Episode 192 – Jim Woodring

Virtual Memories Show #192: Jim Woodring

“I have something to live for in the goal of producing this long, fascinating, convoluted, loop-de-loop, metaphysical story arc. And that’s the kind of thing that occupies me and makes my days the joyous things they are: living in this screwed-up dream-world that isolates me from the rest of the world and humanity in general.”

Jim Woodring rejoins the show to talk art, comics and the Unifactor! During a break at SPX 2016, we sat down to discuss the importance of Fantagraphics on its 40th anniversary, Jim’s move to Seattle in 1974 and his move away from there last year, camaraderie with the cartoonists of his generation, what he’d do if he was just starting out as a cartoonist today, the experience of seeing Frank in 3-D, the joys of drawing with a six-foot pen, just what Art is there for, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy his newest book, Frank In The 3rd Dimension!

“Some people say religious experiences are just in the person’s mind, but where else would they be?”

frank-in-3rd-dimension-coverWe also talk about how Jack Kirby drew like a haunted machine, why computers have led to a generation of prosthetic geniuses, why he sticks with analog drawing tools (like that six-foot-long pen, known as Nibbus Maximus), the remarkable experience of going on a tour of the South China Seas with “a billionaire friend of mine”, his relationship with the Unifactor (and the perils of trying to circumvent its storytelling imperatives), the role of perseverance in becoming a better artist, and the feeling that he’s done the right thing in his life. Now go listen to the show!

“I feel like a pretender next to guys like Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. With my limited abilities and my ‘that’s good enough’ philosophy of art, I feel like I’ve just sneaked into the party.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

16219296116_804d4bfe9c_kJim Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and enjoyed a childhood made lively by an assortment of mental an psychological quirks including paroniria, paranoia, paracusia, apparitions, hallucinations and other species of psychological and neurological malfunction among the snakes and tarantulas of the San Gabriel mountains.

He eventually grew up to be an inquisitive bearlike man who has enjoyed three exciting careers: garbage collector, merry-go-round-operator and cartoonist. A self-taught artist, his first published works documented the disorienting hell of his salad days in an “illustrated autojournal” called JIM. This work was published by Fantagraphics Books and collected in The Book of Jim in 1992. A newer collection of these comics was published as Jim.

He is best known for his wordless comics series depicting the follies of his character Frank, a generic cartoon anthropomorph whose adventures careen wildly from sweet to appalling. A decade’s worth of these stories was collected in The Frank Book in 2004. The 2010 Frank story Weathercraft won The Stranger’s Genius Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for that year. Woodring has published two more FRANK books, The Congress of the Animals, and Fran. His newest book is Frank In The 3rd Dimension, with Charles Barnard.

Woodring is also known for his anecdotal charcoal drawings (a selection which was gathered in Seeing Things in 2005), and the sculptures, vinyl figures, fabrics and gallery installations that have been made from his designs. His multimedia collaborations with the musician Bill Frisell won them a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006. He lives on Vashon Island with his family and residual phenomena.

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 Bethesda North Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. Photos of Jim by me.

Episode 147 – Peter Kuper

Virtual Memories Show #147:
Peter Kuper

Photo by Holly Kuper

“The things we were seeing on the lamppost that would wash away, the art on the walls that would get painted over: we wanted to codify that in World War 3 Illustrated.”

ruinscoverAlt-comix lifer Peter Kuper joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, RUINS (Self-Made Hero), a beautiful book about American expats in Oaxaca, Mexico during last decade’s political upheaval. Peter also talks about co-creating World War 3 Illustrated and the legacy that anthology has left since its inception in 1979 (!), how surprised he finds himself to be teaching at Harvard, how he fights despair over the fight against climate change, the need to build one’s own artistic scene, what it’s like to be one of the only people who actually followed through on the “if Bush/Cheney are re-elected, I’m leaving America” pledge, and more! Give it a listen!

“For me, the safest thing has been doing things I love. I’m an atheist, but I’ve had the experience of putting in the love and the effort and have come to believe that it’ll work out. I know a tremendous amount of it is luck, but persistence and putting yourself in the way of possibility has worked.”


