Much in the way Marc Maron's WTF podcast provides a more personal, and sometimes profound, look at comedians as they're interviewed by a fellow comedian, comic artist and Savannah College of Art and Design professor Shawn Crystal has turned the spotlight on comic-book creators.
Earlier this year Crystal launched the podcast InkPulp Audio (available on iTunes here), and it's already generating buzz among his fellow creators. The artist who introduced me to it said, tongue in cheek, that he's "hoping Crystal will soon be the Oprah of comics." While that remains to be seen (keep checking under your chairs for that new car), the podcast finds him talking shop with such artists as Sean Murphy, Eric Canete, Ryan Stegman and Rick Remender.
The idea for the podcast came to Crystal as he found himself at a crossroads.
"The short answer is that I started Inkpulp Audio because of my mid-life crisis, sort of," he tells ROBOT 6. "I have two full-time jobs: I work for Marvel Comics and I am the department chair for the Sequential Art department for SCAD Atlanta. I turned 40 last year. I saw life flashing before me. I had a lot of questions and an unsettled mind."
Crystal says he frequently listens to podcasts while drawing, and he discovered some that did more than merely document the facts; they captured real stories by real people.
"[These podcasts] were full portraits of life, the good and the bad," he says. "While I found these podcasts extremely entertaining , they were also very helpful with everything I was wrestling with in my head. We live in a media-driven era, focused on false realities. These podcasts were the opposite of that. They were real, human, and honest. The art of conversation seems to be dying in the age of texts and Twitter. These podcasts were filling my soul with something pure."
Instead of conducting interviews with creators to publicize specific projects, Crystal wanted conversations that moved beyond the typical 10 questions artists get asked.
"Working in comics, I know a lot of people. Each person with a unique story," says the 13-year veteran. "I thought I should record some conversations and put out a podcast of my own in our industry. The ones I listened to were from the world of stand-up comedy. The comic book industry didn't have anything like this, so I went for it. The response has been resonate. It's helped me tremendously with my questions and it's helped me connect with more and more people. My goal is to simply keep this going while always be true and honest. Hopefully it helps someone along the way."