Virtual Memories Show 344:
Liz Hand

“Henry Darger was a devout Catholic who was engaged in a huge argument with God.”

Transgression vs. transcendence: Elizabeth Hand‘s brand-new novel, Curious Toys (Mulholland Books), explores artistic and cultural taboos through the lens of a serial killer mystery set in the amusement parks of Progressive Era Chicago. We talk about her inspiration for making outsider artist/writer Henry Darger one of the lead characters of Curious Toys, how she first heard about Darger and the Vivian Girls mythology he created in his paintings and 15,000-page (!) novel, the striking similarities between Darger and Tolkien, the tragedy of outsider/visionary artists, and the challenge of casting a nonbinary character a century in the past (the novel’s other lead, not Darger). We also get into why writers have no control over the success of their books, the differences between writing on spec vs. on contract, some hints about her next Cass Neary novel, the time she outdrew Deepak Chopra at a bookstore signing, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy Curious Toys!

And check out our 2015, 2016, and 2017 episodes!

“Transcendence is not easy to achieve, and neither is true transgression.”

“Usually when I’m writing a novel, I start with a place I want to write about. With Curious Toys, I had characters, but had to research the place they populated.”

“I tell my students not to fixate on the publishing part of writing. You really just have to immerse yourself in the process of writing, because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re going to have.”

“Throughout my work, there’s a numinous quality to the world that my characters are struggling to find.”

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

Elizabeth Hand is the author of more than fourteen cross-genre novels and collections of short fiction. Her work has received the Shirley Jackson Award (three times), the World Fantasy Award (four times), the Nebula Award (twice), as well as the James M. Tiptree Jr. and Mythopoeic Society Awards. She’s a longtime critic and contributor of essays for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Boston Review, and the Village Voice, among many others. She divides her time between the Maine coast and North London. Her new book is Curious Toys, published by Mulholland Books.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Marriott Boston Quincy during Readercon 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. Hand by me. It’s on my instagram.

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 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 333:
Gil Roth AMA

Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me, including (in the order I answered them): Ken Krimstein, Hugh Ryan, Barry Corbett, Joe Ciardiello, Glynnis Fawkes, Kyle Cassidy, Ian Kelley, Kate Lacour, Dean Haspiel, Eddy Portnoy, Kate Maruyama, Tom Spurgeon, Jonathan Hyman, David Leopold, Paine Proffitt, David Townsend, Boaz Roth, Chris Reynolds, Liniers, Caleb Crain, Bob Eckstein, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Andrea Tsurumi, Henry Wessells, Vanessa Sinclair, Jim Ottaviani, Maria Alexander, Mary Fleener, Stephen Nadler, Charles Blackstone, Lauren Weinstein, and David Shields. We cover everything from creative lessons learned from my guests to “why so many cartoonists?”, from what books I re-read and why to who is on my Mount Rushmore list of dream guests, from the comics and GNs that have affected me most to what I think about the Peak TV era, from how running has affected my podcast-practices to who my most obstreperous guest has been, and plenty more! And it was all done in a single two-hour take, so give it a listen!

NOTES:

  • Chris Reynolds’ question included a couple of links, so here’s what he wrote: I’ve been carrying on with “Comics as Radio”, influenced by the KCRW Organist podcast. My friend Alan Jackson did a performance of my Comics as Radio story “Sexton Blake and the 64th Floor” at the Train of Thought Gallery in Worthing, and we discuss it here with John Parke, whose idea it was. So my question is: What do you think of ‘Comics as Radio’?
  • Pre-order Dean Haspiel’s forthcoming collection of The Red Hook: WAR CRY, from Image Comics (comes out Oct. 9)
  • Barry Corbett has started a fundraiser for The Food Pantry, so contribute! You can find his graphic memoir, Terminal Velocity, here
  • Maria Alexander has a new short story collection, 12 Tales Lie | 1 Tells True from Cemetery Dance

BONUS: I’ve got a belated answer to Maria Alexander’s question, “What’s the spookiest thing that’s ever happened to you?” In high school, my English teacher was driving me and another classmate to a creative writing conference in New Brunswick. Somehow, the topic of birthdays came up and — swear to the Unifactor — it turned out that all three of us had the same birthday. I know that’s not ghost-possessed ventriloquist spooky, but it’s still spooky, so I’m going with that one.

SECOND BONUS: When I talked about the movie Magic during the episode, I meant Anthony Hopkins, not Anthony Perkins. If that’s the only mistake I made during the show, I’ll be amazed.

Enjoy the monologue! 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

Gil Roth is the host of The Virtual Memories Show, a weekly literary-cultural conversation podcast. He’s also the founder and president of the Pharma & Biopharma Outsourcing Association, a nonprofit trade group representing contract manufacturing organizations and other service providers in the bio/pharma sector. His wife is a photographer, he runs for recreation and reads a lot, and their greyhound is named after the prince’s hunting dog in The Leopard.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at my house on a Blue enCORE 200 Microphone 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 & Yorick by me at Cathy B. Graham‘s studio. Header photo is a chapter title card from an episode of Frasier, so it’s not on my instagram.