Virtual Memories Show 288:
Ken Krimstein

“I think philosophers are all frustrated cartoonists and cartoonists are all frustrated philosophers.”

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 240-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. Give it a listen! And go buy The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt!

“When Walter Benjamin collects all the stuff for The Arcades Project, he’s just like all the collectors of old comic books. We look at the detritus, the scraps, and say, ‘This is what was really going on.'”

“You draw somebody 10,000 times, you get a sense for what their face is like, and their character.”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Ken Krimstein‘s cartoons have been published in the New Yorker, Barron’s, The Harvard Business Review, Prospect Magazine, Punch, The National Lampoon, the Wall Street Journal, Narrative Magazine, and three of S. Gross’s cartoon anthologies His humor writing has been in The New York Observer’s “New Yorker’s Diary” and humor websites, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Yankee Pot Roast, and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood. His series of graphic reporting appeared in The Chicago Tribune‘s “Printer’s Row” literary magazine. A book of his Jewish-themed cartoons, Kvetch As Kvetch Can, has been published by Random House/ Clarkson Potter. In addition to teaching at De Paul University and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he is also an advertising creative director. His new book is The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury).

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Ken’s friend Kathy’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. Krimstein by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 287:
Audrey Niffenegger

“The success of The Time-Traveler’s Wife didn’t change me as an artist, it changed me as a person who was able to control her own time.”

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, how art school taught her to see, 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, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Bizarre Romance!

“I have a pretty holistic idea of what a book is and what can be in a book.”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Audrey Niffenegger is the author of the international bestsellers The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, as well as a fine artist who has previously published four illustrated books with Abrams: The Three Incestuous Sisters, The Adventuress, Raven Girl, and The Night Bookmobile. Her newest book is Bizarre Romance (Abrams), in collaboration with Eddie Campbell.

(There’s a more extensive one at her site)

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Jesse Sheidlower’s apartment on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on the same equipment at the Bethesda North Marriott during Small Press Expo weekend. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ms. Niffenegger by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 285:
Glen David Gold

“As a novelist, you get an idea of listening to a character, and thinking about what the character would do, judging whether an action would be true to the character. If you base it on a real person, a lot of those questions are answered, and it becomes a question of finding an avatar for them.”

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 Situation and the Story 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! Give it a listen! And go buy I Will Be Complete!

“I thought of Kirby’s Silver Age work as his Ulysses, and the ’70s stuff was his Finnegans Wake.”

“One of the things I’m interested in is artists’ careers after their first act is over: where do they go, and why?”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Glen David Gold is the author of the bestselling novels Sunnyside and Carter Beats the Devil, which has been translated into 14 languages. His essays, memoir, journalism and short fiction have appeared in McSweeney’s, Playboy, Tin House, Wired, Zyzzyva, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Guardian UK and London Independent. He has written The Spirit for DC comics and The Escapist for Dark Horse. His essays on the artist Jack Kirby accompanied the landmark Masters of American Comics and Comic Book Apocalypse museum shows. Recently he has co-written episodes of The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome to Nightvale. His new book is the three-part memoir I Will Be Complete.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Glen’s house 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. Gold by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 266:
Steven Heller

“I would look at other people’s design work and realize they have something I don’t have. What I do have is an ability to judge work, to come up with ideas.”

Design scholar Steven Heller joins the show to talk about writing and editing more than 182 books on design and its history (and lamenting the books he still wants to do). We get into his evolution from cartooning to graphic design, how he became a scholar of satiric magazines, what went into building the MFA entrepreneurial design program at School of Visual Arts, and the maybe too-encompassing use of the word “design”. We also talk about the transition from print to digital media, how he manages to keep up a daily blog, his career at the New York Times (designing the op/ed page and the Book Review, and occasionally writing obits), his legacy, how he’s dealing with Parkinson’s syndrome, how a terrible student can become a good teacher, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design & some of Steven’s other books!

“I don’t think of my legacy too often. I think of death, but not legacy.”

“If you use language in an arcane way, no one understands you. If you’re talking in an accessible way, everyone understands you and uses the language as a substitute for meaning.”

“I often think of the work that my students have to do, the challenges they have to overcome, and the problems they have to solve, as things I wouldn’t have the patience for.”

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

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

About our Guest

Steven Heller, co-chair and co-founder of SVA MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program, was a Senior Art Director at The New York Times for 33 years (the Op-Ed page and then the Book Review). He was editor of AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, Visuals columnist for NY Times Book Review, contributing writer for Atlantic and Wired, and contributing editor for Print magazine, where he continues to write The Daily Heller online. The author, editor or co-author of over 180 books on design and popular culture, his most recent is The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design (from Abrams) (with Greg D’Onofrio) and Free Hand: New Typography Sketchbooks (from Thames & Hudson) (with Lita Talarico). He is the recipient of the 1999 AIGA Medal and the 2011 National Design Award for “Design Mind” as well as honorary doctorates at The College For Creative Studies in Detroit and The University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic.


Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Prof. Heller’s office in SVA 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 Prof. Heller & his office by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 263:
Jonathan Ames

“For me, all writing — scripts, essays, novels — it comes down to enjoying writing a sentence.”

On the eve of the premiere of You Were Never Really Here, writer Jonathan Ames returns to his stomping grounds of northern NJ to talk about crime novels, the literary pilgrimages of his youth, getting laughs at AA meetings, and more. We get into the process of seeing his novella adapted into film, his decade-long fascination with Richard Stark’s Parker novels, the catharses and paradoxes of his confessional writing, learning on the fly to write for TV and working with a writers’ room for Bored to Death and Blunt Talk, the experience of studying creative writing at Princeton under Joyce Carol Oates, learning The Secret to stop being cheap with himself, his favorite writing form (given that he’s made novels, stories, columns, nonfiction, films, TV, and comics), the act of subsuming himself into fictional characters, the bizarre error on his IMDB page that left me totally flummoxed, and the amazing NJ coincidence of one of the locations used in the movie. Give it a listen! And go buy You Were Never Really Here and go catch the movie!

“With this movie being made of my book, it’s like I’m throwing a party, but I’m not invited.”

“In the novel, you can do everything. The reader is there, collaborating with you. You’re making that art together.”

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

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

About our Guest

Jonathan Ames is the author of the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, Wake Up, Sir!, the graphic novel The Alcoholic (illustrated by Dean Haspiel), the novella You Were Never Really Here, and the essay collections What’s Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, I Love You More Than You Know, and The Double Life Is Twice as Good. He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the creator of two television shows: the HBO series Bored to Death and the STARZ series Blunt Talk. His novel The Extra Man was made into a film starring Kevin Kline, and You Were Never Really Here has been adapted for the screen, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at my 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. Photos of Mr. Ames by me. It’s on my instagram.