Virtual Memories Show 298:
Summer Pierre

“A mix-tape isn’t just saying, ‘I want you to enjoy this’, it’s, ‘I want you to enjoy me making this.'”

In her new graphic memoir, All the Sad Songs (Retrofit Comics), Summer Pierre uses the mix-tapes of her 20s and 30s to tell us the story of her life, one wrong boyfriend, one cross-country drive, one Boston folk stage set at a time. We talk about the soundtracks to our lives, the memoir & comics influences that gave her permission to tackle her PTSD issues on the page, the discovery that she was making a 104-page comic instead of the 25-page one she set out to draw (or “getting used by the muse”), and how surprised she was that college students know what a mix-tape is. We also get into her artistic maturation out of the kamikaze-style of making comics, the Boston folk music scene she was in/around in her 20s, the somatic therapy that helped her deal with PTSD, the notion that mixes are self-portraits, and wanting to be her mother’s biographer, but realizing she knew almost nothing about her mom’s insane life. Give it a listen! And go buy All the Sad Songs!

“This book’s about memory and the power of art to narrate our lives.”

“I’m a big believer in deadlines, boundaries, the small constraints that set up work for you.”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Summer Pierre is a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and teacher living in the Hudson Valley, New York. She is the author of the graphic memoir, All the Sad Songs, and the autobiographical comic series, Paper Pencil Life. Her other books include The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week, and Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life. Her writing and art have appeared in PEN America, The Rumpus, The Comics Journal, and The Nashville Review among other places.

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

Virtual Memories Show 294:
Mark Dery

“I wanted to allow Gorey not only a degree of mystery . . . but also to convey his belief in the value of lacunae, of gaps.”

For his first biography, Mark Dery picked a doozy of a subject: the great, creepy, droll, mysterious artist and writer Edward Gorey. We talk about Mark’s brand-new book, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown), his one in-person encounter with Gorey, how Gorey’s sexuality did and didn’t inform his work, and the challenge of writing the biography of an artist whose work always invited the reader to fill in the gaps. We get into how Gotham Book Mart made a cottage industry out of Gorey, the long-range impact of Gorey on America’s pop culture, the queerness of children’s literature beginning in the ’50s, the influence of Asian art and philosophy on Gorey’s work, his devotion to ballet and Balanchine, why the epic catalog makes for a great biographical tool, and a lot more, like Mark’s lifelong one-sided relationship with Patti Smith! Give it a listen! And go buy Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey!

“One of the fascinating things about Gorey is how he problematizes and challenges some of the underlying assumptions about our age of identity politics.”

“Somehow I thought performance poetry was a growth 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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Mark Dery is a cultural critic. He coined the term “Afrofuturism,” popularized the concept of “culture jamming,” taught at Yale and NYU, and has published widely on pop culture, the media, and on the mythologies (and pathologies) of American life. His books include Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, a seminal anthology of writings on digital culture; Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, and the essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams. Like Gorey, his mission in life “is to make everybody as uneasy as possible.” His new book is Born to Be Posthumous.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mark’s home 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 Mark Dery by me and C. Taylor Crothers. The bookshelf one is on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 289:
Nora Krug

“The decision to make this book was the excuse to finally ask questions of my family.”

With the brand-new visual memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home (Scribner), writer/illustrator Nora Krug explores her family’s history in World War II and her own struggles with her identity as a German expat in America. We get into the meaning of Heimat and why her questions arose when she was living outside of Germany, the challenges of telling the story without devaluing the Holocaust itself (thanks, Jewish beta-readers, incl. Nora’s husband!), the pendulum swing of collective guilt, the failings of German’s education system to address the war, and whether certain books should be banned (and what happened the time she tried reading Mein Kampf on the subway). We also get into the process of editing her life and her discoveries into a narrative without eliding the truth, how Belonging/Heimat has been received in Germany, writing it in English, and the detective work that went into making the book. Plus, we talk about her visual storytelling style, teaching art at Parsons, why she doesn’t keep a sketchbook (but doesn’t tell her students that), and the German stereotypes she does and doesn’t live up to (she’s getting better at small talk!). Give it a listen! And go buy Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home!

