“I have a folder of work that I can never print, but you just have to get them out.”
Legendary cartoonist MK Brown joins the show to talk about her lifetime in comics and art, her years with B. Kliban and how they worked out opposite work/sleep schedules, the ups and downs of The National Lampoon, the balancing act of motherhood and art, her trepidation at organizing a multi-decade collection of her work (and her idiosyncratic chapter headings for the book), her love of westerns, her favorite political comic, her secret stash of unprintable comics and gags, working in animation, the future of Aunt Mary’s Kitchen, and why she goes by “MK”. Give it a listen! And buy MK’s collection, Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013 (Fantagraphics)!
“If you look through a microscope, you can get lost.”
This episode is sponsored by The American Bystander, a new, quarterly, print-only humor magazine featuring a mind-blowing lineup of humor writers and artists. Visit their site, order the first two issues, and find out how to support this fantastic project (seriously: go check out that list of contributors). There was a great New York Times piece last week about The American Bystander‘s second issue on July 12 —
The American Bystander . . . does not just belong to the tradition of defunct magazines like The National Lampoon and Spy. Its nostalgic, lightly witty style evokes influences that have been dead even longer, like the raconteur Jean Shepherd and the sophisticated stylist Robert Benchley. In an era when so much comedy is boisterous and engaged with the world, The American Bystander’s humor is understated and escapist, steering clear of topicality and political jokes.
— so, yeah, I’m awfully glad to have them as a sponsor of The Virtual Memories Show!
About our Guest
M.K.Brown is an artist whose work has appeared in most national magazines and collections since the 70’s, and in many forms such as cartoons, animation and illustration. MK grew up in Darien, CT and New Brunswick, Canada, and attended art schools in New Canaan, CT, GTO, Mexico, and San Francisco, CA. After selling cartoons to small publications like The Realist, her work was published in Playboy Magazine, then in National Lampoon, where her cartoons were featured for several decades.
Aside from Playboy and National Lampoon, Brown’s cartoons and illustrations were published in Mother Jones Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Women’s Sports, Arcade Comics, The New Yorker and many other magazines both mainstream and underground. She collaborated with Brian McConnachie, Bill Murray, Peter Elbling and Brian Doyle Murray to write TV’s first scripted comedy hour for NBC, and later created an animated series for the first season of the Tracy Ullman Show. She also wrote and illustrated several children’s books which were featured on Reading Rainbow, and received a Junior Literary Guild award.
MK Brown’s cartoons have been reproduced in dozens of collections over the years from Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, to The New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection. Her own collection of cartoons, Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013, is available from Fantagraphics and better bookstores.
Recently, she’s been at work on cartoons for the third issue of The American Bystander. Another project was a short animation called “Aliens,” about distracted driving, for Ford Motor Co. produced by J.J.Sedelmaier. It tied for 1st place with Bill Plympton in the public service category at the ASIFA/SF Summer Screening. Her next project is to finish a new website with the help of Stan Jarin in Australia.
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 MK’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue enCORE 200 Microphone feeding into a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of MK by me.