Virtual Memories Show 347:
Kevin Huizenga

“I have a split in my writing life. Part of my brain plans everything out, but I know enough now not to listen to that too much, and that I should be more open to improvising.”

Cartoonist Kevin Huizenga joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, Glenn Ganges in The River at Night (Drawn & Quarterly)! We get into late-night reveries and using a character’s sleepless night as a base camp for a 200-page book, the ways repetition leads to time travel, making an artistic breakthrough partway through his new work, his modular approach to storytelling and how it jibes with his midwestern comics style, and the risk of identifying too much with his stand-in, Glenn Ganges. We also talk about video-game sobriety, whether his favorite creators are spending too much time on Twitter, learning about indy comics before the internet, and our shared cyberpunk upbringing. And we do the math on how many books in our libraries we’ll actually get around to reading! Give it a listen! And go buy The River at Night!

“One of the great rewards of working on something large over time is not planning it out ahead of time but letting it unfold organically and then looking back and seeing the paths that you didn’t plan.”

“Introspection and self-knowledge is a mixed bag. It’s often bad news when you think about it too much.”

“Don’t follow your heroes on social media.”

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

Kevin Huizenga (HIGH zing guh) grew up in a suburb of Chicago, South Holland, which is a small town of Dutch immigrants. He is the son of an accountant and a nurse. In high school he started reading minicomics and quit playing baseball. He attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he started drawing the influential mini-comic Supermonster.

On the advice of a fellow cartoonist, Huizenga then moved to St. Louis where he continued to draw comics, which quickly caught the attention of the industry, and led to his comic book series Or Else. Eventually, he created his series Ganges. Huizenga lives in Minneapolis where he taught in the Comic Art program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 2015-2019.

His graphic novels include Curses, The Wild Kingdom, and Gloriana (all published by Drawn & Quarterly). His work has been translated into six languages, including Dutch; he won five Ignatz awards and been nominated for Harvey and Eisner awards. His new book is The River at Night.

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. Photo of Mr. Huizenga by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 345:
Frank Santoro

“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.”

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

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.

Virtual Memories Show 344:
Liz Hand

“Henry Darger was a devout Catholic who was engaged in a huge argument with God.”

Transgression vs. transcendence: Elizabeth Hand‘s brand-new novel, Curious Toys (Mulholland Books), explores artistic and cultural taboos through the lens of a serial killer mystery set in the amusement parks of Progressive Era Chicago. We talk about her inspiration for making outsider artist/writer Henry Darger one of the lead characters of Curious Toys, how she first heard about Darger and the Vivian Girls mythology he created in his paintings and 15,000-page (!) novel, the striking similarities between Darger and Tolkien, the tragedy of outsider/visionary artists, and the challenge of casting a nonbinary character a century in the past (the novel’s other lead, not Darger). We also get into why writers have no control over the success of their books, the differences between writing on spec vs. on contract, some hints about her next Cass Neary novel, the time she outdrew Deepak Chopra at a bookstore signing, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy Curious Toys!

And check out our 2015, 2016, and 2017 episodes!

“Transcendence is not easy to achieve, and neither is true transgression.”

“Usually when I’m writing a novel, I start with a place I want to write about. With Curious Toys, I had characters, but had to research the place they populated.”

“I tell my students not to fixate on the publishing part of writing. You really just have to immerse yourself in the process of writing, because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re going to have.”

“Throughout my work, there’s a numinous quality to the world that my characters are struggling to find.”

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

Elizabeth Hand is the author of more than fourteen cross-genre novels and collections of short fiction. Her work has received the Shirley Jackson Award (three times), the World Fantasy Award (four times), the Nebula Award (twice), as well as the James M. Tiptree Jr. and Mythopoeic Society Awards. She’s a longtime critic and contributor of essays for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Boston Review, and the Village Voice, among many others. She divides her time between the Maine coast and North London. Her new book is Curious Toys, published by Mulholland Books.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Marriott Boston Quincy during Readercon weekend 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 Ms. Hand by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 343:
Kate Lacour

“Attraction/repulsion is a big response that people have expressed about my work, whether they like it or not. I like that feeling when I experience it, like when something’s gorgeous but has an air of foulness to it.”

With her new book, Vivisectionary (Fantagraphics), artist Kate Lacour has created a work of repulsive beauty (or beautiful revulsion). We get into the theme of transformation in her work, her untraditional notion of comics, whether Vivisectionary should be considered “body horror”, the concentric narratives that comprise the book, and how nothing can prepare you for the insect life in New Orleans. Along the way, we talk about treating God like an art director, the twin joys of generation and decay, the symbology of her art, the wonders of going to the Art Students League in NYC for life drawing classes, her followup questions to the Gil Roth AMA episode, the intensely mixed attraction/repulsion reaction people have to her work, what made her most uncomfortable about doing a five-day journal comic, why she’s adapting the Song of Solomon for her next work, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy Vivisectionary!

“At a certain point, you’re physically decaying, so working on yourself becomes a much more important task.”

“To put my ego and my rinky-dink little life on the page is weird to me.”

“I’m not process-driven . . . I’m too anxious and tight and controlled, and that absolutely plays out on the page.”

“I’m too vain to draw myself ugly and too embarrassed to draw myself good-looking.”

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

Kate Lacour studied biology and psychology at the University of Chicago and Oberlin, and Art Therapy at the School of Visual Arts. She learned to draw through the Art Students’ League in New York City. She is the founder of NOLArts Learning Center, a nonprofit serving young people with diverse abilities, and delivered a TED talk on autism, inclusion and Mardi Gras. Her art and comics are inspired by a love for the aesthetics of science and a fascination/revulsion towards bodies. She is the winner of the 2016 Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art award, and has given art talks at the Society of Illustrators, American Art Therapy Conference, New Orleans Public Library, Antenna Gallery, Signals, and the Pharmacy Museum. Kate lives in New Orleans with her husband and three children. Her new book is Vivisectionary, published by Fantagraphics.

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. Photo of Ms. Lacour by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 341:
Chris Ware

“Something in comics allows the concretization of the weird shifting and changing of our memories and senses of selves. It comes out organically in the drawing of a story.”

With the publication of part 1 of Rusty Brown (Pantheon), Chris Ware joins the show to talk about how he and his art changed over the 18 (on-and-off) years since he began the project. We talk about the nature of memory, the experience of time, and the purpose of empathy (or empathy as the purpose of human life). We get into art and its role in organizing consciousness, the give-and-take of self-doubt, his impact on comics and other cartoonists, the effect of parenthood on his work and life, his midwestern roots & the allure of The New Yorker, and books that changed his life (whether he read them or not). We also discuss that synthetic, sorta artificial style he’s known for and what it permits him to do in his comics, the comic strip diary he keeps and why it can’t be published, how cartooning compares to the origins of American architecture, the alchemical relationship between drawings and type size in his comics, why art schools should get back to teaching figure drawing, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Rusty Brown!

“You can’t substitute rules for looking.”

“Comics is a language that’s still in development.”

“Friends will say, ‘I can’t believe how much work you get done,’ and I’ll say, ‘I can’t believe how much work I don’t get done.'”

“I try to allow for a constant sense of surprise and — it’ll sound strange — looseness in what I’m doing when I’m composing a page.”

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

Chris Ware is widely acknowledged to be the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and fourteen-year-old daughter. His book Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade by The Times (London) in 2009. Building Stories was named a Top Ten Fiction Book of the Year in 2012 by both The New York Times and Time magazine. Ware is an irregular contributor to The New Yorker, and his original drawings have been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and in piles behind his worktable in Oak Park, Illinois. In 2016 he was featured in the PBS documentary series Art 21: Art in the 21st Century, and in 2017 an eponymous monograph of his work was published by Rizzoli (“eponymous” means the title is Monograph). His new book is Rusty Brown, published by Pantheon.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott during Small Press Expo weekend 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. Ware by me. It’s on my instagram.