Virtual Memories Show 391:
Christopher Brown

“Utopia is not a place; it’s a decision. It’s a decision to try to live a better life, to craft a more wholesome community.”

Can there be economic justice without environmental justice? With his new novel, FAILED STATE (Harper Voyager), Christopher Brown returns to the alternate America of Tropic of Kansas (2017) and Rule of Capture (2019) to explore the possibility of utopia and the catastrophe of man’s disconnect from the land. We talk about how he reprised his great character Donny Kimoe (causing Amazon to categorize this book as “Dystopian Lawyer”), the roots of the world he built in these novels and his drive to publish 3 books in 4 years, and how the pandemic is influencing the choice of his next project, and how he’s been coping since our COVID Check-In a few months ago. We also get into the culture of undocumented people in his area of Texas, the documentary TV episode about his home in east Austin, his current binge of Latin American horror by women writers, the role of resistance when the law is being subverted by politics, the future of his wonderful Field Notes weekly e-mail, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Failed State!

“Decisions about accountability are in the hands of politicians, and politicians are all very terrified of the idea of people being held criminally accountable for things that are at the margins of politics and power.”

“I live in a Hobbit house of the future. It’s about the idea of bringing back the wild in the heart of the city.”

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

Christopher Brown is the author of Tropic of Kansas, a finalist for the 2018 John W. Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of the year, and Rule of Capture, the beginning of a series of speculative legal thrillers. He was a World Fantasy Award nominee for the anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. His short fiction and criticism has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including MIT Technology Review, LitHib, Tor.com, and The Baffler. He lives in Austin, TX, where he also practices law. His new novel is Failed State, from Harper Voyager.

Follow Chris on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to the weekly Field Notes e-mail.

(There’s a more comprehensive version at his website.)

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 Chris by me, from 2018. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 389:
Woodrow Phoenix

Who’s driving whom? With Crash Course (Street Noise Books), British cartoonist, artist and designer Woodrow Phoenix examines what cars do to us: physically, mentally, and environmentally. We talk about the evolution of Crash Course, the stint in LA that inspired it, the visual and design choices that make it a haunting piece of art, and how he reconciles driving his Mini Cooper One. We also get into growing up in South London, what being Black means in the UK and US, his compulsion to experiment with styles, why he sticks with pencils and inks, and his typography and design background and how they inform the semiotics of Crash Course. Plus, he nerds out HARD for Carmine Infantino, we nerd out together for Al Hischfeld, and we try to figure out why his recurring themes are duplication, language, perception and the shifting nature of reality. Oh, and I try to get him to spend a lot of money on bookshelves. Give it a listen! And go read Crash Course!

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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

Woodrow Phoenix is a writer, an artist, and a designer whose work has appeared in publications across Europe, Japan and the US. His previous books include Plastic Culture: How Japanese Toys Conquered the World, Felt Mistress: Creature Couture, and the giant graphic novel She Lives. Woodrow grew up in South London after his parents emigrated to the UK from Guyana. He lived for some time in the US in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. He currently lives and works in both London and Cambridge, and spends a lot of time driving between them in his Mini Cooper One. His new book is Crash Course.

Follow Woodrow 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. Photos of Woodrow by him. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 386:
Judy Gold

“Don’t tell me what I’m allowed to talk about. There’s no growth without discourse. When you start shutting people up, that’s the end of evolution.”

Comedian, actress and Emmy-winning TV writer Judy Gold joins the show to celebrate her brand new book, Yes, I CAN Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble (Dey St.). We get into the role of comedy in society, the perils of censorship (from the left and the right), and what living through the AIDS crisis taught her about the need to laugh. We get into her history in standup, how audiences have become more offendable, how she got into her IDGAF mode in her 40s, who can take a joke and who can’t (and who can tell a joke and who can’t), the crucible of hanging out with comedians after shows, how she’s dealing with pandemic life and how COVID-19 forced the longest break in her career, what she’s learned from hosting Kill Me Now for 5+ years and who some of her Mount Rushmore guests have been, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go read Yes, I CAN Say That!

“Every safe space has a door that leads to the real world.”

“Nothing is sacred in a comedy club. And this is the only art form where our work in progress needs an audience.”

“I found that, once you don’t give a shit, you’re much funnier.”

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“A woman in her late 40s in standup is invisible. I’ve been told I can’t get a Netflix special because I don’t ‘fit the algorithm’.”

