Saturday, November 29, 2008

Through This Middle & Comics Podcasts



I have a theory (and it's just a theory, mind you) that there are two kinds of people in comics: Those who love comics for comics' sake, and those who love comics culture. This isn't to say that the two types are mutually exclusive--I think if you drew a horizontal line with the two types on either end, most of us would fall somewhere closer to the middle. We all lie somewhere between Scott McCloud and the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. 

This is all to support some comics podcast recommendations I'd like to make. If you search iTunes, you'll find hundreds of comics podcasts, and many are great. The only disappointment I find, as a fella who falls more to the left of this McCloudian chart I've proposed, is that too few of them focus as much on the craft and business of making comics as they do the general fandom and culture of being a comics collector or enthusiast. 

Don't get me wrong, I love comics culture--half of the fun of going to a comics convention is seeing the great big guys and gals dressed as Klingons (especially when they're carrying lightsabers!). During my recent trip to Wizard World Chicago, I was delighted to see a grown man dressed as Granny Goodness. It's just that, being a lover of the craft of comics as well, sometimes I crave a little bit of discussion on what's under the hood. Call it "NPR-style" if you want, though my counter-argument is that it's still comics, and NPR isn't that cool yet.

So here are a few comics podcasts worth listening to if you're one of those folks who fall into my neck of the chart:

Javiland, hosted by Javier Hernandez. I think his buddy Ted Seko counts as a co-host, since he's been on just about every (if not every) episode so far. Javier's managed to attract some really great and intelligent guests on his show, and the conversation about what it takes to make a comic as well as how to go about evangelizing and marketing your work. It's lighthearted, but the humor never gets in the way of the content, which I appreciate. Fun and informative.

Who should listen: Anyone who loves "Bronze Age" American comics and has a sincere love of the craft.

The Mini-Comics Dump Truck, hosted by Kevin Cross. This is essentially a club meeting for folks enlisted in the Mini-Comics Dump Truck, a comics group where each member creates a mini-comic and trades with everyone in the group (full disclosure, I'm part of this group, but I don't really ever get a chance to be on the podcast). The members use the podcast to discuss their work in progress, but they also wind up discussing storytelling, business, and marketing strategies during the recordings. This show, too, has it's share of fun and silliness, but always with an eye on digging at the topics. As I posted in my Twitter feed, listening to this show is like finding out that all of my cool friends went to an awesome party after I went to bed.

Who should listen: Lovers of indie comics, mini-comics, or underground comics. I have a hunch that if you subscribe to Make Magazine, you may get a kick out of it.

The Sequential Artists' Pub, hosted by Krishna Sadasivam. For those who don't know, a comics creators ritual at conventions is to meet and commiserate at the hotel bar after the show. This is an audio version of that. Krishna happens to be a teacher as well as a cartoonist, and the way he leads the conversation on this show is a clear reminder of that. It's driven, focused discussion on comics topics. However, it is at a virtual bar, so things can get punchy from time to time. But that's part of the fun, listening to cartoonists drink too much while they discuss their craft.

Who should listen: If you are interested in web comics, or if you make a web comic, this may be yours.

Of course there's also Art & Story, but you knew that. And it would be unseemly to plug my own podcasts in this post (don't look at paragraph 3).