Episode 576 – Aaron Lange

Virtual Memories Show 576:
Aaron Lange

“As I researched more and more, Peter Laugher just stood out from the pack. Not because he was more talented or more important, but he had a certain charisma about him, even from the grave.”

What is the meaning of Cleveland? Cartoonist Aaron Lange joins the show to talk about AIN’T IT FUN: Peter Laughner & Proto-Punk In The Secret City (Stone Church Press), his breathtaking new graphic novel that weaves together obscure records, urban legends and psychographic history. We talk about Aaron’s fascination with Cleveland’s punk scene, why the musician Peter Laughner stood out to him, the way Cleveland’s hidden landmarks pointed him toward this massive project. We get into the research and interviews Aaron conducted for Ain’t It Fun, the process of editing this work into a looping, flaneur-like, discursive (but never aimless) narrative, and the influence of Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces, Iain Sinclair’s Lud Heat, and Adam Curtis’ documentaries. We also discuss post-Laughner Pere Ubu, using graphic design rather than panel-to-panel cartooning, visiting the zodiac circle by the Cleveland Museum of Art at all 4 equinoxes, chronicling the city’s brutalist architecture, the constraints of the comics market on a book that defies easy description, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read Ain’t It Fun!

“I think it’s more important to understand Cleveland — the place, the politics, the economy — to appreciate what the punk scene was.”

“I learned not to start a project like this without a finished script.”

“I feel like the alternative comics world has taken a hard turn into the middlebrow.”

“To boil something down to a few words, you have to really know it.”

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

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About our Guest

Aaron Lange was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1981 and raised in the west side suburb of North Olmsted — where Peter Laughner is buried. He is the author and artist of the series Trim and Peppermint Werewolf, and his art and writing have appeared in Mineshaft, Hustler, Cinema Sewer, and The Best American Comics 2018. He co-founded Stone Church Press with Jake Kelly in 2022. Ain’t It Fun is his first book.

Follow Aaron on Instagram and support Stone Church Press via Patreon (which doubles as Aaron’s blog).

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Aaron by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

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