“I’m not a foodie, but I love other people’s obsessions about food. I love watching Kings of Pastry and seeing two men carefully bisecting a pastry and sharing it. They’ve got the most serious looks own their faces.”
Rising comics star — don’t blame me, that’s what Publishers Weekly just called her — Andrea Tsurumi joins the show to talk about her new collection, Why Would You Do That? (Hic & Hoc Publications). We get into her off-kilter sense of humor and why I love it, why she chose that title, the most sadistic children’s book ever written and why she adapted it, the comics industry’s saving grace (it’s too small to fail), staged photos during the Civil War, the challenge of teaching comics, her attempt at a work/art/life balance, the comics, cartoons and picture books that influenced/warped her, why she left New York, the truth about cakes vs. pies, and more! Give it a listen! And buy Why Would You Do That?!
“The problem with freelance illustration and comics is just that there’s not enough money, especially if you’re living in New York City. If you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough time. And if you don’t have enough money or time, you have to make hard choices, and you’ll never have enough wiggle room to have a healthy balance.”
This episode was recorded at the School of Visual Arts, where Andrea studied and where she does some teaching nowadays (that’s her standing next to a print by Jim Rugg). Past guest Nathan Fox, chair of the MFA Visual Narrative Department at SVA, offered us a space to record. SVA’s low-residency MFA Visual Narrative Program includes two years online and three summers in NYC. The program focuses on the growing need for original content creators in advertising, video games, picture books, graphic novels, film, comic arts, illustration and animation, and it prepares artists and authors to become innovators in the ever-evolving art of visual storytelling. Now go listen to the show!
“You know when you’re growing up and you have these moments of dramatic realization of the obvious? That’s what the growing up is.”
About our Guest
Andrea Tsurumi is an illustrator and cartoonist who likes history, absurdity, dogs and monsters (in no particular order). Her first book, Why Would You Do That? is out now from Hic & Hoc. A lifelong book nerd, she received an English BA from Harvard and an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. She now lives in Philadelphia and likes her ice cream angry.
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 the School of Visual Arts 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 Ms. Tsurumi by me, portrait of her drawing by … someone else.
“I want to be working, making comics, and knowing that the thing I’m doing right now is the thing I should be doing and I shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it. I’ve been able to keep that going much of the time for the last 20 years, and it’s kinda great.”
Is Scott McCloud comics’ leading theorist or a deranged lunatic? Find out in this lengthy conversation we recorded during SPX 2015! Scott talks about applying (and forgetting) the lessons of Understanding Comics in his new book, The Sculptor (First Second), the massive implications of crowdfunding for cartoonists and other creators, the problems with ‘balance’ in comics pages, his rebellion against Facebook, the Laurie Anderson model of comics, how he defines success, how to keep a happy marriage inside the comics world, and more! Give it a listen!
“We’ve never seen the consumer dollar at full strength. In traditional print markets, somebody spends a dollar on my work, and I get 10 cents at the end of that chain, that massive army of middlemen. Now we’re seeing what kind of world happens when the consumer dollar stays closer to a dollar. That army of consumers really has an enormous power to put your boat afloat.”
We also talk about his next book (on visual communication and education), his strengths and weaknesses as a cartoonist, making a 500-page comic book that readers could tackle in one sitting, why Reinventing Comics was like “trying to eat 10 lbs. of potato salad”, how every success story in cartooning is unique, the differences in working in print vs. working for the screen, and trying to be a scholar for the first time. Now go listen!
“Craig Thompson’s Blankets is probably off the hook now, because I finally did a comic even more sentimental. So now I made Craig look like Gary Panter.”
We mention a few books in this episode. Here they are:
- The Sculptor – Scott McCloud
- Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art – Scott McCloud
- Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form – Scott McCloud
- Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels – Scott McCloud
- Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 – Scott McCloud
- Maus: A Survivor’s Tale – Art Spiegelman
- Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware
- The Complete Elfquest Volume 1 – Wendy Pini
- The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller
- Watchmen – Alan Moore
- Beautiful Darkness – Kerascoët, Fabien Vehlmann
- Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir – Roz Chast
- Kill My Mother – Jules Feiffer
- Blankets – Craig Thompson
- Here – Richard McGuire
- Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies) – Matthew Farber
- The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir – Tom Hart
- Essays – Orwell
- Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything – Joshua Foer
- How Music Works – David Byrne
- Runaway – Alice Munro
- Blonde: A Novel – Joyce Carol Oates
About our Guest
Scott McCloud is the award-winning author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, Zot!, The Sculptor, and many other fiction and non-fiction comics spanning 30 years. An internationally-recognized authority on comics and visual communication, technology, and the power of storytelling, McCloud has lectured at Google, Pixar, Sony, and the Smithsonian Institution. There’s a more extensive and funny bio at his site.
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 during the Small Press Expo at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel on a Zoom H2n Handy Recorder and a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of Mr. McCloud by me.
Waiting for Amy’s train this afternoon (long weekend: woo!), I stopped at the Barnes & Noble on Rt. 17 South in Paramus. That store has a used books section, which also includes reviewers’ copies that are usually marked down half-price from list. There was a 50-75% sale on, so I, um, pillaged.
Here’s what I got, for a grand total of $43:
- Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
- The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald
- Vertigo – W.G. Sebald
- HHhH – Laurent Binet
- Moab is my Washpot: An Autobiography – Stephen Fry
- Herge, Son of Tintin – Benoit Peeters
- Victor Halfwit: A Winter’s Tale – Thomas Bernhard
- Born To Be Brad – Brad Goreski
- Super Boxers – Ron Wilson, John Byrne, Armando Gil
That last one’s a gag gift for a pal of mine. No, really.
I make no excuses about Born To Be Brad, except to say that it makes my Simon Doonan collection look butch.
I finally made a foray to the local Borders store. I checked it out during the first week of bankruptcy, when prices were an amazing 20% off list. I felt bad that they were charging more in liquidation than Amazon was charging in regular operations.
But I was next door, picking up some measuring spoons at Bed, Bath & Beyond, so I walked in. “ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT!” the posters warned. Inside, prices were 80% off, with an additional 15% if you bought 20 or more books. Of course, there was scarcely more than 20 books in the joint.
I looked through the remaining comics — sorry, Graphic Novels — but that had been pretty well pillaged. I considered picking up Sophie Crumb’s book, but eh.
The fiction section was pretty sparse; the offerings were mainly contemporary fiction, which I have no use for. I meandered over to the biographies, and it was there that I made my score. There were at least 8 copies of Jules Feiffer’s memoir, Backing Into Forward, on a shelf, so I grabbed a copy of that. I remember wanting to buy it for the Kindle when it was first released, but it was listing (and still is) at $15.99, and there’s no way on earth I’d pay that much for an e-book, unless it had the answers in the back.
Then I noticed a copy of Pierre Assouline’s Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin. It was a hardcover, as was the Feiffer book. I know nothing about it, but at this price (80% off $24.95), I couldn’t go wrong.
On the way to the register, I noticed a “new books” shelf with a copy of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes. I gave up on The Black Swan pretty early, on account of authorial arrogance, but one of my magazine’s readers recommended I pick up this book of aphorisms. I bought it for my Kindle this summer, but found that the aphoristic style didn’t work for an e-book; I found myself reading too quickly. I thought it would be better in printed format, so I could scribble notes in the margins and otherwise just look at a line on a page. So I grabbed that, too.
The damage for all five books, including three hardcovers? Twenty-two dollars. Poor, doomed bookstores.
I did have a laugh on the way out, when I noticed that one of the employees set up the shelf by the entry so that customers would see the following: