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 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 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.

Virtual Memories Show 365:
Ben Katchor

“A dairy restaurant feels to me like an urban, walled Garden of Eden, but it’s in this world, so it gets trapped in the doings of this world.”

The great cartoonist Ben Katchor rejoins the show to talk about his brand-new book, The Dairy Restaurant (Schocken), a 500-page illustrated history of, um, dairy restaurants! We get into what drew him to the milekhdike personality, the remnants of Eastern European Jewish culture that call to him, why this book had to be prose-with-pictures rather than comics, the decades of research and interviews he conducted, and why these restaurants came to represent the history of how Jews moved away from their parents’ professions. We also discuss just what went wrong with the world, why his favorite books are old Chicago Yellow Pages directories, why just studying Jewish history can constitute a sort of Judaism, his fascination with interwar Warsaw, his plea for a controlled economy, and why The Dairy Restaurant had to begin in the Garden of Eden. Give it a listen (and check out our past conversations from 2013 and 2016)! And go buy The Dairy Restaurant!

“Text is about time, and pictures are about space.”

‘I miss the restaurants I never went to.”

“I think everybody for a few moments should think about everything they know, and say, ‘What do I know about it and how does it impinge on my life?'”


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

Ben Katchor is the author of, among other books, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer; The Cardboard Valise; Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories; and The Jew of New York. He was the first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. He teaches at Parsons/The New School in New York City. His new book is The Dairy Restaurant.

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