I’ve decided to start using this blogging space.
Starting today, I’m going to post a new top-five list every Monday.
So, here goes nothing…
If I’m drawing, then there’s probably a podcast playing in the background. I find it helpful to occupy the vierbal and aural parts of my mind while I work on the visual part of the comic (on the other hand, I can only listen to music or ambient noises while writing). I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I recently learned that Scott McCloud’s wife would read to him while he was drawing Zot. So, with that in mind, here are my five favorite podcasts. There’s a pretty good chance that any comic on this site was drawn while listening to one of these.
I’ve been listening to SEQALAB since before there was a SEQALAB. Just as I was reading through the archives of American Elf, the founding members of SEQALAB were subbing on Around Comics where they interviewed James Kochalka. From there, I followed them to their own show, and I’ve been listening weekly ever since.
The cast of SEQALAB is made up of students, faculty, and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design Sequential Art Program, and it often feels like all of the best things about the art and writing workshops that I took in college and grad school. The thing that I enjoy the most about SEQALAB is the mix of personalities and interests on there. Most of the comic podcasts that I’ve found tend to be focused on a single form of comics, and they usually dismiss the others. SEQALAB is the only comic podcast that enthusiastically covers everything. And, because everyone on the podcast is a cartoonist, there’s a big focus on discussing what works (or doesn’t) and why it works (or doesn’t). The podcasts tend to run a bit on the long side (1:30 seems to be the average) but that tends to be the perfect amount of time for drawing.
Along with SEQALAB, Webcomics Weekly has been both a great source of background entertainment, and a huge inspiration for my work. The discussions tend to be more focused on the business side of comics than the art side, but that’s a big part of why I find Webcomics Weekly so valuable. It’s essentially a chance to eavesdrop as four successful cartoonists talk shop. That may not sound exciting, but it’s ridiculously informative, and (given that they are all humorists) often hilarious.
I’m not sure if there’s a lot to say about This American Life that hasn’t been said. It began as an antidote to the tone of public radio, and has now come to define it. But it’s still a fascinating show, especially for someone like me who if fascinated with everyday life and other people’s stories. This American Life is also how I discovered Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, who have both been major influences for me.
4: Radio Lab
Radio Lab is science through stories. It’s like This American Life, but the focus is on science rather than everyday life (although it’s often about the point where those two intersect). I enjoy drawing to Radio Lab, but it’s even better to listen to while on a long walk. Also, the episode on memory has had a pretty big impact on my writing and cartooning.
Like Fresh Air, each episode of The Sound of Young America tends to feature either an interview with someone who I find interesting, or an interesting interview with someone I’ve never heard of. Unlike Fresh Air, the guests on The Sound of Young America skew strongly toward the nerdy and comedic. It’s also notable for the informal tone, which leads to much more interesting conversations than most interview shows. It sometimes feels like The Sound of Young America is made of the tangents that get edited out of other interviews, which is a big part of why I like it.