Seriously, Peter Kuper’s a legend in cartooning, and this wide-ranging conversations covers a lot of territory, including his revelations about murals in Mexican art, the wide variety of art-styles he employs, the economics of cartooning, the sink-or-swim experience his parents subjected him to in Israel (and why that led him to do the same to his kid in Mexico), the devaluation of political humor, the GOP candidate he fears the most, and the historical knowledge of comics his students at Harvard and SVA have (or don’t have), so go listen to our conversation and then go buy Ruins!

“We all draw. Every kid draws. For whatever reason, we give it up. I encourage people to keep it there. Why not sketch for pleasure? Turning it into a career is a whole other bag.”

We talk about some books in this episode. Here’s a list of them:

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

Peter Kuper has created over a dozen graphic novels, including The System, Sticks and Stones, and an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. He is co-founder of the political graphics magazine World War 3 Illustrated and since 1997 has written and drawn “Spy Vs Spy” for MAD Magazine. He has been teaching comics courses for over 25 years in New York City and is a visiting professor at Harvard University. His new book is RUINS.There’s a more extensive 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 at Mr. Kuper’s studio on 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. Kuper by Holly Kuper.

Episode 140 – Dylan Horrocks

Virtual Memories Show #140:
Dylan Horrocks, Straight Outta Hicksville

“When you love an art form passionately, it can get complicated. It’s not a simple, clean, pure love that constantly enriches your life. It can also break your heart.”

samzabelcoverLive from CXC! Dylan Horrocks, the NZ cartoonist behind Hicksville (Drawn & Quarterly) and Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen (Fantagraphics), joins the show for a live podcast to talk about his fear of comics, our responsibility for our fantasies, the way he built a fruitful career around creative block, the influence of Maori culture on white New Zealanders’ perspectives, the way his backup stories keep becoming his major projects, his take on Charlie Hebdo and how it ties into his experience with the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, and the idea that America is a story we tell ourselves. This episode is part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of live podcasts. Give it a listen!

“Part of what I was trying to do was to explore what it means to be marginal. Comics were seen as marginal to the literary world and the art world, and New Zealand is seen as being at the bottom of the world. Instead of saying, ‘We’re on the edges of these two worlds, so let’s travel to the center,’ I decided that there is no center. Wherever you are on the surface of the world, that’s the center of the world.”

dylmebyamyDylan also talks about backing into mainstream comics without a vision for what to do when he got there, his parents’ history in a Trotskyist revolutionary cell, the literary aspect of his work, and whether comics really will break your heart. BONUS: you get my story about how Hicksville led me travel to the other side of the planet (and make this jump). Go listen!  (And go buy Hicksville and Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen!)

“I have the idea that America is a narrative, a fiction, in the same way that every nation is kind of a fictional construction. . . . America is a story we tell ourselves.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

hicksvilledylanDylan Horrocks is from New Zealand, where he lives near the city of his birth, Auckland, with his wife and their two sons. He published 10 issues of his legendary comic book series Pickle through Canada’s Black Eye Press in the mid-1990s. A collected version of his Hicksville serial was first published in 1998, and quickly became one of the cartoon works of its generation. Hicksville‘s vision of a small town where comics are so valued that, even those comics that never got to be created somehow exist, is a thrilling, yet human vision for the art form, and one which cartoonists and audiences have rallied to ever since. Horrocks has since drawn the comic book Atlas for Drawn And Quarterly, spent time working for DC Comics, and has become an educator and advocate for the art form in New Zealand and abroad. His newest book is Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen, a new graphic novel published by Fantagraphics about the act of creation and the pernicious qualities of being creatively blocked. His Incomplete Works will be published in the U.S. any time now. You can follow Dylan on Twitter at @dylanhorrocks.

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 Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, OH during Cartoon Crossroads Columbus in October 2015 on 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 me & Mr. Horrocks by Amy Roth.

Podcast: The Show Must Go On

The Virtual Memories Show Must Go On, with Roger Langridge!

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 24 – The Show Must Go On

“We have to decide what sort of comics industry we want before we decide what sort of books we’re going to work on.”

Roger Langridge has become the best all-ages cartoonist in the business, despite (or because of) starting out in a “mature readers” indy-comics environment. He joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about how he found that niche, his work on (and love of) The Muppets, Popeye, and Dr. Who, the responsibility of helping attract the next generation of comics readers, his lifetime love of vaudeville, his upbringing in New Zealand, how he learned to write his own stories, how he accidentally became a pioneer in webcomics, why he decided not to work with Marvel or DC anymore, and the one character from one of those companies that he’d love to work on. It’s a delightful conversation with one of the nicest guys in comics!

