an assignment to recommend pandemic-novels for quarantined readers, how her Fantastic Fiction reading series is going virtual, and more. • Follow Ellen on Twitter and sign up for the livestream of her next Fantastic Fiction session • Listen to our full-length podcast from • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ellen_Datlow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EDT

On March 30, Eva Hagberg got the news that she tested positive for COVID-19. We talked that evening about her condition, her previous life-threatening health issues (chronicled in her memoir How To Be Loved) and how they shape her response to this, the impact of self-isolation on sobriety (she's doing fine with that, but worries about others), and more. • Follow Eva on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2019 • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Eva_Hagberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am EDT

On Sunday, March 29, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow (a.k.a. Dan Perkins) checked in to let us know how he's getting by in New York City during the pandemic. We talk about schlocky movies, the current challenge of being political satirist but the benefit of being a science fiction fan, the further collapse of alt-weeklies (and the need to support This Modern World via subscription!), and the last thing he left his apartment for. • More info at our site • Follow Tom Tomorrow on Twitter and Instagram • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Tom_Tomorrow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

A few days ago, cartoonist Peter Kuper returned from Oaxaca, Mexico to the Upper West Side of New York City. He joins the show to talk about why he & his wife made the decision to come back at a time that New York's COVID-19 cases are blowing through the roof. We talk about the communal nature of life in Mexico, whether the situation here matches up with his decades of dystopian visions in World War III Illustrated, the good omen of raising monarch butterflies in his Oaxaca garden, the bad omen of giant scorpions in said garden, his unfortunate choice of reading material just before the pandemic started to spread, and more. (Our most recent podcast was at the end of 2019) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

Jim Ottaviani, award-winning & best-selling author of graphic novels about scientists (think Hawking, Feynman, Fossey, Turing), checks in from Ann Arbor, MI. We talk about how he's balancing his day job and comics writing with the compulsion to read the news and graph out infection rates. We also get into whether his science background has helped his perspective on the pandemic, how the university model might change when we're past this, and what new books he has coming (fingers crossed). You also get a story from me about the limits of risk mitigation plans. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Jim_Ottaviani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EDT

In our first Covid-Check-In podcast, artist Kate Lacour (Vivisectionary, Fantagraphics) calls in from New Orleans while her kids are asleep. We talk about how she's coping — taking care of her kids & her garden, reading Cixin Liu, making diary comics, helping neighbors — and how she's planning to celebrate her birthday tonight. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kate_Lacour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm EDT

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we feel fine! A few weeks before the COVID-19 lockdowns began, pop culture writer and REM maniac Whitney Matheson joined the show to talk about how she managed to blaze her own journalistic trail by writing about the music, movies, TV and books that she loved. We get into how pop culture writing and blogging have changed since she launched Pop Candy at USA Today in 1999, why she left NYC and why she had to come back, the importance of having great content on her Patreon, what it's like being defined by work in her early 20s, how a post about a KFC sandwich remains her most-read piece, and how she has to do triage to figure out what to keep up with. We also get into her upcoming kid's book about the Loch Ness monster, her most recent celebrity freakout, how she taught interviewing skills to students who are unused to talking on the phone, the importance of having a career plan (and trying to stick to it), and how parenthood introduced her to a different world of pop. Oh, and because she's all about lists, we find out her top three American rock bands (including REM, of course). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_367_-_Whitney_Matheson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT

The phenomenal new book, Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian (SUP/Redwood Press), traces the history of an Armenian family from the mountainous woods of Anatolia to suburban NJ. Author Sato Moughalian joins the show to talk about her inspiration to write the life of her grandfather, ceramic tile artist David Ohannessian, the chronicle her family's exodus through the Armenian Genocide, and how she had to prepare herself to visit Turkey as part of her research. We get into the multi-generational process of coping with trauma, the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing denial, how her grandfather wound up helping retile the Dome of the Rock (while bringing Ottoman tile art to Jerusalem), and the way oral storytelling can capture styles that differ from family to family. We also talk through he music background (Sato's an accomplished flutist), the creative community of NYC, her seven-year period of introspection and grief-work, and whether she's considering another book, now that she's got her first volume under her belt. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_366_-_Sato_Moughalian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm EDT

Your host Gil Roth talks about how COVID-19 is impacting his work, his life, and this podcast, in a special bonus episode of The Virtual Memories Show.

Direct download: Covid-19_Bonus_Mini-Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT

The great cartoonist Ben Katchor rejoins the show to talk about his brand-new book, The Dairy Restaurant (Schocken), a 500-page illustrated history of, um, dairy restaurants! We get into what drew him to the milekhdike personality, the remnants of Eastern European Jewish culture that call to him, why this book had to be prose-with-pictures rather than comics, the decades of research and interviews he conducted, and why these restaurants came to represent the history of how Jews moved away from their parents' professions. We also discuss just what went wrong with the world, why his favorite books are old Chicago Yellow Pages directories, why just studying Jewish history can constitute a sort of Judaism, his fascination with interwar Warsaw, his plea for a controlled economy, and why The Dairy Restaurant had to begin in the Garden of Eden. • More info at our site (And check out our past conversations from 2013 and 2016!) • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_365_-_Ben_Katchor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

Writer, actress and adult performer & producer Stoya joins the show to talk about her upcoming NYC theater appearance in Dean Haspiel's new play, The War of Woo. We get into how she's grown as an actress, why porn is like sketch comedy, her joy in the surprises of live theater, publishing her first book, and the mental benefit of moving the decimal. We discuss her vision for her online erotic magazine, ZeroSpaces, the history of labor exploitation in adult entertainment, running a monthly Sex Lit book club, what she's learned as the sex & relationship advice columnist at Slate, her interest in higher education and the next stage of her career, the learning curve of identifying and interacting with different segments of her audience, the unexpected obstacles to intimacy with people outside the adult industry, and why reading a novel is her favorite escape. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_364_-_Stoya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

In a murder hotel in Jersey City, author Cassandra Khaw joins the show to talk about her bad luck with AirBNBs, the root of her fixation on body horror, and how she settled on a cannibal chef for one of her main characters so she could (imaginatively) explore the concept of turning 180 or so pounds of human being into a fine meal. We get into her Food of the Gods series and her other supernatural horror books, her fascination with the aftereffects of violence, the influence of Lovecraft on her work, and the time she embarrassed herself in front of Frances Hardinge. We also talk about her work in the video-game industry and how she entered it by following the convention circuit, what writing games has taught her about storytelling, diversity in the gaming community, and the unique way that games can bring people into other lives and other modes of seeing. Oh, and we get into how she settled on her mythological name! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_363_-_Cassandra_Khaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EDT

With his new novel, The Grand Dark (Harper Voyager), Richard Kadrey takes an artistic leap from his renowned Sandman Slim supernatural noir books. We sit down in a murder hotel to talk about mixing robots and genetic engineering with Weimar Germany, getting inspired by Mel Gordon’s Voluptuous Panic, David Bowie’s Low, and the Brothers Quay’s Street of Crocodiles, the impact of the 2016 election on his writing, and how he's getting ready to end the Sandman Slim series. We also get into the gentrification of the east Village and the Bowery, the thin line between preservation and nostalgia, the moment his brain got warped by Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, our shared love of What We Do In The Shadows, the time he attended a screening of Cronenberg’s Crash with Kathy Acker, his LitReactor course on writing dark urban fantasy, the wonder of being edited by Ellen Datlow, the accretionary model of novel-writing, and why it's okay to build your fantastic world by just looking out the window. (Check out our 2018 conversation!) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_362_-_Richard_Kadrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EDT

With his new memoir, Soviet Stamps, artist & writer Dmitry Samarov explores his experience of emigrating from the USSR as a child, finding his way through late-'70s and '80s America, and becoming an artist. We talk about the book's winding path to self-publication, how his story does and doesn't fit in to the history of Soviet Jewry, how he overcame the embarrassment of including his adolescent art in the book, his 4th grade autobiography and how it managed to predict much of his career, and the possible Dmitry-lives that could have resulted from decisions that were out of his hands. We also get into his notion that art requires disengagement, his gauge for the life and death of artworks, the value of the apprentice system over art school, why he's writing fiction for his next book, and which self-promotional event he hates more: the book reading or the gallery opening. (Oh, and check out our previous conversations: 2014, 2015, and 2018) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_361_-_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18am EDT

The great publisher, editor, anthologizer, retailer and collector of crime fiction, Otto Penzler, joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector (Mysterious Bookshop), and his decision to auction off the world's greatest collection of crime fiction (think ~60,000 first editions). We get into his instant regret about that decision, how it inspired this memoir, and how he's getting by without all those books (especially because he designed his house to accommodate an even larger collection). We discuss the changes in his Mysterious Bookshop and his other Mysterious pursuits as the internet has warped book and retail culture, the camaraderie and friendships that he built over a lifetime of collecting, the mania that can strike during auctions, and the difference between collecting and reading. And we talk about how he learned to edit major writers for his anthologies (including a near-disaster with Joyce Carol Oates), the farthest he’s traveled to acquire a single book, the moment he realized he had a writing style and how that unlocked him as a writer, how he had to choose between Sherlock Holmes and the rest of crime fiction, the vagaries of fame and literary reputation as reflected in book collecting, and why he characterizes himself as a parasite in the mystery world (having done everything but writing a mystery novel of his own). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_360_-_Otto_Penzler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

