Podcast – Slow Learner

Virtual Memories Show:
Jules Feiffer –
Slow Learner

“There are certain things that come up when you age, the abandonment of some old things and the incredible opportunity to do new things. . . . I discovered at the age of 80 I could do what I couldn’t do at 16, 20 or 30.”

Jules & Lynda's selfie
Lynda Barry takes a selfie with Jules Feiffer at SPX 2014

Jules Feiffer’s professional cartooning career began in 1945 and he’s still going strong. He achieved Mt. Rushmore status as a cartoonist, satirist, playwright and screenwriter, and his new book, the 150-page graphic novel Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel (Liveright/WW Norton), signals both a new phase in his body of work and a return to the films noir (and comics and romans noir) that first inspired him. We talked about the new book, why he left political satire behind, how it felt to ‘learn to draw’ in his 80s, why we both hate the term “graphic novel”, how Waiting for Godot made him reconsider the possibilities of a 6-panel comic strip, what he learned about storytelling while working on a long-form comic, and more! Give it a listen!

“People like Lenny Bruce and William Steig gave me permission. And once they give you permission you walk through that door that they opened and then it’s up to you to go further. If I’ve played a role doing that, that’s great.”

Feiffer sings!
Jules Feiffer and a page from his next book

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

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Jules Feiffer‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip ran for 42 years in the Village Voice and 100 other papers. He is the author of a wide range of additional creative work, including the Obie award-winning play Little Murders, the screenplay for Carnal Knowledge, and the Oscar-winning short animation Munro. Other words include the plays Knock Knock (a Tony award nominee), and Grown Ups; the novels Harry, The Rat with Women and Ackroyd; the screenplays Popeye and I Want To Go Home (winner of the best screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival); the memoir Backing Into Forward; the children’s books The Man in the Ceiling, Bark, George, and Rupert Can Dance; and the illustrations for Which Puppy? by his daughter Kate and the children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. His latest book is Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel (Liveright/WW Norton).

Credits: This episode’s music is Retrospective (Duke Ellington), Passionella Prelude, and I Yam What I Yam (Robin Williams). The conversation was recorded at Mr. Feiffer’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Mr. Feiffer (and Lynda Barry) by me.

What It Is: 6/21/10

What I’m reading: Imperial Bedrooms

What I’m listening to: Walking Wounded, You Could Start a Fight in an Empty Room, and High Violet

What I’m watching: Honeymoon in Vegas, Boondocks, and the end of the NBA finals. And then I watched these highlights from Ron Artest’s postgame press conference, which is one of the most joyous things I’ve ever seen:

(The full-length version is here, but I couldn’t get the embed to load properly. Grr.)

What I’m drinking: North Shore #6 & Q-Tonic

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Discovering a turtle, re-enacting Kung-Fu Hustle, and lounging around.

Where I’m going: Nowhere. Except for a visit or two to my office, I likely won’t leave the house much in the next two weeks, except for dog-walks and lunch-breaks.

IMG_2532What I’m happy about: Taking a break from Saturday’s work and going to the NJ Comics Expo (it was about 15 minutes from my home), where I met some older cartoonists and editors and saw a bazillion comics from my youth, now 50-cent fodder in longboxes. Oh, and I saw the Batmobile. I also met Irwin Hasen, the guy who created Wildcat and co-created Dondi, whose solid-black eyes made him the Antichrist of Little Orphan Annie’s world. Mr. Hasen looks about as 91 as he is.

What I’m sad about: How I basically give up the month of June every year. But that’s the job, and it’s preferable to the alternative.

What I’m worried about: Top Companies issue. I’m one profile off-schedule already.

What I’m pondering: Why I downloaded Imperial Bedrooms onto my Kindle. I mean, sure, it was only $9.99, but am I really that interested in how Bret Easton Ellis treats middle age for a bunch of rich Angelenos? Maybe I just need some mental decompression for the next week or so, while I’m writing around 2,000 words a day of pharma company profiles.

Also, I was catching up on past issues of Interview this weekend, and it struck me that there’s just about nobody who would be The Great Get nowadays, that interview subject whom no one else could reach. I mean, sure, there’s Thomas Pynchon, but how many people really care about his writing nowadays? So, I guess I’m wondering, is there one interview that you’d hear about and say, “Wow! I can’t believe they got [x] to sit down for an interview!”?