“I kept entering competitions to draw Popeye, and the prize was always the Robert Altman Popeye film, so I saw it about six times.”

Bonus: Here’s a piece I wrote about his amazing comic from the 1990s, Zoot!)


“I’m not capable of drawing on model to save my life. I try my best to do that, but it always comes out looking like me.”

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

Subscribe to The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Roger Langridge has been producing comics for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has written and drawn Snarked!, Popeye, The Muppet Show and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. In collaboration with his brother Andrew, he drew Zoot! and Art D’Ecco, and his great solo work is the NCS, Ignatz, Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated comic book Fred the Clown. He recently (late 2011 is recent, right?) published The Show Must Go On, a collection of 20 years of his strips. He currently lives in London with his wife Sylvie, their two children and a box of his own hair.

Credits: This episode’s music is Mahna Mahna by Piero Umiliani. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott during SPX 2013 on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded in my home office on a Blue Yeti USB microphone. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing were done in Garage Band. Photo by me.

Podcast: The Least Insane of Cartoonists

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 22 –
Pete Bagge: The Least Insane of Cartoonists

“I was asking not to be taken seriously, but I was also getting annoyed that I wasn’t being taken seriously.”

WrebPeter Bagge, the comics legend behind Hate!, Neat Stuff, Apocalypse Nerd and Everybody is Stupid Except for Me, joins us to talk about his new book, Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. We have a great conversation about why he chose to write about the founder of Planned Parenthood, how he made the shift from fiction to nonfiction comics, who his favorite “pre-feminist feminists” are, why he decided to stick with comic books over paperback books (and why he came around on the latter), what the strangest sketchbook request he ever received is, and how he feels about being a comics convention prostitute.

We also talk about how he never got a word of approval from his dad or his editor, how his libertarian politics got him ostracized after the 2008 election (and how some people seem to be coming around on that), why he doesn’t draw elbows, and what it felt like to be considered the “least insane of cartoonists” by R. Crumb.

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

Peter Bagge‘s newest book is Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. He is best known for the 1990s comic book series Hate!, which followed the exploits of slacker ne’er-do-well Buddy Bradley (collected vols. 1, 2, and 3). He is a contributor to Reason magazine, which led to the collection Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me, and Other Acute Observations, and his work has appeared in Weirdo (where he served as managing editor), The Stranger, New York Press, Entertainment Weekly, Details, Seattle Weekly, Screw, and more. He is also the author of Peter Bagge’s Other Stuff, Reset, Apocalypse Nerd, Other Lives, and Bat Boy: The Weekly World News Comic Strips, among other works.

Credits: This episode’s music is Hateful Notebook by the Descendents. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott during SPX 2013 on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded in my home office on a Blue Yeti USB microphone. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo by me.

Podcast: Readercon 2013 – Fairies and Zombies

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 15 –
Readercon – Fairies and Zombies

It’s time for a two-part mega-podcast! I visited the 24th annual Readercon, conference on literary fantasy & science fiction (or “imaginative literature,” as it’s known) in Burlington, MA in July, and came back with a ton of interviews! Readercon is a fantastic (ha-ha) event, with great programming, a good booksellers’ hall, and lots of fun conversation; you should make a point of attending it if your tastes run toward the authors who come up in this and the following episode.

I (not-so-wisely) conducted five interviews in one day so, rather than make a 3-hour episode, I decided to split them up between boys and girls. This time around you get interviews with authors John Crowley and Scott Edelman!

“The big books I’ve written have never had a genre at all. They were certain kinds of fictional possibilities that interested and intrigued me and that I wanted to try to achieve. I wouldn’t say there’s an awful lot in Little, Big that’s realistic, but there’s plenty that was based on my daily experiences of life in New York City.”

–John Crowley

John Crowley is the author of Little, Big (or, The Fairies’ Parliament), which I consider one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I’d known about it for a long time, but only read it a few years ago, after learning that my wife has been re-reading it every year or two since it came out in paperback in 1983 or thereabouts. You should go read it now or wait for the deluxe edition from Incunabula Press! (He’s also written other amazing books, like the Aegypt cycle, Engine Summer, and more.)

