Episode 246: Simon Hanselmann

4Dec

“I don’t want to go back to the bird shit,” Simon Hanselmann explains, reminiscing not-so-fondly about about jobs past. From all appearances, life is pretty good for the Tasmanian cartoonist. He’s making a living with comics, living in a nice Seattle home he shares with his wife, Jacq, a dog and a basement full of recused rabbits they lovingly refer to as “the bungeon.” His series, Megg, Mogg and Owl has been the subject of multiple award winning collections on Frantagraphics and has drawn interest from television production companies looking to turn his stoner trio into a series. His work appears regularly in magazines and anthologies, and when I arrive, he’s in the middle of preparing his work for an exhibit at a prestigious French art gallery. So naturally, he’s looking to mix things up. Hanselmann is beginning to embark on his most ambitious work to date, a multi-volume set that explores his own family history through the lens of Megs and Mogg, uncovering some early stories that his family would likely prefer stay hidden. It’s a deep and extremely personal story, he’s been meaning to tell for some time. “Once I started became successful in comics,” Hanselmann says with a laugh, “I stopped needing to see therapists.”

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Episode 245: Maura Lynch and Andrew Chugg (of Blush)

30Nov

Blush’s debut album is the culmination of nine years worth of songs. Singer Maura Lynch spent the last decade playing in bands and working day jobs for startups like Kickstarter and Birchbox, all while writing music on the side. What sort as a solo project ultimately coalesced into a proper group, a collection of long time friends (and a pair of siblings) turning those demos into proper songs. Bass player Andrew Chugg stepped in to produce, attempting to retain the home recorded charm in the process. Ahead of the album’s December 8th debut, Lynch and Chugg sat down to discuss beginnings, collaboration and the upside of not quitting one’s day job.

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Episode 244: Ron Turner and Winston Smith

26Nov

Ron Turner is running late. It’s impossible to find parking in North Beach this time of night. I’m nursing a whiskey upstairs as Cafe Vesuvio, the historic San Francisco bar, best known as a famed beat generation water hole. The crowd’s already getting noisy, but the founder of the legendary Last Gasp publishing house couldn’t have chosen a more perfect location for our conversation. An unfamiliar face waves hello, hands me copy of Last Gasp’s latest catalog and sits down at the table across from me. He introduces himself as Winston, a local artist. It slowly dawns on me that the man is Winston Smith, the collage artist who helped create the house style for San Francisco hardcore band, The Dead Kennedys. Suddenly it’s a group interview. Our conversation is wide ranging and occasionally on topic, fueled by multiple rounds of libation. There’s talk of working on the Bakersfield/Fresno train line, Cary Grant’s love of LSD, sending comics to John McCain and Fidel Castro, and how Allen Ginsberg indirectly helped kickstart Robert Crumb’s career. And, of course, the ever-changing face of San Francisco.

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Episode 243: Nicole Georges

24Nov

Toward the end of our conversation, Nicole Georges takes a moment to point out that her latest book, isn’t the downer this interview might have made it out to be. But then, when you start down the road of dog deaths, it’s a bit hard to the right the ship. Which is to say, the subject matter of this episode gets pretty heavy, pretty early on. But like Fetch itself, the interview provides plenty of important reminders of why we need pets in our lives, even in the face of the knowledge that we’ll almost certainly outlive them. It’s a good talk, with a friend of the podcast, making her third appearance on the show. And, as is tradition with every one of her episodes, there’s a camera from an adorable dog, roughly halfway through. This time out, it’s the cartoonist’s trust chihuahua side, Ponyo, who provides yet another reminder of why dogs are the best.

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Episode 242: Trina Robbins

18Nov

“As long as one can walk one can protest,” Trina Robbins explains, over the white noise of a nearby espresso machine. “And as long as i don’t have to take too many hills, I can still walk.” The cartoonist’s assessment of the current political climate is equally pessimistic and hopeful, as the actions of the Trump administration have caused many Americans to loudly declare their support for women’s rights, while taking to the streets in protest. Robbins has been outspoken about her values for decades, even when it her opinions made her unpopular with many of her peers, as one of the first women in the underground comics community. But the artist and her have persevered, from the Last Gasp all-female anthology, Wimmen's Comix, to her stint in the early 80s as the first woman to draw Wonder Woman. This year, Robbins looked back on her career with the memoir, Last Girl Standing, an insight into her love affair with comics, struggles in the industry and reconnecting with her father’s writing after his death. We sat down at a cafe near her San Francisco home to discuss her long career and hope for the future.

