Virtual Memories Show 279:
Hal Mayforth

“As a kid, I was scared of Superman comics. Robots, too.”

Illustrator-painter-cartoonist-musician Hal Mayforth joins the show to talk about making art out of the everyday. We get into his daily sketchbook practice (along with transcendental meditation), the shelf-life of illustrators’ styles, the music he makes out of found vocals, and how he balances personal art alongside his professional work. We also talk about his explorations into AbEx and how he made the shift from illustration to fine art, how he built his portfolio by doctoring alt-weekly articles with his own illustrations, why playing in a band offsets the solitary aspects of making art, his Screaming Yellow Zonkers animation that never aired, whether living in New England (Burlington, VT especially) helped or hurt his illustration career, the inspiration of EO Wilson on his Biophilia paintings, teaching himself portraiture by working his way through an old World Book encyclopedia, his campaign to get May 4th declared a national holiday and why he feels upstaged by Star Wars fans, and why he chooses soul over technical perfection (and Lightnin’ Hopkins over Steve Vai). Give it a listen! And go check out Hal’s art and listen to his music!

“I wanted to be a rock star; the arts thing came later.”

“I think George Herriman is like Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Leonardo in one package.”

Want a little bonus podcast action? Check out this minute-long video of Hal playing his favorite guitar prior to our pod-session:

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

Humorous Illustrator Hal Mayforth was born and raised in Vermont. He was lucky to have graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in Fine Art because he spent most of his 4 years playing rock and roll in bars. He started his illustration career in Boston, returned to Vermont to raise 3 boys with his wife and recently, like a yo-yo, returned to the greater Boston area. Hal has been the recipient of many awards and honors including a swimming award at Camp Abnaki in the early ’60’s. In addition to drawing little guys with big eyes and big noses for money, he is also serious about drawing in his sketchbooks every morning and fashioning those drawings into paintings.

Hal Mayforth’s paintings have been featured in exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the US, including the Housatonic Museum in Bridgeport, CT; the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA; La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles; the Sylvia Schmidt Gallery in New Orleans; Monserrat College in Beverly, MA; the Wood Gallery of the Vermont College of Fine Art in Montpelier; the Virginia Lynch Gallery in Tiverton, RI; the Furchgott-Sourdiffe Gallery in Shelburne, VT; Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT; The Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, VT, The Quimby Gallery at Lyndon State College in Lydonville, VT and the Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts in Burlington, VT.

As a nationally recognized humorous illustrator, Hal’s work is published in national magazines and newspapers, including Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Rolling Stone, Forbes, Outside, Road and Track, Reader’s Digest, Mother Jones, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.

He’s also recorded 4 albums.

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

Virtual Memories Show 271:
Christopher Brown

“I don’t think I would write the kind of science fiction I write if I hadn’t had the experience of eating deep-dish pizza with Strom Thurmond during the Clarence Thomas hearings.”

Science fiction author Christopher Brown joins the show to talk about his first novel, Tropic of Kansas (Harper Voyager), and the redemptive possibilities of dystopian fiction. We get into his SF pedigree, living in Austin and its influence on his ecological themes, the multivalence of Texas, his attempt at subverting the post-9/11 technothriller toward emancipatory ends, his background in business law and politics (and the role of power in both those milieux), his affinity for edgelands and the dysfunctions of time, the storytelling advantages of growing up in the midwest, his cynicism about humanity and optimism about nature, and working on Capitol Hill and realizing Ted Kennedy looked just like a certain Marvel character. Give it a listen! And go buy Tropic of Kansas!

“I’ve always been attracted to these little pockets of interstitial wilderness that still exist in the landscape.”

“Texas, more than any other part of the US, is manifestly colonized territory.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Christopher Brown was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for the anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including MIT Technology Review’s “Twelve Tomorrows,” The Baffler, and Stories for Chip. He lives in Austin, Texas. Tropic of Kansas is his first novel.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at The Standard in Cooper Square 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. Brown by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 270:
Ilana C. Myer

“The writing has a plan, and it does whatever it wants with me.”