I talked with Mr. Crowley about readers’ devotion Little, Big, the problems he faced in writing it and how surmounting them opened the doors to his subsequent books, how the fantasy genre developed during the course of his career, what his favorite imaginary books are, why I felt unprepared for our conversation despite having read six of his novels, and what it was like to write copy for Maidenform bras when he was starting out.

“One of the most amazing things about writing to me is that, even though you’ve read, and heard, and seen thousands of stories, when you sit down to write one, you have no idea how to begin!”

–John Crowley

Even if you haven’t read Little, Big, you’ll find this a fascinating conversation about the writing process, literary reputation, and what it means to tell a story!

Scott Edelman on The Virtual Memories Show

“You have to write the things you love. They have to be extremely important to you, to give you that tingle when you read them. Because if you’re not moved by it, I don’t see how anyone else is going to be moved by it. . . .”

–Scott Edelman

Then I talk with Scott Edelman, a longtime writer, editor and Con-goer, about his zombie-fiction, being an editor at Marvel Comics in the 1970s, his storytelling tips and his pros and cons of workshops, whether he pays attention to literary markets, what Readercon means to him, and what it was like to move from one side of the convention table to the other.

“Why zombies? Because zombies are the closest we’ll ever see to what we’ll really become. Because there’ll be that day when we’re all walking husks without memory.”

–Scott Edelman

Enjoy the conversations! Then listen to part 2 of our Readercon conversations with Theodora Goss, Valya Dudycz Lupescu, and Nancy Hightower. Meanwhile, check out the archives for more great episodes!

Related episodes:

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About our Guests

John Crowley lives in the hills above the Connecticut River in northern Massachusetts with his wife and twin daughters. He is the author of Little, Big, the four-volume Aegypt cycle, The Translator, Novelties & Souvenirs, Lord Byron’s Novel, and Four Freedoms. You can find out more about the special anniversary edition of Little, Big here.

Scott Edelman has published more than 75 short stories in magazines such as Postscripts, The Twilight Zone, Absolute Magnitude, Science Fiction Review and Fantasy Book, and in anthologies such as The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Crossroads, MetaHorror, Once Upon a Galaxy, Moon Shots, Mars Probes, Forbidden Planets. His poetry has appeared in Asimov’s, Amazing, Dreams and Nightmares, and others. What Will Come After, a collection of his zombie fiction, and What We Still Talk About, a collection of his science fiction stories, were both published in 2010. He has been a Stoker Award finalist five times, in the categories of both Short Story and Long Fiction. He is the editor of Blastr at the Syfy Channel. You can find more about him at his site.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fairy Tales by Style Council. Both conversations were recorded in a room at the Burlington Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti into my Mac Mini, at my Ikeahack standing desk. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photos by me.

Podcast: Classical Pop

Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 14 – Classical Pop

It’s time for a (somewhat) long-delayed new episode of The Virtual Memories Show!

“Picasso said that the way you draw your circle is your style.”

This time, postmodern cartoonist Bob Sikoryak talks about the high/low mashups of his amazing book, Masterpiece Comics, the 1980’s art scene in NYC, the sea change in the acceptance of comics as art and entertainment, the (un)importance of having an individual drawing style, and more!

“It’s amazing to me how comics artists can speak to a generation, and that’s it. When you make something, it’s of your time, no matter what you do.”

We also reflect on the art of mimicry, the history of popular art, and who decides when it’s too soon to goof on Dostoevsky. I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read his Inferno Joe strip in 1989, so getting the chance to sit down with Bob for a conversation was a joy. (He’s the sweetest person I’ve met in comics.)

“My roommate in college said, “If you keep reading those comics, it’s gonna affect your style,” and clearly he was right.”

Bob Sikoryak on the Virtual Memories Show

Photo by Kriota Willberg.

About Our Guest

R. Sikoryak has drawn cartoons for numerous media giants, including Nickelodeon Magazine, The New Yorker, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as for independent publications, films and theater productions. His cartoon slideshow series Carousel has been presented around the U.S. and Canada. He also teaches and lectures on comics and illustration. He lives in NYC with his wife and frequent collaborator Kriota Willberg.

Listen to the conversation!

