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.

Virtual Memories Show 372:
Tom Hart

“For my next book, I’m looking for a new form. Everything feels like the old form. I’m giving myself that luxury. I don’t owe this to anybody but my own creative satisfaction.”

Cartoonist and educator Tom Hart joins the show to talk about how the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) is adapting to the pandemic era. We get into Tom’s comics upbringing and his formative years in the Seattle scene, how he managed to avoid superhero comics during his formative years, my discovery of his debut, Hutch Owen’s Working Hard, in 1994, the value of pretension and his drive to bring literary notions to his comics, the experience that led him to create SAW, the challenges of teaching students half his age (& younger), ow teaching his helped him as a cartoonist, the new form he’s seeking for his next book, and why he’s hoping to get out of Florida. Give it a listen!

“In my own work, I’ve removed everything in the idea-generation phase, everything that’s not about death or absolute primal urges.”

“I realized upon reflection that what I was responding to with Peanuts was the heightened emotion contained in boxes & little characters. That was my way of interpreting the adult emotional world around me.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! And visit The COVID-19 Sessions for all those daily episodes about life during the pandemic.

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

About our Guest

Adapted from his website:

Hi, I’m Tom Hart, a cartoonist. I started The Sequential Artists Workshop , a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida. Before that, I taught at School of Visual Arts for 10 years, a did a bunch of other stuff.

My book about my daughter, Rosalie Lightning, was a NY Times #1 bestseller and been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and was featured on many best of 2016 lists, and was nominated for two Eisner Awards.

Before that, I was the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books. The Collected Hutch Owen was nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. I was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in The Comics Journal and other comix publications. I was called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. The Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie, was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

I was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among my students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden, Box Brown, and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica Fink, Josh Bayer, Brendan Leach , and many others.

Follow Tom on Twitter and Instagram. Check out B Is Dying on Instagram. Check out SAW on Instagram.

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 Tom by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 371:
Paul C. Tumey

“I regard Mad Magazine as an apex of Screwballism in comic books, and in a way, my whole book is an attempt to understand what the lineage of Mad is.”

Nov Shmoz Ka Pop? Writer & artist Paul C. Tumey joins the show to talk about his fantastic new book, Screwball: The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny (IDW Publishing). We get into where screwball cartooning began, how he selected the 15 cartoonists profiled in the book (like Herriman, Segar, Rube Goldberg, and Frederick Opper), the ways in which the book is an attempt at explaining the parentage of Mad Magazine, the nuances of biography and his work at humanizing his subjects, and how screwball cartooning intersected with with vaudeville & film (and how the Marx Bros. got their names) and how it’s the subject of his next book. We also talk about how we’re coping with pandemic-panic and his latest binge-reads & -shows. Give it a listen! And go read Screwball: The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny!

You can listen to all these COVID Check-In episodes at The COVID-19 Sessions.

“Behind every accomplishment, whether it’s a comic strip or a mathematical theorem, there’s a person. We can certainly relate to the person, whether or not we can relate to their work.”

“There are characters who are not typified by their position in life or their ethnicity, but by their neuroses.”

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

Paul C. Tumey is a writer and artist in Seattle, WA. He was nominated for an Eisner Award as co-editor of Foolish Questions and Other Odd Observations by Rube Goldberg, co-edited and wrote for The Art of Rube Goldberg, and wrote the introduction to LOAC Essentials: The Bungle Family and Thimble Theatre and the pre-Popeye Cartoons of E.C. Segar. He writes a column for The Comics Journal. His new book is Screwball: The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny.

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 Paul by someone else, maybe his wife. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 370:
Alta L. Price

“Books were my first drug.”

Translator Alta L. Price joins the show to talk about co-curating the 2020 (now 2021) edition of Festival Neue Literatur with Tess Lewis. We talk about the bureaucratic snafu that led her into a life of translation, how she fights the urge to revise translations between editions, the differences between translating a classic vs. a contemporary work, her work to promote gender parity among translators and translated authors, and how editors serve as gatekeepers that inadvertently perpetuate disparities. We also get into how studying printmaking brought her an understanding of what a work of art is and does as it shifts media, her literary ambassadorship of Chicago, how she overcame perfection-paralysis, and plenty more. This episode was intended to promote the Festival Neue Literatur, which was to be held April 23-26, 2020 in NYC but has been postponed to 2021; I decided to retain the portions about that to remind us of The Before Times. Give it a listen!

This isn’t strictly one of ’em, but you can listen to all my COVID Check-In episodes at The COVID-19 Sessions.

“Some would argue that as soon as you speak a sentence or write something on paper, you’re translating.”

“I’ve learned ways to mitigate doubt, and overcome the perfectionism that would paralyze me.”

“What sort of literature is grounded in spoken languages, and what kind is born on the 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

Alta L. Price runs a publishing consultancy specialized in literature and nonfiction texts on art, architecture, design, and culture. A recipient of the Gutekunst Prize, she translates from Italian and German into English. Her latest publications include books by Martin Mosebach and Dana Grigorcea, and her translations of Alexander Kluge and Anna Goldenberg are forthcoming in 2020. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, 3 Quarks Daily, Maharam Stories, Trafika Europe, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. She is a member of PEN, the Authors Guild, the American Literary Translators Association, the Third Coast Translators Collective, and Cedilla & Co. She’s on Instagram as alta_l_price

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the home of Tess Lewis 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 Alta & Tess Lewis (left) by me. It’s on my instagram. Nicer pic of Alta by Donnelly Marks.

Virtual Memories Show 367:
Whitney Matheson

“Music, film, TV, books: those are the things that tell you when you’re a kid that there’s a world out there.”

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). Give it a listen! And go support Whitney via Patreon!

“I just wrote about the things that I loved, and the things that I loved happened to be very different from what was being covered in a very large, mainstream publication.”

“The comics industry has the most kindness and camaraderie of any entertainment-industry I’ve worked in.”

“I love the things that aren’t getting much attention.”

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

Whitney Matheson is a New York-based writer best known for creating Pop Candy (1999-2014), USA Today’s award-winning pop-culture blog. She has appeared on MSNBC, VH1, BBC America, E! and Turner Classic Movies, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Playboy, Mental Floss, Slate and The Hollywood Reporter. Her first children’s book, We Make Comics!, was released in May 2019. Subscribe to Whitney’s weekly pop-culture newsletter and get exclusive content like comics, short stories and more at patreon.com/whitneymatheson.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at a cartooning studio in Gowanus 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 Whitney by me. It’s on my instagram. Except for the one in the Automatic For The People T-shirt. That’s probably by her.