In a time where immigration is under attack, Joan Marans Dim and Antonio Masi demonstrate the history and importance of immigration in America with Lady Liberty: An Illustrated of America's Most Storied Woman (Fordham University Press). We get into what drew the writer and watercolor painter to the Statue of Liberty, how they came to their previous collaboration on the bridges of New York City, the need to put landmarks into their social, political and economic context, how Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus poem invested the statue with purpose, and how the meaning of liberty has changed in America over the centuries. We also talk about the engineering marvel of the Statue of Liberty, how it was transported from France and assembled in America, the secrets of the hard-hat tour of Ellis Island, and the ways the meaning of liberty has changed in America. But there's also room to talk about Joan and Antonio's differences of approach to a topic, how differently writers and painters approach a topic, how the large scale of Masi’s watercolors helps him engage with the work, the E.L. Doctorow piece that Joan turns to before starting any writing project, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_359_-_Joan_Marans_Dim__Antonio_Masi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

His wondrous new collection, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (NYRB), brings a dizzying array of Daniel Mendelsohn's critical-essayistic-memoir pieces together. We sat down to talk about the work of the critic and the drama that makes for a great critical piece, as well as the temptation to make a name by going after easy targets, his need to criscross genres and categories with personal writing and criticism, and why his negative review of Mad Men got him more pushback than anything else he's written. We get into his amazing 2017 memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic, its gorgeous structure and its insight into Homer and our present day, while we try to suss out why the great Greek translators have either produced a great Iliad or a great Odyssey, but not both (he's working on a new translation of The Odyssey). We also discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the nature of contemporary mythmaking, my pet theory about the tragedy of Achilles in the Iliad, Emily Wilson's question about Odysseus' true homophrosyne, the role of erudition in criticism, how institutions like The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Paris Review etc. handle succession, our love of the finale of The Americans, his one conversation with Philip Roth, and SO much more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_358_-_Daniel_Mendelsohn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

Legendary designer Walter Bernard joins the show to talk about Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines (Columbia University Press), the new book he co-authored with Milton Glaser. We get into the art and necessity of collaboration, the relationship he and Milton developed over half a century of work, the pros and cons of doing redesigns for globally established institutions, and the decline of print in the digital age. We get into his stellar run of redesigns for Time, Fortune, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, the one magazine Walter would have loved to redesign, his design pet peeves, how he learned to learn the culture of newsrooms, how he came into his own and could feel like a true partner to Milton, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_357_-_Walter_Bernard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EDT

With her new book That Was Awkward (Viking), cartoonist and humorist Emily Flake explores the world of awkward hugs. We get into how that book landed in her lap, why she hates drawing other people's jokes, and how she learned (and pushes the boundaries of) the New Yorker cartoonist's voice. We talk about the massive influence of Shary Flenniken’s Trots & Bonnie comics on her work, the question of “age-appropriate” reading and her 7-year-old kid, performing stand-up cartooning and hosting the Nightmares and Shitshow series (and getting Robyn Hitchcock to guest on that evening’s Nightmares!), how making 4-beat comic strips taught her to write humor, the guilt she felt the first time she saw someone with a tattoo of one of her gags, building up immunity to editorial rejection, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_356_-_Emily_Flake.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:49pm EDT

It's time for our annual Guest List episode! More than two dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2019 and the books they hope to get to in 2020! Guests include Christopher Brown, Nina Bunjevac, Jerome Charyn, Caleb Crain, Joan Marans Dim, Boris Fishman, Katelan Foisy, Mort Gerberg, Eva Hagberg, Peter Kuper, Kate Lacour, Liniers, Kate Maruyama, Edie Nadelhaft, Sylvia Nickerson, James Oseland, Dawn Raffel, Witold Rybczynski, Frank Santoro, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Karl Stevens, James Sturm, Frederic Tuten, and Chris Ware! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_355_-_The_Guest_List_2019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

"I had an amazing life, and my love for my family is unsurpassed, followed nearly as much as the love for my closest friends. Be kind to yourselves, and live in laughter as much as possible. I love you. Thanks for everything."

This special episode of The Virtual Memories Show features the memorial service for Tom Spurgeon, held December 14, 2019, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. The speakers (in sequence) were Whit Spurgeon, Sunny McFarren, Rob Eidson, Dan Wright (slideshow here), Fred Haring, Eric Reynolds, Jordan Raphael, Me, Jeff Smith, Laurenn McCubbin, Rebecca Perry Damsen, and Caitlin McGurk. The following people spoke during the open comments session: Bruce Chrislip, Christian Hoffer, Carol Tyler, Evan Dorkin, Darcie Hoffer, Shena Wolf, and James Moore. To get a greater understanding of Tom's life and his impact on the world around him, please listen to these heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes funny remembrances of our friend. If you'd like to make a donation in Tom's name, he requested that your gifts go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, but he also would have been happy to know you supported your favorite artist, writer, or creator, however you can. • More info at our site

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Memorial_Service_-_Dec._14_2019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am EDT

Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about his new graphic adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (WW Norton). We get into the highwire act of addressing race without diluting the book or otherwise changing Conrad's tale (that is, how do you balance adaptation and revisionism?), how Peter accidentally subjected himself to some of Marlow's ill health while adapting the book, and how he used graphic storytelling to bring other perspectives to the story. We also discuss his trepidation about adapting a canonical book, his trepidation about drawing boats, and is trepidation about making an optimistic issue of World War 3 Illustrated. Oh, yeah, and he tells us about getting to hold Conrad's diary from the river journey that inspired Heart of Darkness, his ongoing Spy Vs. Spy strips for Mad Magazine, and, on his 3rd appearance on the show, I finally ask him just where his progressivism started! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_354_-_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

Today (Dec. 16) would have been Tom Spurgeon's birthday. To honor my best friend after his untimely death, this mini-episode has my remarks from his memorial service this past weekend at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, OH. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Birthday_Memorial_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EDT

Artist and avid motorcyclist Edie Nadelhaft joins the show on the eve of her new gallery exhibition, Evening In America (at the Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC, Dec. 10, 2019 to Jan. 25, 2020)! We get into her unstructured approach to painting, how she tries to capture the immensity of America, her interest in what comes after the first impression, and how she got hooked on motorcycles. We also get into the multiple meanings of Evening in America, the notion of the road as character, the process of working through her artistic influences, the rampant sexism of the art world and how she short-circuited it, and the perils of a long ride when you don't know where the next gas station is. And, of course, I ask her what she's riding these days. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_353_-_Edie_Nadelhaft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT

At Cartoon Crossroads Columbus - CXC, cartoonist Robb Armstrong joins the show to talk about celebrating 30 years of his nationally syndicated comic strip, JumpStart. We get into how he made the transition from gags to character-based humor, the early days of doing the comic strip while holding down a full-time job in advertising (and some absolutely crazy stories about how he used to get original art from Philadelphia up to the syndicate office in NYC), the pop culture references he regrets from the '90s, and why believing in in his characters helps his readers believe in them, too. We also discuss the challenges of breaking into cartooning and the support he got from past African-American cartoonists like Morrie Turner and Buck Brown, the influence of Charles Schulz on his work and his character, how he learned to stop worrying about industry awards, and the move from Philly to LA and the lessons learned from going through the TV production process. We also get into his strong belief in helping other artists, why he thinks pencils and erasers are the devil’s tools, what he'd tell the Robb of 30 years ago about what he has to look forward to, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_352_-_Robb_Armstrong.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

One of the greatest conversations I've ever recorded was with Clive James in 2015. On the occasion of his death on Nov. 24, 2019, and to celebrate his life, I've re-posted that 2015 podcast, along with a new introduction • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Clive_James_Bonus_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

Small press comics publisher Annie Koyama joins the show to talk about her decision to shut down Koyama Press after 13 years, her thoughts on how artists should be treated (and how they should treat themselves), and how to make the most out of life after getting a terminal diagnosis. We get into what comes next in her support for the arts, how the publishing business has changed and what risks she can and can't take, the near-death experience that led her to launch Koyama Press (and the accidental naming of the company), and the most surprising success in her backlist. We also discuss how her artists took the news, what she'll miss the most, the importance of supporting artists throughout all stages of their careers, how not even her previous careers in film and advertising could prepared her for the world of art comics publishing, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_351_-_Annie_Koyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44pm EDT

From the Sex Pistols' last show to the backseat of Elvis' gold Cadillac, Ed Ward has had a front-row seat to the history of rock & roll. He returns to the show to talk about The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977 (Flatiron Books), and we get into the challenges of chronicling the form in that that era (both narratively and chronologically), his novelistic approach to history, the destructive nature of nostalgia, and how glad he was to get corroboration on the circumstances of Jim Morrison’s death. Along the way, we get into his oft-quoted but misunderstood review of the first Stooges record (and how Iggy validated him), how Woodstock predicted the collapse of the music industry, why he thought (incorrectly) that the ‘70s were a nostalgia-proof generation, why he doesn’t listen to music anymore, and his answer to the key question of the era: Beatles or Stones? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_350_-_Ed_Ward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32am EDT