 About Our Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Out of Print Clothing! Visit their site and check out their great selection of T-shirts, fleeces, bags and other gear featuring gorgeous and iconic book cover designs.

The Virtual Memories Show is on iTunes! If you’d like to subscribe, visit our iTunes page!

If you’d like to check out past episodes, you can find us on iTunes or visit the Podcast page for all our back episodes, as well as e-mail signup and tip jar! And why don’t you friend the Virtual Memories Show at our Facebook page? It’d make my mom happy.

Credits: This episode’s music is Ambicion Eterna by Thievery Corporation. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic into Audacity, and the conversation with was recorded in Mr. Sikoryak’s home in Stuy Town in NYC, on a pair of Blue Encore 100 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. All editing was done in Garage Band, with some post-processing in Audaity.

In Search Of . . . Gargantua

So back in April, I added the two hardcover collections of Madman comics to my Amazon wish-list. I used to read the Tundra issues of Madman back in my college days, and thought it would be nice to catch up on almost 20 years of work from Mike Allred.

Problem was, the newer volume, Madman Atomica, is still in print, but 2007’s Madman Gargantua isn’t. Its list price for the 850-page book was $125 but used sellers were asking around $150 and higher. I could afford it, but it wasn’t that big a priority. Maybe it’ll get reissued sometime, I thought. And maybe it’d be more fun to stop in or call comic stores and see if they had it in stock.

Now, I have no idea if normal people experience anything like this, but for a comic reader, there’s a great joy in finding This One Book I’m Looking For.

I don’t even know if the thrill is gone, since we live in a world of near-infinite, and infinitely available, entertainment. Everything can be ordered online, or downloaded for immediate gratification. Do back issues matter anymore, if everything’s been collected in a reprint?

And it wasn’t just comics for me; I also used to hunt down books with the same in-person fervor. Of course, there’s a greater disappointment in finding the book you’ve been searching for, because of the realization that it’ll take a lot longer to read than a long-sought comic will. There’s also the disappointment of finding the object of your quest in a boring location. In my sophomore year of college, I finally stumbled across a copy of William Gaddis’ first novel, The Recognitions, on the shelves of a Brentano’s Books in a suburban NJ mall. No dark, dingy used bookshop or literary salon: just fluorescent lighting and blue-gray carpeting in a mall of Rt. 206.

One of my best finds was in my college years, when I stopped into The Paperback Exchange, a since-closed comic store in Nanuet, NY, on the way home from college. I asked the owner, “You got a comic by Kyle Baker, called, ‘Why I Hate Saturn‘?” That one was impossible to find, but every cartoonist I liked was praising it to the heavens that year.

He said, “We’ve got one in the back room, but it’s a little dinged up. You still wanna buy it?”

“. . . Sure,” I said, trying not to betray the fact that I was ready to knife the guy and run into the stockroom to find that book.

I bought it, and was the envy of my geek pals back at Hampshire, until the second printing finally came out a few years later.

I have no idea if people still prowl for out-of-print comics and books. I mean, I’m allegedly a grown-up and don’t spend a lot of time hunting for comics, so none of this is meant to reflect the attitudes of the comic-reading world at large. But seeing “Available from these sellers” on Gargantua’s Amazon page reminded me of how I enjoyed scoping out shops for That One Book. I decided to make it my not-too-imperative mission to find that book.

Over the last few weeks, I called a number of NJ and NY comic stores about the book, but no one had it in stock. I didn’t expect much luck from suburban comic shops, since they tend to be mainstream-oriented. But they tend to have just one or two little unappreciated gems on the shelves. Perhaps the owner took a flyer on a certain paperback, figuring that one kid might buy it when he’s back from college. But it was to no avail. Shop after shop in the area hadn’t seen the book since it was first in print. Understandable, since a $125 book in a non-returnable market is quite a commitment for a store-owner, and it’s not like Madman was a household name or had a movie coming out.

On Tuesday evening, Amy & I went out for dinner. While she was in the restroom, I flicked through the Twitter feed on my iPhone. A tweet from Madman creator Mike Allred scrolled by: “Any comic shops out there still have MADMAN GARGANTUA at cover price or below? I know isotopecomics.com has a picture of it on a shelf…”

Then one of his followers tweeted “funny books in lake hiawatha new jersey does! I just saw it there”

I didn’t recognize the town, and immediately typed it into my Maps app. It was about 20 minutes away from the restaurant, and 30 minutes from my home. As Amy returned to the table, I searched the store online. Without looking up, I said, “We may be making a detour to Lake Hiawatha. It’s not too far out of the way.”

