The Virtual Memories Show

Legendary illustrator/designer/artist Seymour Chwast joins the show to talk about what it means to continue beyond "legendary" status. We get into his 60-plus-year career and why he can't slow down (much less retire), the impact of Push Pin Studios, the (de-)evolution of commercial art, his mutant hybrid of typography and design, the process of overcoming the anxiety that Saul Steinberg made all the great work already, the immediate gratification of woodcuts, the reason he makes classic literary adaptations, how a gay dance instructor helped him avoid the draft for the Korean war, and more! Then, our very first guest, Ann Rivera, drops in on the way home from MLA 2018 to talk about the future of the humanities, her love for Pete Bagge's bio of Zora Neale Hurston, whether students should be seen as consumers or constituents, the success of the Yale history department's revamp, the role of the public intellectual, the problems with academia's insularity, and the novel she returns to every year. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_252_-_Seymour_Chwast__Ann_Rivera.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EST

How deep can deep reading go? Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden talk about the 10-year project of exploring a single Nancy strip, for their new book How To Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels (Fantagraphics). We get into the wonders of Ernie Bushmiller's signature strip, the transformative class they took with filmmaker Ken Jacobs, the malfunctioning tape recorder that led to the whole project, the challenges of getting Jerry Lewis to write the book's foreword, Nancy's role as proto-feminist, and more! Plus, I get them to talk about the secret story of the first time they met, where their collecting impulse came from, the pleasure of finding a good flea market, Art Spiegelman's strength as a teacher, how each of them teaches comics and how a lot of students have no sense of comics history, and how they keep the "ick" in "academic"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_251_-_Paul_Karasik__Mark_Newgarden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm EST

Dave McKean, artist, writer, illustrator, cartoonist, designer, director, composer, and all-around creative force, joins the show to talk about how the story dictates the medium, why comics-making shouldn't be taught, the balancing act of collaborative and solo work, the missed opportunity of Tundra Publishing, his forays into theater and film with the WildWorks team and how they taught him to give up his control-freak nature, the influence of his jazz background, why it's okay sometimes to judge a book by its cover, the problem-solving nature of a long walk, how the early loss of his father plays out in his work, his tendency to start every project with a complete failure of confidence, and the confluence of forces that led to his amazing new book, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_250_-_Dave_McKean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EST

A bonus podcast? It's a Christmas miracle! No interview this time, but I talk about 2017, lament the loss of a past guest, and talk about what we're doing here. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: 2017_Year-End_Bonus_Mini-Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EST

Three dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2017 and the books they hope to get to in 2018! Guests include Pete Bagge, Kathy Bidus, Sven Birkerts, RO Blechman, Kyle Cassidy, Graham Chaffee, Howard Chaykin, Joe Ciardiello, John Clute, John Crowley, John Cuneo, Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Nicholas Delbanco, Barbara Epler, Joyce Farmer, Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Paul Gravett, Liz Hand, Vanda Krefft, Michael Meyer, Cullen Murphy, Jeff Nunokawa, Mimi Pond, Eddy Portnoy, Keiler Roberts, Martin Rowson, Matt Ruff, Ben Schwartz, Vanessa Sinclair, Ann Telnaes, Michael Tisserand, Gordon Van Gelder, Shannon Wheeler, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Matt Wuerker . . . and me! Check out their selections at our site! Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_249_-_The_Guest_List_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EST

This podcast has been to Hicksville and Coconino, so why not Fairfield County, CT? Cullen Murphy's new book, Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe (FSG), tells the story of Prince Valiant cartoonist John Cullen Murphy and the community of cartoonists, illustrators and comic-book artists who settled the southeastern corner of Connecticut in the '50s and '60s. Cullen & I talk about the confluence of factors that led to that community and his goal of preserving that golden age in this book, his realization that "cartoonist" was not a normal job for one's dad, his own cartooning aspirations, what writing Prince Valiant with his father taught him about storytelling, how his upbringing around cartoonists affected how he worked with illustrators as a magazine editor, why his father stuck with realism and never worked in bigfoot style, and what Cartoon County taught him about himself & his family. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_248_-_Cullen_Murphy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EST

Quick: Who is the "Fox" in 20th Century Fox? You'd know if you read Vanda Krefft's fantastic new book, The Man Who Made The Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper)! Vanda joins the show to talk about William Fox's contributions to the movies, why he's virtually unknown today, and how she discovered his story. We also get into her decade-plus experience of researching and writing the book, Vanda's transition from journalist to biographer, the limits of historical records, the damage Fox wrought on his extended family by supporting them, the biographer's need to correct for hindsight, the influence of Nancy Drew on her writing career, the contrasts of her early life in Canada and her adult life in the US, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_247_-_Vanda_Krefft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:53pm EST

Yiddish scholar and raconteur Eddy Portnoy joins the show to talk about his new book, Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press. We get into the tabloid craziness of bigamist rabbis, fights over a Jewish beauty queen, 600-lb. wrestlers, and the déclassé Jews of Poland and New York from the heyday of Yiddish newspapers. We also talk about how Eddy taught himself to read & write Yiddish as a teen and then turned a really fun hobby into a low-paying career, the slip of the microfilm dial that led to this book, his embarrassing story about meeting (and lecturing) Ben Katchor, his resemblance to Geddy Lee, the good fortune that led to preservation of Yiddish newspapers in eastern Europe, and more. But what will his poor mother think? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_246_-_Eddy_Portnoy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

Israeli author Eshkol Nevo joins the show to talk about his new novel Three Floors Up (Other Press) and how he explained it to passport control on his visit to the US. We talk about how his fiction-writing career both integrates and rejects his past lives in advertising and psychology, explore the Robin Hood model of the creative writing school, and get into the background PTSD of daily life in Israel. Then comics scholar Paul Gravett rejoins the show to talk about his new exhibition, Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics, and the book that accompanies it. We get into the impact of manga across Asian culture (and beyond), his dream project of a Mexican comics retrospective, and how North Korea's comics visually portray their glorious leader. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Epsiode_245_-_Eshkol_Nevo__Paul_Gravett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EST

He's been blackening the blank page for more than 50 years, and now Nicholas Delbanco joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about writing, teaching, and sleepwalking through life! We get into his new essay collection, Curiouser and Curiouser, the importance of establishing a writing routine or habit, the process of revising a decades-old trilogy in light of his growth as a writer, the art of faking spontaneity on the page, the value of a good MFA program, his refutation of his friends' belief that language is a finite resource and not a renewable one, his assessment that he's a minor writer (or, even worse, "a writer's writer"), and the place the deracinated consider home. Plus: I fall back into the trap of Acquisitive Alchemy! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_244_-_Nicholas_Delbanco.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EST