Following the death of Tom Spurgeon, my best friend and an inveterate supporter of the show, I've re-posted our 2012 conversation, along with a new (and emotional) introduction • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Bonus_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT

Third time’s the charm! Cartoonist Pete Bagge returns to talk about his new comic biography of Rose Wilder Lane, Credo (Drawn & Quarterly), and we get into the thematic ties of his three biographies — Lane, Margaret Sanger, and Zora Neale Hurston — and how he learned the biographer's art over the course of those works. We talk about how he discovered Rose Wilder Lane's walk-the-walk libertarianism, her transition in and out of socialism, the likelihood that she co-wrote her mother’s Little House series of books, Pete’s own history with libertarianism and the uncomfortable questions he’d ask his parents, and why his own biography would be a lot less interesting than those of his subjects. We also discuss his writing and drawing process and how he structured these books, why he’d prefer to produce comics in installments and how economics mitigate against that model, how trying to write for TV made his comics writing more concise, and why he’s likely sticking to shorter biography comics for a while. Oh, and we talk about his ’80s/’90s editorship of the anthology Weirdo, how he followed R. Crumb, and the artists he pissed off as well as the ones to whom he gave their first shot, and the memoir he’s written but has yet to draw. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_349_-_Peter_Bagge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14pm EDT

The Nazi swastika is a symbol of evil, but what about the pre-Nazi version of that symbol? With the publication of The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today (Allworth Press), Steven Heller returns to a topic he's spent decades on: the power of graphic design and its abuses by Nazis and other totalitarian movements. He rejoins the show to talk about whether the swastika is redeemable to its original purpose as a Sanskrit Buddhist symbol, why it's uniquely toxic in comparison to other national and religious symbols like the USSR's hammer & sickle, and Steven's biggest surprise when he began researching the swastika's history. We get into how he teaches students about the ramifications of swastika-derived designs, how most Nazi, nationalist and white supremacist groups are variants of the Cross, his sadness about having to revise and reissue this book for our current era (but happiness about giving it a tighter, more effective layout), the ramifications of free speech vs. hate speech, and whether it's okay to punch out a Nazi. We also tackle my experiences visiting Germany, the coding of modern-day white supremacists, the impact of graphic design and illustration on Resistance, Antifa's unfortunate similarities to the SDS, and the question of whether he's obsessed with hate imagery. (We also get into non-swastika stuff, like how he's staying occupied while his Daily Heller blog is on hiatus, the role he played in giving a number of illustrators and cartoonists their first gigs, the memoir he's working on, and why he's not looking to be the subject of a documentary.) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_348_-_Steven_Heller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Cartoonist Kevin Huizenga joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, Glenn Ganges in The River At Night (Drawn & Quarterly)! We get into late-night reveries and using a character's sleepless night as a base camp for a 200-page book, the ways repetition leads to time travel, making an artistic breakthrough partway through his new work, his modular approach to storytelling and how it jibes with his midwestern comics style, and the risk of identifying too much with his stand-in, Glenn Ganges. We also talk about video-game sobriety, whether his favorite creators are spending too much time on Twitter, learning about indy comics before the internet, and our shared cyberpunk upbringing. And we do the math on how many books in our libraries we'll actually get around to reading! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_347_-_Kevin_Huizenga.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

Live from CXC - Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, it's my Spotlight Session with Ho Che Anderson, cartoonist behind KING, Godhead (Fantagraphics) and plenty more! We get into the ups and downs of Ho's career, his transition from "frustrated cartoonist" to "somewhat dissatisfied cartoonist", his twin inspirations of Mister X and Black Kiss, and all the comic, writing and movie influences that went into his science fiction epic Godhead! We also talk about his being labeled an "openly black" cartoonist, how being Canadian gave him a different perspective on Martin Luther King when it came to tackling MLK's biography, why he prefers writing a story to drawing it, the importance of world building in both his fiction and non-fiction work, and why you should never meet your heroes (unless your hero is Howard Chaykin)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_346_-_Ho_Che_Anderson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT

A beautiful and subtle meditation on memory and his parents' marriage and divorce, Frank Santoro's 200-page graphic novel, Pittsburgh (New York Review Comics), is one of my favorite books of 2019. Frank & I get into about Pittsburgh's unique visual style, in which he eschews black lines and works directly with color markers, how he solved the problem of word-balloons intruding on a comic page's color harmony, and how the book's design and style mirror the reconstruction of memory. We talk about how the book originated with his dad totally opening up to one of Frank's friends about a story he never told Frank, how interviewing family members for the book brought him closer to them and to understanding them as people, and why I developed the belief that men are far less likely to know how their parents met than women are. We also discuss how his art-training influences his comics compositions, how working for painter Dorothea Rockburne taught him to see the page as music, why he prefers standalone projects to serial publishing, and plenty more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_345_-_Frank_Santoro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

Transgression vs. transcendence: Elizabeth Hand's brand-new novel, Curious Toys (Mulholland Books), explores artistic and cultural taboos through the lens of a serial killer mystery set in the amusement parks of Progressive Era Chicago. We talk about her inspiration for making outsider artist/writer Henry Darger one of the lead characters of Curious Toys, how she first heard about Darger and the Vivian Girls mythology he created in his paintings and 15,000-page (!) novel, the striking similarities between Darger and Tolkien, the tragedy of outsider/visionary artists, and the challenge of casting a nonbinary character a century in the past (the novel's other lead, not Darger). We also get into why writers have no control over the success of their books, the differences between writing on spec vs. on contract, some hints about her next Cass Neary novel, the time she outdrew Deepak Chopra at a bookstore signing, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_344_-_Liz_Hand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

With her new book, Vivisectionary (Fantagraphics), artist Kate Lacour has created a work of repulsive beauty (or beautiful revulsion). We get into the theme of transformation in her work, her untraditional notion of comics, whether Vivisectionary should be considered "body horror", the concentric narratives that comprise the book, and how nothing can prepare you for the insect life in New Orleans. Along the way, we talk about treating God like an art director, the twin joys of generation and decay, the symbology of her art, the wonders of going to the Art Students League in NYC for life drawing classes, her followup questions to the Gil Roth AMA episode, the intensely mixed attraction/repulsion reaction people have to her work, what made her most uncomfortable about doing a five-day journal comic, why she's adapting the Song of Solomon for her next work, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_343_-_Kate_Lacour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm EDT

The great architecture writer Witold Rybczynski rejoins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Charleston Fancy (Yale University Press). We get into how he discovered the stories and characters behind the Byzantine homes of a block of Charleston, the city's unique history and its role as a pioneer in historical zoning, the catastrophe that launched the book, and the value of local architects. We also talk about how computers have changed architecture and building, how an architecture student can graduate nowadays without actually making a set of architectural drawings, the loss of tradition and continuity in architecture, how moving into Philadelphia proper has changed his perspective on the city, why he disagrees with the modern notion that every age has to have its own architecture and what he'd like to see from the rebuilding of Notre-Dame, what he culled from his library before moving house, and what single building he'd like to not see anymore. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_342_-_Witold_Rybczynski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am EDT

With the publication of part 1 of Rusty Brown (Pantheon), Chris Ware joins the show to talk about how he and his art changed over the 18 (on-and-off) years since he began the project. We talk about the nature of memory, the experience of time, and the purpose of empathy (or empathy as the purpose of human life). We get into art and its role in organizing consciousness, the give-and-take of self-doubt, his impact on comics and other cartoonists, the effect of parenthood on his work and life, his midwestern roots & the allure of The New Yorker, and books that changed his life (whether he read them or not). We also discuss that synthetic, sorta artificial style he's known for and what it permits him to do in his comics, the comic strip diary he keeps and why it can't be published, how cartooning compares to the origins of American architecture, the alchemical relationship between drawings and type size in his comics, why art schools should get back to teaching figure drawing, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_341_-_Chris_Ware.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm EDT

With Creation (Drawn & Quarterly), Sylvia Nickerson explores the decay and renewal of the Rust Belt city of Hamilton, Ontario, wonderfully tying the personal and political together in an extraordinarily graceful debut graphic novel. We get into her entré to comics, her dissatisfaction with traditional art education, the interplay of her academic and artistic careers, and the encounter that pulled her out of an artistic morass. We also talk about her experience with Hamilton, how becoming a mother changed her understanding of the city and its citizens, the differences between gentrification and development, how both she and Hamilton have changed in the decade-plus that she's lived there, the comics her dad drew for her mom when they were courting, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_340_-_Sylvia_Nickerson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33pm EDT

In his amazing new book, Tragedy, The Greeks, and Us (Pantheon), Simon Critchley explores how Ancient Greek tragedy captures the eternal crises and tensions of human life, and how philosophy went wrong in trying to tame it. We dive into how Critchley learned to appreciate the drama of the tragedies, how it led to his critique of Plato and Aristotle and much of what comes after them, and how we continue to wrestle with the central question of the tragedies: "What shall I do?" Along the way, we talk about the perils of moral monotheism, Wallace Stevens' philosophy-as-poetry, what it means to treat Plato's dialogues as drama, the role of women in Greek tragedy, the allure of the antiquity's lacunae, the difference between reading plays and being at the theater, why he thinks philosophy begins in disappointment, not wonder, and how he's dealing with recently losing his heavily marked-up copy of The Peregrine. We also explore his various obsessions, including medieval cathedrals, the possibility of change, 19th century America, soccer, and most importantly, David Bowie! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_339_-_Simon_Critchley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

