Virtual Memories Show 354:
Peter Kuper

“Heart of Darkness deserves to be canonical because it addresses through art what it means to be civilized and what it means to be savage, and touches on things happening now in our world: the madness of power.”

Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about his new graphic adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (WW Norton). We get into the highwire act of addressing race without diluting the book or otherwise changing Conrad’s tale (that is, how do you balance adaptation and revisionism?), how Peter accidentally subjected himself to some of Marlow’s ill health while adapting the book, and how he used graphic storytelling to bring other perspectives to the story. We also discuss his trepidation about adapting a canonical book, his trepidation about drawing boats, and is trepidation about making an optimistic issue of World War 3 Illustrated. Oh, yeah, and he tells us about getting to hold Conrad’s diary from the river journey that inspired Heart of Darkness, his ongoing Spy Vs. Spy strips for Mad Magazine, and, on his 3rd appearance on the show, I finally ask him just where his progressivism started! Give it a listen! And go buy Heart of Darkness!

“One of the great ironies of censorship is that Mad Magazine was the only thing left standing after the other EC comics had to shut down, because it was more subversive than any of the others.”

“Art can speak some kind of truth that even photography fails at.”

“My intention with almost any project is to demonstrate what you can do with comics.”

“Adaptation is like taking a graduate class.”

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

Peter Kuper’s work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Mad, where he has written and illustrated “Spy vs. Spy” every issue since 1997. He is the co-founder of World War 3 Illustrated, a political comix magazine now in its 40th year of publication. He has produced more than two dozen books, including Sticks and Stones, The System, Diario de Oaxaca, Ruins (which won the 2016 Eisner Award), and Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories. His new book is Heart of Darkness.

Peter has lectured extensively throughout the world and has taught comics and illustration courses at Parsons, The School of Visual Arts, and Harvard University’s first class dedicated to graphic novels. A frequent guest at literary festivals, Peter enjoys traveling the world, but will always call New York City his home.

He is on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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

Virtual Memories Show:
Tom Spurgeon
Birthday Memorial Episode

“The thing about Tom was, he wasn’t necessarily interested in everything you were interested in, but he was interested in learning about WHY you were interested in it. That sort of curiosity is rare, and it’s part of what made him a special person.”

Today (Dec. 16) would have been Tom Spurgeon‘s birthday. To honor my best friend after his untimely death, this mini-episode has my remarks from his memorial service this past weekend at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, OH. Give it a listen! And go support your favorite artists, via Patreon, donation, or buying their artwork!

“Tom provided support, raised attention to injustices in the field, directed people to lesser-known creators who he thought deserved a look, and — I know it sounds hokey — tried to make a better world for people. And he did it without expectation of financial reward.”

“His combo of intellect, passion, sociability and lack of an angle is not going to be seen again, and I dread what the years ahead will look like for that field.”

“Since we mainly communicated by e-mail over the decades, we got to try to be closer to our ideal selves for each other.”

“A few nights ago, when I was trying to write this, I thought, ‘Man, I should zap Tom a draft of this. He’d know how to make it work.’ So if it sucks, blame Tom.”

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!

Credits: These remarks were recorded at Tom Spurgeon’s memorial service at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on 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 Tom by Meghan Ralston. Photo of me by Amy Roth.

Virtual Memories Show 352:
Robb Armstrong

“These marks that the artist makes are our signature, our footprint. They have to stay.”

At Cartoon Crossroads Columbus – CXC, cartoonist Robb Armstrong joins the show to talk about celebrating 30 years of his nationally syndicated comic strip, JumpStart. We get into how he made the transition from gags to character-based humor, the early days of doing the comic strip while holding down a full-time job in advertising (and some absolutely crazy stories about how he used to get original art from Philadelphia up to the syndicate office in NYC), the pop culture references he regrets from the ’90s, and why believing in in his characters helps his readers believe in them, too. We also discuss the challenges of breaking into cartooning and the support he got from past African-American cartoonists like Morrie Turner and Buck Brown, the influence of Charles Schulz on his work and his character, the inescapability of Bill Watterson, how he learned to stop worrying about industry awards, and the move from Philly to LA and the lessons learned from going through the TV production process. We also get into his strong belief in helping other artists, why he thinks pencils and erasers are the devil’s tools, what he’d tell the Robb of 30 years ago about what he has to look forward to, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go read JumpStart daily at GoComics!

“If I could go back 30 years, I’d tell myself: ‘Pace yourself.’ ‘Be grateful.’ And, ‘You can do a good strip every day.’”

“Perfection is not necessary when you’re thinking, when you’re drawing, when you’re creating something.”

“As sexy as it would have been, I bet I dodged a bullet not getting a TV show. I don’t think the strip would have survived the cancellation of a show, and these shows have such a short life span.”

“Helping a young person solidify their belief in what they can do isn’t just a good deed, it’s extremely urgent. Without saying to a young person, ‘You’re special; you need to do this,’ you’re pulling up the ladder, and that’s not right.”

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

Robb Armstrong is the creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip JumpStart, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and will see a retrospective collection in 2020. He is also the author of Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life.

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 CXC – Cartoon Crossroads Columbus 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. Armstrong by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 351:
Annie Koyama

“More and more in this society, if you have more than other people, you have a duty to share it.”

Toronto-based small press comics publisher Annie Koyama joins the show to talk about her decision to shut down Koyama Press after 13 years, her thoughts on how artists should be treated (and how they should treat themselves), and how to make the most out of life after getting a terminal diagnosis. We get into what comes next in her support for the arts, how the publishing business has changed and what risks she can and can’t take, the near-death experience that led her to launch Koyama Press (and the accidental naming of the company), and the most surprising success in her backlist. We also discuss how her artists took the news, what she’ll miss the most, the importance of supporting artists throughout all stages of their careers, how not even her previous careers in film and advertising could prepared her for the world of art comics publishing, and more! Give it a listen! And go check out Koyama Press’ catalog!

“Koyama Press is something I accidentally fell into, and yet I probably love it more than anything I’ve ever done.”

“I like to get stuff done, and every time I have a health scare, it reminds me that I have to start running faster, or I’m going to have to not do all the stuff I want to do.”

“I want to do too much; that’s my problem but it’s also what fires me.”

“I hope I’m always curious, to a fault.”

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

Annie Koyama is the publisher and founder of the Toronto-based Koyama Press. After working in graphic arts, set painting, and film, she found herself in advertising, making commercials. After a surviving a terminal diagnosis, she decided to dedicate her time and resources to supporting primarily emerging artists. In 2007, she published Koyama Press’s first book, Trio Magnus: Equally Superior, by the Trio Magnus collective.

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 (SPX) 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 Ms. Koyama by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show:
Tom Spurgeon Bonus Episode

“The danger isn’t in the limits of what you can do for someone. The danger is in withdrawing, and realizing you don’t have those relationships anymore. If you can be engaged in someone’s life . . . that’s what you have and that’s what you work with.”

Following the unexpected death of Tom Spurgeon, my best friend and an inveterate supporter of the show, I’ve re-posted our 2012 conversation, along with a new (and emotional) introduction. Give it a listen

“I was morphined up and looking out the back of an ambulance for about three hours. You get to see things as a beginning, middle and end. . . . My story might end in a couple of hours. What does that mean? What was that life like?”

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

About our Guest

At the time of his death at the age of 50, Tom Spurgeon was the editor of The Comics Reporter and executive director of CXC – Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

Credits: The conversation was recorded at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD in 2012 on a pair of Blue enCORE 100 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H4 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 me & Tom by my wife. It’s on my instagram.