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

Judy Gold is an American standup comedian, actress, television writer, and producer. She won two Daytime Emmy Awards for her work as a writer and producer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and has starred in comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, and Logo. She has also written and starred in two critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway hit shows: The Judy Show―My Life as a Sitcom and 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother. She is currently the host of the hit podcast Kill Me Now. Her new book is Yes, I CAN Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble.

There’s a longer version of her bio at her website.

 

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 Judy by Justine Ungaro. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 385:
Ellen Lindner

“Women have always played baseball; it just hasn’t been discussed. In the late 19th century, in concert with American imperialism, white men looked at baseball and said, ‘This is something we want for ourselves.'”

Batter up! Let’s celebrate Major League Baseball’s 2020 Opening Day by talking with cartoonist, illustrator and baseball fan Ellen Lindner. We get into Ellen’s great ‘zine about the role of women in the history of baseball, Cranklet’s Chronicle (1 & 2), her own history with baseball, why she’s a Mets fan, her theories about Aaron Judge’s mystery-injury, and what it’s like being in the narrow Venn overlap of comics-makers and sports fans. We also explore her comics upbringing, the education she got by volunteering at the Words and Pictures Museum of Sequential Art, the comics festivals she misses the most in Pandemic World, the time she impressed David B. with her French, how to tell family stories without alienating one’s family, her side-project of sewing masks and biking around NYC to deliver them, the cut-out figure she submitted to the Mets, and more. Give it a listen! And go read issues 1 & 2 of Cranklet’s Chronicle, as well as Ellen’s contribution to the new Pandemix anthology!

“The fine art world was totally focused on money, and so comics was an escape for me.”

“Just telling a family story can open so many old wounds.”

“I will admit I did go to Smith College partly because of its proximity to the Words And Pictures Museum.”

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

Ellen Lindner is the author of the Ignatz-nominated graphic novel The Black Feather Falls, as well as The Cranklet’s Chronicle, a history of women, baseball and social change in America. Her comics have appeared in The Lily, Spiralbound, World War 3 Illustrated, and a variety of other publications and anthologies. Ellen is also an editor and educator, and her activist art has been acquired by the Smithsonian Institution. A member of the ART HQ cartooning studio, she lives in Upper Manhattan.

Follow Ellen on Twitter 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. Photos of Ellen supplied by her. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 384:
Adrian Tomine

“For all those years, one of the main questions in my mind was: What is my own style? What isn’t a hodgepodge of things I’ve borrowed from my heroes? With this book, it felt like a great opportunity to probe that and challenge myself to investigate that.”

Cartoonist and illustrator Adrian Tomine is in it for the long haul. With his new graphic memoir, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (Drawn & Quarterly), he explores his lifelong connection to comics and the embarrassments & humiliations they’ve caused him. We get into the new book and talk about whether it was worth it, what brought him to the sketchbook style he adopted for this one, the differences between his comics and illustration work, being accepted by his cartooning heroes, and the importance of mindless time. We also talk about his ideal reader, the anxiety of influence and vice versa, what he misses about floppy comics (as opposed to bookstore graphic novels), the redactions he made in Loneliness to protect the douche-y, Adrian’s remembrances of the late Richard Sala, and much more. Give it a listen! And go read The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist!

“I’ll always be attracted to people like Richard Sala, who have achieved so much, who are at the top of their game in some ways, who could by every right be an arrogant snob, but are completely down on themselves, alienated, and think their own work is terrible.”

“As a parent, my life has opened up in ways I wouldn’t have sought out on my own.”

“I don’t think anybody looks up to me the way I looked up to my heroes. The world has changed and younger cartoonists are very excited by the work of their peers and even of artists younger than themselves.”

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“The friendships I have in comics are irreplaceable and couldn’t be reproduced from someone outside the industry.”

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

Adrian Tomine was born in 1974 in Sacramento, California. He began self-publishing his comic book series Optic Nerve when he was sixteen, and in 1994 he received an offer to publish from Drawn & Quarterly. His comics have been anthologized in McSweeney’s, Best American Comics, and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and his graphic novel Shortcomings was a New York Times Notable Book. His previous book, Killing and Dying, appeared on numerous best-of lists and was a New York Times graphic bestseller. Since 1999, he has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters. His new graphic memoir is The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist.

Follow Adrian on 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. Drawings of Adrian by him. It’s on my instagram.