Author, fashionista, creative ambassador, and recovering window-dresser Simon Doonan takes us on a guided tour of gender non-conformity with his latest book, Drag: The Complete Story (Laurence King)! Simon & I talked through his personal history with drag, how drag has evolved over the millennia, how the current moment is pushing drag in new directions, and why male British comics were so comfortable performing in it (a long-standing question of mine). We also get into his love of craft and how dressing windows at Barneys was the perfect venue for him, the value of having a day job and not making art the center of one's life, how a kid who failed his 11+ wound up writing a shelfload of books, the joy of his crafting reality show, Making It, why he didn't get through the auditions for Queer Eye, the TV skill he had to learn, his love of history and his abhorrence at the idea of being anyone's role model, what sort of drag I'd be able to pull off, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_338_-_Simon_Doonan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm EDT

After a 20-year sojourn in the investment world, Amor Towles returned to his first love by writing the bestselling novels Rules of Civility and A Gentleman In Moscow. We get into how he managed that jump, the lessons he learned from his first failed novel, and the advantages of making a later start in publishing (and whether he could've written either of his books when he was young). We talk about his intense outlining and planning process for novels and how it allows for more creativity within the writing itself, his relief at showing his writing teacher (Peter Matthiessen) his books before it was too late, the symphonic model he applies to novels, his best practices for book tours (writing short stories and getting out and seeing the cities he was visiting), the perpetual nostalgia that is New York, his use of recurring characters in his fiction and whether it means he's creating a Towlesiverse, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_337_-_Amor_Towles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01pm EDT

Baby incubators and boardwalk sideshows: not exactly a natural fit nowadays, but once upon a time, the best way to save premature babies in America was to bring them to Dr. Couney's "INCUBATOR BABIES" attractions in Coney Island, Atlantic City and other midways. Dawn Raffel untangled his story and tells the stories of the children he saved in her wonderful book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies (Blue Rider Press, out now in paperback). We get into the mysteries of Dr. Couney's past, Dawn's fascinations with Coney Island and with interwar America, the flaws in social care in the first half of 20th century America, the offline research that fueled the book, her relationship with some Couney's surviving babies (now in their 80s and 90s), the obstetrics field's resistance to Couney's work, the missing ledger that would have disclosed the fates of many of the babies Dr. Couney treated, and whether she would've brought a premature baby to Dr. Couney. We also get into Dawn's writing life, the outsized influence of her 13-year-old discovery of War & Peace, her predilection for short chapters, how Topsy the Elephant really died, and plenty more! (BONUS: I prattle on for a few minutes about my first half-marathon) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_336_-_Dawn_Raffel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:14pm EDT

He's just here so he won't get fined: David Shields joined the show earlier this year to talk about his book-length essay, The Trouble With Men. Now he's back to talk about his new documentary, Marshawn Lynch: A History (on Amazon, iTunes and Vimeo). This time around, we get into the Awfulness of Greatness, whether human beings are capable of change, and the Deion Sanders interview with Marshawn that melted David's brain and started him on this documentary project. We talk about the racial aspects of black athletes dealing with a white-dominated media, how Lynch made noise by keeping silent in press conferences, the one section of the documentary that led a Seattle audience to boo him, the challenges in structuring the documentary chronologically and thematically, what Pete Carroll was thinking on That Play, the split between "my truth" and "the truth", the moment he got to meet Lynch after a screening of the movie in Oakland, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_335_-_David_Shields.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42pm EDT

Occupy, telepathy, the surveillance state, and poetic treatment of reversion in 16th/17th century English poetry: Caleb Crain’s brand-new novel, Overthrow (Viking) has it all! Caleb & I talk about the image that evoked his new book, why this one is his “dark novel”, and how its writing was filled with a sense of inevitability (and maybe a little bit of prophecy). We get into the notion of self-surveillance and why he carries a dumb-phone (even though it almost led to his failure to show up for our podcast session), the way gay people have a theory of mind for straight people but not necessarily vice versa, the optimism of Occupy and the dreadful fate of Aaron Swartz, the difference between fiction and nonfiction editing, the importance of unscheduled nap-time, and the challenge of writing a novel about the weaponization of our relationships. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_334_-_Caleb_Crain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT

Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me, including (in the order I answered them): Ken Krimstein, Hugh Ryan, Barry Corbett, Joe Ciardiello, Glynnis Fawkes, Kyle Cassidy, Ian Kelley, Kate Lacour, Dean Haspiel, Eddy Portnoy, Kate Maruyama, Tom Spurgeon, Jonathan Hyman, David Leopold, Paine Proffitt, David Townsend, Boaz Roth, Chris Reynolds, Liniers, Caleb Crain, Bob Eckstein, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Andrea Tsurumi, Henry Wessells, Vanessa Sinclair, Jim Ottaviani, Maria Alexander, Mary Fleener, Stephen Nadler, Charles Blackstone, Lauren Weinstein, and David Shields. We cover everything from creative lessons learned to "why so many cartoonists?", from what books I re-read and why to who is on my Mount Rushmore list of dream guests, from the comics and GNs that have affected me most to what I think about the Peak TV era, from how running has affected my podcast-practices to who my most obstreperous guest has been, and plenty more! And it was all done in a single two-hour take, so give it a listen! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_333_-_Gil_Roth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53am EDT

He wowed us last year with Tropic of Kansas, and now Christopher Brown is back to talk about his brand-new dystopian legal thriller, Rule of Capture (both from Harper Voyager)! We get into his grand jury stint a few years ago and how it brought home to him the inequality of the law and led to this new novel, why there are so few lawyers in science fiction (but so many in comic books), and the challenge of writing a novel about the law as opposed the facts of a legal case. Along the way, we get into his search for utopia and why he's eschewing dystopia with this next novel, the phenomenon of Texan billboard-lawyers (like his novel's protagonist, Donny Kimoe), his love of Njals saga, the Icelandic poem about a lawyer who's ridiculed by other vikings because he can't grow a beard, the little capitulations we make that lead to the domestication of evil, his unsung legal heroes, and what one should or shouldn't do if one finds oneself on a down escalator behind a certain Supreme Court Justice. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_332_-_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:49pm EDT

In a rollicking conversation at the Society of Illustrators 128 Bar & Bistro, Argentine comics star Liniers talks about making the jump from Buenos Aires to Vermont to teach at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the amazing US syndication launch of his comic strip Macanudo last year (and the origin of that strip in Argentina), the difference between drawing well and drawing funny, the mix of comic and comedic influences that melted his brain as a kid, the time he almost met Bill Watterson, and what it means to be a Latin American cartoonist. We also get into how he learned English from Mad Magazine, when he caught the live performance bug, why he eschews a regular set of characters in favor of a schizophrenic style of humor in Macanudo, how he felt the first time he saw a tattoo his work on a fan, why seeing his work pirated helped balance out his karma from downloading all those mp3s, and how his kids books help him press Pause on perfect moments from his children's lives. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_331_-_Liniers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EDT

He turned 90 a few weeks ago, but design legend Milton Glaser isn't slowing down. We got together to talk about moving to a new studio after nearly 55 years and what he plans on doing with the 250,000 posters in the cellar. We get into art vs. design, why he painted "Art Is Work" on the transom of his building, how he's working more actively and faster than he ever has, the first time he saw his work in public, how drawing makes us conscious of reality, the influence of Giorgio Morandi on his life, the joy of ~60 years of teaching, the decay of design into commodity and corporate metrics, and the overlooked role of Push Pin Studios in design history. Along the way, we also get into the worldwide phenomenon of his "I ♥ NY" design, what it's like to live in an age of collage, where we find things instead of making things, how the computer can compel users into doing what it's good at instead of what they're good at, his marriage advice after 60+ years with Shirley Glaser, and his story about designing Trump Vodka. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_330_-_Milton_Glaser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:42pm EDT

Writer, teacher, and activist Kate Maruyama joins the show from Readercon 2019! We talk about her first novel, Harrowgate (47North), which managed to make new motherhood and domesticity even creepier than the ghost story that overlays it. We get into how her husband and kids reacted to that book (it's about a woman who dies in childbirth), and when she got around to reading the work of her late mother, Kit Reed. We also talk about how she spent 20 years in Los Angeles before stumbling across its literary scene, and how she's making up for lost time by promoting that diverse writing community. Along the way, we discuss the differences between screenwriting vs prose writing, how she teaches students to avoid using archetypes that demean an entire population (and why Baby Driver turns out to be a woke crime movie), the authors her parents hosted at Wesleyan University during her childhood and the embarrassing question she asked Ralph Ellison, the social justice mission of Antioch College, how she taught creative writing in South Central LA and what her students taught her, and why the fast-fail model of screenplay sales has a lot to recommend it. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_329_-_Kate_Maruyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