“What’s there?”

“A comic store that has This One Book I’ve been looking for.”

I can never tell if her knowing glances are as filled with pity as I think they are.

I called up the store’s site and discovered that it’s closed on Tuesdays. (That’s a standard practice for comic shops; since new comics arrive on Wednesday, Tuesdays tend to do the least business.) I decided to hit the store immediately after work on Wednesday.

Before calling the store in the morning to make sure they had the book, I started thinking about how high I’d go over cover price. After all, $125’s already pretty steep for a comic collection, and he did have me over a barrel, since it’s not like I could just go to another store down the street to buy it. I concluded, if the price got anywhere near the used sellers on Amazon ($165 today), I would bail.

Around 10:30 a.m., I rang the store up. I asked the owner if he had the book in stock. “Sure do! Now this is the first one, the out-of-print one,” he said.

“That’s the one I’m looking for. What time are you open till tonight?” You must understand: I actually thought that either Mike Allred or some fan was going to swoop into this little town in suburban NJ and buy this rare treasure if I didn’t make the trip that very day.

“Nine p.m.”

“Great! And how much is the book?”

“Well, the list price is $125 . . . but I can let you have it for $100.”

God bless comic shop owners and their failure to grasp supply-and-demand.

After going home and walking and feeding the doggies first, I drove down to the shop. It was one town over from where I occasionally bought comics in high school. The owner took the copy of Gargantua out from the counter — yes, I’d asked him to put it aside when I called — and gave me the brief tour of his shop. It was small, but well frequented on New Comics Day, with several customers coming through during my 10-15 minutes there. He tried to gauge my interest in LOST, the Captain America movie, and DC Comics’ impending relaunch of 52 (!) of its titles, but soon figured out that my interests were on the indie side of the scene, not the superhero end of things.

He showed me a shelf or two of books that were part of his 50% off FAIL SALE, and I scoured that for overlooked treasure. I wound up with a recent Trondheim children’s book (I hear it’s not great, but it is Trondheim), a Beto Hernandez collection I didn’t own (hard to believe), and KIRBY FIVE-OH!, an oversized book collecting pieces from the 50 years of Jack Kirby’s career. Nothing I needed, but lots of things that I’d enjoy, esp. at half price.

As he rang me up, the owner tossed a freebie comic in my bag: it was a preview of the aforementioned relaunch of DC’s titles. I looked in horror at the cover of the preview — a new, “modern” Superman, who apparently wears patched jeans, leather boots, and grey knee-high socks (?) — tumbling into the mix with my purchases. I figured that six months of Kirby’s career showed more creativity and vitality than all of the 52 “creative” teams and titles previewed in that comic. At home that evening, I flipped through the preview and revised my opinion: two months.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get to the ginchy adventures of Frank Einstein . . .

Unrequired Reading: Junebug

Just in time for July 4th, it’s a collection of my tweeted links and retweets, for those of you too lazy to get on Twitter and follow me @groth18!

First up, the retweets!

RT @MoCCAnyc (MoCCA): Kirby vs Marvel in the NY Times

* * *

RT @KenTremendous (Ken Tremendous): Wow. RT (@parksandrecnbc) The Ron Swanson Mosaic. Be sure to grab our free hi-res poster! #ParksandRec

* * *

RT @tnyCloseRead (Amy Davidson): David Remnick on the Big Man: Bloodbrother: Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

* * *

RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle Van Blerk): Need. This. Bookcase.

* * *

RT @simonpegg (Simon Pegg): Memorable ink from the US book tour: 1 and 2

* * *

RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk): animalsbeingdicks.com That is all. Have a good weekend.

* * *

RT @MarylandMudflap (Scotty L.): Etch-a-Sketch was really onto something. I wish I could shake the shit out of everything in my life when I need a fresh start.

* * *

RT @scottmccloud (Scott McCloud): OMG OMG OMG http://llamafont.com

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RT @normmacdonald (Norm Macdonald): I’d have to be pretty hammered to see “Thor”.

