CB M I OO
BY ERIC HOUSTON
The Comic Book Podcast Companion
TwoMorrows Publishing Raleigh, North Carolina
Contents Introduction ........................................................................................4 Around Comics ...................................................................................5 Word Balloon ..................................................................................19 Creator Interview: Matt Fraction ....................................................30 Comic Book Queers ..........................................................................38 The Crankcast ..................................................................................45 Creator Interview: Tim Seeley ........................................................55 Remembering the 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast..........................................................................58 iFanboy ............................................................................................61 Quiet! Panelologists at Work ............................................................73 TwoMorrowsâ€™ Tune-In Podcast/ Collected Comics Library...................................................................82 Pipeline Podcast ................................................................................89 Creator Interview: Gene Colan ....................................................104 Comic Geek Speak..........................................................................107 How to Make Your Own Podcast......................................................121 Podcast Index ................................................................................123
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About three years ago, All-Star Comics, the comic book store I had frequented every week for almost eight years, closed its doors forever. For the first time since I had started reading comics seriously, I no longer had a place to visit every Wednesday, not simply to buy my books (at that point you could already buy books off the Internet easily enough), but to hang out for a couple of hours and chew the fat with the shop owners and fellow customers about everything going on in comics. Once the Nineties boom, which had begun my own infatuation with comics, had ended, none of my friends at school cared to read comics anymore, and so the comic shop became my sole outlet for debating the issues of the day: “Is Hal Jordan really coming back;” “Who is this mysterious Adversary in Fables”; “Who is the Identity Crisis killer (I thought it was Captain Boomerang using the extra Atom belt and Mirror Master suit from his Suicide Squad days)?” Suddenly, that store was gone. To make matters worse, I moved from South Bend, Indiana to Saint Paul, Minnesota the following year. Now, I really didn’t have anyone to talk comics with. Even the couple of passing acquaintances back home that were comic fans were now hundreds of miles away. Sure, the Twin Cities were and are dotted with any number of terrific comics stores, but none of them were my store. Plus, my new job kept me too busy to really hang out there and try to strike up new friendships. So there I was, sitting at my desk one day, doing some mindless paperwork when I decided to take a break from work and check Newsarama. There, on the right side of the screen, in little type, was an ad for a John Byrne interview on a show called Around Comics. It was a podcast and, while I’d heard of such a thing before, I had yet to actually listen to one. Still, what I was doing hardly required much mental effort, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I was hooked immediately. I started by listening to archived episodes of Around Comics, but soon branched out to The Crankcast and Comic Geek Speak. Before long, I was a regular listener of iFanboy, Word Balloon, The Comic Book Queers, Quiet! Panelologists at Work, Pipeline, The Collected Comics Library, and many others. These shows entertained me at work and in the car. They reignited my enthusiasm for the medium and exposed me to new books, books like Matt Fraction’s brilliant Casanova, which I probably never would have picked up otherwise, but, more importantly, for the first time in years, I felt like I had someone to talk comics with. Sure, the conversation was a little one-sided at first, but via forum posts and e-mails, not to mention lengthy
4 | INTRODUCTION
interviews for a certain book from TwoMorrows, I really started to feel like part of a comics reading community again. I wasn’t alone, either. Listening to the e-mails and voice mails on each of these podcasts, I found out that my story was all too common. Time and again, listeners would write in, thanking the podcasters and singing the same tune. They didn’t have any friends in school or at work who liked comics, either. They had lost their favorite comic store or, worse, lived in an area too small or too rural to have one. Like me, they had found a community again, a community we were all part of together. Each of us had begun devouring our favorite podcasts with the same enthusiasm and anticipation we reserved for our favorite comics. It wasn’t long before I began to wonder what went on behind the scenes of my favorite podcasts, how the shows were made and what inspired the podcasters to make them. Looking around the Internet and digging through each show’s archives proved largely fruitless. For the most part, these were stories that hadn’t been told yet. I also figured I probably wasn’t alone in wanting to know these things, so I set out to write this book. I wanted to pull back the curtain for all of us faithful listeners, to find out more about the shows and the hosts themselves. I wanted to take a look at how the Internet had changed fandom, with podcasts creating the sort of communities that were once the sole domain of shops, letter columns, and fanzines. I wanted to talk to the comics professionals who have appeared on these shows, some of whom started out as fans on the Internet themselves and some of whom have had their careers forever changed by exposure from podcasts and the Internet. I wanted to put together a collection of stories and tips and tricks of the trade for those who wanted to start their own show after listening to so many but didn’t know where to start. I wanted to expose fellow fans to other great podcasts they may not have tried yet. And for those of you who haven’t listened to any podcasts yet but always wanted to, here’s a sampling of some of the best. Chances are, if you like the interview, you’ll love their show. Most of all, though, I wrote this book because I wanted to say thank you. Thank you all, podcaster and listener alike, for bringing this community into existence and for giving it a life all its own.
Eric Houston Saint Paul, MN January 3, 2009
Chris Neseman, Brion “Sal” Salazar, and Tom Katers have been recording the Around Comics podcast from Chicago for almost four years now. Often joined by industry professionals and fellow podcasters alike, the Around Comics round table has insightfully and hilariously discussed everything from the ever-present single issue versus trade paperbacks debate to the growing trend of creator exclusive contracts at Marvel and DC. I sat down with Chris, Sal, and Tom after recording their May 16, 2008 episode at Chicago’s Dark Tower Comics and Collectibles to discuss everything in and around Around Comics. HOUSTON: Am I right in thinking Around Comics was your idea, Chris? CHRIS: No. It started with Sal and I at the same time. That was the genesis there. TOM: It was my idea. [laughter]
Around Comics hosts Christopher Neseman, Brion Salazar, and Tom Katers at the 2007 New York Comic Con. All photos in this chapter courtesy Around Comics, unless otherwise noted.
HOUSTON: I know you did some interviews for of ideas back and forth: what we wanted to do with Comic Geek Speak first. rd the show and the basic idea of it, because I hadn’t CHRIS: Yeah, it was their 43 and half episode and I really listened to many podcasts at that point and it e-mailed [Comic Geek Speak co-host] Bryan Deemer was relatively a new thing. Chris had listened more and asked him if he was coming to Wizard World than I did, but I thought it would be fun and someChicago in 2005 and they weren’t coming, so I said, thing to do. Both of us had really grown up reading “Well, I can get some on-the-floor interviews for you comics from a young age, but none of my friends and send them in.” Sal and I ended up going to the growing up were into comic books so it was a very show on that Saturday and ran around and were really singular thing for me. I read comics, but I didn’t really shocked at how accommodating the creators were. I talk about comics with anyone growing up and, at that was a terrible interviewer, but they were great in their point in my life, I was already in my thirties. responses and I sent them in to Bryan. That’s kind of TOM: It was over. [laughter] where I started as an interviewer and Sal can probaCHRIS: I came to work at the bly pick up on that weekend. same company that Sal worked SAL: I had actually met a at and I think the first week I bunch of people [at Wizard was there I hung up a Losers World Chicago] and just kind poster in my office and he was of hung out with a lot of the like, “You read comic books?” creators. Then, that Saturday, and I was like, “Yeah.” when Chris came interviewing SAL: So, yeah, we just sort of people, the idea of doing our put it together from that. The own podcast came up. The first couple of episodes were technical side of it was God-awful. We didn’t really know something that I knew that I what we were doing then. could handle. As far as a CHRIS: All Skype. website and the feed and Chris and Sal recording in a hotel room at Wizard World TOM: Loooong. that kind of thing, I knew that Chicago. Photo courtesy Pat Loika (patsCHRIS: Well, it was pre-Tom, so I could figure that out, so I ketch.blogspot.com). they were terrible. just said, “Let’s do our own SAL: Awful. [laughter] show at some point.” We didn’t really do it right away; CHRIS: A lot of tinkering around with different equipit took a little while before we decided to finally do it. ment and formats. CHRIS: Almost six moths. TOM: You couldn’t find the “interesting” button on SAL: It was a while before we got to it. We threw a lot your mixer. THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 5
SAL: It didn’t exist. CHRIS: I still haven’t found the “interesting” button on my mixer. HOUSTON: Why aren’t those first couple of episodes available online? CHRIS: Because they’re really bad. TOM: They’re terrible. SAL: Well, the first one, the actual number one, was just a test and it wasn’t an episode at all. CHRIS: No, we had a zero episode. That was the test episode. SAL: It was a test? TOM: Well, who cares if you numbered it zero or number one? It’s the first one that came out. HOUSTON: Comic fans. [laughter] TOM: Well, yeah, comic fans care. SAL: The first one we released was a test episode on the feed because Magic man Tom Katers. Photo courtesy Mike Oliveri like I said, (www.mikeoliveri.com). I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just went online and tried to figure out how to do a podcast and it was just a song clip or something that I put on there. That was the first one. Then the couple after that were just awful. CHRIS: The first one was online distribution or online comics purchasing versus the local comic store and [Dark Tower Comics and Collectibles owner] Mark Beatty was the first guest that we had, and yeah, it was obviously… TOM: It was never resolved. SAL: Yeah, we never came to a conclusion. There were no winners. CHRIS: We didn’t hit our stride for quite a while. TOM: Some would say never. Maybe we’re still searching. SAL: Chris was a big Comic Geek Speak board member and he had gotten to know other people in the Chicagoland area who were also board members, Tom and a few other guys, and they had gotten together a 6 | AROUND COMICS
couple of times. CHRIS: To drink. TOM: Stare at each other. SAL: So we started having different people on the show. It was Chris and I and then we’d have different people on the show. Did we start doing it at Dark Tower before…? CHRIS: No. The first episode at Dark Tower was on Free Comic Book Day, which would have been the first Saturday in May of 2006. That was the first one we did. It was my deep seeded and thinly veiled, Machiavellian way to do an episode at a comic shop, and it was such a great idea that we ended up coming up here every week afterwards. SAL: One of the people we had from the meet-ups was Tom. Tom was a Comic Geek Speak forum member and we had him on the show and, immediately afterwards, Chris and I talked about it and said, “You know, we should have him on every week.” We really wanted Tom to come back. He was just really funny. TOM: The magic… SAL: The magic was just instant. [laughter] CHRIS: In a very serious way, we knew very quickly that there was good chemistry between the three of us, and it worked. We recognized it and snatched him up. HOUSTON: What was your take on all of that at the time, Tom, first guesting on the show and then being invited to become a regular? TOM: I don’t have a lot going on in my life. [laughs] I read comics and drink and watch baseball or whatever sport is on at the time. I have a lot of free time, so it was just something to sort of occupy my time because none of my friends read comic books, so it was a nice way to talk about comic books with likeminded people and then we drank. It was simple enough because, if the mic wasn’t here, I’d still be drinking and talking about comics anyway. So it wasn’t that big a deal to record it and get it out to the people. Get it to the masses immediately. Huzzah! HOUSTON: How would you describe the show’s style? How is it different from other podcasts? TOM: More handsome. [laughter] SAL: We’re much better looking than other podcasters. CHRIS: You don’t pick that up in your headphones, the sheer GQ of the show. SAL: We don’t take it too seriously. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t take comics too seriously. While we can certainly talk intelligently and seriously about certain things, we always have fun and enjoy ourselves and realize that it’s just entertainment and, if we’re not having fun with it, there’s no real point. CHRIS: Tom said it right; we would be doing this even without the mics.
