by Matt O’Keefe
Podcasts have had a really interesting impact on the comic book scene, a great source of discussions different from every other media outlet. They’re relatively new media, and because of that aren’t overly regulated. For example, it’s rare for a podcast interview to be run through public relations, or at least for that pass to lead to major edits. Podcasts also favor conversations that can go more in-depth and on more tangents than a text interview can typically get away with. They can even be edited and published almost immediately, whereas a long phone interview will take the reporter hours to transcribe, tweak and post. I recommend people interested in the comics industry and medium to seek out a wide variety of podcasts for a lot of different kinds of comic book discussions. To help you out with that, here is a list of eight podcasts that excel at covering specific subjects. I’ve broken them down into two categories: shows that usually have special guests and others that have more general chats about comics.
Part 1: Guest Interviews
These are all podcasts that regularly have special guests who join the host in talking about some aspects of the comics medium or industry.
1. Art: Stuff Said
Gregg Schigiel has a lot of interesting viewpoints as a former Marvel assistant editor and current cartoonist working on the SpongeBob Squarepants licensed comics. Perhaps his greatest strength is discussing the artistic process with other illustrators, offering a perspective comic book media needs a lot more of. Stuff Said can teach you a lot about the artistic process, if you’re looking to learn more
2. Backstory: Let’s Talk Comics
James Viscardi, host of the Let’s Talk Comics podcast, delves into his guests’ “secret origin” in every episode. The former Associate Manager – Sales & Communications at Marvel nabs some pretty high-profile guests on a regular basis. Examples include Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, Skottie Young, Stephen Wacker and so many more. If you want to hear how your favorite creator got his start, give Let’s Talk Comics a listen.
3. Conversation: Word Balloon
Word Balloon is self-described as “the comic book conversation show” and the name suits it. Host John Siuntres has a lot of experience in radio and knows how to have long, engaging talks with comic book professionals. He gets a wide variety of guests, but a major perks to listening in are his regular extensive discourses like the Bendis Tapes, the Rucka Debrief and more conversations with major names in the industry. One of the most popular podcasts on this list, Word Balloon is a show worth tuning into.
4. Craft: Decompressed
Decompressed, hosted by Kieron Gillen, is “an irregular comics podcast with an eye on the question of craft.” Gillen is very thoughtful about the comic book making process (check out his in-depth Writer Notes for comics he writes), making him the perfect candidate to host a show in which he talks with other creators about craft. Most episodes of Decompressed are one-on-one with one or two creators discussing specific comic book issues, but there have also been episodes covering such topics as the Marvel method writing style (with Matt Fraction and Mark Waid) and and costume design in comics (with Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka and Ming Doyle). As a process nerd, I’ve listened to almost every episode of the show at least twice. If you’re a comic book creator, current or aspiring, or you’re just interested in the process of making comics, I can’t recommend Decompressed highly enough.
Part 2: Chats
Like most podcasts these shows have guests on occasion, but they’re generally episodes consisting of regulars getting together and chatting about things that are about or related to comics.
5. Current Events: More to Come
Publisher’s Weekly has its own comic book podcast called More to Come, usually featuring a roundtable with The Beat’s own Editor-in-Chief Heidi MacDonald, Comics Editor for Publisher Weekly Calvin Reid and podcast producer Kate Fitzsimons. They do a great, efficient job covering current events in the industry. It takes them less than an hour to break down the news of the last week or two, and they still manage to add a lot of interesting input and insight into the rundown. If you’re trying to keep abreast of the comic book industry as a whole, More to Come is your best bet.
6. Process: Make Comics Podcast
The Make Comics Podcast, previously hosted by iFanboy and currently hosted by online workshop Comics Experience, covers every issue you can think of that comic book creators might come across. Former Senior Editor at IDW and the founder of Comics Experience Andy Schmidt shares his vast knowledge on all sorts of topics in a conversation with originally iFanboy’s Josh Flanagan and now podcaster Joey Groah. The Make Comics Podcast is made up of bite-sized episodes, around twenty minutes each, but they’re very nice for aspiring creators on a short commute.
7. Retail: Acmecast
If you want to learn about the industry from a comic shop’s perspective, Acmecast is what you should be listening to. Manager of North Carolina store Acme Comics Jermaine Exum (a.k.a. Lord Retail) and assistant manager Stephen Mayer discuss comics-related news with a sales bent. It’s extremely interesting to learn about how the main sellers of comic books react to the comic book news that we read on sites like The Beat. If you want to get a stronger grasp on how the wheels keep turning in the comic book industry, try out Acmecast for a spin.
8. Review: iFanboy Pick of the Week Podcast
There are a lot of comic book review shows out there, but the one that I get the most mileage from is iFanboy’s Pick of the Week Podcast hosted by Josh Flanagan, Paul Montgomery and Conor Kilpatrick. The episodes, released Sunday, delve into the previous Wednesday’s comic book releases. Their reviews are smart without being too technical and entertaining without sacrificing depth. This category of podcasts depends largely on your specific tastes, but I get a lot out of the Pick of the Week Podcast.
I hope this list incentivizes you to check out some of the podcasts listed above. This isn’t an exhaustive list, simply a collection of some of the podcasts that serve certain niches. I recommend you check out these shows and seek out more of your own, to get new takes on the medium and industry of comics.
The Elite Beat Staff is a trained squad of ninja masters.