“With all of the things that I do, the form and the content have to feel like they’re perfectly synced, that they’re each boosting each other up. It also has to be connected with how they’re made.”
Cartoonist and animator Dash Shaw joins the show to celebrate his new book, Discipline (New York Review Comics), a Civil War-era story about a Quaker who joins the Union army. We get into how Dash’s upbringing as a Quaker in Virginia led him to this book, the New York Public Library fellowship that exposed him to letters and diaries from the time, the artwork of the era and how it influenced the “floating” visual style of Discipline, and his urge to depict the moments that are left unchronicled. We also discuss the Quaker debate over paying a military tax during the Civil War, the sense of growing up in an area haunted by that period of history, the multi-year layering process of making this book and how it converged and diverged with the making of his amazing new animated movie, Cryptozoo (Magnolia Pictures), and how story dictates form & style. We also reminisce about a bookstore panel he did with Frank Santoro once upon a time, and how their tooth-and-nail arguments over the nature of comics gave him hope that there’s plenty of room for comics to grow. Give it a listen! And go read Discipline!
“I’ve made other books and animated movies, but nothing has been as hard as this book. Nothing was as picked over and fraught with indecision.”
“How much does it matter what I’m thinking, or my motivations for anything? Maybe all that matters is what my body is actually doing. Or maybe what matters is what I’m thinking, and how I’m passing along these thoughts. It’s a bizarre thing to try to articulate, but I think it’s the content of this book.”
“There are so few books or media about Quakers, that I feared I was going to disappoint people by not giving them information.”
About our Guest
Dash Shaw was raised Quaker in Richmond, VA, where he currently lives. He is the cartoonist of many graphic novels and wrote and directed two animated feature films, the most recent of which, Cryptozoo, won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Prize and is distributed by Magnolia Pictures. He began working on Discipline in 2014, and it was drawn over the course of six years.
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 Dash by someone else. It’s on my instagram.