Episode 122: Bobby Tisdale

19Aug

This conversation with Bobby Tisdale begins with a story in which he picks a scab until he starts bleeding on a woman on the subway, segues into a conversation about the time a kitten bit into his scrotum and then proceeds to snowball from there. I had some semblance of what I was in for when we sat down following his brief set at the QED performance space in Astoria. The comedian doesn’t hold much back on stage, a quality that translates well into a one-on-one interview. In a wide ranging conversation with the Bob’s Burgers actor, we discuss the process of discovering one’s voice as a standup, finding happiness and what to do when all of your friends become wildly successful. Tisdale also reveals the details for his dream project, which I attempt to convince him to follow through on. In fact, we make a handshake agreement during the interview to conduct a followup interview when the podcast finally airs — so stick around until after the intro to find out of the status of the Bobby Tisdale variety special.

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Episode 121: John Leguizamo

12Aug

Some days nothing goes right with an interview. Other days the stars align and you score someone like John Leguizamo on a bit of a whim, because he happens to be promoting a new graphic novel at Book Expo America. This, as you’ve already gathered, is one of the latter. Due out in October, Ghetto Klown is the actor’s first foray into comics, an adaptation of the 2011 one man Broadway show that scored him Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards and an HBO special. Drawn by  Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale, the book find Leguizamo spilling the dirt on some of his best know acting gigs, from To Wong Fu to Romeo and Juliet and the Steven Segal action vehicle, Executive Decision. We discuss some of the best stories, Leguizamo’s love of comics and whole lot of therapy in a fascinating behind the scenes interview at BEA

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Episode 120: (Bonus) Mike Mignola

9Aug

The contents of this interview originally appeared as a Q&A for my day job at TechTimes. I enjoyed speaking with Mike Mignola so much I thought it would be fun to run the piece in its entirety as a bonus episode on this here podcast — and besides, as is so often the case, there are some intricacies that just don’t translate in transcribed form. I spoke with Mignola ahead of the release of Hellboy in Hell #7, the latest issue of the on-going series that finds the cartoonist returning to writing and drawing the hybrid demonspawn he helped bring into the world. The conversation touches on Mignola’s work on the series, his relationship with his best known creation and how the pair of Guillermo del Toro impacted his feelings about old Hellboy. It’s a fun and quick chat — and a rare phone conversation for us. But hey, that’s why they’re called bonus episodes, right?

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Episode 119: Darren Murph

5Aug

Nothing says reunion of old friends quite like a few cups of tea and a couple of microphones. It had been a year or two since I’d last seen my former Engadget colleague and current world record holding blogger Darren Murph, so I suggested a sit down at my favorite combination tea house/impromptu podcast recording venue when he found himself in the city for a few days. In addition to his PR day job, Murph is an incredibly prolific writer who has penned a 17,000+ blog posts and a number of electronics guides. His latest book, however, is by far his most personal. The self-released Living the Remote Dream is a sort of bible for the blogger’s world traveling, remote working lifestyle. Murph and I sat down over some pots of green tea and discussed our glory days of gadget blogging and surviving the rapidly changing world of digital publishing. As with Murph’s latest book, it’s one of the most personal episodes of RiYL, along side the conversation with fellow former Engadgeteer Tim Stevens about life in the trenches of tech journalism.

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Episode 118: Leah Hayes

29Jul

The indie comics booths present a perfect sort of eye in the middle of the Comic Con storm. Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics form a perfect sort of triangle where the costumed self-madness of the show takes a momentary reprieve. This is where Not Funny Ha-Ha has its unofficial debuts. A few week later, Leah Hayes will present the book more formally, reading from the abortion-themed graphic novel in front of a crowd at Los Angeles independent bookstore. For now, however, she discusses the story with curious parties who pass through the Fantagraphics booth. The stories have already begun flooding in, she explains as we sit down in a shady spot behind the San Diego Convention Center. The subject matter is nothing if not a conversation starter. Thus far, she’s already have several strangers describe their own abortion experience or the the experience of someone close to them.  Others have discussed different difficult moments — heck, over the course of our conversation, I find myself relating a story about recently losing a pet. It’s just that sort of book. Hayes and I discuss the impact of debuting such an intimate book in boisterous environment on a small patch of grass as cosplayers ride in the backs of rickshaws on either side of our little green island.

