“Making art is like an alchemical process for me. I want to take shit and make gold out of it, metaphorically speaking.”
Back from her Fool’s Journey in France, Nina Bunjevac returns to the show to celebrate her new book, Bezimena (Fantagraphics)! We talk about the graphic novel’s unique and weird structure, Nina’s abrupt decision to leave France and come back to Toronto after a year-long study of France’s BD publishing industry, and her upcoming tarot project and her explorations into the history of occult mysticism and esoteric philosophy. Along the way, we also get into fixing the financial model for comics-makers, the value of big publishers, her growth as a writer, how Bezimena helped her address past episodes of sexual assault, her joy that Canada legalized weed while she was away, the story of her collaboration with Antonio Moresco, how to make an Alchemical Kitchen, and plenty more! BONUS: I explain how to tip the housekeeping staff at hotels!Give it a listen! (our 2014 podcast is over here) And go buy Bezimena!
“I like small, intimate bookshops that smell like books, not yoga equipment.”
“I treat tarot the same way I treat my dreams, as symbolism.”
“I realized that my approach to writing is very poetic, and I now approach writing as poetry.”
“The drawing of the comic is where everything is discovered.”
After more than 20 years, Seth has completed Clyde Fans, his grand meditation on family, business, and art (Drawn & Quarterly), so let’s celebrate with a double-episode! First, Seth & I talk at a live event hosted by the Strand Bookstore, where we get into how his approach to art and storytelling evolved over that 20-year span, the one element he hated keeping consistent throughout the process, why serializing most of the work helped with revision, and how comics have become a subset of his studio process. Then we follow up with a one-on-one conversation during Toronto Comic Arts Festival, discussing his next project, whether he likes organic projects like his Nothing Lasts memoir or more fully formed stories, whether he owns a pair of sweatpants, the realization that he wasn’t writing about his father but about himself, the artist’s responsibility at the signing table, his decision never to research the real Clyde Fans business, the maddening acceleration of contemporary culture, the one character of his he feels affection for, his dream of writing a play, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Clyde Fans!
“When you’re in the studio, you think, ‘This is the real me’; you’re not seeing yourself reflected off of other people.”
“My wife is a barber, and she told me that being a barber isn’t about cutting hair, it’s about talking to people. People don’t come up to me at signings because they want a signature; they come up because they want to have a moment, an experience.”
“There’s a quality of keeping art private that represents a sort of power. I wonder, if I was independently wealthy, would I keep all my artwork to myself and not release any of it.”
“I’ve been writing about myself, when I thought I was writing about my dad. I should have realized that 10 years ago.”
Her first crush was Nosferatu, she started reading Burroughs at 12, she’s fused Roma and Santeria, and now Katelan Foisy joins the show to talk about making art, magic, and a personal mythology. We get into the course of her artistic career, the perils of a public persona, the experience of making art for Smashing Pumpkins and William Patrick Corgan (& the genesis of their friendship), understanding the tarot as storyboards, learning to paint mosaics to make the Sibyls Oraculum, the allure of old hotels, the duality of Al Capone, and why she traded the East River for Lake Michigan. Plus, the great advice she got from Molly Crabapple, forming a Third Mind with Vanessa Sinclair, her adherence to William Burroughs’ twin beliefs that you can write your way out of any problem and that photographs can change the future, and how her art tries to capture the Romany notion of the Stopping Place. Give it a listen! And go check out Katelan’s marketplace for art and magic!
“Everything I make as commercial art still plays into my personal mythology.”
“I discovered Burroughs when I was 12 or 13, and I remember thinking, ‘This doesn’t feel good, but I can’t stop.'”
“The reason I met Molly Crabapple is that we had the same idea. But she was doing it and I was just thinking it.”
Katelan Foisy is a multimedia artist, occultist, and writer. Her fine art pieces have been displayed at The Worcester Art Museum, Ohio History Museum, MODA, WEAM, A&D Gallery, and Last Rights. She has graced the pages of the Grammy Award programs and the stage of Cynthia von Buhler’s immersive historical plays “Speakeasy Dollhouse” and “The Brothers Booth.” Katelan has been featured in the NY Times, Elle magazine, Paper Magazine, GQ Italy, Time Out NY, Witches & Pagans, and many others—for her work as an artist, curator and occultist. She has written for Motherboard/VICE, Electric Literature, Luna Luna, ERIS magazine, COILHOUSE and held events with Atlas Obscura and lectured at Morbid Anatomy. Her short films have been shown at Cinamatique Francaise as part of the Romani Avante Garde Film Sessions and her illustrations are featured on The Smashing Pumpkins “Shiny And Oh So Bright” Tour as well as William Patrick Corgan’s “Ogilala” tour. She is the artist for the Sibyls Oraculum with Tayannah McQuillar and the forthcoming Hoodoo Tarot. Chaos of the Third Mind, with Vanessa Sinclair, will be released in 2020 from Fulgar Ltd, UK. She’s on Instagram and Twitter as katelanfoisy. She was called a “Female Jack Kerouac” by Taylor Mead, a “Modern Day Francesca Woodman” by Cynthia von Buhler, and William Patrick Corgan has said, “They used to burn witches like Katelan.”