John Siuntres is the host of Word Balloon, the comic book conversation show. A vocal fan of talent from the Silver Age to today, John’s guests on this one-on-one interview show have included everyone from comic legends like Marty Pasko and Denny O’Neil to modern super-stars like Brian Michael Bendis and Greg Rucka. On March 9, 2008, John and I talked about how he took his experience from years of radio broadcasting and created one of the most respected shows in not only the world of comic book podcasting, but in the comics industry as a whole.
HOUSTON: What is Word Balloon is all about? SIUNTRES: Word Balloon is primarily a one-on-one interview show where I speak to mostly comic book creators. I’ve dabbled occasionally in talking to Word Balloon host John Siuntres. Photo courtesy Pat Loika other podcasters and other people around the (patsketch.blogspot.com). comic book business, but, normally, I talk to writers Dick Tracy strip and many other comic books in his and artists and I discuss not only their current books career, and Brian Azzarello, the 100 Bullets guy, and I and current stories but the thought process behind the thought, “Gee, I really don’t want to see these things craft, especially writers. I think my having a broadcast go to waste,” and I thought it would be fun to put up a and writing background, I’m always curious about how website and start posting these interviews. Maybe these storytellers go through their paces in terms of people would come and listen to them. how they construct a story and some of their influI hadn’t actually heard of the term podcasting at that ences and just the ideas they have as they put the stopoint, and it wasn’t until a couple of months later ries together. when one of my listeners told me, “You know, you’re really just doing a podcast, why don’t you place it in HOUSTON: How did Word Balloon first come about? the normal sort of aggregate places, like Podcast Alley How did you get the idea? and iTunes and make it available, because this is realSIUNTRES: Well, I had a career in radio broadcasting ly starting to happen.” So it was about three months in and the primary focus of it has been talk. I was workthat I decided to really make it a podcast, and that’s ing at a sports talk network, Sporting News Radio when the listenership really started to get bigger. Network, and had gone from being an active reporter I think my first big boost in terms of getting people to suddenly finding myself behind the scenes and not was the convention season of 2005. I was at Wizard having the opportunities to do interviews. So, in the World Chicago and, at that point, I had maybe 20 intersummer of 2005, I decided to possibly make a video views and burned documentary where I would be talking about my city of a CD of MP3s of Chicago and a bunch of history—the writing in Chicago a bunch of them and the various mystery writers and I thought it would and sort of circube interesting to include a comic book component to lated them that, given that things like Dick Tracy started with The around a lot of Chicago Tribune and also modern people like Brian creators, guys Azzarello writing 100 Bullets and also the Moonstone like Greg Rucka Comics as well publishing some mystery and susand Brian Bendis, pense stuff. I thought it would be kind of interesting Mark Waid, peoand give it a sort of different spin than the traditional ple like that were kind of documentary. there, some of So I worked with a friend of mine who was a videothe top writers grapher and got about four interviews done and my and stuff, and I friend found himself too busy to continue the project. really wanted So I found myself sitting with these great interviews Noted crime fiction writer and Dick Tracy scribe Max Allan Collins was one something I that had already been conducted, among them an of John’s first guests on Word Balloon. could get in their interview with Max Allen Collins, who used to write the Photo by Alan Light.
THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 19
hands, and some of them were really interested. I remember Greg Rucka telling me, “I have your CD in my knapsack and I’ll listen to it on the plane ride home,” and it was great and I really had a great positive response from everybody and everybody seemed to enjoy it and it just got easier once I made those initial connections. Also, at the time, I don’t think there were many other podcasts. I think Fanboy Radio and Comic Geek Speak at that point had already begun, but I wasn’t really aware of them and I think the pool was empty enough and the novelty was there that everyone was really kind of interested in this new way of doing interviews, and that kind of intrigued a lot of people. I think my radio background really kind of helped them feel comfortable that they could talk to somebody who knew how to conduct an interview.
a solo show instead of a group show, the conversation can go anywhere that I and the guest want it to go to and, if there’s an idea that I want to build on, I don’t have to worry about Host B asking his question and the conversation going off on a different tangent. There’s nothing wrong with that. Co-hosts can certainly come up with other ideas and it’s a difference on my show I think, versus some of the others out there, that it really is just me and the guest without these distractions or obligations of having to remind a radio audience of who you’re talking to or to make sure that your co-host is getting his chance to talk. It just really makes for a conversation that can go in interesting directions without distractions and you can just let it grow organically and I think that just allowed for revelations in terms of who the guest was or their influences. You weren’t getting that on Fanboy Radio or some of these other multi-host shows where it really is almost a tennis match; where it’s, “Okay, I’ve answered your question. What’s the next question?”
HOUSTON: It seems like comic book podcasting came out of nowhere that summer. SIUNTRES: Yeah, you know, I remember this Alan Moore documentary, Mindscape. He talks about how a bunch HOUSTON: I think that the of different people around spectrum of guests, from the world at the same time John with Ron Richards of iFanboy, one of several comic book guys like Max Allen Collins podcasts to also debut in 2005. Photo courtesy iFanboy. had come up with this to new guys like Greg © Copyright 2009 iFanboy. invention in the 1800s and Rucka or even Marty Pasko, I do think there is kind of a thing in terms of a collecis hard to find anywhere else. tive, you’ll forgive the phrase because it sounds preSIUNTRES: That plays to my age I guess, because that tentious, zeitgeist, where a there’s a common idea out is another thing that I’ve noticed and, again, not as a there. I mean, I was aware of Fanboy Radio and I have knock, but, in terms of what I’ve noticed, in terms of to give them their due. And certainly at that point they other podcasters out there, there is a kind of scope of had been around for at least three years and I had interest that only goes as far back as they’ve been heard them stream their show, and you’re right; they reading, and that’s fair because everybody’s like that. did start posting their MP3s and I think, in fairness, it They’re only as well versed as whatever their personal was a response to their show that I came up with experiences are. I think growing up when I did and Word Balloon. I don’t mean that in a negative way to being in my forties, reprints were right along side the Scott Hinze, because I think that it’s a fine show, but I main stuff and I kind of got an appreciation for not found that the information that I was looking for was only what was currently out there but what had come not being covered by his interviews. before and actually further back than guys like Marty Also, his show was still a radio show and I think one Pasko, guys like Gene Colan and Denny O’Neil. I mean, of the advantages of a podcast versus a radio show is I was seven years old in Denny O’Neil’s prime at DC. that fact that you can really focus on the guest and the Even before that, really, because my first comic books conversation itself and not be concerned with the trapwere back in the early Seventies, and Denny had made pings of, “By the way, we’re talking to so-and-so. If you his mark in the early Sixties. want to call in with a question, here’s the phone numI kind of grew up reading the whole history of ber and we’ll be right back after this commercial comics. I read the Golden Age reprints right alongside break.” You don’t have to worry about that in a podthe new stories being put out by Denny O’Neil, Elliot S! cast. The person, if they’re downloading an interview Maggin, and the great Cary Bates. And it’s just really with Geoff Johns, they know that that’s what they’re curious because it’s so easy to dismiss those Bronze going to be listening to for the duration of the podcast. Age stories, and certainly the Golden and Silver Age So I thought that was kind of an advantage. I was just stories, as just being stories for little kids, but there is more interested in really getting into their train of some thread there. And if you consider a guy like Will Eisner as far back as the Forties with The Spirit, a thought, and I think one of the advantages I have with 20 | WORD BALLOON
C R E A T O R
I N T E R V I E W
MATT FRACTION A frequent and highly entertaining guest in the podcasting world, rising star Matt Fraction is the writer of numerous Marvel Comics titles, including The Uncanny X-Men and The Invincible Iron Man, as well as the creator-owned Casanova from Image comics. Perhaps part of the reason that Fraction is such an excellent and willing podcast guest is that he is first and foremost a comics fan, having started his career as a blogger and message board regular. On March 29, 2008, Matt and I talked about his experiences with podcasts and his journey from Internet fan to comics professional. HOUSTON: What was the first time you were on a podcast? FRACTION: I want to say it was either John Siuntres with Word Balloon or the guys from Around Comics, who, I believe, are on a podcast sabbatical at the moment. HOUSTON: I’m pretty sure it was Around Comics, too. What was that experience like for you? FRACTION: It was great, far less formal than any kind of interview. You know what I mean? It’s much more casual, much more laid back. It kind of gives you the chance to talk and riff off the top of your head instead of crafting exact answers, which is another kind of trap for me doing written interviews. If I have a questionnaire I can rewrite, I will rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it, so I sort of immediately realized that I’d much rather appear on the phone with somebody for 15, 20 minutes, half an hour than noodle around with a 13-question essay form for three weeks, which I quite easily can do.
Frequent podcast guest Matt Fraction. Photo by Pat Loika. patsketch.blogspot.com
HOUSTON: Was that the first time you had heard of podcasting? FRACTION: No, no, I had heard of them sort of from the Internet, I suppose. I was listening to a couple of them for quite a while. I’d listened to Siuntres for a while and Around Comics I started listening to, I think, fairly early on. I have a friend who actually really has a podcast problem. He has an addiction where he has to find the time in the day to keep up with all of the podcasts that he listens to. But no, I was familiar with it and listened to several.