Look! Up in the sky! Is it really more like a novel? Is it more like a 10-hour movie? No, it's TV! In her first book, I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution (Penguin Random House), critic Emily Nussbaum celebrates TV as TV, exploring the unique aspects of the form and helping TV viewers get over status anxiety. We talk about the satisfying/horrifying experience of culling her past reviews and profiles for the book, the audience-oriented nature of TV storytelling, whether it's important for a well-loved show to nail the finale, and the dual influences of The Sopranos and Buffy the Vampire Slayer on her work as a critic. We also get into her Peak TV moment, how technology has changed TV over the decades, the only time she predicted the upcoming season's TV hits (Lost and Desperate Housewives), her theory that most workplace shows are actually about TV writing rooms, the difference between weekly and binge-released shows, the perils of writing profiles of the people she's reviewed, and the challenge of being a funny writer who wants to make serious points. We also get into the question of how (whether?) to separate the artist from the art in the #metoo era, and how she deals with the fact that much of her sense of humor came from watching and reading Woody Allen throughout her youth. On the lighter side, she tells us her favorite songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and I reveal the '90s show that I binged on 200+ episodes of last year! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_328_-_Emily_Nussbaum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

It may be a fine line between comics and art, but Karl Stevens' fine line crosses effortlessly between them. Karl & I talk about how his realistic drawing style and watercolors treat comics as fine art, and how that visual style complements his naturalist stories, especially in his recent collection, The Winner (Retrofit Comics). We get into his gateway from superheroes to art-comics, his recent commission to make comics that accompanied a Botticcelli exhibition at the Gardener Museum in Boston, his work as a guard in that same museum, the challenge of drawing his wife, the challenge of getting paid as a freelancer, and whether he regrets his his teenaged decision to devote his life to comics. We also talk about his upcoming book of cat comics, drawing gags for the New Yorker, visiting the Words & Pictures Museum in '90s Northampton (a.k.a. Comics-Mecca), his road not taken with Dave Sim, how short strips and gag panels have made it tougher for him to write longer stories, and plenty more! BONUS: You get the origin story of my friendship with Tom Spurgeon AND my recent crisis of faith! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_327_-_Karl_Stevens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

With a career in illustration and art stretching back to 1960, Barbara Nessim has been a trailblazer in multiple ways (albeit unintentionally). We talk about the 2013 retrospective of her work at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the process of seeing her oeuvre distilled by a curator, as well as her own 7-year project of archiving her work, and the role and rules of her decades-long sketchbook practice. We get into her pioneering work in computer art and her involvement in SIGGRAPH, her career drive and her "1 for them, 6 for myself" philosophy, her decision to take up pottery at 80, her Random Access Memories exhibition and its one-of-a-kind art-generator, what it was like working with Harvey Kurtzman for Esquire and on fumetto, her 65-year love affair with salsa and how she taught a bunch of illustration and design legends to dance, and how she may be the most well-adjusted, thankful and gracious artist I've ever met. Bonus: you get my oddball story of meeting Gary Panter in the '90s. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_326_-_Barbara_Nessim.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

With his new memoir, Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table (a Memoir with Recipes), author Boris Fishman explores his family's Soviet Jewish legacy, his arc as a writer, and the glorious and varied meals that kept his family together from Minsk to Brighton Beach. We get into why creative nonfiction is his first passion (after publishing two novels), how he guaranteed his family's disapproval by writing about them throughout his career, how he couldn't leave Sovietness behind until he moved out of his parents' home at 24 (despite emigrating from the USSR at 9), what he'd do if he quit the writing game, and why the recipes were the toughest part of Savage Feast. We also talk smack about certain books and authors, compare Malamud to Roth and Bellow, discuss the first (very not Jewish/not Russian) writer Boris became friends with, and explore the use of fiction to imagine alternate lives for oneself. Along the way, we make a life-changing pact, decide whether an MFA is worth pursuing, share book tour best practices, and conclude that Soviet Jewish guilt is exponentially more severe than Jewish guilt. It's a whole lot of talk about books, food, and deracinated Jews! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_325_-_Boris_Fishman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

Who can top the memoir of his mother's infidelity with the biography of a sideshow pinhead? Legendary cartoonist Bill Griffith, that's who! Bill rejoins the show to talk about his new graphic biography, Nobody's Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead (Abrams ComicArts), the empty nest syndrome that led him to dive into it right after finishing his first longform book, the challenges of separating fact from fiction in Schlitzie's life, and how a 1963 viewing of Tod Browning's movie Freaks changed Bill's life forever and led him to create Zippy The Pinhead. We also get into Bill avoidance of cheap sentiment in the process of humanizing Schlitzie, the familial support network of sideshow folk, the decision by circus-owners to present to Schlitzie on stage as female, and how to answer the crucial question of whether sideshow work was exploitative. Along the way, we also get into Bill's comics-making lessons, why Zippy is more about word-play (or word-jazz) than absurdity and non sequiturs, how that strip's long stories fed into Bill's book-length work, the biography of Nancy cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller he's working on next (and why he'd like to do fiction for his 4th book), the riddle of his middle-of-the-night Post-Its, his dad's very odd idea about keeping his son off skid row, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_324_-_Bill_Griffith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

Let's celebrate Pride Month with a conversation with Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer: A History! We talk about Brooklyn's untold queer history and how it reflects the story of Brooklyn itself, the challenge of relating 19th century views of sexuality's spectrum to a modern audience, and why his history began with Walt Whitman and ended a few years before Stonewall. We also get into the toughest part of his research, the best story that didn't make it into the book, the commercial challenge of pitching a popular queer history, the accidental scoops he made by being the first person to explore this history, and how he wrote such long hours he broke his wrist. Oh, yeah, and he cringes over Naomi Wolf's demolition and we share a laugh over his great story of the Coney Island impresario who threw a male beauty pageant in 1929 but had no idea what was in store. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_323_-_Hugh_Ryan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32pm EDT

On the eve of its New York City debut, illustrator/designer/author Steven Guarnaccia joins the show to talk about his Fatherland exhibition! We get into how he made the leap from 2D to 3D, the moment he realized he was an illustrator and not an Artist, what it was like to come up in a golden age of magazine illustration, the balancing act of professional and personal projects, the strong influence of the Pop Art on his work, the anxiety of the first time he got a color illustration assignment (he's been around a long time), getting his first NYT assignment from Steven Heller, and why Seymour Chwast & Milton Glaser may be the Lennon & McCartney of their field. We also get into his love of letterforms, his ingenious idea for my next podcast/documentary series, the process of learning illustration on the job, how he taps his unconscious drawing to break out of creative ruts, the benefits of a two-artist household (he's married to Nora Krug), his lament for the American culture of specialization, becoming the accidental archivist for Rooster Ties, and our ongoing competition for best-dressed guy at Society of Illustrators events. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_322_-_Steven_Guarnaccia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

Back from her Fool's Journey in France, Nina Bunjevac returns to the show to celebrate her new book, Bezimena (Fantagraphics)! We talk about the graphic novel's unique and weird structure, Nina's abrupt decision to leave France and come back to Toronto after a year-long study of France's BD publishing industry, and her upcoming tarot project and her explorations into the history of occult mysticism and esoteric philosophy. Along the way, we also get into fixing the financial model for comics-makers, the value of big publishers, her growth as a writer, how Bezimena helped her address past episodes of sexual assault, her joy that Canada legalized weed while she was away, the story of her collaboration with Antonio Moresco, how to make an Alchemical Kitchen, and plenty more! BONUS: I explain how to tip the housekeeping staff at hotels! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_321_-_Nina_Bunjevac.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am EDT

After more than 20 years, Seth has completed Clyde Fans, his grand meditation on family, business, and art (Drawn & Quarterly), so let's celebrate with a double-episode! First, Seth & I talk at a live event hosted by the Strand Bookstore, where we get into how his approach to art and storytelling evolved over that 20-year span, the one element he hated keeping consistent throughout the process, why serializing most of the work helped with revision, and how comics have become a subset of his studio process. Then we follow up with a one-on-one conversation during Toronto Comic Arts Festival, discussing his next project, whether he likes organic projects like his Nothing Lasts memoir or more fully formed stories, whether he owns a pair of sweatpants, the realization that he wasn't writing about his father but about himself, the artist's responsibility at the signing table, his decision never to research the real Clyde Fans business, the maddening acceleration of contemporary culture, the one character of his he feels affection for, his dream of writing a play, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_320_-_Seth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EDT

Her first crush was Nosferatu, she started reading Burroughs at 12, she's fused Roma and Santeria, and now Katelan Foisy joins the show to talk about making art, magic, and a personal mythology. We get into the course of her artistic career, the perils of a public persona, the experience of making art for Smashing Pumpkins and William Patrick Corgan (& the genesis of their friendship), understanding the tarot as storyboards, learning to paint mosaics to make the Sibyls Oraculum, the allure of old hotels, the duality of Al Capone, and why she traded the East River for Lake Michigan. Plus, the great advice she got from Molly Crabapple, forming a Third Mind with Vanessa Sinclair, her adherence to William Burroughs' twin beliefs that you can write your way out of any problem and that photographs can change the future, and how her art tries to capture the Romany notion of the Stopping Place. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_319_-_Katelan_Foisy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT

How does an artist make The Leap into greatness? In Ersi Sotiropoulos' wondrous new novel, What's Left of the Night (New Vessel Press, tr. Karen Emmerich), we explore three days in the mid-life of the poet CP Cavafy and how they may have helped him become the most distinguished Greek poet of the 20th century. Ersi & I talk about how an off-the-cuff discovery of Cavafy's 1897 trip to Paris led her to this novel over three decades, how she almost drowned in research before a poet browbeat her into writing the proemium of her novel, and how the book rebelled against itself until she had a dream of Cavafy that quelled the unrest. We also get into the universality of desire, her non-challenge of writing from the perspective of a gay man, the process of translation and Ersi's tendency to over-edit translators when it's a language she knows. Plus, she tells us why she considers me a pantophile (one who likes everything), and why she prefers hotels over being home in Greece, the Iliad over the Odyssey, and the daemon over the muses when it comes to the font of creativity. BONUS: You get to hear about the novel I never got around to writing, featuring Henry Miller and George Orwell! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_318_-_Ersi_Sotiropoulos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

With My Young Life (Simon & Schuster), Frederic Tuten had to get over his notion that memoir is a cheap shot in order to look back at the beginning of a career in writing, teaching, and art criticism in the New York of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. We get into what started him on this book, how he's haunted by his childhood in the Bronx, his emphasis on quality over quantity in literary output (while coping with the cautionary example of his writing teacher, Leonard Ehrlich, who only published a single, well-acclaimed novel), his mentorship by artist and convicted murderer John Resko, the joys of cafe culture (and his favorite haunt, Cafe Mogador), and how he got two-timed by "the Elizabeth Taylor of the Bronx" with Jerome Charyn. We also lament today's celebration of the mundane, celebrate his friendships with Herge, Lichtenstein, Resnais and Queneau, and talk about the books he wants loaded in his casket when he dies, the great allure of Juan Rulfo's sole book, Pedro Paramo, why future pod-guest Iris Smyles' first novel is better than F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, how fact-checker Anne Stringfield corrected some virtual memories in My Young Life, how poverty shaped his later life, what he learned from sobriety, Gaugin and The Magic Mountain, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_317_-_Frederic_Tuten.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15am EDT

The Village People tell us that Key West is the key to happiness, but is it also the key to a literary legacy? Michael Carroll joins the show to talk about his new collection, Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories (Turtle Point Press), and the role Key West has played in his life. We get into the pros and cons of being married to a literary titan (Edmund White, in this case) and how they're portrayed in each other's work, the value of short stories in the short attention span era (and his lament that young gay men don't read), growing up Southern Baptist and gay, whether his upbringing in Jacksonville means he is Florida Man (and whether Florida is The South or South-Ish), why he avoids hookup apps, the influence of Joy Williams on his writing and the sustenance he gets from Lana Del Rey, and how writing about gay sex helps him vent his political rage. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_316_-_Michael_Carroll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:06pm EDT

With his new book, The Trouble With Men (Mad Creek Books), essayist David Shields applies the literary microscope to his own marriage and explores -- through a collage of perspectives -- the subtle psychological game of S/M it's grown into over the decades. David & I get into the challenge of writing about his marriage without destroying it, whether he finds it funny to be blurbed as "the most honest writer alive", his 'nothing but epiphanies' approach to the personal essay, the obsessive personae he adopts for his books and the influence of (two-time pod-guest) Phillip Lopate on his work. We also talk about the difference between vulnerability and weakness, the taboo about male submission, the limits of disclosure, the lessons of parenting, our mutual sports-fixation and our love for Ichiro, and plenty more! BONUS: My all-important advice about what not to do in your hotel room. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_315_-_David_Shields.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:02pm EDT

 

To celebrate the new 40th anniversary edition of MacDoodle St. (New York Review Comics), Mark Alan Stamaty joins the show for a conversation about that comic strip/graphic novel and what it meant for him and his career. We get into how it felt to draw a coda for this collection and how looking back at this work affects the two graphic novels he's working on. We also talk about the joy of drifting, what it means to be a New York flaneur after 50+ years in the big city, his lifelong lament over the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn, the Tom Robbins book that warped his brain and set him on the path to MacDoodle St., the meditative quality of Chinese scholar rocks, and the work he wished he did in his younger days, as well as what he would have pursued if he'd been more financially secure. Oh, yeah, and he also tells us about getting possessed by Elvis' spirit, his coping mechanisms for having a pair of gag cartoonists for parents, and the importance of composition for conveying energy to his readers. BONUS but not really: The intro is 15 minutes long, because I get into some weird epiphany-stuff; just skip to 15:00 for the start of the conversation. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_314_-_Mark_Alan_Stamaty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:46pm EDT

On the eve of his fifth book, the wonderful Kaddish.com: A Novel (Knopf), Nathan Englander looks back on 20 years of publishing. We get into how he wrote this novel at a breakneck pace compared to his previous work, the great advice he got from Philip Roth (I'm not jealous), the chemistry of creativity, the importance of process, his need to push borders and examine boundaries, and making his bones on the sacred and the profane. Nathan also talks about the therapeutic aspects of teaching writing, being more appreciative of his yeshiva upbringing, treating books like religion, and getting into thrillers while working on his political novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth. We also discuss his foray into playwriting, how he knows when a story or book is done, and the challenges of being friends with other writers, among plenty of other topics. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_313_-_Nathan_Englander.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am EDT

What sort of person breaks into Auschwitz? An author -- and semi-reformed punk rocker, recovering academic and occasional criminal lawyer -- in search of answers. Bram Presser joins the show to talk about his award-winning debut novel The Book of Dirt, a memoir-fiction hybrid about his family's experience in the Shoah. We get into the myths of how his grandfather survived the concentration camps and what they meant for his family and his book, the years of detective work (and the lucky breaks) researching his grandparents' stories and records and the limits of knowing anyone else's life, the exceptionalist vibe of Czech Jews, the stories he was afraid to learn and the heroism that redeemed his great-grandmother and her family, and how Bram avoided Holocaust cliches while giving agency, dignity and social dynamics to the prisoners in the camps. We also get into Bram's anxiety about feedback from his mentor Dasa Drndic, the value of documentary fiction, the aspects of his other careers that supported his ability to write The Book of Dirt, that Auschwitz break-in, and why Talmudkommando would have been a better name for his Jewish punk band than Yidcore. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_312_-_Bram_Presser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

What if we treated our finite lives as a feature instead of a bug? How would we revalue our time and how could that shape our society? In his new book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (Pantheon Books), Professor Martin Hagglund explores how life becomes enriched when we discard the eternal in favor of seeing the lives we live together as the highest good. We talk about how the notion of an afterlife devalues the life we live, the ways our implicit experiences are rendered explicit by philosophy and literature, and how a rethinking of the value of our time can lead to a revaluing of labor and a critique of capital (no, really!). We get into my favorite topic -- anxiety! -- as well as the inextricability of existential and economic questions, the invisible labor that makes our lives possible/comfortable, the conceptions of time and memory captured by Proust and Knausgaard, the all-important difference between valuing socially necessary labor time and socially available free time, and how the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. embodies a lot of Martin's arguments about finitude and a better world. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_311_-_Martin_Hagglund.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EDT

Cartoonist and educator James Sturm joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, Off Season (Drawn & Quarterly), the story of a disintegrating marriage set against the backdrop of the 2016 election. We get into his artistic choices for this amazing book: using anthropomorphics, designing it in a 2-panel-per-page layout, and writing a story so convincing that friends thought his own marriage was falling apart (it wasn't). We also talk about James' experience of starting the Center for Cartoon Studies up in Vermont and what it taught him about cartooning, finding joy in the studio, exploring visions of America in his comics (or not; it's up for debate), treating the long VT winters as "cartooning season", his mega-sized graphic novel that will never see the light of day and the liberation of throwing a big project overboard, the comic shops we both frequented in our youth, the revelatory experience of reading Mark Alan Stamaty's comics, the Indian ledger books that comprise the first American graphic novels, and a lot more (including a Brink's heist). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_310_-_James_Sturm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18pm EDT

Illustrator/artist Joe Ciardiello returns to the show to talk about his brand-new book, A Fistful of Drawings (Fantagraphics Underground). We go into the project's history, Joe's exploration of the Italian-American experience, and how it's reflected in Spaghetti Western cinema of Sergio Leone & his peers. We also talk about how Joe overcame his anxiety about writing to bring the book's narrative together, how Buffalo Bill and Old West culture infected Italy, his visit to the street set of The Godfather as a kid in Staten Island, the book of his musician drawings he hopes to make, keeping up with new westerns, the actors and figures he didn't have room for in A Fistful of Drawings (but maybe we'll see in For A Few Drawings More!), a survey of his drawing heroes and more recent inspirations, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_309_-_Joe_Ciardiello.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Before Saveur, before Top Chef Masters, before all the National Magazine and James Beard awards, James Oseland was a punk-rock kid called Jimmy Neurosis. James and I talk about his brand-new book, Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir (Ecco Press), about his life as a gay teen in the late '70s. We get into how none of his previous artistic and literary pursuits prepared him for writing this book, the challenges of remove 50-something James' perspective from the teen narration, the difficult relationship with his mother at the core of the book (which begins with his dad bailing on them), and what it was like to find comfort in the burgeoning punk-music scene of San Francisco. We get into the toughest parts of the book to write about (we both get choked up at different points of that), his growing concern as a teen that (superabundant) sex wasn't the be-all and end-all, the diversity of the early punk scene and how it got overwhelmed by violent white guys, why he used ads and TV taglines as chapter titles for the book, the fate of his punk record collection, and the wonderful (but admittedly problematic) experience of living with a much older gay lover in NYC when he was 15/16. And I promise, we also talk about food writing and the new World Food book series he's working on! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_308_-_James_Oseland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm EDT

On the eve of his exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (Feb. 15 to May 5, 2019), legendary cartoonist Mort Gerberg reflects on more than five decades of cartooning and art. We talk about his new collection, Mort Gerberg On the Scene: A 50-Year Cartoon Chronicle (Fantagraphics Underground), and what he learned in the process of culling the selection of his work for the show. We get into the roots of his groundbreaking civil rights cartoons (and how he got away with making weed jokes in the Saturday Evening Post in 1965), his pioneering comics reportage, how his spontaneity and energy secretly come from laziness, the challenge of drawing people on NYC subways, his intense focus on the business side of cartooning (and how it might be tied into his late start as a cartoonist), how he tied vacations and even his honeymoon into work assignments, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_307_-_Mort_Gerberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

She got through brain surgery, heart surgery, and House-level chronic illness (oh, yeah, and addiction) and came out the other side with a brand-new memoir, but could Eva Hagberg Fisher make it through a podcast-session without catching a cold from her host? We tempt fate with a long conversation about How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship (HMH), the unlikely friendship that saw her through this, the self-jinx of writing about her health, the perverse urge to see her tumor marker tests get worse because at least it would end the uncertainty of her diagnosis, and how pain taught her to balance sobriety with moralizing and martyrdom. We also get into the performative aspect of social media, her ongoing impulse to deception and secrecy and the act of performing vulnerability, the right and wrong way to process one's emotions, her anxiety in the wake of her recent essay on being in debt, her problems with The Artist's Way, her immense thanks that her editor cut 95 pages of relationship drama down to two paragraphs, and the stuff you really want to hear us talk about: her dissertation on the professionalization of architectural publicity via the letters of Eero Saarinen and Aline Bernstein Louchheim! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_306_-_Eva_Hagberg_Fisher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:31pm EDT

Legendary photographer Deborah Feingold joins the show to talk about the inspiration for her new personal project: photographing illustrators (which is how we fell into each other's orbit)! We get into her approach to teaching 'Portraiture and the Art of Imitation' at ICP, the process of learning through imitation and absorbing influence, how she moved from 'professional girlfriend' to 'professional photographer' in the '70s while shooting pictures of jazz musicians. We also talk about how she made the transition to digital photography while hewing to her film-shooting techniques, how she boldly directs her subjects despite being an incredibly shy person, the unspoken pressure to ape Annie Leibowitz' style when she shot for Rolling Stone, her stories of shooting early Madonna and pre-presidency Obama, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_305_-_Deborah_Feingold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT

Novelist, memoirist, essayist and queer literary icon Edmund White joins the show to talk about his new memoir, The Unpunished Vice (Bloomsbury USA)! We get into how his implied reader has changed identities over the years, the differences between writing memoir, autofiction and imaginative fiction, the boom and bust of the "gay fiction" bookstore category, the challenges of his massive biography of Genet and how he navigated about French attitudes toward gossip, and having the gay version of a shotgun wedding. We also get into his HIV diagnosis in 1985, outliving what he thought was a two-year death sentence, and being crazy enough to take on a long-term writing project in the midst of it. In between, we get to his status as a blurb-slut, what it's like for him to write on a computer for the first time, the pressure to write for a gay audience and how The Flaneur opened him up to a very different reader, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_304_-_Edmund_White.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about these Kafkaesque times and his new graphic novel, Kafkaesque: 14 Stories (Norton)! We get into his decades-long interest in Kafka, the art of literary adaptation, why the constraints of working with an existing story can be liberating, how to talk about controversial artists in the present moment, the various translations of K he read before commissioning his own, and challenges of his adaptation-in-progress: Heart of Darkness. We also get into his post-2016-election mindset, the discovery of his New Yorker cartoonist line, his laborious process of breaking down a comic, what his dream adaptation project is, the time he got stranded in a village in Africa by an evil guide, and much more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_303_-_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT

On the latest stop on his blog tour, author Jerome Charyn joins the show to talk about his new novel, The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times (Liveright Publishing). We get into the image that inspired the book, the challenges & rewards of historical fiction, and the quest to separate Teddy Roosevelt's myth from his story. Along the way, we get into ping pong, whether LeBron James should have gone somewhere besides LA, the magic of Allegra Kent & Balanchine, the loneliness of Van Gogh's garret, the joy of collaborating on graphic novels, and the miracle of Jerome becoming a writer. • More info at our site, where you can enter to win a free copy of Jerome's new book! • Check out the rest of the blog tour in support of The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King! • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_302_-_Jerome_Charyn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49pm EDT

Recorded live at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) in 2018, Kriota Willberg returns to the podcast to talk about the origins of her new book, Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists & Visual Artists (Uncivilized Books). We get into her work in the Graphic Medicine field, learning to see beneath the skin, the graphic novel she's working on about Galen and the process of stitching people up, her best practices for festivals and conventions, the myth of the wandering uterus, and why cartoonists need to think (and train) like athletes! Plus: My New Year's Resolutions! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_301_-_Kriota_Willberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39am EDT

Singer-songwriter-producer Gary Clark is my super-special guest for episode #300! We talk about his career, from his '80s band Danny Wilson (and their all-time great single Mary's Prayer) to his songwriting for the wonderful movie Sing Street (and the great single Drive It Like You Stole It). We get into the twists-and-turns of his life in music, his transition from performer to producer, how he learned to write in another singer's voice, the furious social media messages from strangers about the fact that he doesn't sing anymore, the coincidence & blessing of getting tapped by John Carney to write music for Sing Street, how writing for musicals differs from pop songs, the ways the Infinite Jukebox changes how (young) people discover music and how he stays current, the time he avoided meeting one of his musical heroes, how a Danny Wilson reunion got derailed by Nanny McPhee, and much more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_300_-_Gary_Clark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

Comics scholar Bill Kartalopoulos joins the show to talk about editing the annual Best American Comics series. But first, nearly three dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2018 and the books they hope to get to in 2019! Guests include Jerry Beck, Christopher Brown, Dave Calver, Roz Chast, Mark Dery, Michael Gerber, Cathy B Graham, Dean Haspiel, Steven Heller, Richard Kadrey, Paul Karasik, Ken Krimstein, Nora Krug, John Leland, Alberto Manguel, Hal Mayforth, Dave McKean, Mark Newgarden, Audrey Niffenegger, Jim Ottaviani, Robert Andrew Parker, Shachar Pinsker, Nathaniel Popkin, Chris Reynolds, Lance Richardson, JJ Sedelmaier, David Small, Willard Spiegelman, Levi Stahl, Lavie Tidhar, Mark Ulriksen, Irvin Ungar, and Henry Wessells! Check out their selections at our site! Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_299_-_The_Guest_List__Bill_Kartalopoulos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:46am EDT

In her new graphic memoir, All The Sad Songs (Retrofit Comics), Summer Pierre uses the mix-tapes of her 20s and 30s to tell us the story of her life, one wrong boyfriend, one cross-country drive, one Boston folk stage set at a time. We talk about the soundtracks to our lives, the memoir & comics influences that gave her permission to tackle her PTSD issues on the page, the discovery that she was making a 104-page comic instead of the 25-page one she set out to draw (or "getting used by the muse"), and how surprised she was that college students know what a mix-tape is. We also get into her artistic maturation out of the kamikaze-style of making comics, the Boston folk music scene she was in/around in her 20s, the somatic therapy that helped her deal with PTSD, the notion that mixes are self-portraits, and wanting to be her mother's biographer, but realizing she knew almost nothing about her mom's insane life. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_298_-_Summer_Pierre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37pm EDT

 

Jews have a long tradition with coffee (I can attest!). In A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press), Professor Shachar Pinsker explores the intersection of modernistic Hebrew literature and coffee. We get into the story of Jewish migration through Europe and into America and Israel, why coffeehouses were the silk road of secular Jewish creativity, the golden age of feuilletons, the semitic roots of coffee culture, the way A Rich Brew is about big cities as much as it is about coffeehouses, the importance of thirdspace to bridge the social and the private, and how Shachar narrowed the book down to 6 representative cities. We also get into how his Yeshiva education helped his secular literary studies, his night-and-day visits to Warsaw, and just how we define "modern Jewish culture"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_297_-_Shachar_Pinsker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EDT

Who starts a career at an age when most people are looking at retirement? Coming off a divorce and a three-decade hiatus from professional life, award-winning illustrator Cathy B. Graham is having a second bloom. We sat down to talk about painting, fashion illustration, and floral design, as captured in Second Bloom: Cathy Graham's Art of the Table (Vendome Press). We get into her artistic upbringing, her RISD education alongside Roz Chast & Dave Calver, the art of entertaining, her love of the Thorne Miniature Rooms and their influence on her life, her trepidation about returning to oil painting, the joy of Instagram, her New York and how she shifted from SoHo artist to Upper East Side culture maven. Most importantly, we talk about the regeneration and finding your new life. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_296_-_Cathy_B_Graham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm EDT

How did Angela Himsel make the transformation from rural Indiana and apocalyptic, fundamentalist Christianity to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and observant Judaism? Her new memoir, A River Could Be A Tree (Fig Tree Books) chronicles that process, bringing to life a story of family and discovery. I talk with the award-winning columnist about how she came to Judaism from the Worldwide Church of God, when she met Jews for the first time, what Israel means to her, and what she considers the weirdest aspect of Judaism. We get into the difference between seeing the world as the emanation of God and seeing it as the Devil's playground, her conversion to Philip Roth-ism, the beautiful family secret she uncovered in the process of writing her book, the decision to include her terrible teenage poetry in the memoir, why God may need therapy, and the Rapture-based prank she and her siblings still pull on each other. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_295_-_Angela_Himsel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:05pm EDT

For his first biography, Mark Dery picked a doozy of a subject: the great, creepy, droll, mysterious artist and writer Edward Gorey. We talk about Mark's brand-new book, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown), his one in-person encounter with Gorey, how Gorey's sexuality did and didn't inform his work, and the challenge of writing the biography of an artist whose work always invited the reader to fill in the gaps. We get into how Gotham Book Mart made a cottage industry out of Gorey, the long-range impact of Gorey on America's pop culture, the queerness of children's literature beginning in the '50s, the influence of Asian art and philosophy on Gorey's work, his devotion to ballet and Balanchine, why the epic catalog makes for a great biographical tool, and a lot more, like Mark's lifelong one-sided relationship with Patti Smith! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_294_-_Mark_Dery.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

 

The American Bystander magazine is a print-only humor magazine, and while that may seem like an anachronism in the internet era, editor Michael Gerber joins the show to talk about why it's the perfect vehicle for humor. I've been a fan of the Bystander since its (re-)inception in 2016, and it was a delight to talk with Michael about the magazine's history, his background as "the world's only expert on print humor magazines", the decision to crowdfund the magazine and how it beats the days when "paper bag money" was necessary to get a magazine on the newsstand. We get into how he keeps the rhythm of the magazine flowing between prose pieces, gag panels, strips and other pieces, as well as the contributors who passed away before he could get them into The American Bystander, the ones he's vowed to get, and the challenges of getting diverse voices in the magazine. We also discuss his vision for America, the politicization of history, the experience of reading National Lampoon when he was 4 years old, and finding his life's purpose in trying to start a cult. (Oh, and SUBSCRIBE TO THE BYSTANDER!) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_293_-_Michael_Gerber.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42pm EDT

Legendary cartoonist Eddie Campbell joins the show to talk about his first (sorta) prose book, The Goat Getters: Jack Johnson, the Fight of the Century, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics! We get into this forgotten piece of comics history, the challenge of offensive ethnic stereotypes in old cartoons, cartoonists' blind spot toward sports, the other pieces of cartooning history he wants to chronicle, and the amazing, unsung career of Kate Carew. We also talk about the bookshelf of Eddie's comics work, what took him away from autobiography, the challenge of coloring From Hell (and succumbing to the temptation to redraw some of it), his new collaboration with his wife, Audrey Niffenegger, the lessons of age, the joy of telling shaggy-dog stories, and what it's like to be known as "Hayley Campbell's dad". • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_292_-_Eddie_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am EDT

With a Caldecott Award-winning career in writing and illustrating kids books already under his belt, David Small made a huge splash in the comics field with his 2009 memoir Stitches. Now he's back with the graphic novel Home After Dark (Liveright) and we got together at SPX to talk about how those careers mesh, how he got his start in illustration, how he approached his new book as fiction, and more. We get into his artistic, literary and cinematic influences, the struggles of studying representational art in the '60s and '70s, and the incredibly wrong geographic decision about a teaching gig that led him to the love of his life. We also discuss the elements of a good kids book and why so much of today's market turns him off, the moment in Paris when he got over his fear of making comics, the memory palace he reverse-engineered to start his memoir, and the evolution Home After Dark took over 12 drafts (!) to tell the story David knew he had to tell. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_291_-_David_Small.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:51pm EDT

For the third installment in our ad hoc Germany/fascism triptych, Jason Lutes joins the show to talk about completing his 22-year opus, the 550-page graphic novel Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)! We talk about the changes in his life, his art, and comics publishing over that course of this project, the ways Berlin evolved and changed over the years, Jason's struggle not to re-draw panels or pages or full issues for the collected edition, what he learned about human nature and fascism in the course of making Berlin, and the imaginative benefit of not having Google Image search when he started doing research for it. We also get into his storytelling and cinematic influences, the balance of formalism with fluid storytelling, what he's learned from teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies, his epiphany at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum during CXC 2018, my inadvertent comparison of him to Britney Spears, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_290_-_Jason_Lutes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT

With the brand-new visual memoir Belonging (Scribner), writer/illustrator Nora Krug explores her family's history in World War II and her own struggles with her identity as a German expat in America. We get into the meaning of Heimat and why her questions arose when she was living outside of Germany, the challenges of telling the story without devaluing the Holocaust itself (thanks, Jewish beta-readers, incl. Nora's husband!), the pendulum swing of collective guilt, the failings of German's education system to address the war, and whether certain books should be banned (and what happened the time she tried reading Mein Kampf on the subway). We also get into the process of editing her life and her discoveries into a narrative without eliding the truth, how Belonging/Heimat has been received in Germany, writing it in English, and the detective work that went into making the book. Plus, we talk about her visual storytelling style, teaching art at Parsons, why she doesn't keep a sketchbook (but doesn't tell her students that), and the German stereotypes she does and doesn't live up to (she's getting better at small talk!). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_289_-_Nora_Krug.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

With his new graphic biography The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury), Ken Krimstein combines his interests in comics, history and philosophy into a dream project. We talk about how he made the shift from "average NPR listener" to deep scholar of Hannah Arendt, teaching himself phenomenology in mid-life to balance story with philosophy, trying to understand the relationship between Arendt and Heidegger (and trying to understand Heidegger's philosophy and whether it fed into his Nazism), seeing through Arendt's eyes and taking solace from her philosophy, and how he got laughed at by other cartoonists when he told them he thought he could draw this 200+-page book in 6-8 weeks. We also get into Ken's history in comics and advertising, the alchemy of the New Yorker cartoon, how he learned about culture via Mad Magazine, his failed attempt to be Saul Bellow, the lesson that problem-finding is more important than problem-solving, the Chicago comics scene and the Evanston arts-mafia, what he misses about New York, and Saul Steinberg's central role in art and comics for the 20th century and beyond. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_288_-_Ken_Krimstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm EDT

In NYC for the Brooklyn Book Festival, author/artist Audrey Niffenegger joins the show to talk about her work and life. We get into her new collaboration, Bizarre Romance (Abrams), being Parent Trapped (maybe) by Hayley Campbell, her interest in taxidermy and what it does and doesn't signify, how she shifts from prose to comics and vice versa, the allure of Chicago, getting consent to convert people into characters, writing the sequel to her best-known work, The Time Traveler's Wife, how that book's success changed her approach to art, getting turned on to print-making as a teen by a book on Aubrey Beardsley, the books she's still hoping to get around to reading, how art school taught her to see, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_287_-_Audrey_Niffenegger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14am EDT

Electronic dance musician Moby joins the show to talk about what he learned from writing his memoirs and what he learned from reading bad ones. We get into the toughest/most embarrassing story he had to tell, the banality of turning 50, the benefits of public failure, the pros and cons of the infinite jukebox, his take on contemporary pop music, his decision to sell off most of his recording equipment and his records, the two things he would save if he had a house fire, his favorite Star Trek captain, and a lot more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_286_-_Moby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EDT

How did Glen David Gold get over his Stalinist attitude against memoir to write his amazing new book, I Will Be Complete (Knopf)? Listen in as we talk about his transformation from novelist (Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside) to the narrator of his own life! We get into his realization that not only was his upbringing not normal, it needed to be revised and refined into a story (in which his dad comes off as a benign putz, which is fine compared to his mom . . .). We also talk about how Vivian Gornick's The Story & The Situation fixed him up, coming to understand the narrator's voice by performing parts of the book at open-mic nights, his introduction to Marvel comics & the magic of Jack Kirby, how the UC Irvine fiction-writing program saved his career, his brilliant idea for a podcast (which I'm tempted to steal), his teenaged nerd-out moment with John Irving, the pros & cons of collaborating on comics and screenwriting vs. the solo work of novel-writing, the cultural history of LA, his 3-week work ethic, why he pushes Bourjaily's Now Playing At Canterbury on anyone who'll listen, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_285_-_Glen_David_Gold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm EDT