Commentary: Michigan State University Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast

by Andy Kunka

We mentioned this podcast on the show several months ago, but I want to encourage listeners of The Comics Alternative who haven’t done so to check out the Michigan State University Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast. Host Ryan Claytor, who teaches Comics Studio classes in MSU’s Art Department, recently wrapped the podcast’s first nine-episode season, so now is a good time to go back and listen to these episodes before the second season starts in September.

The podcast comes out monthly during the academic year, September through May. Each episode features an in-depth interview with a different creator, including, in the first season, Sergio Aragones, Nick Bertozzi, Tom Hart, Jessica Abel, Nate Powell, Janet Lee, Joshua Cotter, David Petersen, and Stan Sakai. The nine interviews for the season are recorded prior to the release of the first episode. That means the interviews are not tied to a specific new release or promotional push by the creator. This allows Ryan to go deep into the creator’s career, covering everything from the early experiences with comics to the most recently published works. And because Ryan is a creator himself, with his autobiographical series And Then One Day, he also asks specific questions related to comics production, questions that don’t normally get covered in podcast interviews with comics creators.

Because these interviews are career-spanning, I think that they have particular appeal to comics scholars and the broader audience that listens to The Comics Alternative. These are the types of interviews that belong in the University Press of Mississippi’s Conversations with Comic Artists series, for example. I also admire Ryan’s interview style. The conversations are well-researched, but also personable.

In addition to the creator interviews that serve as the focus of each episode, Ryan also includes two other regular features: an update on comics events at Michigan State University (including the annual MSU Comics Forum and projects that his classes are doing) and a peek inside MSU library’s Comic Art Special Collection, featuring Randy Scott. I’ve had the pleasure of researching in the Special Collection, and Randy is an incredible resource for comics scholars, in addition to being one of the nicest people you could meet. In this segment, Randy highlights some of the unique parts of the collection, including rare underground, international, and Golden Age comics. The segment gives an impressive look at the extensive offerings in the collection.

You can find the podcast’s blog, along with show notes, at http://msucomics.libsyn.com/. The podcast is available on most of the podcatching sites that you might use.

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Check out some of the creators interviewed on the MSU podcast:

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The Comics Alternative is a podcast and blog focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics.

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