Virtual Memories Show 380:
Bill Campbell

“When you own the field, it’s very easy to move the goalposts.”

Author & publisher Bill Campbell joins the show to talk about what he’s learned from running Rosarium Publishing (and how he accidentally became a publisher). We get into how having a diverse roster of authors and cartoonists is easy if you’re willing to look, how independent bookstores generally don’t support independent presses, and how work-life balance is something he doesn’t even consider. We also talk about the impact of Rosarium’s first book, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, the continued significance of their 2015 anthology, APB: Artists against Police Brutality, the cognitive dissonance of living in Washington, DC, his upcoming graphic novel about a Klan rally in Pittsburgh and why history equals horror, the challenges of continuing to publish during the pandemic, how lockdown taught him that he’s not as antisocial as he thought, and more. Give it a listen! And go read some Rosarium books!

“Independent bookstores always say, ‘Support independents,’ and I say, ‘Why don’t you support independent publishers?'”

“The work-life balance might work if you have a 9-5, but if you’re doing stuff like this, there’s just no balancing any of it.”

“What my novel Koontown Killing Kaper taught me was, if you’re doing something that’s actually controversial, people will ignore you. They just won’t show you the light of day.”

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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

Bill Campbell is the author of Sunshine Patriots, My Booty Novel, and the anti-racism satire, Koontown Killing Kaper. Along with Edward Austin Hall, he co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond. He also co-edited Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, with Nisi Shawl, Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction and Fantasy, with Francesco Verso, and APB: Artists against Police Brutality, with Jason Rodriguez and John Jennings. His Afrofuturist spaceploitation graphic novel, Baaaad Muthaz (with David Brame and Damian Duffy) was released in 2019. His historical graphic novel with Bizhan Khodabandeh, The Day the Klan Came to Town, will be released by PM Press in 2021. He lives in Washington, DC, where he spends his time with his family and helms Rosarium Publishing.

Follow Bill on Twitter and Instagram and follow Rosarium Publishing on Twitter.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Bill hoarding toilet paper by him. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 379:
Jonathan W. Gray

“Literature has a role to play at precisely this moment, because we have to dream and think big.”

I nerd out with author, English professor, and hardcore comics reader Jonathan W. Gray. We talk about how Blackness is represented in American comics (the subject of his next book), how Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing changed his life, and how he was teaching comics when there weren’t a lot of college courses on comics. We get into the perils and perks of academia, what it’s like teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and protesting against police violence, the influence of Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner & John Lewis’ March on his work, the horrifying question of whether we’re actually in the best timeline right now, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go read his first book, Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination: Innocence by Association!

“Because police are in retreat, at least rhetorically, we’re finally having a conversation about their budget vs. the budget for social workers, for education, and housing.”

“You never know a thing until you have to teach that thing, and that was the case with teaching about comics.”

“The problem with professors is that professors overthink everything.”

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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

Jonathan W. Gray is Associate Professor of English at John Jay College-CUNY and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination (University Press of Mississippi) and is currently working on the book project “Illustrating the Race: Representing Blackness in American Comics”, which traces depictions of African Americans in comics from 1966 to the present by investigating how the twin notions of illustration — the creative act of depiction and the political act of bringing forth for public consideration — function in these texts. Prof. Gray co-edited the essay collection “Disability in Comics and Graphic Novels” for Palgrave McMillian and formerly served as the founding editor of the Journal of Comics and Culture (Pace). Prof. Gray’s journalism on popular culture has appeared in The New Republic, Entertainment Weekly, Medium, and Salon.com.

Arpi Pap Studio Images

Follow Jonathan on Twitter.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Jonathan W. Gray by Arpi Pap Studio. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 377:
Keith Henry Brown

“I was shocked no one had done a kids picture book about Miles Davis. I didn’t even read the script; I just said yes!”

Designer, artist and writer Keith Henry Brown joins the show to talk about his new kids book, Birth of The Cool: How Miles Davis Found His Sound (Page Street Books, written by Kathleen Cornell Berman). We get into the twists and turns of his illustration career, exploring the balancing act of art & commerce in his main role as an art director, the role of jazz in his work, how he started off by achieving his childhood goal of drawing for Marvel Comics, but rapidly realized it wasn’t for him, the ongoing evolution of his style, how he discovered his place at the Society of Illustrators, the longform graphic novel he’s hoping to create, the issues of race in his career, and more. Give it a listen! And go read Birth of The Cool!