HOUSTON: You were on Around Comics a couple of times and, at one point, you made a bet regarding the destruction of St. Louis. FRACTION: Somebody put that on Wikipedia, actually. It was right around the [2006 Cubs versus Cardinals] World Series, and I’m from Chicago. I’m a Cubs fan, and my two favorite teams in baseball are the Cubs and whoever’s beating the Cardinals and they were clearly poised to win the World Series and I didn’t like that. The Around Comics guys were Cards fans, so, yeah, I threatened to turn St. Louis into basically the Kenny of Casanova, where St. Louis got destroyed again and again as punishment just for the Cardinals, but, apparently, just being the Cardinals was punishment enough for the Cardinals. They’d taken care of punishing themselves, but forever that’s on my Wikipedia entry. No mention of the Cubs stuff.
HOUSTON: With that first appearance, who contacted whom? Did you contact them? FRACTION: No, I was contacted. I’m really bad at that self-promotion stuff. I’m really bad with walking into a store and introducing myself to retailers. I’m really bad with that. It’s really tough for me to do. It was great to be asked, very much an honor in its way.
HOUSTON: Will we see that in an upcoming Casanova? FRACTION: Actually, I tried to work that into World War Hulk. I wanted my World War Hulk issue to take place in St. Louis. It was the same basic issue, but it would have taken place in St. Louis instead of New York. It ended up being this sort of thing where I went over
30 | MATT FRACTION
and over with my editor about if I understood the premise of World War Hulk or if the premise shifted, but it ended up being a New York-based story. HOUSTON: What other podcasts have you been on since Around Comics? FRACTION: A lot. My memory fails me at the moment. Comic Geek Speak, I’ve done. I guess Fanboy Radio is a radio show and not a podcast. I’ve been on Word Balloon a couple of times now. I’ll basically do whatever podcast I can. In fact, I’m doing one tomorrow or Tuesday, I think. I love it. Podcasts are the best. HOUSTON: Who are you appearing with on Tuesday? FRACTION: I’d have to check my e-mail. I’ve had a really overwhelmingly busy month, so I can’t remember off the top of my head. It’s been something like seven-and-a-half issues this month and my eyes are bleeding. HOUSTON: So that’s Casanova, Punisher War Journal… FRACTION: This month I wrote the entirety of or
finished issues of Casanova, The Order, Immortal Iron Fist, Invincible Iron Man, Thor: Ages of Thunder, Punisher War Journal, and Uncanny X-Men and then, on top of that, there were interviews, PR for Iron Man and X-Men. I did Wizard World LA, and I have a sixmonth-old son. It’s been a really busy month. It’s a high-class problem to have. I’m not actually complaining, but, man, I could really use a nap. HOUSTON: Does the experience of doing a podcast change from podcast to podcast for you? FRACTION: It’s interesting. It does. It’s clearly talking to someone who knows your work and is clearly excited to talk to you about it as opposed to someone who has no idea of who I am or what I’ve done but has kind of read an interview about an interview. You know what I mean? I often do podcasts that I don’t understand why I’m on. They’ve never read a word I’ve written. Then there’s another sort of podcast where, not only have they never read a word I’ve written, they just know that I know other, more famous people. They really want me to see if Ed Brubaker can call in or if I can get Warren Ellis to call in. That’s always embarrassing, being used as a stepping-stone. With those people, I’m just as polite as possible, fulfill my obligation, and then ignore them for the rest of my life. HOUSTON: Speaking of that, talking to people who know your work, you were on a really excellent Comic Geek Speak where your friend Geoff Klock interviewed you. FRACTION: Yeah, that was tremendous. I sort of started off with Casanova as an independent book, a small press book, so my ego really allowed me to go out and peek at reviews. Geoff had written a really amazing piece about it, really giving the book a lot of thought. So I contacted him just to thank him, because he put in so much thought and effort writing these really well written, really funny, over the top, hyperbolic pieces about Casanova. So, when Casanova volume two was going to launch, I thought, “This will be great. I can sort of nerd out with Geoff for a while about the book,” and that was what we did with this very long, very crazy discussion about Casanova. HOUSTON: Now your career sort of started out on the Internet, right? FRACTION: Exactly.
Fraction originally wanted his World War Hulk tie-in issue of Punisher War Journal to feature the destruction of Saint Louis. © Copyright 2009 Marvel Characters, Inc.
HOUSTON: And that was writing articles for Comic Book Resources? Yeah, before that I started a sort of proto-blog called Savant that was really more a webzine than a blog, and that was sort of the reason I stopped doing it was the realization that we needed to update it daily instead of putting out seven articles, ten articles once a week instead of one a day. So, yeah, we sort of had
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COMIC BOOK QUEERS Stevie D. and Eric started the Comic Book Queers podcast to find more people like them: gay comic book fans. The results, over the past two-and-a-half years, have been spectacular, as two friends with a microphone grew into a close-knit community of fans, both gay and straight. On July 16, 2008, I talked to Stevie and Eric about their show and the unique community that sprang from it.
Comic Book Queers co-hosts Stevie D. (left) and Eric (right). All photos in this chapter courtesy Comic Book Queers, unless otherwise noted.
HOUSTON: Tell me a little bit about Comic Book Queers. STEVIE: The original purpose of our show, when we started a couple years ago now, was to build a community among queer comic book fans because I think all of us just felt really isolated. You know what I mean? From the outset, that’s been our intention, just to get out there and meet people who are queer comic book fans, so our podcast basically consists of us just kicking it. ERIC: Kicking it. Talking about comics, what we love about them, what we hate about them. STEVIE: Just getting our voice out there because I know before I started doing this with Eric, before I even met Eric, I thought it would be a good thing to do because I hadn’t heard the gay voice represented in the comic book podcasting community and I thought, well, you know, there are some queens out there that need to get out there. HOUSTON: It seems like there are a couple of British podcasts and female-hosted podcasts and a couple of interview-centric shows and all of that, but you seem to be the only queer comic book podcast. STEVIE: Actually, not any more. ERIC: We were until literally just a few weeks ago. Actually, a few people who listen to our podcast started talking on our message board about a show and are talking about putting together a circle of queer comic book shows. STEVIE: Since we’ve started, there have been at least two that have come up sort of directly through our show. We wouldn’t let them come on our show because they’re too mouthy and not attractive enough. 38 | COMIC BOOK QUEERS
HOUSTON: Besides trying to start a community did anything else inspire you to start a podcast? ERIC: Like I said, the bottom line, when it really comes down to it, was just loneliness and, honestly, I’ll walk up to any stranger on the street and tell them that I’m gay, but it’s really hard to come out as a comic book fan, you know? I would date people and that would be like a fourth date item. So it really did come from loneliness and the way that it started was I took out an ad on Craig’s List and I was like, “Look, I want to find other queer comic book fans and start a queer podcast,” and that’s how Stevie and I found each other. STEVIE: The ironic part is that I was actually talking to a friend of mine about doing a show like this and he and his friend were already doing a podcast, just two little gay boys talking about their lives and their adventures and he was also a gay comic book fan, so he and I met and said maybe we should be doing something like this. So, one day, he e-mailed me at work and said, “Look at what my friend found,” and it was Eric’s ad on Craig’s List. So, from there, I emailed Eric a couple of times and hung out for a month or so before we even started to Steve recording at the 2008 record. Windy City Comic Con.
ERIC: It was great when we first met because I actually had someone to go to conventions with. So one of the first things we did after we met was go to the convention together and talk about what we liked and it turned out we actually complemented each other really well because I’ve always been a Marvel guy and I was out of comics for a really long time, while Stevie just has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things DC and had actually been in comics the whole time. STEVIE: Since I was four. ERIC: So just our viewpoints complemented each other well and, aside from the two of us, we’ve had sort of a rotating cast of people who would come in. HOUSTON: And how did you find them? ERIC: They were listeners and they were local and, again it’s always been about building community and, I don’t know, you just meet people and kind of fall in love with them. Brett’s one of the smartest, funniest people I know. STEVIE: We knew Brett was a big X-Men fan and, when we decided to do a show about the X-Men, we invited him on to be our X-pert and he came in and we just kind of fell in love with him and kept asking him to come back. ERIC: And the same thing happened with Lindsay. It was our Justice Society show and you know how that’s a multi-generational team? Well, we’re both in our late thirties, pushing up against forty and I think, when she started with us, she was 24. And Lindsay’s just—oh my God, she’s so cute. STEVIE: We literally were like, “Have you ever read Justice Society before?” and she said, “No.” So we said, “Would you please read it and come sit and talk with us about it because we would like your perspective, being a younger person than we are.” From there we just kept asking her to come back, and she did. HOUSTON: What’s a typical recording session like? ERIC: Honestly, we usually meet at Steve’s place. We sit in his bedroom and drink beer while his roommate gets high and we get a contact buzz. STEVIE: We literally just turn the microphone on and get going. Sometimes we’ll come up with a topic beforehand, but, generally, we just sit down, somebody says, “Hey, I have this idea,” or, “Hey, I want to talk about this book,” and then we just turn on the microphone and we go. We kind of came up with a loose structure for a show, basically sitting down and taking the first five or ten minutes to say, “What’s going on in you life,” just so we can get the conversation flowing, and then we move on to the meat of the show, which is talking about whatever the topic is, or whatever the comic is, and we found out that that really works out well for us. ERIC: Another thing we decided from the outset was, unlike the other podcasts out there, we would never ever want to talk for more than an hour. We’re fascinating, charming, engaging people, but it’s really easy
to get a lot too much of us really quickly. STEVIE: From my perspective, I’d been listening to comic book podcasts for awhile and I really enjoy the ones that go for two, two-and-ahalf hours, but at the same time we wanted to be a little bit faster, a bit Eric meets the dark knight… sort of. punchier and, in a way, a little more commercial because, if we keep it short and sweet, I think people will come back for more. ERIC: I don’t know if commercial is the right word because we’re making no money from this, but it’s really about making us palatable and making us interesting for the people who are listening. STEVIE: We’re trying not to demand too much of people’s time. We just want to show up for a little while and entertain, really. ERIC: Yeah, and we’re sort of like hosts for the community out there, and we just really want to get a conversation started. Typically we’ll put an episode out there and then people will go to our boards and the conversation will take off in ways that we didn’t predict. Really, the stuff that happens on the boards and the people who come down to visit us in Chicago, which doesn’t happen infrequently and which I adore… STEVIE: That’s fantastic. HOUSTON: Do you feel like the show has changed much since you started?
Steve with artist Josh Middleton.
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Sometimes referred to as the Seinfeld of podcasts, The Crankcast is an amazingly funny show about nothing. Frequent topics include not only comics but TV, movies, pizza places, car troubles, and even the hunt for a cheap air conditioner, all discussed in a stream of consciousness style that makes fans feel as though they are listening not to a podcast, but to a conversation between two old friends, which, of course, is exactly what The Crankcast is. Perhaps more importantly to comic fans, these two friends are also both industry professionals. Mike Norton is the artist of such DC comics as Green Arrow/Black Canary and The All-New Atom, while co-host Chris Crank is a letterer and sometime cover artist for books like Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash. On May 5, 2008, Mike, Crank, and I discussed their show’s origins, cult following, and its warts-and-all window into the day-to-day life of a comics professional.
HOUSTON: How did you two meet? CRANK: I first met Mike at Mid-Ohio Con in, like, 2001? NORTON: I don’t know dates. I’m bad with dates. Is that when we met? CRANK: It was 2002 or 2001. NORTON: Was it love at first sight? CRANK: It was. NORTON: No, it wasn’t. CRANK: No, I knew Mike Norton was a guy I wanted to know. NORTON: That sounds even gayer. [laughter]
Lon Calvert contributed this Mike Norton convention sketch of Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, then published by Devil’s Due Productions, where both Mike and Crank worked. © Copyright 2009 Hasbro.
A rare picture of Crankcast hosts Mike Norton and Chris Crank together. Photo courtesy David Glenn.
CRANK: No, it was like 2000 or 2001. It was Mid-Ohio Con and I had already been working for Devil’s Due at that point and Mike just knew [Devil’s Due President] Josh [Blalock] from cons and stuff. NORTON: Yeah, I’d seen him around at shows off and on. He’d been talking to me about him starting this company. Not even starting a company, but getting the G.I. Joe license and stuff. We sort of shared rooms a lot. You know how you find someone to split costs and stuff, and then when I met Crank was when he had started the company already. CRANK: Yeah, and I was there at Devil’s Due when G.I. Joe was starting. I guess when we met we went to a few bars and stuff and that’s how I first met Mike. It must have been 2001, because, when 2002 rolled around, he’d moved up to Chicago and started working at Devil’s Due. NORTON: I have no recollection of all of this. HOUSTON: How did the idea of doing The Crankcast come about? NORTON: It was kind of my idea. I listen to a lot of shows while I’m working, while I’m drawing all day. I can’t remember exactly anymore where I first got turned on to them. I think the first show I was listening to was Comic Geek Speak and Word Balloon was around then, too, but I was really excited about them. I wasn’t just listening to comic podcasts, either. I went up to Devil’s Due one day and I was just sort of going around saying how cool they were and telling Sam Wells he needed to do one. His wife was an improv actress and I told him that they should do one because it would be funny and I just seriously was looking for more content to listen to while I was drawTHE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 45
ing. Then I told Crank because Crank had his own little recording set up because he was into music and stuff. I thought maybe he’d just put his music on the Internet or something and he pretty much seriously said, “I’m not going to do it unless you’re on it.” I think we talked about it off and on and eventually just ended up doing it. It was my idea, but it was really something I wanted Crank to do by himself. Thrilling story, I know. CRANK: I fought with the idea of doing it myself, but made him do it. HOUSTON: How long was it before you started recording? NORTON: I don’t remember. It wasn’t immediately after. It was a while after because it was one of those things where someone says you should do that and you say, “Yeah, we will,” and then you don’t. CRANK: Well, I know you told me and then it took like a week or something to figure out what it should be named and Mike had a name already. NORTON: Yeah, I told you it should be named after you. I wanted it to be your show. [laughter] CRANK: I have this bad habit of registering domain names. NORTON: Yeah, you collect those like they’re Pokémon. Shortly after that, that was in like August,
Mike’s sketch of Crank hard at work on the latest episode of The Crankcast. All images in this chapter courtesy Chris Crank, unless otherwise noted. 46 | THE CRANKCAST
September, then, in October, we did our first thing, I think. It was around that timeframe. HOUSTON: Was there a lot of discussion beforehand about how the show would work and what it would be? NORTON: Not that I remember. CRANK: For the first three months, especially, we were sort of like really trying to be a comic podcast, like a comic-centric podcast. NORTON: It hasn’t changed a lot since then. I think a lot more then we were sort of coming in and saying we were two guys who actually work in comics and I don’t think anyone was doing that in podcasts at the time. CRANK: The Horcast was out. NORTON: Yeah, The Horcast. The guys, there was a studio called Horhaus in Canada, Toronto that was made up of Karl Kerschl and a couple of other guys and they had a podcast and I’d listened to that. I thought we’d kind of be the American equivalent of that, but that sort of went off track early in the first month. We discovered about ourselves that we aren’t very formatted and when we have to do content, like when we have to come up with entertainment content, it was easy to see it was going to be more difficult than we wanted it to be, so we just decided to make it a conversation between two guys. HOUSTON: How does the typical recording session work? CRANK: Well, very early on we just bought a couple of Madonna headset mics. NORTON: Before, we had microphones set up, which was already kind of cumbersome because you had to set up mic stands and stuff like that. CRANK: And you had to sit kind of close to them. NORTON: And it was your idea to get those, right? We got these little headset mics so we could just sit and be natural, you know? We could drink and do whatever and move around. CRANK: Sometimes we’ll sit on the couch and pretend we’re pilots. NORTON: We got the headset mics for that, but the rest of the stuff, Crank had. CRANK: I already had a motion track audio card for just recording music and stuff and I basically [record the show] just like how I record music: plug into a couple of channels and run into a program called Sony Vegas, and that’s good for multitracking stuff. So I was already used to using that. We’d show up and kind of talk for a few minutes about what we’re going to talk about. “Did anything happen last week?” NORTON: That was when we’d play music, too. We played more songs in the beginning. CRANK: We were kind of adapting what we do, I guess. We’d think about what music do we want to play and what we want to talk about and sit down and do that for a few minutes and sort of rotate and do
C R E A T O R
I N T E R V I E W
TIM SEELY Tim Seeley is a writer and penciler on such titles as Marvel’s Exiles and Devil’s Due Productions’ G.I. Joe. He is also the writer and creator of the comic book Hack/Slash, which follows the exploits of slasher hunter Cassie Hack and which has also been optioned to be a major motion picture from Rogue Pictures. On April 3, 2008, Tim was kind enough to take some time away from his busy schedule to share his opinions of and experiences with both comic book and horror movie podcasts.
HOUSTON: You’ve actually appeared on a few different comic podcasts, right? SEELEY: I have. Actually, I think it’s just because Chicago is kind of a comic book hometown and there’re a lot of guys doing it here. Most of them are within walking distance of my house. HOUSTON: Why do you think Chicago is such a magnet for podcasts? SEELEY: I don’t know. A lot of it is just that there’re a lot of stores here. Within five blocks of my house, there are probably at least four stores. That’s a high concentration. It’s weird. I wish I knew what did it. Looking out my window, I can see Jeffrey Brown’s house from here and a whole bunch of comic book creators live right around here. I guess Chicago just kind of draws a lot of people from the Midwest, so a lot of the creators from Wisconsin or Michigan or Indiana just sort of end up here because it’s sort of the best big city for the Midwestern creators who want to keep the Midwestern thing going. HOUSTON: What show have you appeared on most often? SEELEY: Crankcast is the most and I’ve done some episodes of Around Comics and then just various other stuff where I’ve been interviewed and stuff, a couple of horrors ones out of some other town that called me to be on. But thus far The Crankcast is kind of the one that I’ve done the most. HOUSTON: I’m pretty sure you were their first guest, too. SEELEY: I think so, yes, which is sad for them. I think they’ve moved on to bigger and better things now. HOUSTON: And you’re friends with Mike and Crank, right? SEELEY: Yeah. Actually I worked with both of them at Devil’s Due for a while and they’ve gone on to other stuff, but, yeah, I still see those guys for beers on a pretty regular schedule, so they’re still around.
Tim Seeley sketching at the 2008 Windy City Comic Con.
HOUSTON: Mike has said that he sort of went around the Devil’s Due office asking people like Sam Wells to do a podcast before he got to Crank. Were you one of those people? SEELEY: I don’t remember that. Crank was always the technology enthusiast of the guys that I’ve worked with, so I can’t imagine him asking anyone but Crank. I can’t remember if that’s true or not or if Mike’s full of it. I think it was always Crank because they always shared their little tech geek love in their desks, which were right next to each other. They’ll probably tell you that, technologically speaking, I’m a little bit “special” in that area. I’m terrible at it. I touch computers and they fall apart. I buy any kind of technology thing and I don’t know how to work it. They keep putting me on because I talk dirty and tell horrible jokes about myself. I’m not the tech guy that shares the love of it.
Tim’s cover art for Death by Sequel, the second trade paperback for his creatorowned Hack/Slash series. Inks by Jeremy Freeman. Courtesy Kevin Southwell. Hack/Slash TM and © copyright 2009 Tim Seeley and Stefano Caselli.
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R E M E M B E R I N G
T H E
24 HOUR COMIC BOOK
Crank gets ready to record. All photos in this chapter by Chris Neseman and provided by Chris Crank, unless otherwise noted.
