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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.

The Virtual Memories Show
Gil Roth, host
podcast website

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 the snappy dialogue, edgy production, or advertising-based show segmenting that many others do. Roth begins each episode catching us up on his activities and giving us background on his interest in the guest at hand.  Then the interview begins, and everything else is fascinating insights. Some of my favorite interviewees on the show have included Keith Knight, Roz Chast, Seth, and Caitlin McGurk, but each one I've listened to has given me lots to think about.

As mentioned above, I've found Virtual Memories very helpful for understanding cartoonists with whom I would later be working in a programming setting, but because of the quality of the conversations, programming librarians would get a lot out of them even if the rosters don't match up so nicely. The same is true of just about any podcast, but Roth is much better than most hosts at getting at the interesting details that make each cartoonist the unique person and artist they are. As primary sources, these episodes would also be useful for academic research and archival interpretation. And while not every librarian has these same responsibilities, I think most will find that The Virtual Memories Show is a podcast that will enrich their understanding of comics and the people who create them.

Many thanks to Gil Roth for letting me talk his ear off at TCAF 2018!