I have an idea. The short version is a conversation with me and comics pros, delivered like a podcast but also transcribed for easy reading. It would be something separate from 4l!, but related. A side project, I guess.
The long version goes: comics industry interviews are kind of a bummer. They never seem to go as in-depth as I’d like on any subject, interviewers handcuff themselves to prevent accidental controversy or maintain relationships, creators are guarded and focused just on the one thing, and worst of all, there’s no room for digression. Interviews tend to hit the release date, something “best work of his career” something, how it relates to other comics if it’s a crossover book, and out. Even John Siuntres’s Word Balloon podcast has kind of a guarded “I don’t want to say the wrong thing” feel to it sometimes.
This really bugs me, because most comics folks I’ve met are pretty garrulous and engaging. The best panels at any con are the creator spotlights or creators in conversation with each other, where they’re allowed to digress, talk trash, and generally run the show. Same with bar-con after the con — I’ve talked comics, movies, porno tumblrs, bar etiquette, romance, basketball, and who knows what else with these folks, and they were always really friendly, wide-ranging conversations. They were also divorced from the stress of being at a con and having to continually pimp your wares and be upbeat.
My idea is to basically bring some of that flavor to comics internet, because I think it’s sorely missing. You can get news about so-and-so’s new run on whatever anywhere, and that doesn’t really interest me right now. I want to talk to comics people about everything. I know a little bit about a lot of things. I’d like to be educated, share jokes, argue opinions, and more. Here’s what I’m contemplating:
Concept: A one-on-one conversation between me and a comics professional (of whatever stripe or type) on a specific subject, with that conversation being allowed to go wherever it leads.
Format: Ideally, a 30-45 minute mp3 and accompanying annotated/hyperlinked transcription, delivered once a week or (much more likely) bi-weekly.
Tone: Informal. Funny. Friendly. Straight talk. I’m a friendly guy, and I’d like to get people who would be willing to open up and have some fun. And that’s not code for “being willing to rake muck with me” or anything, I just like it when people are like “You like WHAT? Why?!” and it ends up being an enlightening conversation instead of an awkward bludgeoning.
Method: I’d trade emails with the pro before we record, of course, and try and check out where their interests and mine intersect. This won’t be “David talks to somebody about stuff he already knows” so much as “David talks to someone about stuff that he has at least the bare minimum of knowledge on in order to keep up.” I want to be educated, I want to be thrilled, I want a chance to be like “Are you serious right now?” when someone is explaining old ’70s underground comix.
Subjects: Anything. If someone wants to talk about ’70s Marvels, sure. If they want to do a heavy post-mortem or analysis of their own work (I guess I’d be doing the analysis, but whatevs), we can do that. If they want to talk about how amazing the lighting is in Ridley Scott movies? Let’s get it. ’90s Britpop vs ’90s rap? Sure, that’s weird, but okay. Anything goes.
I have a couple caveats/rules to keep this thing interesting to me. Hopefully they aren’t deal breakers. I want to do it outside of the Big Two PR machine, if I’m talking to a Big Two creator. I want to do it outside of the usual marketing calendar, too. I’m up for interviewing someone around when their book comes out, but I don’t want pimping the new ish to be the focus. I just want a cool conversation and to learn something new. I’d also like to somehow make money off this, because I’m going to need to buy a Skype/phone recording app and a decent USB headset. Plus, transcription is excruciating, and if I’m putting that much work in, then I should definitely be getting paid for it. I’ve thought about pitching it to a few different sites, but I’m pretty sure doing it solo is the way to go, just for the control, freedom, and lack of hassle. Except lack of hassle means lack of cash soooooooo… I’ll work this out maybe.
I don’t know exactly how to get high-quality Skype recordings, and I’m definitely lost when it comes to recording a phone call in a way that doesn’t sound like total crap. I have a mixer I could probably use to make sure the volume sounds balanced, since I always come up low on mics. Anyway, all of that just takes time, research, and money, though. Friends have suggested a Kickstarter to get quality equipment, if needed. But I figure even if I buy the nicest things ever, it’d just cost like 100, 200 bucks, and hosting isn’t a big deal at all, unless it somehow blows up bigger than everything I’ve ever done to date. As far as problems to solve go, the logistics pale in the face of getting creators on the show, transcribing, etc.
My question to you: is this something you’d be interested in? Do you think it has a place or could find an audience in comics internet? Does it sound like a worthwhile endeavor?