“Memory rhymes with these little moments in time, and time folds in on itself in a remarkable way, and comics is a wonderful example of that, unlike film or prose.”
A beautiful and subtle meditation on memory and his parents’ marriage and divorce, Frank Santoro‘s 200-page graphic novel, Pittsburgh (New York Review Comics), is one of my favorite books of 2019. Frank & I get into about Pittsburgh‘s unique visual style, in which he eschews black lines and works directly with color markers, how he solved the problem of word-balloons intruding on a comic page’s color harmony, and how the book’s design and style mirror the reconstruction of memory. We talk about how the book originated with his dad totally opening up to one of Frank’s friends about a story he never told Frank, how interviewing family members for the book brought him closer to them and to understanding them as people, and why I developed the belief that men are far less likely to know how their parents met than women are. We also discuss how his art-training influences his comics compositions, how working for painter Dorothea Rockburne taught him to see the page as music, why he prefers standalone projects to serial publishing, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go buy Pittsburgh!
“The breath of poetry has a measure; with comics, the measure is the left and right of the page.”
“Part of this story was learning to see my parents as people, and not just as my parents.”
“I had to learn to slow down to make this book, to listen to myself and not push the narrative.”
“When you make a 200-page comic at once — not as serials — you have to stay wide. You can’t put in all the detail, or it’ll become a 10-year project.”
About our Guest
Frank Santoro’s work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City and at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. He is the author of Storeyville and Pompeii, and has collaborated with Ben Jones, Dash Shaw, Gary Panter, and others. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His new book is Pittsburgh (NYRC).
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Hotel LeVeque during Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) 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. Santoro by me. It’s on my instagram.