Episode 591 – Stan Mack

Virtual Memories Show 591:
Stan Mack

“To do them one week at a time is one thing, all you have to do is hit that darned deadline. But to look at 20 years in front of you . . . it’s such a wide span of what New York was in those days.”

Legendary cartoonist & artist Stan Mack pioneered documentary comics and bought New York’s multitudes to life with Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies (RLF) in the Village Voice, and now he joins the show to celebrate the publication of STAN MACK’S REAL LIFE FUNNIES: The Collected Conceits, Delusions, and Hijinks of New Yorkers from 1974 to 1995 (Fantagraphics)! We talk about winnowing down 1,000+ RLF strips to 275 for this book, the comic’s secret origin and how we share some Milton Glaser conceptual DNA, what he learned about cartooning and storytelling, the creeping realization that people were actually reading RLF, and how he and the comic grew over 20+ years. We get into whether Real Life Funnies and its snippets of street dialogue could work today when everybody just stares at their phones, how his pre-Voice stint as art director at the New York Herald Tribune made an editor out of him, the moment he realized he was a New Yorker, how he became an activist and used RLF to highlight the squatters’ rights movement, the AIDS crisis, and more in NYC, how important the Village Voice was to the city and to America in the ’70s and ’80s and why we need to bring it out of the pre-digital memory hole (a la DW Young & his new documentary, UNCROPPED), Stan’s failure as a backup dancer for Lionel Richie, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read STAN MACK’S REAL LIFE FUNNIES: The Collected Conceits, Delusions, and Hijinks of New Yorkers from 1974 to 1995!

“In art school, I was fascinated by the idea of people covering the world from the street.”

“Every street-corner had its own character. Every part of the city was grist.”

“Could my strips have been the roots of the nonfiction graphic novels of today?”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Stan Mack pioneered a documentary style of cartooning with his notorious New York comic strip Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, which ran in The Village Voice. His Stan Mack’s Out-takes for Adweek magazine and Stan Mack’s RealMAD for the online publication Mediapost covered the world of media. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, was a graphics specialist in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and is a former art director of the New York Herald Tribune‘s Book Week, The New York Times Sunday Magazine and The New York Times Book Review.

Follow Stan on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Stan’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Stan & Susan Champlin by me. It’s on my instagram.

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