“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.”
“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.”
“Culture makes the world tolerable. It makes it possible to live in a world that would drive you mad if you saw it in an uninterpreted way.”
“I should have led a more balanced life, but that’s easy to say at the end of things. When you’re caught up in what you’re doing, it’s very hard to be reasonable. And art isn’t really made of being reasonable.”
“Facing death, there were two alternative courses: one was to lie back on a couch, admire myself for my achievements, and sign off; the other was to go on as if I had forever. I chose the second.”
He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). You can find a longer version of his bio at his site. He died on Nov. 24, 2019.
“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.”
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.
“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?”
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.
“One of the reasons I wrote about these three women for my books is that the lives they led give me something to draw.”
Third time’s the charm! Cartoonist Pete Bagge returns to talk about his new comic biography, Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story (Drawn & Quarterly), and we get into the thematic ties of his three biographies — Lane, Margaret Sanger, and Zora Neale Hurston — and how he learned the biographer’s art over the course of those works. We talk about how he discovered Rose Wilder Lane’s walk-the-walk libertarianism, her transition in and out of socialism, the likelihood that she co-wrote her mother’s Little House series of books, Pete’s own history with libertarianism and the uncomfortable questions he’d ask his parents, and why his own biography would be a lot less interesting than those of his subjects. We also discuss his writing and drawing process and how he structured these books, why he’d prefer to produce comics in installments and how economics mitigate against that model, how trying to write for TV made his comics writing more concise, and why he’s likely sticking to shorter biography comics for a while. Oh, and we talk about his ’80s/’90s editorship of the anthology Weirdo, how he followed R. Crumb, and the artists he pissed off as well as the ones to whom he gave their first shot, and the memoir he’s written but has yet to draw. Give it a listen! And go buy Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story!
“RAW was full of art and artists that I loved, but it was clearly designed to appeal to people that I hated.”
“Something that I’ve been struggling with since I’ve been a cartoonist is to be more concise. I have a bad habit of being too verbose.”
“There are these 400-page graphic novels out there, and by page 50, I just have no motivation to turn another page.”
“Drawing Buddy Bradley over and over at conventions? It beats drawing nothing.”