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Episode 241: Anders Nilsen

12Nov

The last time Anders Nilsen was on the show, we were huddled on a patch of grass out behind the San Diego Convention Center with pedicabs carrying cosplaying show attendees whizzing by, playing top 40 songs at maximum volume. Thankfully, things are much more subdued this time out. The Big Questions artist joined us in New York, during a mini-tour for his new series, Tongues. The first issue of the series arrived over the summer, part of Nilsen’s plan to self-publish it in floppy serial form, with Pantheon collecting the series as a single volume, when all’s said and done. The new series retells the myth of Prometheus, exploring the Titan’s relationship with the eagle tasked with ripping out his regenerated innards every day. The story is an outgrowth of the cartoonist’s 2007 book Dogs and Water, aiming to address some lingering questions about the doomed deity. Nilsen joins us in a pedicab-free office to talk religion, self-publishing and taking the first steps into a new story.

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Episode 240: James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand)

5Nov

“Every once in a while,” James Jackson Toth explains, “you make a record and it feels like the message in the bottle sinking before it gets to the other shore.” Between official Wooden Wand albums, CD-Rs, online releases, records issued as a full band and the occasional under his own name, something’s bound to fall through the cracks every once in a while. But even with the constant flux of musical approaches, record labels and naming conventions, the singer has been quite consistent in quality, as one a member of a long, proud history of enigmatic troubadours armed with little more than a guitar and a memorable voice. After all these years, he seems a bit exhausted by live performance. Or maybe it’s just the pre-show jitters as we take a pair of chairs on stage at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right. Touring’s tough on any musician, and these days it can seem like a downright crapshoot whether on not you’ll be able to fill the place. There’s always fulfillment in the music making process, however — and new ideas and sounds to exploring on ever subsequent record. He describes his latest, Clipper Ship, as ‘exploded string band music,’ a description I find myself still attempting to wrap my head around.“If you don’t have anything new to say,” Both explains, simply, “don’t make a new record.”

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Episode 239 (Bonus): Stoya

1Nov

It’s a few days before the opening of her first theatrical performance, and Stoya doesn’t know what to expect. It’s all really new — aside from a few trivia nights here and there, she hasn’t really done much in front of a live audience since some ballet classes as a youngster. She’s committed to trying new things, moving outside her comfort zone for the sake of a new experience. Her first acting gig outside of the adult film industry came not all that long ago, when she agreed to star as an Android in a still-unreleased sci-fi film, so when cartoonist Dean Haspiel approached her to star in his new play, Harakari Kane, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it another go. In this bonus episode, we discuss the adult film actress’s decade in the industry, her on-again, off-again work as an advice columnist and surviving in the city as a freelancer.

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Episode 238: Richard Gottehrer and Allison Zatarain

29Oct

In the 60s, he cowrote ”My Boyfriend's Back" and "I Want Candy” and cofounded Sire records with Seymour Stein. But Richard Gottehrer isn’t one to dwell on the past. Six decades on, he’s still a guiding force in the music industry. Over the years, he’s produced Blondie, the Go-Gos, Richard Hell and, more recently, The Dum-Dum Girls. In 1997, Gottehrer cofounded the forward-looking digital distribution company, The Orchard. His latest project, Instant Love, is the brainchild of New Orleans native, Allison Zatarain, an employee of The Orchard and GM of its subsidiary label, Instant Records. The project pair female performers with songs traditional sung by men about women. Now 17 tracks deep, the pair regard the work as a “living album,” a growing collections of songs that lives on streaming services like Spotify, that will one day be collected in a more permanent form.Thus far, the project includes legendary performers like Irma Thomas, who performs Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and less established artists like Erin Durant, who takes on Buffalo Springfield’s “Kind Woman.” Zatarain and Gottehrer regard the project as a kind of on-going conversation with female, as well as a experiment in music distribution in a time that’s been fairly tumultuous for both.

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Episode 237: Greg Saunier (of Deerhoof)

22Oct

“When’s this podcast going to air?” Greg Saunier asks with a laugh. “Because the world might be over soon.” The conversation takes a bit of a serious turn toward the end, as we transition from touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (twice) to what, precisely, has kept the experimental indie rock band together for 23 or so years. Motivation hasn’t been hard to find — these days it’s everywhere as the band has grappled on record with the fall out from last year’s election, as in songs like Mountain Moves’ “I Will Spite Survive.” The record also found the group injecting new blood into its creations with a slew of collaborates — a rare thing over the course of the band’s 14 releases. And while Saunier is the only member who’s been in the group since its origins in mid-90s San Francisco, the group's line up has remained remarkable constant for an act that’s existed for nearly a quarter of a century. It could be the band’s continued evolution — no two Deerhoof records are ever the same. As the drummer says during the conversation, “Being expected to change is like the holy grail for a creative person.” Or maybe it’s just that special kind of chemistry that develops among a group of people who truly love what they do.

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