comics

Interview: Meredith Gran, creator of "Octopus Pie" by Aaron Matthews

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Meredith Gran is the Brooklyn-based comic artist and animator behind the webcomics “Skirting Danger” and most recently, “Octopus Pie.” The latter series tells the serio-comic story of Eve and Hanna, 2 young women living in Brooklyn, New York.

Meredith recently self-published a collection of the first four storylines of “Octopus Pie” and just began the sixth storyline of the comic.

AM: When did you first consider cartooning specifically as a career, as opposed to art? You started writing Skirting Danger when you were about 16, if I remember correctly.
Meredith: Yeah, I was a teenager. At the time I didn't really see it as anything more than a hobby. I only began thinking about comics as a career in the past year or so, after working out of school for a bit. Seeing how other professional cartoonists operate.
AM: What was it like writing a reasonably popular and well-regarded webcomic at that age?
Meredith: At the time I was very excited to have that storytelling outlet. Looking back, I'm actually shocked at how well-received it was. At the time, I figured a handful of people, a lot of my friends, enjoyed it. People ask me about it all the time and it seems so long ago. It's very strange.
AM: How much of Octopus Pie is autobiographical? It's definitely very Brooklyn-centric and much of it, particularly the more serious storylines, feels authentic and lived-in.
Meredith: None of the stories are true, per-se, but a lot of the themes are taken directly from experience. Eve has definitely gone through a few of my internal struggles. In a recent storyline she's faced with the prospect of forging her identity out of a lucrative career - or lack thereof. In my post-college years, I've asked myself many of the same questions Eve has to work through.
AM: Have you ever considering syndicating Octopus Pie? A few of your contemporaries, namely Diesel Sweeties and Dinosaur Comics have been syndicated in some smaller press papers.
Meredith: It hasn't crossed my mind. The comic isn't much of a daily strip; there's too much context to understand if you miss a day. If you can't press the "back" button with my stories, a lot of the effect is lost. Plus syndication just doesn't seem all that lucrative for a comic my size.
AM: In a lot of ways, the form fits the content really well, at least in terms of having the entire storyline up to that point as accessible.
Meredith: Webcomics are kind of similar to telenovelas in that way.
AM: One last question to wrap things up: describe Octopus Pie in one sentence.
Meredith: Haha, this one is hard.
AM: Don't rush it. This is crucial.
Meredith: It's a Brooklyn drama about a girl's comedic life.

Octopus Pie is published three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Watch video of Meredith drawing here. The unedited version of this interview is available here on Aaron's blog.

Podcast: Austin Grossman

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Show: 
Bullseye

Austin Grossman is the author of the new novel "Soon I Will Be Invincible," a literary look at a team of superheroes and their nemesis. Before he became a novelist and academic (he is currently a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley), he was a writer for video games.

Video of this interview is viewable above, or downloadable via bittorrent at Myspleen. MySpleen is invite-only; if you need an invite, email me and mention your favorite TSOYA moment (to keep out the riff-raff).

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Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Comics & Comix with Art Spiegelman (MP3)
Comics & Comix Pt. 2 with Harvey Pekar (MP3)
Moustaches, Etc with Andy Daly and Richard Montoya of Culture Clash

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Old Men

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Watch Mr. Wizard
Show: 
Bullseye

 Shelley Berman We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

This episode features a couple of old fogies. You probably know him best as Larry David's dad on Curb Your Enthusiasm - but Shelley Berman has been a legend in the comedy world since the 1950's. He was a co-founder of Second City and his debut album Inside Shelley Berman won the first non-music Grammy Award...ever.

We also talk with Don Herbert AKA Mr. Wizard AKA Donny Hizza. He was the host and creator of the 1950's children's program Watch Mr. Wizard and its 1990's Nickelodeon revival Mr. Wizard's World. He eats the whole time he's being interviewed.

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Rock Snobs

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The Rock Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Steven Daly
Guests: 
Ira Kaplan
Guests: 
Greg Proops

We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Our Guests: Steven Daly is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the co-author of The Rock Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge.


Ira Kaplan is a co-founder, vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of the veteran indie rock band Yo La Tengo. We talk with Ira about their 2004 best-of compilation - Prisoners of Love, playing cover songs, and fund raising for WFMU.

In 2006, Yo La Tengo released their 14th LP, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass to critical acclaim.

Greg Proops is a stand-up and improv comedian, best known for his appearances on both the U.K. and American versions of Whose Line is it Anyway.

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My Naked Dad

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My Naked Dad (click to enlarge)

Our pal Neil Campbell, (who is half of the brilliant comic duo of Neil & Paul with our other pal, Paul Rust), has just re-launched his long-dormant web comic My Naked Dad. The new site is gorgeous, especially Neil's carefully crafted line drawings of dad penis. Oh, and the comic is hilarious.

And hey, while you're checking out Neil & Paul effluvia, check out Paul's rarely-updated but always-hilarious blog, Watch Paul Rust Age Behind Glass.

Podcast: Storytellers with Colin Meloy and Harvey Pekar

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Show: 
Bullseye

The Sound of Young America: The Legacy Collection is an effort to highlight some of the older shows in our vast audio archive. We were pretty much podcasting before anyone actually listened to podcasts, so I'm guessing you haven't heard these shows.

Our first guest on this show, which bears the theme "Storytellers," is Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. Jordan tells me they've got a major deal now, we interviewed Colin not long after their first record was released. We knew him when! And he didn't seem to like us too much!

Also: Harvey Pekar is the creator of the amazing comic "American Splendor." The comic tackles stories from Pekar's life as an ordinary guy in Cleveland, Ohio. It's one of my favorite things ever.

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Podcast: New York Stories with Bill Hader and Roz Chast

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Show: 
Bullseye

This week on The Sound of Young America, a new New Yorker and an New Yorker of long standing.

First we talk with Roz Chast, long-time New Yorker cartoonist. Her cartoons have now been compiled into a stately tome called "Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected and Health Inspected Cartoons 1978-2006."

Then a chat with Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader. He talks about how he got the gig after Lorne Michaels came to see him perform in a Southern California backyard, and what it's like to be the new guy at one of television comedy's most revered institutions. He's a TSOYA listener, by the way. Be sure to check out our bonus audio for discussion of his upcoming movie projects, which involve Michael Cera of Arrested Development, the folks behind Reno 911 and Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk, among others.

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Podcast: Career Killers

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Show: 
Bullseye

This week's Sound of Young America broadcast commemorates my recent layoff with the theme "Career Killers."

My first guest, Annabelle Gurwitch, is the former host of TBS' "Dinner and a Movie," and a comedienne. Her book, "Fired: Tales of the Canned, Cancelled, Downsized, & Dismissed" compiles stories of firings from folks like Felicity Huffman and David Cross. She herself was fired from a play by Woody Allen, who said her performance was "retarded." We talk with her about getting fired, some of the most interesting stories in the book (Jeff Garlin's is a doozy), and more. She's appearing at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival May 19th and 20th with Robert Reich.

Our second guest, Dan Clowes, is the screenwriter for the new film Art School Confidential. More importantly, though, he's the creator of the long-running comic book title Eightball. Eightball was the birthplace of the film, as well as the home of the story which became "Ghost World." We talk with Dan about his experiences in art school, his artistic process, working with director Terry Zwigoff and more.

Also, a comedy sketch from Free Love Forum.

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