Virtual Memories Show 303:
Peter Kuper

“Art has been my saving grace, in terms of having an outlet so I’m not just having today’s news run around in my head and make me scream.”

Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about these Kafkaesque times and his new graphic novel, Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories (Norton)! We get into his decades-long interest in Kafka, the art of literary adaptation, why the constraints of working with an existing story can be liberating, how to talk about controversial artists in the present moment, the various translations of K he read before commissioning his own, and challenges of his adaptation-in-progress: Heart of Darkness. We also get into his post-2016-election mindset, the discovery of his New Yorker cartoonist line, his laborious process of breaking down a comic, what his dream adaptation project is, the time he got stranded in a village in Africa by an evil guide, and much more! Give it a listen! And go buy Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories!

“I feel a lot of anxiety that what I’m working on relates to what’s going on in the world.”

“I teach so that I can learn what it is I think I know.”

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

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About our Guest

Peter Kuper’s work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Mad, where he has written and illustrated “Spy vs. Spy” every issue since 1997. He is the co-founder of World War 3 Illustrated, a political comix magazine now in its 40th year of publication. He has produced over two dozen books, including Sticks and Stones, The System, Diario de Oaxaca, Ruins (which won the 2016 Eisner Award) and more. His most recent graphic novel is Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories. He is currently working on an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Peter has lectured extensively throughout the world and has taught comics and illustration courses at Parsons, The School of Visual Arts, and Harvard University’s first class dedicated to graphic novels. A frequent guest at literary festivals, Peter enjoys traveling the world, but will always call New York City his home.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Peter’s studio on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder, as well as a Zoom H2n Handy 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 Peter by me. It’s on my instagram. Butterfly photo by Holly Kuper.

ruinscover

Virtual Memories Show #147:
Peter Kuper

“The things we were seeing on the lamppost that would wash away, the art on the walls that would get painted over: we wanted to codify that in World War 3 Illustrated.”

Alt-comix lifer Peter Kuper joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, RUINS (Self-Made Hero), a beautiful book about American expats in Oaxaca, Mexico during last decade’s political upheaval. Peter also talks about co-creating World War 3 Illustrated and the legacy that anthology has left since its inception in 1979 (!), how surprised he finds himself to be teaching at Harvard, how he fights despair over the fight against climate change, the need to build one’s own artistic scene, what it’s like to be one of the only people who actually followed through on the “if Bush/Cheney are re-elected, I’m leaving America” pledge, and more! Give it a listen!

“For me, the safest thing has been doing things I love. I’m an atheist, but I’ve had the experience of putting in the love and the effort and have come to believe that it’ll work out. I know a tremendous amount of it is luck, but persistence and putting yourself in the way of possibility has worked.”

ruins_56SmallSeriously, Peter Kuper’s a legend in cartooning, and this wide-ranging conversations covers a lot of territory, including his revelations about murals in Mexican art, the wide variety of art-styles he employs, the economics of cartooning, the sink-or-swim experience his parents subjected him to in Israel (and why that led him to do the same to his kid in Mexico), the devaluation of political humor, the GOP candidate he fears the most, and the historical knowledge of comics his students at Harvard and SVA have (or don’t have), so go listen to our conversation and then go buy Ruins!

“We all draw. Every kid draws. For whatever reason, we give it up. I encourage people to keep it there. Why not sketch for pleasure? Turning it into a career is a whole other bag.”

We talk about some books in this episode. Here’s a list of them:

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

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Peter Kuper has created over a dozen graphic novels, including The System, Sticks and Stones, and an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. He is co-founder of the political graphics magazine World War 3 Illustrated and since 1997 has written and drawn “Spy Vs Spy” for MAD Magazine. He has been teaching comics courses for over 25 years in New York City and is a visiting professor at Harvard University. His new book is RUINS.There’s a more extensive bio at his site.

Pocketing

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Kuper’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 Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of Mr. Kuper by Holly Kuper.