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 434:
Karl Stevens

Cartoonist & illustrator Karl Stevens rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, Penny: A Graphic Memoir (Chronicle Books), in which Karl explores the inner life of his eponymous cat Penny. We get into the challenges of realistically drawing a tortoiseshell cat (and writing her existentialist thoughts), the book’s origins in his Village Voice strip, and how he avoided plenty of cartoon cat cliches while crafting a book that can appeal to non-comics readers. We also get into his new work adapting another writer’s script for a comic, the experiments he’s doing with different drawing styles, his productive pandemic, and how he’s trying to create book about his father’s Vietnam experience. And we talk about our respective running habits, the virtues of Transcendental Meditation, his learning curve with New Yorker comic submissions, and his deep-dive into back issues of Heavy Metal. Give it a listen! And go read Penny: A Graphic Memoir!

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

Karl Stevens is a graphic novelist and painter whose comics have appeared regularly in the New Yorker, Village Voice (where Penny premiered), and Boston Phoenix. Stevens’ graphic novels include Whatever, The Lodger, Failure, and The Winner. He lives in Boston with his wife and their overlords cats, Penny and Pepper. His new book is Penny: A Graphic Memoir.

Follow Karl 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 Karl by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 433:
Darryl Cunningham

“I’m critical of the super-wealthy, but not that critical of capitalism. It’s not wrong, but it needs restructuring to serve as many people as possible, and not be a way for the super-wealthy to siphon off as much as possible.”

With the new edition of Billionaires: The Lives of the Rich an Powerful (Drawn & Quarterly), cartoonist Darryl Cunningham explores the lives and businesses of Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, and Jeff Bezos to understand how they built their wealth and warped the lives of the rest of us in the process. Darryl talks about the genesis of Billionaires and its roots in his earlier work on the 2008 financial crisis, and why this book won’t (necessarily) turn you into a communist. We get into his roots as a cartoonist, how a failed branch of his career made him a better writer and researcher, why getting technically better creates its own set of problems, and the comics that first inspired him. We also discuss his upcoming book on Putin & Russia, and whether the trolls and bots that might come after him online will be tougher than the homeopaths and chiropractors who got mad at his book on science denial. Plus, we talk about his new work with the NHS and why he’s trying to avoid doing books on Brexit or Trump. Give it a listen! And go read Billionaires!

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

Darryl Cunningham is the cartoonist of five non-fiction books, including Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy, and Billionaires. His comics explore subjects as diverse as mental health, science, economics, and politics. Darryl has given talks at the London School of Economics and the City of Arts and Lights, Valencia. In 2015 he was one of 30 world-renowned photographers, painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers and musicians who were invited to contribute to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Art of Saving a Life project, to promote vaccination in the developing world. In 2018 he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Master of Arts from Leeds Arts University. He lives in the United Kingdom.

Follow Darryl on Twitter, and Instagram and support his work through Patreon.

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 Darryl by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 432:
Shary Flenniken

“Being at National Lampoon was just like hanging out with your friends. In a way, my whole career has been like that: hanging out and doing cartoons.”

Legendary cartoonist & humorist Shary Flenniken joins the show to celebrate the long overdue collection of her amazing Trots & Bonnie comics (New York Review Comics). We get into her process of selecting the strips from Trots & Bonnie’s ~20-year run at National Lampoon, her realization of how funny her comics still are, the joy of seeing the restored artwork, and the fun of providing annotations for each of the strips. We talk about her time among the Air Pirates, the great advice she got from Charles Vess, what she learned during her stint as an editor at National Lampoon, the importance of Kermode’s The Sense Of An Ending and the challenge of a punchline, the impact of her comics on their intended and unintended audiences, and whether she considers her art’s place in the history of underground comics. We also discuss our dogs, her lifelong love of popular fiction, her new comics work, her favorite pen nib and her shift to digital art, and a whole lot more. Give it a listen! And go read Trots & Bonnie!

“The best artists, what they do for the world is make you see it differently.”

“It’s weird now, so many decades on from when I started, to look back and see what my opinions were back then. Sometimes it’s not fun; there are a couple of strips I left out of the book that were fine back then, but in today’s context. . . .”

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

Shary Flenniken is a cartoonist, writer, and editor. Her work has appeared in a variety of books and magazines including The American Bystander, Graphic Classics, and Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great. After living and working in San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Florida Keys, and New York, she now resides where she grew up, in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle, WA. Shary holds degrees in commercial art, computer technology, web design, and professional technical education and instructional design. She loves post-apocalyptic science fiction, the artist Charles M. Russell, and walking her dogs. Her new book is Trots & Bonnie.

Follow Shary on Twitter and Instagram. And check out her alternate site, Slave To Her Pets.

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 Shary by someone else.