Virtual Memories Show 461:
Matt Madden

“One of the things I love and value about comics is the plasticity of it and the elasticity of visual representation.”

With his new book, Ex Libris (Uncivilized Books), cartoonist Matt Madden takes readers on a post-modern, formalist dive into comics. We talk about the challenge of tinkering with story structure while still delivering an entertaining story, the work involved in jumping from style to style throughout Ex Libris (and in his past comics), the joy & terror of a notional library of potential books, and the inspiration of Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, & all his literary, cinematic & comics influences. We get into his comics upbringing, his work teaching comics and developing comics textbooks, being in a two-cartoonist household — he’s married to Jessica Abel – and his kids’ attempts at keeping him (somewhat) culturally up to date, the perils & rewards of canonical thinking, and his use of Alison Bechdel’s comics-writing process. We also discuss the world that Factsheet Five opened up to him, his “welcome to comics” moment (courtesy of Bob Burden), Lewis Trondheim’s challenge to him to make a comic without formal commentary, the supply chain hiccup that postponed Ex Libris, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go read Ex Libris!

“The comics world has become larger and more diverse, but also more diffuse. The comics culture that we grew up in was defined by a struggle between mainstream superhero comics and Weirdo, Arcade, and RAW. . . . But the kids that are growing up now have a whole other visual narrative world that blends into what was previously that walled-off comic-book world.”

“I think about register a lot. Not high/low art, but a different kind of brain-space and a different kind of intent when you’re drawing for a comic vs. drawing from life or drawing to hang something in a gallery.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

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

Matt Madden is a cartoonist, teacher, and translator. His best-known book is 99 Ways To Tell A Story: Exercises in Style, a comics adaptation of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style. His recent work includes the comic books Drawn Onward and Bridge. He has been living in Philadelphia since 2016. His new book is Ex Libris.

Follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook 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. Photo of Matt by Alain François. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 458:
Robert Emmet Meagher

“As I grew as a thinker, as a scholar, as a teacher, I took Camus with me, and my appreciation of him grew as I did.”

With Albert Camus and the Human Crisis (Pegasus Books), professor Robert Emmet Meagher distills a half-century of reading and teaching Camus’ work to show us how the writer and thinker continues to resonate 60+ years after his untimely death. We get into his accidental origins with Camus and how Camus speaks to us today, the Human Crisis speech Camus gave in 1946 and how it remains relevant, why no one paid attention to Camus’ protests that he wasn’t an existentialist, Camus’ uneasy pacifism and Bob’s own antiwar activism (and how it affected his career). We also talk about why I was a dummy not to take Bob’s class on Camus when I was an undergrad at Hampshire (I did take his Sense & Spirit class in 1992), the Camus novel Bob had to grow into, his speculation on how Camus & his writing would have developed had he not died so young, and mortality, deathfulness, & how, as Camus put it, philosophy used to teach us how to die, but now teaches us how to think. In addition to Camus, we discuss Bob’s work with veterans and healing moral injury, why exactly Achilles in the Iliad is “swift-footed” and the moment my mythic/tragic view of him gets dashed on the rocks of Bob’s experience with soldiers, his draft-dodging conundrum and the deus ex machina that kept him out of Vietnam, his decision to teach & write about the subjects that interest him, rather than following academic trends, his status as a professor-in-waiting (but not retired!), how he’s been coping with the pandemic, and how this book was his melodramatic Final Class. Give it a listen! And go read Albert Camus and the Human Crisis!

“One of the remarkable things about Camus is that he wasn’t embarrassed when he changed his mind. And when he did change his mind, even over very strong public statements he had made, he would own up to it publicly. If he had embraced a position he now rejected, he wanted others to reject it too.”

“It was 1970, and I had spent two hours on a beach reading The Stranger when I was young, but now I had 6 weeks to give a lecture to a conference of noted Camus scholars from around the world.”

“My objection to philosophy is that, by the time I was studying it, it had become a parlor game. My study of classics — as a discipline, not the works themselves — followed the same path.”

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

Robert Emmet Meagher is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Hampshire College, Amherst. Before Hampshire, he held faculty positions at Indiana University and Notre Dame. Across his 52 years of teaching he also held numerous visiting chairs and professorships in the U.S. and abroad, including at Trinity College Dublin, and Yale. His publishing career includes over 20 books, translations, and original plays, most recently Herakles Gone Mad: Rethinking Heroism in an Age of Endless War, Killing from the Inside Out, War and Moral Injury, and his latest book, Albert Camus and the Human Crisis. He has offered workshops on the translation and contemporary production of ancient drama at colleges and universities in the US and abroad, and has himself directed productions at such venues as the Samuel Beckett Centre, Dublin and the Nandan Centre for the Performing Arts in Kolkota, India. In recent years he has directed and participated in a range of events and programs concerned with healing the spiritual wounds of war in combat veterans, their families, and their communities.