Easily one of the most memorable events in the short history of comic book podcasting was 2007’s 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast. Spearheaded by Mike Norton and Chris Crank of The Crankcast, this special show would eventually unite the hosts of fellow Chicago podcasts Around Comics, Comic Book Queers, and Word Balloon in an attempt to record for 24 straight hours. Ultimately a huge success, The 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast is still remembered by its hosts and listeners alike as one of the funniest, most unique, and most ambitious podcasts ever recorded. Believe it or not, it all started as a joke. For months, Chris Crank had been needling his Crankcast co-host Mike Norton about a special anniversary podcast, one that would last 24 hours. Mike seemed to think the whole thing was trouble and Crank, well, he only seemed to be half-serious. Still, as the weeks went on, Crank’s idea seemed to hold more and more sway with their listeners. “It seemed like everyone else was more excited than Norton and Crank,” recalls fellow podcaster Chris Neseman. Crank agrees, “I brought it up just as an idea. I don’t remember why. We started talking about it and I put it forward to other local podcasters. For some reason they said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’” Spurred on by the enthusiasm of their fellow podcasters, Mike and Crank began planning The 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast in honor of The Crankcast’s second anniversary. October 6th, 2007 was chosen as the date, Dark Tower Comics in Chicago as Chris Neseman’s organizational skills the venue. Dark were invaluable to The 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast. Photo by Chris Tower, of course, was Crank. no stranger to pod58 | 24 COMIC BOOK PODCAST
casting, having already served as the home of fellow Chicago podcast Around Comics for more than a year. In fact, Around Comics host Chris Neseman found himself contributing his own experience and propensity for organization to the 24-hour endeavor. “Luckily, Crank and Mike knew an obsessive organizer,” he recalls. “I sort of think that’s in his DNA, that he has to manage stuff,” says Norton of Neseman. “He was kind of like the second team, if not first sometimes.” The plan for the day was a simple one. Everyone who could, including Norton, Crank, Neseman, and Around Comics co-host Tom Katers, would arrive at Dark Tower and begin recording at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, wrapping up the same time on Sunday. Meanwhile, Crank would use his talent for quick editing to post a new segment of the show on the Internet every hour. Despite all the planning, the podcast ultimately got off to a rather rocky start. Neseman was characteristically the first to arrive, allowing him to witness the first sign of trouble for the ambitious endeavor. “I knew it was going to be ugly when I got here at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning and Mike Norton pulled up and looked awful,” says Neseman. “I asked what was wrong and he told me, ‘I couldn’t go to sleep last night. I was up until 3 o’clock in the morning because I knew I had to sleep and I couldn’t sleep and now I have to do this thing for 24 hours.’” Unfortunately, Mike’s fatigue was not the marathon podcast’s only problem. From the very beginning, the show was plagued by a series of audio problems that rendered the first few installments practically unintelligible. “You could make out what people were saying, but it was bad,” says Crank, “so, finally, I went home and brought a different computer to the place and I changed our set up a little bit and we were fine.” Well, almost fine. To make matters worse, a shaky Internet connection at Dark Tower forced Mike to make hourly treks to the coffee shop across the street to upload each episode via Wi-Fi. Still, by hour five, the audio and Internet problems had cleared up and The 24 Hour Comic Book Podcast finally found its legs. The first problem-free episodes featured the sort of long, low-key comic book, television, and pop culture discussions that have become a hallmark of The Crankcast. For an hour-and-a-half, Crank
iFANBOY In the year 2000, college buddies Ron Richards, Josh Flanagan, and Conor Kilpatrick launched the iFanboy website, but no one seemed to notice. It wasn’t until they launched their popular Pick of the Week comics review podcast that iFanboy finally exploded across the Internet, growing to include a thriving fan community and weekly video podcast. On August 3, 2008, Ron, Josh, and Conor spoke to me about their adventures in podcasting and the evolution of iFanboy.
HOUSTON: What is iFanboy? JOSH: iFanboy is sort of a catch-all for the entire thing we do on the web. There is a iFanboys Conor Kilpatrick, Josh Flanagan, and Ron Richards. All photos in this chapter courtesy iFanboy. © Copyright 2009 iFanboy website. That’s where it all started off. Basically, it’s a review and commentary website. We don’t try to break news. We launched the audio podcast, and then we added the talk about the books as they come out every week video in January of 2007. and then we just talk about things going on in comics JOSH: And the audio podcast was such a lark. We or whatever we feel like. We have several columnists had been playing World of Warcraft and talking on and writers doing mostly opinion pieces, but there’s a Skype and Ron said, “Let’s do a podcast,” and I think bunch of other stuff. It’s fun. It’s a place where peoConor and I had maybe heard the word, but never lisple can go and talk about their comics. tened to one, never looked to see if Then, branching off from that, there’s our podcast. there were any others about comic There’s a weekly audio podcast where we talk about books and we were just sort of like, all the current books of the week and our Pick of the “Let’s do it now.” So we turned the Week, which is sort of the centerpiece of the whole thing on and we talked for eighteen thing. Then there are the video shows. There are the minutes and it was awful. [laughter] daily video shows, which are little, short, pretty It’s still there. You can go listen to freeform. We can talk about whatever we want to talk it. about, whether it’s grabbing an old issue and talking CONOR: Don’t! about a random comic book from 1985 or talking JOSH: And we just sort of kept about the books that are coming up, a preview for doing it. That’s basically the iFanboy that week. And then there’s the weekly video show, ethos: to start something without which is more topic-based, I would say, just on whathaving any idea of what you’re doing ever comic subject we want to talk about that week or and to keep doing it endlessly. we’ll talk to somebody or go to a convention. It’s basi[laughter] cally a place you can go and talk about comics and have friends to talk about comics with. HOUSTON: What sort of podcasts RON: iFanboy.com started in the year 2000 and sort did you listen to for inspiration? of our origin story is that Josh, Conor, and I went to RON: So it’s like 2005 and podcollege together and part of our friendship was based casts are just starting to get some on the fact that we all enjoyed comics and talked attention and I’m listening to This The iFanboys about comics. We graduated college and tried to keep Week in Tech and Diggnation which in college. in touch with each other via e-mail, and every week © Copyright 2009 iFanboy are two podcasts that are kind of we would e-mail each other and tell each other what tech-based and which grew out of TechTV, a cable books we were buying. TV channel that Conor and I were fans of. So it’s I’m 22, fresh out of college, working, doing Internet summer of ’05 and I’m listening to these podcasts stuff, so I said, “Enough with this e-mail, let’s do a and really getting into it. Every week, I’m getting a website.” We launched iFanboy.com in 2000; it purely new podcast. I’m going to the gym and listening to was a written website up until 2005 when we podcasts. I’m listening to less and less of radio and THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 61
the thought that occurred to me wasn’t so much, “Oh, wow. I wish there was a comic book podcast I could listen to, so let’s do one,” instead it was very much like how the website started, “Hey, I want to do a podcast,” like, “Hey, I want to do a website.” I was like, “What can I do a podcast about? Well I’ve got this website where Josh and Conor and I Josh Flanagan on the San Diego Comic-Con International talk about comics, so Podcasting Panel. © Copyright 2009 what if we record ouriFanboy selves?” That’s how it started. There was no business plan or goal to provide the best comic book podcast there was. I just wanted to figure out how to do a podcast. CONOR: And have fun, too. JOSH: And it quickly became very fun. RON: The story is nice and everything, but it took a good couple of weeks of twisting you guys’ arms to do it. I had to convince you guys because you were like, “Why would anyone want to listen to us?” JOSH: I don’t remember it like that at all and I would like that on the record. RON: It just came out of curiosity more than anything. HOUSTON: How do you remember it, Josh? JOSH: I just remember it not being a big deal. I just remember him saying it and us saying, “Okay,” and,
Josh writes a quick review on the road.
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© Copyright 2009 iFanboy
literally, a few days later, he’s like, “We’re going to do it now,” and I don’t know what this means, but I put on my headset and we talked about the comics of the week and we were done and we put it out there. I don’t even remember making the conscious decision of, “Let’s do this every week at the same time.” It just sort of started happening and, before we knew it, there were several hundred people listening to us and it’s like, “Really?” And all of sudden people started coming to the website, and it’s embarrassing, but nobody came to our website before this. It was a dead, dead website and, all of sudden, people are showing up and reading the stuff we’d written and commenting on it. It was amazing and, literally, it’s been building since then. CONOR: I think there was some reticence, but I don’t remember it being as bad as Ron said. I remember him saying that we should do this and I thought, “Well, why?” But then, very quickly, it was just like, “If you want to do it, we’ll do it.” It wasn’t much of a convincing job that he had to do, but at the same time there was a question of why would you want to do this at all at first, but there wasn’t a lot of arm-twisting. “I don’t have anything to do on Thursday night. Let’s do it.” HOUSTON: I think it’s interesting, too, that the website came first, since with most podcasts, it seems to be the other way around, with the website basically supporting the podcast. CONOR: That’s the thing with iFanboy: it’s a multipronged entity in that we have these other outlets, whereas the other shows tend to exist always as the shows. The website is the anchor. It isn’t an afterthought. In fact, it’s what we spend the most time on out of everything we do. It’s where we want everyone to be. It’s kind of like the clubhouse and we like to have that. It’s something that’s unique. I don’t know all the shows, but I don’t think they have that sort of website presence that we do. RON: They might have it in the form of forums, but the websites and the forums came out of the podcast. We had an established brand or an established home base to grow off of and, honestly, Josh was right. Nobody came to the website, not even our friends. CONOR: Except for Gabriel. RON: Yeah, except for this one guy from Florida. Every week he’d come by and just comment on one thing and he literally kept us going for five years. Then, totally inadvertently, it was a great lesson in terms of working in new media, the power of the podcast not as a marketing tool but as a community building tool because people would listen to the podcast and we would say, “You can visit us at iFanboy.com,” and they started coming in tens, then in hundreds, then in thousands, and now iFanboy.com is bigger than it’s ever been and it’s consistently growing every day.
QUIET! PANELOLOGISTS AT WORK To paraphrase the show’s tagline, Quiet! Panelologists at Work really is the true antidote to the average comic book podcast. Forgoing interviews, news, and reviews, Q!PAW, as it is affectionately known to its fans, delights in taking the Mickey out of the books and topics most comic fans hold dear with its hilarious and very British take on everything from backer boards to Civil War. On March 16, 2008, I placed a transatlantic call to Q!PAW hosts Matt Watts and Jon Sibley to find out what goes into making one of the funniest podcasts on the Internet.
HOUSTON: What is a panelologist? JON: Quite simply, a panelologist is a comic book collector. I have no idea where we heard that term, but, crikey, it was back when we were at school, I think. I know I used to have a sign up on my bedroom door that said, “Quiet! Panelologists at work.” HOUSTON: How did you decide to use that as the name of your show? JON: We just kind of wanted a name that didn’t involve the words “comic” and “geek.” MATT: Or “cast.” HOUSTON: When did you start listening to podcasts? JON: Go on, Matt, you introduced me to podcasts. MATT: Well, yeah, I think I first started listening to podcasts after the Brighton Comics Festival. What year would that have been, Jon? A couple of years, maybe? JON: Three years ago. MATT: I think three years ago. JON: It can’t be. Well, it probably is. MATT: It probably is. And I don’t think I started listening to podcasts at all before I started listening to Fanboy Radio. JON: Yeah, that would be right. That was one of the first. MATT: And then, from there, Richard Johnston from Lying in the Gutters mentioned it in one of his panels and at that point I thought, “Podcasts, what are they?” And then, of course, comic podcasts got me into loads of podcasting. I mean, I listen to tech podcasts daily. Almost four or five podcasts a day I listen to. JON: You should get out more. MATT: It’s worrying, isn’t it? Yeah. HOUSTON: When did you decide to do your own podcasts?
