Inkstuds Spotlight is done! Thank you for listening, or sharing the links around, or telling me or the creators I spoke to how much you dug what they had to say. It was a lark, it worked, and now I’m going to type too much about why and how I did it. But first, an index:
Darryl Ayo: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Jay Potts: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Jimmie Robinson: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Whit Taylor: CA | Inkstuds | Website
LeSean Thomas: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Spike Trotman: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Qiana Whitted: CA | Inkstuds | Website
I love writing about comics. More specifically, I love talking about them with other people, and writing gives me a chance to trick people into having conversations with me about comics. Writing is just a way of organizing my thoughts or interrogating what I think about a book. Now that I work in the industry, though, I understand that my words have an aspect they didn’t before: even when I’m not representing my company, people will look at it like I’m representing my company. Before, I appeared courtesy of myself. Now, I still do, but the perception may be different depending on who and where you are.
I’m still figuring out that balance. I don’t want to not-talk, but I don’t want to have people looking at me like “Well, you had no business saying this since you’re working professional #teamcomics.” I’m very careful about recommending Image books or dissing other books, because I feel like my word has some value, and I don’t ever want to trade on that for garbage reasons.
A weird part of paring down how often I’m writing about comics is that I spend a lot more time thinking about comics and why they work the way they do. Absence makes the heart grow even more curious, until finally the heart is like “chill out dude, just get over your dumb self and do something you want to obviously do.”
Robin McConnell founded and runs the Inkstuds comics podcast. At last year’s Emerald City Comicon, Robin asked me about doing some programming for Inkstuds. I thought about it, but couldn’t come up with any ideas worth doing, and then I quit my job, ComicsAlliance died, and I got another job, so doing podcasting wasn’t even really on my radar.
On January 15, after realizing that Robin’s show was about to hit 500 episodes, an idea popped into my head. I know comics, and I know some people in comics, but I don’t know about what people actually do in comics. Where they came from, how they came to comics, why they do comics, how they do comics, what influenced the way they make comics…stuff like that. This stuff is usually beyond the purview of the hype-oriented interviews in comics, and that’s no good for me, because I really want to know this stuff.
Basically, I figured out how to satisfy my own curiosity in a way that might be entertaining to others, which is probably the whole reason I started a blog, and it was constructed in such a way that I couldn’t over-think it the way I do everything else. I couldn’t worry about crossing some invisible line of professionalism. I only had time to do it, and once it was done, I couldn’t take it back.
I made a list of people I thought were in interesting positions in the industry, and focused on people I haven’t interviewed or discussed before, with one exception. I emailed Robin with the idea and the list, and he was into it. I googled around for email addresses, DMed a few people on Twitter, did some research, came up with a few possible avenues of conversation, and then got started. Before the first show went up, I had the vast majority of them recorded. By the end of the first week of February, I had all of them done.
I think about the divisions in comics a lot, the way we’re bunched up into various factions. It’s shorthand, of course, but there’s TCJ comics, cape comics, mainstream comics, manga, and more. There are all these little islands of interests, and for the most part, they keep to their own. Inkstuds has its own remit, but I realized that I didn’t just want to limit myself to that audience. I was tempted to just post them here on 4thletter!, but I know the size of me and Gavin’s platform here, and I wanted something bigger. I reached out to Joe Hughes at ComicsAlliance with the idea. He was into it, and provided some feedback that I think made it a lot better.
Inkstuds and ComicsAlliance don’t have a lot of overlap in terms of audience, or at least it doesn’t feel that way going by what they each have covered, and I liked the idea of using both outlets to expose people to stuff they might not have known. Joe and Robin were both fine with me doing it on my own terms, too. I was thinking about the value of ownership and control even before CA closed last year, and the money in writing about comics simply isn’t good enough to do it any way but the way I (and you, if we’re being really real with each other) want to do it. So I laid out my terms and goals like a prima donna, they were fine with it, and we were off to the races with a project I maybe made more complicated than it had to be, but one I liked.
So, now that it’s all done, I wanted to publicly explain why I did it, and to say thank you to Joe and Robin for letting me borrow their platforms for selfish reasons. Darryl Ayo, Jay Potts, Jimmie Robinson, Whit Taylor, LeSean Thomas, Spike Trotman, and Qiana Whitted were incredibly generous with their time and thoughts, and each of them leapt at the chance to talk to me about my vague ideas, which I’m exceedingly grateful for. I learned a lot, and I’m very appreciative that they were down to chat. I left every conversation energized about comics and making stuff, which is a sometimes-rare feeling and almost the whole entire point of the entire project.
Thanks for listening.