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That Toddling Town
On this episode of the interview show, Andy and Derek have as their guest Glenn Head, whose new book Chicago: A Comix Memoir was just released from Fantagraphics. They talk with Glenn extensively about the the work and how it is a marked departure from his previous comics. Chicago is Glenn’s coming-of-age account of leaving Madison, NJ, in 1977 to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art, and then deciding to find himself by suddenly running off to Chicago with no friends, no money, and no plans. He quickly finds himself destitute, panhandling on the streets, and young prey for any number of nefarious forces. Between homeless shelters and McDonald’s meals, Glenn tries to make his way into the comics business, along the way meeting the likes Skip Williamson, Robert Crumb, and even Muhammed Ali. His sojourn in the Windy City leads him down some dark paths, but not nearly as dark as the aftermath back home in Madison where he begins to process the events and come to terms with what those Chicago experiences meant to him. This isn’t the first time that Glenn has created autobiographically tinged comics — such pieces had appeared in some of his older comics, such as Avenue D and Guttersnipe — but this is the first time he has done so in longer form. Indeed, this is Glenn’s first sustained book-length narrative, having defined much of his career through shorter comics collected in various anthologies, such as Weirdo and Zero Zero, or by editing collections of his own, such Snake Eyes and, most recently, Hotwire Comics. The guys talk with Glenn about those projects, as well, and discuss with him the changes he’s witnessed in the field between the final days of the underground comix to the legitimization of the “graphic novel” form. So this isn’t just an interview with an established creator about his latest book. It’s also a conversation about the current state of comics with a witness to that form’s decades-long trajectory.