Jon as the Hulk and Matt as Wolverine in an illustration by listener Jake Bilbao. All images in this chapter courtesy Quiet! Panelologists at Work, unless otherwise noted.
MATT: About ten minutes into the first episode of Fanboy Radio, when I realized how bad it was. No, I’m only kidding. JON: We’ve been going for near about two years, haven’t we? MATT: So it must have been about a year later. When we first started doing it, we didn’t even talk much about how we should do it. We just said we should do it on a Friday and I think we started recording on a Saturday. JON: We used to speak on Skype every Saturday anyway. MATT: Well, that’s true. JON: Usually about what comics we’d read, and we kind of thought, “Why don’t we record this and we can subject other people to the torture that is us talking about comics,” and then quickly found out that our conversations are quite insubstantial and nonsense. MATT: Yeah. JON: And ran with it. HOUSTON: Did those early conversations sound pretty much like the show sounds now? JON: Yeah. Well, I think generally our conversations are like that. MATT: Yeah. Except for that, generally, I’ll ask Jon about his rabbit and about his home life, but, yeah, we do tend to cut those bits out of the show. HOUSTON: How is your rabbit? JON: He’s alright. Mr. Rabbit is very good. MATT: Can you believe he called his rabbit Mr. Rabbit because he couldn’t be bothered to think of a name? JON: It’s a good name. It’s a good name. It says everything you need to know about the pet. THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 73
MATT: Stupid name.
35, 40 minutes long and we normally record for about two hours? JON: We’ve got that down to an hour recently. MATT: Well, that’s true, maybe an hour-and-a-half today. When we recorded the show today, it was maybe an hour-and-a-half. Then there’s maybe four to eight hours editing the whole thing, and that goes through about three drafts of it. I know some people like to record it, leave all the “ums” and “uhs” in and release it completely raw, but I know that if we did that, not only would we sound like a couple of morons, we’d sound like a couple of proper morons. JON: I think the worrying thing now is that, when people read this, they’re going to think, “Well, if they put that much work into their podcast, it really doesn’t show.” MATT: Right, but if we didn’t put any effort into it at all, it really would be terrible, so the fact that we have more than ten listeners is a tribute to it really.
HOUSTON: Do you do any prep work? JON: [laughs] I think one quick listen to our show will tell you that we don’t do any prep work. MATT: Yeah. I read some comics, so I can talk about what I’ve read, or I’ll go to Newsarama and flag up a couple of stories or come up with just a quick idea for a gag we could pull out into, like, a four-minute section. JON: Usually we come up with a gag during the episode. Then the gag really comes together in the edit. MATT: Yeah. That’s true. When we do clips like the Blankety Blank clips or the thing where we did the pirate radio clip, anything like that where it’s a quick idea, it really comes together in the editing studio. So most of that, like the news segment we did a couple of weeks ago, that was scripted, but then only two minutes of the show is scripted. I say “scripted,” but I just knocked HOUSTON: You call your show it together, sent you an e-mail, “the antidote to the average and then we record that. comic podcast.” Is that someThe thing is that, what I said thing you set out to do or did it with the podcast, is you’ve got just grow from the style of your there the power to make a radio conversations? show. You’ve got everything you JON: Yeah, I think we did it conQ!PAW co-host Jon Sibley. need to do anything with audio, sciously from the beginning, pretty and it seems a shame sometimes to have a podcast much. Well, maybe not with our test episode, but then and just have talking in it when you have the ability to we realized we really can’t review comics at all, can’t have editing and sound effects and music and all of do a very good, serious conversation. When our show that, and it seems a shame to just sit and talk for came out, there weren’t nearly as many comic book two hours. That’s why I think we try and keep our segpodcasts as there are now, but, yeah, we wanted to ments as small as possible because I think anything do a show that was different from anything else that beyond five minutes of me and Matt talking is boring, was out there, which was one or two hosts talking so I’ll shut up now, instead of going on. seriously about comic books. We just wanted to have JON: I think you were doing quite well, Matt. a bit of fun with it really. MATT: Well, thank you very much. MATT: I was listening to maybe fifteen comic book podcasts and there were more and more coming HOUSTON: Is it tough keeping the show funny? out all the time. Raging Bullets is a good example MATT: Well, we haven’t managed it yet. of an excellent podcast where they can literally sit JON: Yeah. Brilliant. Well, not really. Is it tough? I there and talk about one page for about half an don’t know. hour. I don’t know how they do it, but that’s someMATT: Is it tough? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s thing that we can’t do. I think it would be nice for funny. I mean, there are quite serious reviews and us if we maybe wanted to do that, but I can’t talk views. about one page of comic art for more than twenty JON: That’s right, yeah. Why? Do you think it’s funny? seconds. JON: If it takes you longer to talk about the comic HOUSTON: I think it’s pretty funny. book than it does to read it, you’re reading it wrong. MATT: Is it tough keeping it funny, Jon? That’s a good MATT: That’s it, yeah. But what I can talk about is, question. like, my girlfriend’s reaction to my spending one hunJON: No. dred pounds on comic books in one week. I think that MATT: No. in itself is more my topic of choice. JON: It’s tough getting it out on time. JON: I think our show has become more about the MATT: It’s tough doing it actually. What, the show’s joys of collecting comics rather than necessarily what 74 | QUIET! PANELOLOGISTS AT WORK
TWOMORROWS’ TUNE-IN PODCAST/COLLECTED COMICS LIBRARY We here at TwoMorrows know a good thing when we see it, so it should come as no surprise that we started our own podcast. With Chris Marshall, already the host of The Collected Comics Library podcast, as host, the TwoMorrows’ Tune-In Podcast brings interviews and news about TwoMorrows books and magazines to your iPod every month. On August 4, 2008, I talked to Chris about his own show and how he became the podcasting voice of TwoMorrows. HOUSTON: What is the TwoMorrows’ Tune-In Podcast? MARSHALL: The TwoMorrows’ Tune-In Podcast really is just an extension of the blog and website at twomorrows.com. We just like to feature special products that we want to feature each month, whether that’s The Jack Kirby Collector or a special issue of Alter Ego or Rough Stuff, just something that we want to showcase that month. And also to tell our listeners what else is coming out that month if they don’t happen to come along the blog or website. HOUSTON: The show usually features interviews, too. MARSHALL: Yeah. I try to do an interview at least once a month. It can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a half-hour. I usually try to keep it to around that timetable. It gives more insight to the magazine. You can tell who is behind it, who is creating it, and, a lot of times, it’s editors and creators that have been in the comic book field for years, like a Roy Thomas or a Bob McLeod.
TwoMorrows’ Tune-In and Collected Comics Library host Chris Marshall in his recording studio. Photo courtesy Chris Marshall. 82 | TWOMORROWS TUNE-IN
HOUSTON: You’ve talked to some pretty big names on the show. I know you talked to Nick Cardy recently. MARSHALL: Yeah, Nick’s a character, that’s for sure. Thanks to John Morrow, who sets everything up for me. Without him, I really couldn’t do this, but he’s been a great help in giving me this. HOUSTON: Am I right in thinking that the show hasn’t been around for long? MARSHALL: Well, I am doing like a version 2.0. There was a previous Tune-In Podcast, but it kind of podfaded, as we like to call it. I wrote the podcast host at the time and then I found out he no longer did the podcast, so I wrote John Morrow, saying, “Hey, would you like to revive the podcast?” He had no idea who I was, so I sent in my credentials and the links to a few of my shows. This all happened in November of 2007. He took about three months to get to everything over the holiday season and he liked what he heard and we started [the new show] in February. We just do once a month. That’s all I think TwoMorrows really needs to do. It covers all the bases.
Nicky Cardy appeared on Tune-In to help promote TwoMorrows’ Nick Cardy: Behind the Art, a retrospective of his career.
HOUSTON: Do you know why TwoMorrows decided to get into podcasting in the first place? MARSHALL: I think it’s just an extension of their brand that they want to go out and embrace new media and the social aspect of marketing and getting their people really talking to their fan base about their products. TwoMorrows is all about the history of comics. Whether it’s about the Golden Age or the Silver Age or the Modern, it’s how they make comics. Bob [McLeod] and I just got off talking about Rough Stuff and how digital comics are
Favorite covers for Back Issue and Rough Stuff, two of the TwoMorrows magazines covered regularly on Tune-In. Back Issue and Rough Stuff: TM 2009 TwoMorrows Publishing.
