Virtual Memories Show 225: Howard Chaykin
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“I want to be loved; I just don’t work too hard at it.”
Comics legend Howard Chaykin joins the show to talk about his career, the early assignment he’ll never live down, getting clean and being boringly sober, how Gil Kane taught him how to behave as a cartoonist, why he’s never gone to a strip club, what it’s like to be a brand but not a fan-favorite, his love of television and his hatred of writing for television, the reason he brought Jewish leads (and reformed shitheels) to mainstream comics, the narrative values that led to his innovative page designs, discovering his bastardy in his 40s, the role of music and musicality in his work, why Jersey Boys makes him cry, and the influence of American Flagg! on multiple generations of cartoonists (for better and worse). Give it a listen! And go buy a whole ton of his work!
“Comic-book fans don’t like to hear about the money aspect of it, but the fact is that it’s a calling, but it’s also a career.”
“People who are successful in southern California for the most part are people who have experienced actual travail. By which I mean weather.”
Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!
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About our Guest
Howard Chaykin is a longtime veteran of the comic book business, serving as an artist and writer for nearly every publisher of comics in the past four decades, and counting. He took the ’90s off to work on mostly unwatchable television, so he missed the money and dreck that was comics in that execrable decade. He is responsible, some might say culpable, for introducing a number of previously unexplored themes to comic books. If you’re not hip to what that’s supposed to mean, there’s always Wikipedia.
Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Howard’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on the same equipment, because I’m on the road this week. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Chaykin by me. It’s on my instagram.
2 Replies to “Episode 225 – Howard Chaykin”
One hell of an interview. What an intellectual powerhouse Mr. Chaykin is. I was around him briefly in the late 70’s when he took studio space with Ed Davis, a brilliant artist at Charlie DiComo’s loft. Di Como was an artist’s rep servicing mostly storyboard illustration to Ad agencies. I remember Howard as being slightly dashing even then with a penchant for wearing Fedora’s and nice overcoats. On the subject of Madmen I have to say I beg to disagree with both of you. Having spent almost 50 years in a bunch of ad agencies I watched that series feeling great resonance. Also I suspect Draper might have been partially inspired by my own Copy Writing Father (Ajax White Night, I Dreamt in my Maidenform Bra, etc.). Here’s to you charm and interviewing skills. Best, Sacco