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PODCAST REVIEW: The Virtual Memories Show

The Virtual Memories Show is "a podcast about books and life, not necessarily in that order", and we benefit immensely from the fact that host Gil Roth includes comics in his definition of books.

My first exposure to Roth's podcast was in preparing to host R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg at the 2017 Durham Comics Fest: I'd hoped finding interviews would help prepare me for working with them at the event. I found other podcast appearances, but Virtual Memories stood above the rest for what it offered. Roth often mentions that he seeks to practice "the art of fine conversation" when talking with his guests, and what results from this approach is deeper and broader than what you get from many other sources. After listening to their episodes, I felt like I'd already met Sikoryak and Willberg, and the event was better for it.

Fans of other podcasts may find themselves a little disoriented on their first time with Virtual Memories because it doesn't have …
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BOOK REVIEW: Why Comics?

With Why Comics?, author Hillary Chute secures her place as one of, if not the most important contemporary voice in American comics scholarship.

Through eleven chapters, Chute chooses various topics and themes that cartoonists have explored since around the 1960s. Like the book itself, chapters are framed as questions -- "Why Punk?", "Why War?", "Why Girls?" -- and each is answered by a look at social and creative factors that have made these topics ideal for the comics medium. She then examines one or two cartoonists who have been particularly deft at creating work that relates to the themes at hand. The selected cartoonists aren't surprising: Art Spiegelman "Why Disaster?", Alison Bechdel for "Why Queer?", etc. While these choices would be a weakness in another writer's hands, Chute uses their familiarity to deepen her inquiries and our resulting enlightenment when it comes to the medium as a whole.

There isn't anything …

BOOK REVIEW: She Changed Comics

She Changed Comics is a stirring rebuttal to the notion that comics is historically a man's business, as well as a call to action to support women creators and uncover their contributions.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is best known for its First Amendment-related work legal advocacy and education, so She Changed Comics is a bit of of a departure: an overview of contributions made by an under-recognized group of creators. Although censorship is addressed, this book is primarily and introduction to 79 women who have worked in the comics industry since their earliest days. It includes artists, writers, publishers and editors, many performing multiple duties, and with a wide range of artistic styles, stories to tell, and other approaches to the medium.

Most of its subjects are given a two-page bio that covers topics like the basic details of their lives, their often difficult relationships to the industry, their approach to their work, and their influence on contemporaries and suc…

BOOK REVIEW: How to Read Nancy

Authors Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden have transformed their 30-year-old, 7-page essay into this surprisingly accessible, 274-page thesis on the comics medium and portrait of a master cartoonist.

The book's subtitle, "The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels", is deadpan understatement, 100% accurate, and altogether appropriate for a book about Nancy, Ernie Bushmiller's underappreciated newspaper strip. With its visual simplicity, lack of character development, and devotion to the gag above all else, it makes sense that Nancy isn't in the "great comics" canon of most readers and scholars. But Karasik and Newgarden, both cartoonists themselves, make a stirring case for reconsideration -- they've obviously convinced me!

After an engaging biography of the cartoonist, the authors present the core of the book: an intense dissection of the August 8, 1959 Nancy strip. The magic of these three panels, which feature a squirt gun, a garden hose, and n…

LIBRARIAN INTERVIEW: Kelly Wooten

In the months before I started at UNC's Library Science program in 2006, I received a ton of support from its students and graduates including Kelly Wooten, Duke University's resident zine librarian.

Formally, Kelly is the research services and collection development librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, which is part of the Rubenstein Library, and Sexuality Studies Librarian for Duke Libraries. She does reference, instruction, and outreach for women's and LGBTQ history collections, as well as curating zines and other materials documenting modern feminist activism. She received her BA in Women's Studies and English literature and her MSLS from UNC Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she enjoys watching Murder She Wrote and taking pictures of her cats, plus answering interview questions from the likes of me!

741.5 And Then Some: What is your personal connection to zines, and how did you come to work with them professionally?

Kelly Woote…