coming into being and how that influences how people ink comics these days, and you’re not going to get that from any other publisher. You’re not going to get that from Marvel or DC. They’re more interested in just publishing books, but TwoMorrows is really about the creative. HOUSTON: I remember picking up my first Back Issue, which featured an article about Marvel’s Godzilla, and thinking where would I ever see an article on that? MARSHALL: That’s a great series, too. I love that series and at TwoMorrows, you get a full-blown, 260page book all about it and all for seven bucks. You can’t beat the price and the gems that they publish in their magazines, like Write Now, with unpublished work or unfinished stories, and Rough Stuff and Draw! with all these sketches and pencils of your favorite characters. How cool is that? You’re not going to find it. You might find it in the back of an omnibus or a masterwork, but you can just pick up one of these magazines and see all of these great old sketches. Unpublished work is just cool. HOUSTON: Do many other publishers try to do what TwoMorrows is doing podcast-wise? MARSHALL: Well, Marvel and DC, all they have are their [convention] panels. The only other one that I know of is the Dynamite Entertainment podcast that
Chris Partan does and Joe Rybon does. Joe is their marketing director, and that’s really the only one. Fantagraphics says they’re going to have one. They’ve had on their blog that they’re going to have one for six months. I think Top Shelf has run with the idea, but a lot of it is they don’t have the manpower to pay and that’s part of it. I mean, I get paid not a whole lot, but I do it more for the fun because I love to podcast. I know Chris Partan has his own podcast and when Joe kind of tailed off with his podcast, he said, “Hey, I’ll help you with this,” and Joe was all for it. I spoke about this at Wizard World Chicago; if you want to get into podcasting, the best way to do it is, first of all, practice, practice, practice, but hook up with a publisher when you have your name established. It’s getting into the publishing area and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be in comics in some extent and now I can say I am, on a freelance basis, but I can now say that, which is pretty cool. HOUSTON: You have another show that’s been around much longer, The Collected Comics Library. MARSHALL: Yeah, The Collected Comics Library is my sort of Internet radio show, focusing on trade paperbacks and hardcovers and all collected editions from all companies, including graphic novels and hard-tofind reprint editions. HOUSTON: Does that show share a format with the THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 83
PIPELINE POD CAST On January 5th, 2005, Augie De Blieck Jr. launched The Pipeline Podcast, the first true comic book podcast. It’s four years and more than 200 episodes later and Augie is still going strong, offering news and opinions on each week’s new comic releases. Along with his written Pipeline column at Comic Book Resources, the podcast gives Augie the chance to express his comic reviews and opinions, just as he did during his days as a noted letter-hack in the 1990s. Augie took a couple of hours away from his new baby daughter to talk about his show, the podcasting medium, and how things have changed since his early days in comics fandom. HOUSTON: We’ll get to our podcast in a couple of minutes, Augie, but this seems like a good opportunity to talk about comics fandom prior to the Internet, especially since your first real exposure to the world of comics fandom was through letter-hacking. DE BLIECK: Yeah. I started letter-hacking in 1991, I think. 1991 or 1992, somewhere in there. HOUSTON: What is a letter-hack? DE BLIECK: letterhacks are those people who were the most frequent letter writers back when comics would have that page in the back where fans would write in and editors would answer questions or just print positive letters from fans. Pipeline Podcast host Augie De There was a subset of Blieck, Jr. All images in this chapthose fans, the letterter courtesy Augie De Blieck, Jr., hacks, who basically unless otherwise noted. hacked out letters week after week and month after month. I was one of them for pretty much all of the ’90s and had about 400 printed over the course of those ten years and a little bit into the 2000s, but, as the letters columns really aren’t around anymore, there really aren’t any letter-hacks left. HOUSTON: How did you become a letter-hack? DE BLIECK: That’s a good question. I decided I wanted to be part of the comics, I guess, in some small way. I had writing aspirations back then and I knew I could string together sentences in a coherent manner, so I started writing letters. That was back in the day when I would print the letters out on my Commodore 64 printer and had to actually mail those in. A dot
matrix printer, by the way. I had to use a stamp and everything. There was no e-mail back then. So it was a matter of sitting myself down after reading a comic book and writing, in retrospect, like a couple of hundred words in a letter and sending that in and hoping that, maybe, three months later, you might see your name in there and, more often than not, you didn’t. The hit rate on letters printed versus letters written was not always a great ratio. If you’re writing five letters and you got one printed, you were in pretty good shape back then. HOUSTON: What books did you write to? DE BLIECK: At first, the Star Trek comic books over at DC. Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation had both started out the previous year and I was sort of a regular in those letter columns and I had a few letters printed in Marvel Comics Presents. The big spot I got my letters printed was in The Savage Dragon, over at Image, where I pretty much had a letter printed every issue for about the first hundred issues or so, starting in issue six, I think it was. I had some printed in some of the duck books, too, which, I believe at that point Disney Comics was publishing themselves, before they went back to Gemstone, but the first comic that was my main home was definitely the Star Trek comics and then Savage Dragon was my home for the ’90s. HOUSTON: Why those books specifically? DE BLIECK: I don’t know. There was also a definite sense of community involved there more than anything else. I think, to a certain degree, they were accessible. DC Comics, back in the early ’90s, had two-page letters columns, so they printed more letters and, if they printed more letters, your chances of having a letter printed were higher. I had some early hits [at DC]. I don’t think I ever wrote more than three or four letters before the first one there was printed, so that kind of encouraged me along. Savage Dragon had even bigger returns THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 89
because [Dragon creator] Erik Larsen, at the time, was printing letters the next month after the issue was printed. It used to be you had to wait two or three months after a comic came out before the letter about it would be printed, but Erik Larsen, however he did it, managed to get those letters in the next month, so I kind of just became a mainstay over there. It was a combination of books I liked, which always helps with letter-hacking, and the ones I felt sort of a connection to because they were big parts of fandom. HOUSTON: Thanks to the Internet and fan forums, it’s so easy for fans to talk to each other these days, but did you keep in touch with any of the other big letter-hacks? DE BLIECK: At the time, not so much. There was a fanzine called Comics Critics Cavalcade that I was part of for a brief time in the early ’90s. It was basically a fanzine of contributions written by other letter-hacks. Marc Lucas was involved and Jamie S. Rich was a letter-hack then. A whole bunch of letter-hacks at the time were involved in that. I didn’t really have any personal contact with them, but that was as close to a letter-hack fan club as we had. Otherwise, I didn’t have too many friends in school who were comic book fans and I didn’t keep up any kind of pen pal correspondence with any other letterhacks, either.
A letter from Augie’s letter-hacking days (left), this one from The Savage Dragon #45 (right). © Copyright 2009 Erik Larsen.
HOUSTON: Is letter-hacking a lost art? Has it been replaced by podcasts and blogging and forums? DE BLIECK: Absolutely. There are still letters columns around, but I don’t think you’re going to have the same reaction to letter-hacks today as you would have ten years ago or especially thirty years ago or so. When you think about people who were letterhacks in the late ’60s, early ’70s, many of them became the writers and editors of the ’70s and ’80s. Look at some of the fans who became sort of the second generation, especially at Marvel Comics, the Roy Thomases of the world. They came up through fanzines and letters hacks, those kind of things, and I don’t think you see that in print so much these days, but it’s definitely all migrated over to the web, like you say, with the blogs and the podcasts.
The front and back cover to the final issue of Comic Critics Cavalcade, a showcase for many letter-hacks, including Augie. Front cover Magnus, Robot Fighter art by Jim Calafiore. All characters copyright their respective companies.
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GENE COLAN Gene Colan is one of comics’ true gentlemen, a grand old man who, over the years, has brought his moody and distinctive pencils to such diverse titles as Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Howard the Duck, and The Tomb of Dracula. On the evening of April 16, 2008, Gene and I discussed his podcast appearances, where he has been a favorite guest of both Around Comics and Comic Geek Speak, as well as how the rise of fandom on the Internet has affected his retirement. Shortly after this interview was conducted came the announcement that Gene’s health had turned for the worse. While he has improved in the past few months, our thoughts and prayers remain with Gene and his family.
HOUSTON: I recently interviewed Comic Geek Speak and they said their interview with you was one of their favorites. COLAN: I had a lot of fun with it. They were great interviewers. HOUSTON: Was that your first interview for a podcast? COLAN: I’ve done a few, but I’m not sure. My wife would know better because she takes care of all of the business stuff for me. She’s very good with business. I’ve been interviewed several times lately. The new film that’s coming out, Iron Man, they came to the house and filmed me just prior to watching it. They put together an interview for the feature, in this case, Iron Man, and I did one on Daredevil and it was a lot of fun and good. Maybe I can do the same for you. HOUSTON: Was that the first time you’d heard of a podcast? COLAN: I’m not really that familiar with them, no. I was just overwhelmed by the opportunity to do it. That’s all I can remember. Three years ago was a long time ago for me. You’re talking to an 81-year-old geezer! You never know where it’s all 104 | GENE COLON
“Gentleman” Gene Colan with Comic Geek Speak’s Jamie D, Kevin, and Bryan Deemer (right) and Around Comics’ Brion Salazar (left). right photo © Copyright 2009 Comic Geek Speak.
going to take you. But they’ve treated me very nicely, all these interviewers, and I enjoyed myself. I really had a ball. I grew up in the days of radio, so I’m not actually a novice at it. HOUSTON: I know that you have a website of your own. How have podcasts, your website and, really, the Internet as a whole changed your career now that you’re retired from monthly comics?
A page from The Tomb of Dracula #21. Pencils by Gene Colan with inks by Tom Palmer. Courtesy Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). © Copyright 2009 Marvel Characters, Inc.
COMIC GEEK SPEAK Over the past four years, Philadelphia’s Comic Geek Speak has quickly grown into one of the most popular, and certainly the most prolific, comic book podcasts. Each and every week, Peter Rios, Bryan Deemer, Shane Kelly Mulholland, Matt, Adam Murdough, Jamie D, and Brian “Pants” Christman put out more shows than most other podcasters do in a month, each one filled with terrific insights about the world of comics, as well as a terrific sense of humor and the sort of chemistry that only exists among close friends. On April 6, 2008, these so-called speakers of geek were kind enough to take time away from uniting the world’s greatest heroes, one listener at a time, to talk about their show. HOUSTON: As we record this interview, Comic Geek Speak just celebrated another anniversary. BRYAN: Correct, our three years’.
Comic Geek Speak clockwise from left, Matt, Bryan Deemer, Brian Christman, Peter Rios, Jamie D, former member Kevin, Shane Kelly Mulholland, and Adam Murdough. All photos in this chapter courtesy Comic Geek Speak, unless otherwise noted. © Copyright 2009 Comic Geek Speak.