“Part of my intense love for jazz is because it’s an incredibly brilliant art form that requires an incredible amount of talent, skill, practice, and intellectualism, and it’s a high art. And Black people had a lot to do with the creation of it.”

“I live in this weird balance of life where I’ve been treated incredibly well, and there’s another part where people don’t know me and they cross the street because they feel threatened.”

“Once I had my own style, I realized I had my own language.”

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

Keith Henry Brown got his start drawing superheroes, but music has always been his true inspiration. He has worked as a designer for advertising agencies and high profile music-related projects, including creating posters for Jazz Appreciation Month and The Newport Jazz Festival, and creating jazz album covers for artists such as Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks, and Wynton Marsalis. Keith’s first children’s book, Birth of The Cool: How Miles Davis Found His Sound, was published by Page Street Books in 2019 and received a Starred Review from Kirkus.

Born and raised in Staten Island, Keith is father to two magnificent boys (whom he affectionately calls his “two knuckleheads”) and lives and works in Brooklyn, surrounded by his favorite Spider-man, Batman and Black Panther action figures.

Follow Keith on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Keith supplied by him (illustrations are by him, too). It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 376:
Calvin Reid

“The biggest shift in comics right now is the explosion of independent publishing, the impact of Kickstarter on the ability of artists to not have to go through the superhero gatekeepers, the explosion of diversity in terms of creators and in genres, and the impact of the book publishing world.”

Through his work at Publishers Weekly, editor Calvin Reid has been an important advocate for comics and graphic novel publishing for decades. We get into his history with comics and making art, how he began writing about the book publishing world, and the weirdness of having to update the annual retailer survey to reflect the effect of the pandemic on booksellers. Calvin talks about the transformative nature of Black Lives Matter, the lack of diversity in publishing (which he wrote about 25 years ago), and how Black artists are represented in mainstream comics, as well as how wearing a mask helps protects him from COVID, satisfies his superhero fantasies, AND gets him likes on social media. Give it a listen!

“BLM has been transformative in every way. It’s triggered a sense of looking around at the systemic nature of racism, of realizing that maybe what’s killing young black men has been stifling careers, suppressing voices, and so much more. I’m astonished and inspired to see what young people are doing.”

“I think a new and revived New York will come out of the pain and the death and some of the shortsighted decisions about the pandemic that have caused so much suffering.”

“I’m a product of the romantic mythology of New York City. I love the idea of New York City. I love baseball, and black music, and Harlem, and jazz, and all the things that create the mythos of New York.”

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

Calvin Reid is Publishers Weekly‘s news editor and head of its comics department. He oversees PW’s annual African American issue. He also edits the PW Comics Week eNewsletter. He has edited the graphic novels Comanche Moon by Jack Jackson and David Chelsea in Love by David Chelsea.

Follow Calvin on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Calvin supplied by him. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 373:
Kathe Koja

“Chaos is its own engine.”

Writer, performer, director and producer Kathe Koja rejoins the show to talk about her new story collection, VELOCITIES (Meerkat Press). We talk how she’s coping with the pandemic, the importance of having a good working relationship with chaos, and why Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is more apropos than ever. She gets into her work in immersive theater and how it needs to be reimagined in this era of social distancing, while teasing out details of her new project, Dark Factory. We also get into the upcoming reissue of her cult novel The Cipher this September, why she’s bingeing on Babylon Berlin, the one thing she hoarded when things went sideways, why it’s important to be open to the messages the world sends us, and what to do when you find a pill lying on the floor in a hospital cafeteria. Give it a listen! And go buy VELOCITIES!

“If writing is not a conversation, it’s really nothing.”

“It’s like trying to argue with a river. If you learn to swim, or better yet float, you’re better off.”

“Dark Factory is about how we open up to the world, see what’s really happening, see how strange life really is.”

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

Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. Her most recent book is VELOCITIES, from Meerkat Press.

Follow Kathe on Twitter and Facebook, contribute to her Patreon, and listen to our previous conversation.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely 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 Kathe by Rick Lieder. It’s on my instagram.