Virtual Memories Show 343:
Kate Lacour

“Attraction/repulsion is a big response that people have expressed about my work, whether they like it or not. I like that feeling when I experience it, like when something’s gorgeous but has an air of foulness to it.”

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! Give it a listen! And go buy Vivisectionary!

“At a certain point, you’re physically decaying, so working on yourself becomes a much more important task.”

“To put my ego and my rinky-dink little life on the page is weird to me.”

“I’m not process-driven . . . I’m too anxious and tight and controlled, and that absolutely plays out on the page.”

“I’m too vain to draw myself ugly and too embarrassed to draw myself good-looking.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Kate Lacour studied biology and psychology at the University of Chicago and Oberlin, and Art Therapy at the School of Visual Arts. She learned to draw through the Art Students’ League in New York City. She is the founder of NOLArts Learning Center, a nonprofit serving young people with diverse abilities, and delivered a TED talk on autism, inclusion and Mardi Gras. Her art and comics are inspired by a love for the aesthetics of science and a fascination/revulsion towards bodies. She is the winner of the 2016 Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art award, and has given art talks at the Society of Illustrators, American Art Therapy Conference, New Orleans Public Library, Antenna Gallery, Signals, and the Pharmacy Museum. Kate lives in New Orleans with her husband and three children. Her new book is Vivisectionary, published by Fantagraphics.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Hotel LeVeque during Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ms. Lacour by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 342:
Witold Rybczynski

“What Charleston did in the Colonial period with single houses, they basically just kept repeating it all these years.”

The great architecture writer Witold Rybczynski rejoins the show (here’s our 2015 conversation) to talk about his wonderful new book, Charleston Fancy: Little Houses & Big Dreams in the Holy City (Yale University Press). We get into how he discovered the stories and characters behind the Byzantine homes in a neighborhood 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. Give it a listen! And go buy Charleston Fancy!

Photo for NYT by Leslie Ryann McKellar.

“We have this warped idea that trying to rebuild something seamlessly is somehow inauthentic.”

“The mayor understood, to save Charleston you couldn’t just apply conventional thinking. You had to accept unusual things.”

“I think computers have created a certain type of architecture that you wouldn’t necessarily have made before computers.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Witold Rybczynski was born in Edinburgh, of Polish parentage, raised in London, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He studied architecture at McGill University in Montreal, where he also taught for twenty years. He is Emeritus Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. Rybczynski has designed and built houses as a registered architect, as well as doing practical experiments in low-cost housing, which took him to Mexico, Nigeria, India, the Philippines, and China. He has written for the Atlantic, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, and The New York Times, and has been architecture critic for Saturday Night, Wigwag, and Slate. From 2004 to 2012 he served on the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts.

He lives with his wife Shirley Hallam in a loft in an old industrial building near the Schuylkill River in downtown Philadelphia. He doesn’t think of himself as someone with hobbies ? he used to garden under pressure. He doesn’t collect anything, but he has a lot of books, albeit fewer since downsizing. His new book is Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City, from Yale University Press.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Rybczynski’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Rybczynski by me. Beautiful pic of Charleston by Leslie Ryann McKellar for the New York Times, so it’s not on my instagram, but the other ones are.

Virtual Memories Show 341:
Chris Ware

“Something in comics allows the concretization of the weird shifting and changing of our memories and senses of selves. It comes out organically in the drawing of a story.”

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! Give it a listen! And go buy Rusty Brown!

“You can’t substitute rules for looking.”

“Comics is a language that’s still in development.”

“Friends will say, ‘I can’t believe how much work you get done,’ and I’ll say, ‘I can’t believe how much work I don’t get done.'”

“I try to allow for a constant sense of surprise and — it’ll sound strange — looseness in what I’m doing when I’m composing a page.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Chris Ware is widely acknowledged to be the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and fourteen-year-old daughter. His book Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade by The Times (London) in 2009. Building Stories was named a Top Ten Fiction Book of the Year in 2012 by both The New York Times and Time magazine. Ware is an irregular contributor to The New Yorker, and his original drawings have been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and in piles behind his worktable in Oak Park, Illinois. In 2016 he was featured in the PBS documentary series Art 21: Art in the 21st Century, and in 2017 an eponymous monograph of his work was published by Rizzoli (“eponymous” means the title is Monograph). His new book is Rusty Brown, published by Pantheon.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott during Small Press Expo weekend on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Ware by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 340:
Sylvia Nickerson

“You go along in the world and you experience a lot of people, but how deeply do you experience them, or know them, or connect with them?”

With Creation (Drawn & Quarterly), Sylvia Nickerson explores the decay and renewal of the Rust Belt city of Hamilton, Ontario, 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 living in 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! Give it a listen! And go buy Creation!

“Art can be a renegotiation of terms between you and your subject.”

“The figure can be very simplified while the environment can be very specific, allowing the reader to experience the environment in a different way.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Sylvia Nickerson is a comics artist, writer, and illustrator who lives in Hamilton, Canada. Her focus is storytelling in community arts and writing comics examining parenthood, gender identity, social class, and religion. Her illustrations have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and her comics have been nominated for a Doug Wright Award. Her new book is Creation. She’s on Instagram as sylvianickerson.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me & Ms. Nickerson by me. It’s on my instagram. Fancy photo of Ms. Nickerson by Sandra Mulder – Banko Media.

Virtual Memories Show 339:
Simon Critchley

“What are the plays telling us that philosophy is not telling us, and that we need to attend to?”

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! Give it a listen! And go buy Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us!

“This book is my quiet — or maybe not so quiet — critique of the profession that I’ve been associated with my whole career: philosophy.”

“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of thought being articulated in non-propositional, non-philosophical forms: music, poetry, even soccer.”

“You always felt like David Bowie was talking to you, and you alone.”

“I’m really grateful to get paid to think. It’s great!”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His many books include Very Little . . . Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy and Literature, The Book of Dead Philosophers, The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments In Political Theology, and Memory Theater: A Novel. He is the series moderator of The Stone, a philosophy column in The New York Times, to which he is a frequent contributor. His new book is Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Simon’s apartment on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Critchley by me. It’s on my instagram. Photo of bust of Euripides by Marie-Lan Nguyen.