“It’s very important how you say things, because the stories themselves are the same: love, death, sex, betrayal. Since Homer, we repeat the same stories.”
How does an artist make The Leap into greatness? In Ersi Sotiropoulos‘ wondrous new novel, What’s Left of the Night (New Vessel Press, tr. Karen Emmerich), we explore three days in the mid-life of the poet CP Cavafy and how they may have helped him become the most distinguished Greek poet of the 20th century. Ersi & I talk about how an off-the-cuff discovery of Cavafy’s 1897 trip to Paris led her to this novel over three decades, how she almost drowned in research before a poet browbeat her into writing the proemium of her novel, and how the book rebelled against itself until she had a dream of Cavafy that quelled the unrest. We also get into the universality of desire, her non-challenge of writing from the perspective of a gay man, the process of translation and Ersi’s tendency to over-edit translators when it’s a language she knows. Plus, she tells us why she considers me a pantophile (one who likes everything), and why she prefers hotels over being home in Greece, the Iliad over the Odyssey, and the daemon over the muses when it comes to the font of creativity. BONUS: You get to hear about the novel I never got around to writing, featuring Henry Miller and George Orwell!Give it a listen! And go buy What’s Left of the Night!
“Writing the book, with all the research that I went through, Cavafy became very close as a person. I enjoyed him and I enjoyed his flaws. He amuses me very much.”
“In a hotel room, I feel like life can start again.”
“For me, writing is discovery. Otherwise, it would be boring.”
“The image we have of Cavafy is someone who is already old, who possesses wisdom. But I was interested in what happened before, before becoming Cavafy.”
Ersi Sotiropoulos has written fifteen books of fiction and poetry. Her work has been translated into many languages, and has been twice awarded Greece’s National Book Prize as well as her country’s Book Critics’ Award and the Athens Academy Prize. What’s Left of the Night won the 2017 Prix Méditerranée Étranger in France.
“I told Jerome Charyn, ‘You escaped the Bronx by writing about it. I escaped by never going back.'”
With My Young Life (Simon & Schuster), Frederic Tuten had to get over his notion that memoir is a cheap shot in order to look back at the beginning of a career in writing, teaching, and art criticism in the New York of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. We get into what started him on this book, how he’s haunted by his childhood in the Bronx, his emphasis on quality over quantity in literary output (while coping with the cautionary example of his writing teacher, Leonard Ehrlich, who only published a single, well-acclaimed novel), his mentorship by artist and convicted murderer John Resko, the joys of cafe culture (and his favorite haunt, Cafe Mogador), and how he got two-timed by “the Elizabeth Taylor of the Bronx” with Jerome Charyn. We also lament today’s celebration of the mundane, celebrate his friendships with Herge, Lichtenstein, Resnais and Queneau, and talk about the books he wants loaded in his casket when he dies, the great allure of Juan Rulfo’s sole book, Pedro Paramo, why future pod-guest Iris Smyles’ first novel is better than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, how fact-checker Anne Stringfield corrected some virtual memories in My Young Life, how poverty shaped his later life, what he learned from sobriety, Gaugin and The Magic Mountain, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy My Young Life!
“In my 80s I feel like I’m just beginning life. Beginning to learn how to live, and to work, and to enjoy.”
“Live in the dream of the work and rest easy. Something will come. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you’ve done it. And you can always fix it.”
Frederic Tuten grew up in the Bronx. At fifteen, he dropped out of High School to become a painter and live in Paris. He took odd jobs and studied briefly at the Art Students League, and eventually went back to school, continuing on to earn a Ph.D. in early 19th century American Literature from New York University.
He travelled through Latin and South America, studied pre-Columbian and Mexican mural painting at the University of Mexico, wrote about Braziliian Cinema Novo, and joined that circle of film makers, which included Glauber Rocha and Nelson Pereira dos Santos. Tuten finally did live in Paris, where he taught film and literature at the University of Paris 8. He acted in a short film by Alain Resnais, co-wrote the cult film Possession, and conducted summer writing workshops with Paul Bowles in Tangiers.