HOUSTON: How many episodes is that? BRYAN: Well, 400 numbered episodes, but we actually have over 500 episodes when you include all the various specials and such that we did. HOUSTON: I counted them up and came up with 534. PANTS: Oh, my God. BRYAN: That sounds about right. HOUSTON: That’s a hell of a lot of episodes. How have you done it? When so many other podcasts have come and gone, how have you not only stayed together, but also produced so many episodes? BRYAN: I’m sure Peter will have something to say on this too, but I’ll start off saying that I think the reason that we’re still producing episodes is simply because we’re friends. It’s fun to get together with or without the microphones, so having the microphones is an excuse to get together on a regular basis. I think if the podcast ended tomorrow, we wouldn’t see each other two or three times a week like we do now, and then seeing each other once a week would turn into once every two weeks and that would turn into once every three weeks and then life would start getting in the way more and more. As long as we have the podcast as a constant, it forces us to get together on a regular basis, which is a good thing. Peter, do you want to handle how we got to do so many episodes? PETER: A lot of it is just that there’s so much to talk about and so many people to talk to. There’s never a shortage of creators and never a shortage of good books to talk about and recommend and every week
something new excites us and every week we discover something else or somebody else and it just got to the point where we had the content to do five episodes a week, so let’s just do five episodes a week, like a real radio show. We’re on every day, for those listeners that listen to us at work especially. It’s funny, we’ve been doing this now for a few weeks and nobody has said anything. It’s like they assumed it’s been coming. HOUSTON: It seems like, if not five, it’s always been at least two or three episodes a week. BRYAN: Well, the first day that we ever recorded, Peter and I sat down and recorded two episodes back to back because it just seemed like, well, again, there was so much to talk about and if we were getting together… That’s the thing, we have to make an effort to get together, so, when we’re together, rather than just record one episode, which would be kind of a waste of time, we might as well record two or three, so if we’re going to get together one day a week, we may as well record two episodes and, at the beginning, that’s what we did. We’d just record two episodes and we said, “Okay. I’ll see you next week.” Then two became three and one day a week became two days a week and two episodes just becomes five and that’s how it just naturally progressed. HOUSTON: You talked about all being friends and having been friends and I think that comes across in each episode, but it begs the question: how did you all meet? JAMIE: It kind of goes back to when I was working with Bryan, back when he was 15, at a frozen yogurt THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 107
BRYAN: And I met Shane and Peter when we started doing Crusaders because Kevin and Mike knew you guys and we all got pulled together, and Matt just showed up at one Halloween party and that’s how I met him. MATT: Alex I’d met, who worked at Golden Eagle, and he took me to Shane’s to watch Star Wars, and then five years later I got back into the group. PETER: I remember Matt from Golden Eagle, actually. BRYAN: I met Murd in 1995 at a musical. ADAM: Exactly ten years after that, I ended up getting recruited into Comic Geek Speak. It’s almost like a cosmic event. SHANE: I’ve known various guys here for the better part of twelve years now and we started by hanging out and watching movies and playing games and it’s continued. What we talk about here is what we talk about there. HOUSTON: When you decided to do the podcast, was that Bryan’s idea? BRYAN: I read that fateful article in Wired magazine, February 2005. That started it all.
The extended Comic Geek Speak family outside of Golden Eagle Comics, where many of them first met. © Copyright 2009 Comic Geek Speak
store in 1989. We got to be friends and we started talking about comics. I knew he was into comics. I even sold him some comics, X-Factors. BRYAN: Yeah, I bough your full run of X-Factor. JAMIE: We stayed friends even after I left there and got a job at the comic store. Bryan had left [the frozen yogurt store] and was looking for another parttime job, so I went to my boss and said I knew somebody who was good. Boom. He got hired there and we’ve been friends ever since. And the rest of the guys have been customers. Most all of us got together either through relatives or the shop. It seems like Golden Eagle is the one constant in our lives that kind of brought us together and we basically became friends out of that. There were other side projects that people had done, Crusaders and things like that. We kind of got together as a group of friends and it went from there. BRYAN: Jamie and I were friends first. Well, Matt and Murd’s friendship may have extended before ’89. ADAM: We’ve known each other for twenty years. BRYAN: We knew Kevin from working at the store, so then we knew Kevin. PETER: I knew Kevin from Golden Eagle, but also from doing the shows that we did together. SHANE: I knew Peter from Golden Eagle, hanging out on Wednesdays and met Kevin and Jamie and Matt. BRYAN: Then Pants I knew from shopping at Golden Eagle way back when. SHANE: And I knew Pants from working at Toys ’R’ Us. 108 | COMIC GEEK SPEAK
HOUSTON: Who hosted the first few episodes? BRYAN: Peter and I were solo for the first two and Shane was on the third? SHANE: Kevin was on the fourth. Jamie was on the fifth. PETER: Matt’s first show was the seventh. SHANE: Brian’s was 154? PANTS: About a year-and-a-half later. SHANE: Murd’s was Batman Begins. PETER: It was Bryan and I, and these guys would come in randomly here and there. It was weird because these guys would be in the room and we’d record two episodes and only bring one person on at a time. It was really kind of strange. JAMIE: I don’t think we had enough microphones. That was the problem. MATT: It was like we were being drafted. PETER: And we did do some regular duo episodes, and it wasn’t until episode 25 where we decided, from here on in, we’ll treat it as a group. Then in episode 36 we changed the opening from Bryan and I with special guests to whoever was on the episode. Everybody would just say their own names. BRYAN: That seems like such a monumental decision to decide to do it that way. JAMIE: The funny thing is, when you think about it, now, episode 25, to put out 25 episodes is, what, two weeks worth of work? Back then it was only two episodes at a time. HOUSTON: Hearing you talk, you get this picture of the show taking some time to come together, but I listened to some old episodes, like episode 20, which is the cartoon theme song episode, and, really, you guys already sounded like a well-oiled machine. BRYAN: That’s a great episode.
SHANE: One of my favorites. BRYAN: We kind of got lucky with the whole podcasting thing. We started early, which was a benefit because we got out there when there wasn’t as much competition, but also we just kind of walked into it in that when we get together it’s very gregarious, it’s very natural, and we’re all at ease with each other. That comes off in the episodes and it’s a chemistry that you can’t sit down and create on paper. It just kind of happens and we didn’t expect it to happen. We can’t change it. It’s just us. It is who we are and that’s just the way the episodes end up. JAMIE: You can’t explain it. We just all play well off each other. It’s weird to say we have comedy timing, but we do. It’s just something natural and it constantly goes back to the fact that we are friends and it’s just us talking to one another. We do this stuff all the time when we talk to one another. We even get dirtier when the mic isn’t in front of us. PANTS: We work blue. SHANE: I think Pants would still be called Pants if we’d never done the show. That would have come out. HOUSTON: Do you feel like you each bring a specific, unique quality to the show or is it more a question of the group dynamic? ADAM: We are a rainbow of geekiness. Each of us contributes something different to the spectrum, but we all come together to create a unified whole. JAMIE: I like the idea that we’re some kind of podcast Voltron. [laughter] PETER: Actually, the best judge of that question is actually the listeners. They’re the ones that have probably the most specific idea of the roles that we play or the roles that they see us as. They all have differences in their opinions or who they gravitate towards, but they’re pretty spot-on in saying what roles we bring to the cast as a whole. JAMIE: It all has to do with our age differences and our voices. If it’s happened once, it’s happened twenty times, where someone will come up to me and say they listen to me because I’m the older voice and it’s usually somebody who’s in my age group, late thirties, early forties, that they like to listen to me because I bring wisdom—I don’t want to say wisdom because I don’t want to toot my own horn. People come up to Shane and Pants and people say they love them because of their toys. Murd and Peter usually get the trivia geeks. Bryan gets the people who like his point of view as far as straightforward storytelling. Matt gets all the smartasses who just want to say what he says and just can’t. But Peter’s right. It is the listeners who really hit us head on. PETER: A lot of times we’ll get feedback from the listeners at the beginning of a new year and a lot of things I always see are things like they like Shane’s approach to the show because he’s not one to be controversial, but they enjoy it because they’re sort of
like him. They enjoy comics for what they are and he just says what he likes or says what he doesn’t like and that’s his point of view. They’ll say about Matt what Jamie said about Matt, but they like that about Matt not only because he’s funny but also because he sticks to his guns and there’s some truth behind what he’s saying. The listeners really do have a deeper knowledge of who we are. There are times when Brian “Pants” Christman wearing some of us have been the sweatshirt that gained him called stubborn. They his nickname. © Copyright 2009 Comic know that we’re not Geek Speak going to get out of the opinions that we have and they like that or they don’t like that. So that’s a question definitely for the listeners. SHANE: Or take something like the DMZ discussion. Bryan and Jamie like so many things almost across the board and then there’s one thing where they are total opposites of the entire world on and it’s a laugh riot to listen to them argue about it back and forth. PETER: And that’s the sort of episode that throws listeners off because they just assume we’re going to blanket like something because that’s the way the river flows, you know? Then we throw in an episode like that, and we don’t do it on purpose, but it makes everybody go, “Oh, yeah, they do have their own opinions.” ADAM: Listeners seem to almost enjoy the episodes where we disagree the most.
Shane Kelly Mulholland and Peter Rios.
© Copyright 2009 Comic Geek Speak
THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 109
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN
While conducting the interviews that make up the bulk of this book, it occurred to me that I was collecting quite a few invaluable tips for anyone who wanted to start their own podcast. In keeping with that, I offer this appendix, which lists the exact equipment each of our featured podcasts uses to make their own show. Hopefully, it will give you future podcasters out there an even better idea of how to get started.
The Around Comics crew prepares to record an episode with Mike Oliveri. Photo courtesy Mike Oliveri (www.mikeoliveri.com).
Comic Book Queers
Mixer: Alesis Multimix 8 Firewire Board Headphones: Bose Audio Editor: Garage Band Computer: MacBook Pro
Microphone: Logitech Conference Microphone or Shure PG48 Mixer: Alesis Multimix 8 USB Headphones: AKG K-44 Audio Editor: Garage Band Computer: iMac Other: Mic Stands from On-Stage Stands
Collected Comics Library Microphone: AKG D890 Dynamic Microphone Mixer: Behringer UB1202FX Stereo Mixer with Effects Audio Editor: Adobe Audition Computer: basic PC Other: iRiver IFP-899 MP3 Player
Comic Geek Speak Microphone: 6 Shure SM57 & 2 MXL 990 Mixer: Soundcraft Spirit Folio 12 Headphones: AKG K66 Audio Editor: Garage Band THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION | 121
The Comic Book Podcast Companion By Eric Houston
Comic book podcasts have taken the Internet by storm, and THE COMIC BOOK PODCAST COMPANION offers you the chance to go behind the scenes of ten of today’s top comic book podcasts via all-new interviews with the casts of AROUND COMICS, WORD BALLOON, QUIET! PANELOLOGISTS AT WORK, COMIC BOOK QUEERS, iFANBOY, THE CRANKCAST, THE COLLECTED COMICS LIBRARY, THE PIPELINE PODCAST, COMIC GEEK SPEAK, and TwoMorrows’ own TUNE-IN PODCAST! Also featured are new interviews about podcasting and comics on the Internet with creators MATT FRACTION, TIM SEELEY, and GENE COLAN. You’ll also find a handy guide of what you’ll need to start your own podcast, an index of more than thirty great comic book podcasts, numerous photos of your favorite podcasters, and original art from COLAN, SEELEY, DC’s MIKE NORTON, and many more! TwoMorrows Publishing Raleigh, North Carolina
In The US
ISBN-13: 978-1-60549-018-2 ISBN-10: 1-60549-018-0
9 781605 490182