Virtual Memories Show 439:
Glenn Head

“My whole interest in comics and autobiography is to show the dirt that’s under everyone’s fingernails, to capture that and not look away from it.”

With his new graphic memoir, Chartwell Manor (Fantagraphics), cartoonist Glenn Head returns to the scene of the crime: the boarding school where he and his fellow students were sexually and emotionally abused in the 1970s. We talk about why the toughest challenges of the book were artistic and not emotional, why he was just as unsparing in depicting himself as an adult, why the trauma of his time at Chartwell doesn’t provide him a get-out-of-jail-free card, and why it wasn’t exactly cathartic but was definitely empowering to draw and tell this story. We also get into why memoir is like striptease, the influence of the Patrick Melrose novels on this book, Glenn’s lifelong debt to the great Underground Comix artists, his drive for personal exposure, why his wife is his best editor (and only reader), the next book he’s working on, and more. Give it a listen! And go read Chartwell Manor!

(Also, go listen to my 2016 podcast with Glenn, where we talked about his previous memoir, Chicago!)

“I’m not the hero of this book. I wanted to bury and forget the scandal of what happened, but the corpse seemed to reanimate itself every so often.”

“I owe everything to the underground cartoonists, because they showed you what it means to be willing to dig around and see what’s inside and hold it up to the light.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

“One of the best things about any kind of recovery situation is to really find that you’re not alone.”

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

Born and raised in Madison, NJ, Glenn Head fell in love with underground comics while attending boarding school and has been involved with them ever since. He is a Harvey- and Eisner-nominated editor of two comix anthologies, Snake Eyes (co-edited with Kaz), and Hotwire. His solo work includes Avenue D and his graphic memoir Chicago, both published by Fantagraphics. His new book is Chartwell Manor.

Follow Glenn on Twitter 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 Glenn by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 438:
Will McPhail

Cartoonist and illustrator Will McPhail joins the show to celebrate his debut graphic novel, IN. We talk about weaponized self-awareness, the genesis of his poignant and hilarious tale of anhedonia, the value of real conversation, and how he stretched from single-panel cartoons to a long-form book. We also get into how finishing the book during the pandemic informed its earlier parts, what we’ll talk about when we can talk in person again, and how IN took him away from submitting gags to The New Yorker at an opportune moment. Plus we get into the problem with “mindfulness” apps and the real definition of meditation (which we happen to find in the same place), why I should pay more attention to Bill Watterson’s trees, and otters, stoats, and Will’s other favorite animals to draw. Give it a listen! And go read IN!

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

Will McPhail has been contributing cartoons, sketchbooks, and humor pieces to The New Yorker since 2014. He was the winner of Reuben Awards for cartooning in 2017 and 2018. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. His debut graphic novel is IN.

Follow Will on Twitter 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 Will by him. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 437:
Keiler Roberts

“I still want to write about my life but not obsess about my problems, not obsess about the meaning of everything, but to have experiences in a direct way.”

Artist and cartoonist Keiler Roberts returns to the show to celebrate her new book, My Begging Chart (Drawn & Quarterly), and explain how she found a new mode for her wry comics about being a mother, daughter, wife, and artist. We get into how her multiple sclerosis diagnosis left her in lockdown mode a year before the rest of the world joined her, why she withdrew from comics for a while and why she returned to them, and how she short-circuits her anxiety about reader expectations. We discuss why she shredded some of her sketchbooks and journals to clear physical and mental clutter, her daughter’s role as her editor, why she’d keep making comics regarded of the business circumstances, her fixation on the smell of Cabbage Patch Kids, the impact of MS on her life & art, the joy of making a new discovery at the Art Institute Museum in Chicago, the weirdness of being the subject of a profile in the Chicago Tribune, and more! Give it a listen! And go read My Begging Chart!

(And go listen to my past conversations with Keiler from 2017 and our COVID Check-In)

“I was just thinking about drawing and image and composition and how much of a story you could tell without words.”

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

Keiler Roberts makes autobiographical comics. She is the recipient of the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize for Chlorine Gardens and is the author of Powdered Milk, Happy Happy Baby Baby, Miseryland, Rat Time, and Sunburning which was translated into Spanish as Isolada. Also the winner of the Ignatz Award, she teaches comics at The School of The Art Institute in Chicago.

Follow Keiler on Twitter 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. Photos of Keiler, Xia and Pepsi by other people. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 436:
Dmitry Samarov

“Basically I didn’t have to make anything up. I’ve never understood why anybody has to make anything up. The world is so weird, and the stories you get by shutting up and listening are all you’ll ever need.”

With his new book OLD STYLE, artist & author Dmitry Samarov moves from memoir into a (mostly) fictional mode, chronicling the lives and deaths of a pair of Chicago bars. We get into the liberations & responsibilities of fiction, the challenges of writing about bars while avoiding nostalgia, and how he put in the time to understand the bar patrons and their archetypes. We also talk about making art through the pandemic, turning his old art & writing into collage books, the need to change his palette, and what it was like for him to teach drawing for the first time (at 50!) and the curriculum he’d design if he had the opportunity. Plus, we get into his is recent NYC trip to see the Alice Neel retrospective, the next book he’s hoping to write, and his semi sorta envy at my taking up drawing at 50. Give it a listen! And go read OLD STYLE!

(& check out my other conversations with Dmitry: 2014, 2015, 2018, 2020, and our COVID Check-In)

“I haven’t had a truly stuck or blocked period in many years. My way of working is to throw a lot of stuff against the wall. I don’t know what percentage of it will stick, but I make a lot of work, and it takes years to figure out what was actually good.”

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

Dmitry Samarov paints and writes in Chicago. He is the author and illustrator of six books. He sends out a newsletter every Monday. An absurd amount of his work is collected at his website, which is seventeen years old now.

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 Dmitry from 1990 by some photobooth, I expect. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 435:
Dorothy Gallagher

For my first in-person podcast since March 2020 (!), I talked with writer, memoirist & biographer Dorothy Gallagher about her beautiful new collection, Stories I Forgot To Tell You (NYRB). We get into the 2010 death of her husband, literary editor & raconteur Ben Sonnenberg, and how it took her five years before she could begin to write about him, the need to balance elegy and humor in her writing, and the importance of her early days working at Magazine Management (alongside the likes of Mario Puzo & Bruce Jay Friedman). We also discuss whether things are “only things” or evidence of a life, why it’s not good for a biographer to actively dislike her subject, the one biography she’d love to write, her atheist’s notion of an afterlife (less eternal punishment/reward, more eternal cocktail hour), her favorite time & place in NYC, why she misses flea markets, the impact/scars of her Communist upbringing, how she’s handled the pandemic, and why the isolation would have driven her late husband nuts. Give it a listen! And go read Stories I Forgot To Tell You!

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

Dorothy Gallagher’s works include two volumes of memoir — How I Came into My Inheritance and Strangers in the House — as well as a biography of the Italian American anarchist Carlo Tresca and, most recently, Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life. She lives in New York. Her new book is Stories I Forgot To Tell You.

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. No photo of Dorothy: her choice), but I did take a pic of the weird little mule figure she bought in a flea market a while back (above). It’s on my instagram.