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?


Episode 119: Darren Murph


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.


Episode 118: Leah Hayes


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.


Episode: 117: Jeff Smith


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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