Fresh from her book tour, Ilana C. Myer joins the show to talk about her new novel, Fire Dance (Tor). We get into the jump she made for her second book, the process of crossing Celtic poets with troubadours and Mediterranean aesthetics and mythology as part of her world-building, the challenge of seducing the reader, why she writes fantasy instead of history, and her fixation on “books with magic in them” as a kid. We also get into how she balances life in Israel and the US, her process of self-discovery and her religious epiphany in a college astronomy class, the challenge of shutting out social media voices while keeping up a strong Twitter presence, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy Fire Dance (and Ilana’s first novel Last Song Before Night)!

“Without our history, without our traditions, who are we? I refuse to be someone who doesn’t have an identity.”

“You can’t predict how people will respond to the work. To retain my sanity and creative integrity, I had to not pay attention to the responses, even the positive ones.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Ilana C. Myer has worked as a journalist in Jerusalem and a cultural critic for various publications. As Ilana Teitelbaum she has written book reviews and critical essays for The Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and the Huffington Post. Last Song Before Night was her first novel, followed by Fire Dance. She lives in New York.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Ilana’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. Myer by Ezra Butler, so it’s not on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 269:
Michael Kupperman

“My old work was about the absence of meaning; it’s just trying to be funny.”

Michael Kupperman rejoins the show to talk about his new book, All The Answers (Gallery 13)! We talk about his father Joel Kupperman’s experience on the Quiz Kids radio and TV shows and how it led to a multigenerational chain of trauma, the shifting of gears from absurdist humor to heartfelt family memoir, the airing of family secrets, the five-plus years of work this book required, and more. We also get into how Mike learned to be a father on the fly, the way his PR push for the book has turned into an ongoing therapy session, why his comedy performance may have been a time-delayed act of paternal rebellion, why it’s important for him to reach a non-comics audience, the change to a mainstream house after working with comics publishers, and his assessment of his career and his perceived lack of respect (that would be the aforementioned therapy session). Give it a listen! And go buy All The Answers!

“When you start thinking about your own family dynamics, there’s a kind of inertia involved, but when you push past that, you start to have some startling realizations.”

“My father desperately wanted me and my sibling to be normal, whatever that is, but he didn’t recognize how deeply abnormal we are.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Michael Kupperman’s comic drawings and strips have appeared in dozens of publications including The New Yorker, Fortune, The New York Times, Nickelodeon Magazine, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, Heavy Metal, and McSweeney’s; comic books for DC, Marvel, and others; and been collected in multiple books, including five of his own. They’ve also been animated for Saturday Night Live, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central. Conan O’Brien described him as “probably one of the greatest comedy brains on the planet.” All The Answers is his first serious book. Michael lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Muire, and son, Ulysses.

This is his second appearance on The Virtual Memories Show. Check out his first one, recorded at TCAF 2013.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mike’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 Mr. Kupperman by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 263:
Jonathan Ames

“For me, all writing — scripts, essays, novels — it comes down to enjoying writing a sentence.”

On the eve of the premiere of You Were Never Really Here, writer Jonathan Ames returns to his stomping grounds of northern NJ to talk about crime novels, the literary pilgrimages of his youth, getting laughs at AA meetings, and more. We get into the process of seeing his novella adapted into film, his decade-long fascination with Richard Stark’s Parker novels, the catharses and paradoxes of his confessional writing, learning on the fly to write for TV and working with a writers’ room for Bored to Death and Blunt Talk, the experience of studying creative writing at Princeton under Joyce Carol Oates, learning The Secret to stop being cheap with himself, his favorite writing form (given that he’s made novels, stories, columns, nonfiction, films, TV, and comics), the act of subsuming himself into fictional characters, the bizarre error on his IMDB page that left me totally flummoxed, and the amazing NJ coincidence of one of the locations used in the movie. Give it a listen! And go buy You Were Never Really Here and go catch the movie!

“With this movie being made of my book, it’s like I’m throwing a party, but I’m not invited.”

“In the novel, you can do everything. The reader is there, collaborating with you. You’re making that art together.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Jonathan Ames is the author of the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, Wake Up, Sir!, the graphic novel The Alcoholic (illustrated by Dean Haspiel), the novella You Were Never Really Here, and the essay collections What’s Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, I Love You More Than You Know, and The Double Life Is Twice as Good. He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the creator of two television shows: the HBO series Bored to Death and the STARZ series Blunt Talk. His novel The Extra Man was made into a film starring Kevin Kline, and You Were Never Really Here has been adapted for the screen, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at my 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 Mr. Ames by me. It’s on my instagram.