Episode 093: Roz Chast
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant isn’t as easy book. As the title implies, in deals in topics few are equipped to candidly discuss: family, aging, mortality. But long time New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast valiantly marches headfirst into a memoir of her parents’ decline armed with humor, insight and desk full of watercolors. The result is one of the best comics of 2014. I met Chast in a strange cavernous room below a luxury hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, following a talk and signing. We sat on a bench, discussing her work as a fascinating collection of fellow comics luminaries like Art Spiegelman and Charles Burns milled about between appearances. Given the subject matter of her most recent book, I wasn’t entirely sure what tone the conversation would take, but quickly realized that as with her work, Chast has a knack for making even the heaviest of conversational topics immensely entertaining. During our 40 minute interview, we spanned the cartoonist’s entire career, beginning with an envelope dropped off at the New Yorker in 1978, stuffed with 60-odd submissions. All of these years later, the artist The Comics Journal called, “the first truly subversive New Yorker cartoonist” has had well over 1,000 cartoons run in that most prestigious of periodic institutions and one of the most touching graphic memoirs in recent memory.