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RT @DwightGarner (Dwight Garner): Daniel Okrent (I think) said it in Esquire (I think) in the 80s: “John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman” = best LP ever recorded. I’m a believer.

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Anyone know where #ProfessorZoom got his doctorate? #justwondering

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Cover story: #magouflage

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Nazis tend not to design great synagogues? I prefer #BattlestarJudaica! #FrankLloydWrong 26 Jun

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Is #Cars a vehicle (ha-ha) for Intelligent Design?

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Blind drunk: #notreally

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Neat #PhilipRoth interview: #idontreadcontempofictioneither

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If I ever have to move again, I have no idea what I’ll do with all the books. #unpackingtheshelves

* * *

Long-ass @BobMould conversation on wrestling, Catholicism, breakups and more: #seealittlelight

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@SimonDoonan: wildly pro-Jew. #yay!

* * *

I am SO glad I didn’t watch the last six episodes of @TheKilling_AMC: http://bit.ly/mEhcSL #stillsevenhoursiwillnevergetback

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I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to think of #WeAllKilledRosieLarsen. Still, glad I didn’t watch the last 7 episodes of @TheKilling_AMC

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First, only time #AnnaNicoleSmith will be compared to #BleakHouse.

* * *

#SalmanRushdie offers up seven wonders (those Goya paintings the Prado are creepy as all get-out)

* * *

The Girl with the Caffeine Addiction? #TMCM

* * *

NYT sez: Life could be better if we blow off property rights, the environment, consumer safety, etc.: #highspeedrail

* * *

Introvert Myth #11: they don’t get Twitter.

* * *

Time-Traveling Male Sea Monkeys Make Bad Mates

* * *

Great moments in terrible casting, via @fuggirls (No #JessicaAlba as geneticist and/or blonde in #FantasticFour?)

* * *

Accidental Chinese hipsters: #umm

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Bust 2.0? “If you squint just right, our business is actually booming!”

* * *

Do we expect too much of books? #iknowido #ralphwaldoemerson

* * *

(Un)happy Bloomsday.

* * *

Krypto’s got quite a pedigree: #superdog #legionofsuperpets

* * *

Rockin’ the GTH turban: #sikhandyoushallfind

* * *

Mandelbrot, P.I.?

* * *

No Mexican in Paris? WTF? I can’t even call this #firstworldproblems

* * *

Why I never took up smoking: #cheapjew

* * *

The Enhancer: “Yeah, but have you ever Disneyed . . . HIGH?” #weed

* * *

#Masa loses one star for F-U (by @samsifton)

* * *


* * *

“Not only is it okay to hate #LeBron, but it’s a fucking character flaw on your part if you do not.” #nbafinals

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Anybody know what this is? #snakeonahike #herpetology

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My hometown: a toxic mess that CAN’T be cleaned up, after multiple Superfund attempts: #ringwoodnj #eatlead

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#JoeJackson & #TheRoots do #SteppinOut on @latenightjimmy

* * *

Apparently, I need to alternate my annual Toronto trip with some Montreal action.

* * *

i found my thrill on N***** Hill? #plaqueremoval

* * *

Never trust your parents, especially when you’re home for the holidays: #drugdeal

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#Seth’s lovely eulogy for his father: #nosethdoesnothaveatwitteraccount

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Every mall should have a bomb shelter: #shoptillthebombdrops

* * *

Puyehue makes an ash of itself: #underthevolcano #alsooverthevolcano

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I’ll get to these right after I finish #ADancetotheMusicofTime. #johnswartzelder #simpsons

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Sunfart: #justsunfart

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Greatest pwnage ever? #nadal #federer #toughcall

* * *

To prize integrity is to fear disintegration” (via @asymmetricinfo)

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* * *

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Greatest. Cast. Ever.

* * *

@comicsreporter on his hoped-for DC relaunches. #bwahhaha

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Kirby. Gods. Watercolor. #nuffsaid

* * *

@michaelbierut on comedic design (sorta): #talkingfunny

* * *

We will be like birds.

* * *

#GeneHackman: “He tried”

* * *

#UmbertoEco on reading and not reading: http://bit.ly/jFXAQZ

* * *

#Francesa = #Jeter?

* * *

“You cook?” “I’m French.” #MelanieLaurent #aurevoirshoshana!

* * *

No one said, “I wish I kept up on Twitter more”? #regretsofthedying