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

Virtual Memories Show 457:
Dash Shaw

“With all of the things that I do, the form and the content have to feel like they’re perfectly synced, that they’re each boosting each other up. It also has to be connected with how they’re made.”

Cartoonist and animator Dash Shaw joins the show to celebrate his new book, Discipline (New York Review Comics), a Civil War-era story about a Quaker who joins the Union army. We get into how Dash’s upbringing as a Quaker in Virginia led him to this book, the New York Public Library fellowship that exposed him to letters and diaries from the time, the artwork of the era and how it influenced the “floating” visual style of Discipline, and his urge to depict the moments that are left unchronicled. We also discuss the Quaker debate over paying a military tax during the Civil War, the sense of growing up in an area haunted by that period of history, the multi-year layering process of making this book and how it converged and diverged with the making of his amazing new animated movie, Cryptozoo (Magnolia Pictures), and how story dictates form & style. We also reminisce about a bookstore panel he did with Frank Santoro once upon a time, and how their tooth-and-nail arguments over the nature of comics gave him hope that there’s plenty of room for comics to grow. Give it a listen! And go read Discipline!

“I’ve made other books and animated movies, but nothing has been as hard as this book. Nothing was as picked over and fraught with indecision.”

“How much does it matter what I’m thinking, or my motivations for anything? Maybe all that matters is what my body is actually doing. Or maybe what matters is what I’m thinking, and how I’m passing along these thoughts. It’s a bizarre thing to try to articulate, but I think it’s the content of this book.”

“There are so few books or media about Quakers, that I feared I was going to disappoint people by not giving them information.”

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

Dash Shaw was raised Quaker in Richmond, VA, where he currently lives. He is the cartoonist of many graphic novels and wrote and directed two animated feature films, the most recent of which, Cryptozoo, won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Prize and is distributed by Magnolia Pictures. He began working on Discipline in 2014, and it was drawn over the course of six years.

Follow Dash on Instagram and 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. Photo of Dash by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 455:
Charles Bivona

Writer, poet, professor, editor and old friend Charles Bivona returns to the show for a wide-ranging conversation about art, depression, anxiety, midlife health crises (his diabetes, my CLL), Buddhism, Vietnam & contagious trauma, writing his autobiography on Patreon, and more. Our 20+ years of friendship yield an intriguing conversation about how our lives have changed in response to and/or defiance of the world around us. We get into the heavy stuff this time, but don’t fret: there’s room for humor with my old pal, too. Give it a listen! And go read The Mourning After and Memoirs In Fragments

(You should also check out our 2014 conversation and the 3 monthly check-ins we did in 2016: March, April, May)

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

From his Twitter bio: Part-Time Professor & Writer, Poet & Retired Ass Model: I’ve worn many hats. Luckily, I look good in hats. Currently, the Executive Editor of academic things.

Follow Charles on Twitter and Instagram, and support his Patreon.

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

Virtual Memories Show 454:
Anne Cattaneo

“Most people want to be on the stage, but I don’t.”

Lincoln Center Theater‘s dramaturg Anne Cattaneo joins the show to celebrate her new book, The Art of Dramaturgy (Yale University Press). We answer the pivotal question, “What does a dramaturg DO, exactly?” and explore the tradition of dramaturgy in Europe and America, while diving into the phenomenon of good theater, and the existence of Theatrons, those mysterious particles that circulate from stage to audience and back when Good Theater Happens. We get into how a dramaturg can supplement the work of the actors and director, how plays change during rehearsal and over the course of production, the importance of intuition and collaboration (as well as a thick skin) for a dramaturg, the joy of discovering new plays (and lost plays, and out-of-fashion plays) and finding new ways to stage classics, and the treasures that can be found in archives. We also talk about the economics of regional theater and how it constrains what plays get produced, the deep research she did to help a pair of actors in Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia understand why their characters had an affair, the triumph of staging Mule Bone, a lost play by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the impact of the pandemic on theater, the need to support older playwrights, and a LOT more. Give it a listen! And go read The Art of Dramaturgy!

“There are so many plays that can be discovered, that are just waiting.”

“America’s not a nation that a 300-year history of going to the theater, like Germany. . . . We have a theater tradition that’s just 50 years old; we forget how new it is.”

“The business side of regional theater has gotten bigger while the artistic staff got smaller.”

“When you understand another language, it helps you understand another culture, another way of life. Language reflects the reality of how people live in the world.”

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

Anne Cattaneo is the longtime dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater, and creator and head of the 25 year old Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. At the announcement of her 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship for Theater Arts, American Theatre Magazine saluted her as “a legendary dramaturg.”

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Anne’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. B/W photo of Anne by Brigitte Lacombe, other photos by me. They’re on my instagram.