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Episode: 117: Jeff Smith

22Jul

Jeff Smith made comics safe for kids again. In 1991, the cartoonist began self-publishing, an all-ages adventure story rendering in a style reminiscent of legends Walt Kelly and Carl Barks that felt like a breath of fresh air in a world of sequential art utterly disrupted by Watchmen and the Dark Knight half a decade before. With 55 issues spread out over the course of 13 years, Smith created one of the medium’s great masterworks, a 1,300 cartoon page epic to rival the likes of the Odyssey or Lord of Rings, racking up ten Eisners and 11 Harvey Awards in the process. After a decade and a half in Boneville, Smith abruptly shifted gears with RASL, a sci-fi tale of a dimension-hopping art thief also published on his own Cartoon Books. Shortly after the end of RASL’s run, Smith once again pivoted, exploring the world of Webcomics through Tüki, the largely wordless tale of African tribesman who dared venture to other continents. We sat down with Smith at Book Expo of America to discover his wideranging and pioneering works, the wild world of self-publishing and how his hometown of Columbus, Ohio has been transformed into Comicstown, USA.

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Episode 116: Sam Seder

15Jul

Some context before we get started: I met Sam Seder five or so years back when he cohosted a video show in the Air America break room. By then the progressive talk station was on its last legs. Both Seder and cohost Marc Maron had been through the ringer with other programs and had ended up setting a desk directly in front of a vending machine in a radio station kitchen.After the plug was unceremoniously pulled, Seder did what countless abruptly unemployed comedian/radio personalities have since: he launched a podcast. The show borrowed the format, Jon Benjamin-voiced bumpers and title of an Air American show he had co-hosted with long-time friend Janeane Garofalo. Ten years after launching, The Majority Report is still going strong, featuring daily interviews with guests and left leaning political talk that would make many of the talking heads at MSNBC. When sat down at Seder’s downtown Brooklyn studio, the specter of Break Room Live was very much on my mind, thanks in no small part to a the fact that Maron had released an interview with Seder on WTF that very week. As such, there’s much talk about vending machines, political radio and how to deal with a friend’s new-found success.

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Episode 115: Lisa Wilde

7Jul

I would have been more than content to discuss Wild Cat Academy, the New York City second chance high where Lisa Wilde has taught for more than a decade and a half. What resulted from our hour-long conversation, however, was one of the more wide-ranging interviews we’ve run for some time, hitting on subjects like life in the city and juggling, life, family and part-time creative pursuits. And the, of course, there’s the factotum of jobs that factor so prominently into Wilde’s bio, from baking, to the BBC to the teaching gig that gave rise to Yo Miss, a self-published mini-comic turned anthology by our friends at Microcosm Books. Wilde sent me a few issues while I was writing about zines for Boing Boing, and I knew she’s make for a fascinating interview. It took a year or two for us to finally line our schedules up, but when we sat down in the drawing studio of the Brooklyn home she shares with her husband and son, it was well worth the wait.

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Episode 114: Kevin Allison

1Jul

This isn’t the first time this has happened, the realization that an upcoming guest has recently been on WTF fills me with an immediate sense of dread. Surely Maron has mined this person for all of their conversational juices. Of course, that worry subsides almost immediately when the interviewee is Kevin Allison The former State member has built a second career for himself standing on-stage and not holding back. The Cincinnati-born comedian founded Risk! as a weekly live show in Manhattan, in August of 2009. A few months later, the series grew into a podcast, setting itself apart from myriad other storytelling radio shows and podcasts thanks to some well-known guests and a dedication to Allison’s fearless confessional style. Risk’s explicit mission statement involves guests, “tell[ing] true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public.” As a frequent Risk storyteller himself, Allison is no stranger to brutal honesty. It’s a great quality in a podcast guest — and one that was happily on full display as we sat down in an empty bar in Astoria, NY ahead of a Friday night standup set.

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Episode 113: Jeffrey Lewis

24Jun

I’m pretty sure I first heard about Jeffrey Lewis through his music. By the time I arrived in New York City, the singer-songwriter was already a veteran of the same Lower East Side antifolk scene that gave the world the likes of the Moldy Peaches. Turns out the guy also makes some really terrific comics as well. And better still, he takes every opportunity available to combine the two forms, as with with a series of comic essays on the songwriting process written for the New York Times, or the year we asked him to perform at Manhattan’s MoCCA Fest in which he combined singing with an easel baring drawings for a lo-fi multimedia storytelling experience. I ran into Lewis once again at this year’s MoCCA comics show and he happily agreed to an impromptu conversation on a scenic Chelsea rooftop overlooking the Hudson. It’s a relatively quick (by RiYL standards) conversation, due to the rapidly dropping rooftop temperatures and Lewis’s need to get back to his unmanned table at the show, but it’s still a wide-ranging and interesting chat on the nature of creativity from an artist who seemingly does it all.

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