“A lot of Germans in my generation feel like everything has already been said about the war. But in reality the war is so embedded in their consciousness.”

“The whole research process was an internal struggle of trying to test the limits of my empathy for the decisions that my grandfather made.”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Nora Krug is a German-American author and illustrator whose drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde diplomatique and A Public Space, and in anthologies published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon and Schuster and Chronicle Books. She is a recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, and the German Academic Exchange Service. Her books are included in the Library of Congress and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. Her illustrations have been recognized with three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and a silver cube from the New York Art Directors Club, while her visual biography, Kamikaze, about a surviving Japanese WWII pilot, was included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics and Best Non-Required Reading. Nora’s work has been exhibited internationally, and her animations were shown at the Sundance Film Festival. She is the author of the visual memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home (foreign edition title Heimat), about WWII and her own German family history. She is an associate professor in the Illustration Program at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Ms. Krug’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. But we had an equipment failure, so I used the backup Zoom H2n 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. Krug by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 286: Moby

“I love making music, but I don’t think of it as a job anymore.”

Electronic dance musician Moby joins the show to talk about what he learned from writing his memoirs and what he learned from reading bad ones. We get into the toughest/most embarrassing story he had to tell, the banality of turning 50, the benefits of public failure, the pros and cons of the infinite jukebox, his take on contemporary pop music, his decision to sell off most of his recording equipment and his records, the two things he would save if he had a house fire, his favorite Star Trek captain, and a lot more! Give it a listen! And go buy Porcelain: A Memoir and Moby’s new record, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt!

“My assumptions have always been that things are not great and there’s nothing to indicate they’re going to get better. So even when things are good, I still assume that it’s a fluke or a delusion on my part.”

“The oddest thing about aging is becoming who you never thought you’d become.”

“What combination of free time and narcissism compels someone to write two memoirs when they haven’t done that much?”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Moby is a singer-songwriter, musician, DJ, and photographer. His records have sold 20 million records worldwide. AllMusic called him “one of the most important dance music figures of the early ’90s.” He lives in Los Angeles.

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

Virtual Memories Show 283:
Robert Andrew Parker

“In recent years I’ve been intrigued by the idea of what Gregor Samsa’s dreams were like, before he woke up as an insect.”

At 91 years old, Robert Andrew Parker can’t stop making art. We sat down in his studio to talk about his 7-decade career in painting, illustration and printmaking. We talk about how a childhood bout of TB led to his becoming an artist, how he studied under German refugees at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the challenges of keeping his fine art career running parallel with his commercial illustration career all these decades, how he got hired as Kirk Douglas’ hands in the Vincent Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life, his fascination with Kafka and the Metamorphosis, how he got started playing drums and how he felt about 4 of his 5 sons growing up to be drummers. We also talk about the worst part of his macular degeneration (hint: it involves books), why he prefers watercolors to oils, his favorite places when he traveled the world on magazine assignments, his profane correspondence with Thomas Berger (and a funny exchange with Nabokov), his astonishing “German Humor” series and why it had to be etched and not painted, how he nearly burned down a barn with nitric acid while prepping plates, why art agents and dealers need to be realists (but have a sense of humor), touring the Dardanelles with Edward Herrmann, and much more. Give it a listen!

And check out a bunch of pix in my Instagram feed:

“In Africa I saw everything I ever wanted to see, in terms of animals and landscapes. And the aromas, the smells, and the thousands of miles of fields: it was heavenly.”

“My wife has a computer, but I’m literally not welcome in that room.”

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, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Robert Andrew Parker is an American artist known for both his paintings and prints of figures, landscapes, and animals. Parker has produced set designs for operas and films, as well as illustrations for many children’s books during the course of his career. “Robert Andrew Parker is one of the most accurate and at the same time most unliteral of painters,” the poet Marianne Moore wrote of him, adding, “He combines the mystical and the actual, working both in an abstract and a realistic way.” Born in Norfolk, VA in 1927, he went on to study at the Art Institute of Chicago during the late 1950s. After finishing school, he was recruited to play the role of Vincent van Gogh’s hands in the 1956 MGM film Lust for Life, though his hands never ended up in the finished film, he was able to live lavishly in the South of France during the production.Parker lives and works in Connecticut. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

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