Episode 492 – Howard Chaykin

Virtual Memories Show 492:
Howard Chaykin

“I’ve always had an absolute obsession for the demimonde of sleaze, and New York had particular kind of demimonde-itude when I was a kid.”

Legendary comics creator Howard Chaykin rejoins the show for a WIDE-ranging talk to celebrate the conclusion of his Time2 opus, soon to be released in The Time2 Omnibus (Image Comics)! We talk about revisiting Time2 after a three-decade hiatus, his original intention for that world, the thrill & sleaze of NYC in his youth, and what he’s learned about comics storytelling over the years. We get into the influence of musical theater, jazz, and Cinemascope tableaux on his work, the enlightening experience of Gil Kane’s commentary/annotation of the movie Cover Girl, the parallels between fight scenes in superhero comics and people breaking into song in musicals, and how he’s carved out a half-century career in mainstream comics while pushing back against the toxicity and fan-expectations of that genre (while also fighting purity culture). We discuss the Bartlett Sher staging of Fiddler on the Roof that left him in tears (& made him cry again when he described it to me), whether he can afford to be happy, the ways he’s become more formalist as he came to understand the language & syntax of comics (as he teaches here), the musical he’d love to see, the joy of being an Outmander, why his neighbors still consider him “New Yorker on permanent leave” even though he’s been in CA more than half his life, and MUCH more! Give it a listen! And go order The Time2 Omnibus!

“I love the medium of comics, but the lesson I learned from making Hey Kids! Comics! was how much the audience itself was infantilized by the Comics Code along with the product.”

“Walt Simonson said that fights in superhero comic books are outward demonstrations of inner trauma, and I said that they have a direct relationship to people bursting into song in musical theater.”

“I never expected to reach 50, and here I am at 71, and my skillset is still functional that I can do work in public that doesn’t embarrass me.”

“I’m smugly content at having built my own reality and living in it.”

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

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About our Guest

Howard Chaykin is a longtime veteran of the comic book business, serving as an artist and writer for nearly every publisher of comics in the past four decades, and counting. He took the ’90s off to work on mostly unwatchable television, so he missed the money and dreck that was comics in that execrable decade. He is responsible, some might say culpable, for introducing a number of previously unexplored themes to comic books. If you’re not hip to what that’s supposed to mean, there’s always Wikipedia.

Follow Howard on Twitter and Instagram (he’s not really active on either of them, but does keep a pretty entertaining Substack you should sign up for).

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Howard’s home 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 Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Howard by me. It’s on my instagram.

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