Episode 129: Ed Piskor and Marc Bell


I first encountered Ed Piskor’s work through the cartoonist’s collaborations with the legendary Harvey Pekar. The duo released the book Macedonia in 2007, highlighting The American Splendor author’s work to push non-fiction storytelling forward in the medium by highlighting cultural struggles in the Republic of Macedonia in comics form. It was no doubt a formative experience for the cartoonist who would rise to even greater fame in the indie comics community half a decade later with the release of the first volume of Hip-Hop Family Tree, a sweeping on-going series highlighting the music’s rise from the streets of the Bronx to the driving force of international popular culture. Also recorded at San Diego Comic Con back in July, part two is a chat with cartoonist and fine artist Marc Bell, who hilariously explains why his attempts to tell a straight forward story with his latest book, the delightful Stroppy on Drawn & Quarterly, went so horribly wrong. 


Episode 128: Congressman John Lewis, with Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin


It was one of the most surreal things I’ve experienced, legendary civil rights leader turned congressman John Lewis leading a procession of small children through the packed halls of the San Diego Convention Center during rush hour at Comic Con.Turns out it was even more amazing than any of us suspected. Without telling anyone, the Congressman had gone full-on cosplay, recreating what he had worn during the Selma to Montgomery march 50 years prior, right down to the apple he carried in his knapsack. It was, as one might suspect, a packed weekend for Rep. Lewis, who was attending Comic Con along with March collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell to mark the release of the trilogy’s second volume. We did, however. manage to sit down with all three (first Lewis and Aydin and then Powell) to discuss the powerful graphic novels. Rep. shed light on his history, his thoughts on the current state of the struggle for equality and Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, the $0.10 comic book that influenced a generation of civil rights activists.


Episode 127: Anders Nilsen


In one sense, perhaps Comic Con is the ideal setting for this conversation. It’s a conversation about authenticity, about the unintended artifice of a sketchbook created for public consumption. By all other measures, however, it’s completely bizarre. The show occurred a week or so after the release of Ander Nilsen’s new book, Poetry is Useless. A loud and boisterous setting for a low-key artist making low-key art. Nilsen recommended a spot behind the San Diego Convention Center — a small island of grass and shade with pedicabs whizzing by on either side blaring top 40 hits. Even so, it’s a fascinating conversation about the creative process, letting art happen, and the ups and downs of dealing with grief in a public forum. And cosplay, naturally.


Episode 126: (Bonus) Alex Winter Talks Frank Zappa


The moment I heard Alex Winter was working on a Zappa documentary, I wanted to get him on the phone again. For starters, their was our first conversation, which ranks among my top RiYL episode — and then there’s the fact that I’m constantly on the look out for someone to help gently nudge me into the musician’s massive and sometimes impenetrable back catalog. As Winter quickly notes, however, that’s not his job. Nor is it the job of his forthcoming documentary. The Deep Web filmmaker is far more interested in Zappa the man and polymath, examining his strange and singular career outside of music, including his increasing involvement in social activism.  It’s another fascinating conversation with Winter about Zappa’s legacy and why it’s was so important for the director to go beyond the standard rock-doc.


Episode 125: Dean Haspiel


We delve into insecurities almost immediately. It’s a surprising way to kick off a conversation with an artist infamous for going topless at regular intervals in public gatherings. Surprising, but appropriate, given the nature of Haspiel’s new collection, Beef With Tomato.The cartoonist, who’s made a name for himself with Jack Kirby-influenced takes on the superhero genre such as his own Billy Dogma, takes a far more introspective turn in this latest collection, pulling together short autobiographical pieces documenting his move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. It’s a collection no doubt inspired by Haspiel’s work with autobio masters like Harvey Pekar and Jonathan Ames, the latter of which helped the artist score a Emmy Award for his work on the much beloved HBO series, Bored to Death. In the course of the hour-long interview, we discuss Haspiel’s long list of collaborators, a push toward minimalism and his self-imposed growth as a storyteller.


Episode 124: Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown and Jeff Lemire


As we prep ourselves for the onslaught of belated Comic Con interviews, here’s a trio of quick conversations with comics creators, Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown and Jeff Lemire. Our conversation with Beaton occurred at the Scholastic offices in the weeks leading up to San Diego. The Hark a Vagrant cartoonist was in town to promote her new kids book, The Princess and the Pony, which centers around the friendship between a young girl and her portly equine friend. We caught up with Jeffrey Brown who was wandering the halls of the San Diego Convention Center in between panels about his own recent success with younger audiences, thanks to his unique take on the Star Wars franchise through books like Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy. It’s a galaxy far away from the manner of introspective autobiographic work he was best known for the last time we spoke. And speaking of fascinating career trajectories, we sat down with Jeff Lemire to discuss how the author of the idiosyncratic Essex County series went on to become one of the most prominent writers of mainstream superhero books.


Episode 123: (Bonus) Roderick on Politics


With his Seattle City Council campaign behind him, I suggested to John Roderick that we sit down for a short conversation to reflect on the run.  But as fans of the Long Winters singer’s popular podcast Roderick on the Line are no doubt already aware, when it comes to John Roderick, there’s no such thing as a short conversation. The Pacific Northwestern polymath’s knack for nuanced conversation may not fit in particularly well in the soundbite-driven world of stump speeches, but it makes for an extremely compelling podcast for anyone interested in the a conversation about running for office from someone who’s more than happy to discuss all of the gory details. We’re running this as a bonus episode, since the conversation was conducted remotely, but hopefully you’ll get as much out of it as any installment of the regular show. You can also find a longer RiYL conversation with Roderick here.


Episode 122: Bobby Tisdale


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.


Episode 121: John Leguizamo


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


Episode 120: (Bonus) Mike Mignola


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?


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »