About 10 years ago, I made the decision to cut our cable and phone service in favour of hi-speed internet. But I also worried that my family would be left out of the cultural loop, and indeed, it was difficult to hold up my end of the conversation at the water cooler during work when everyone else was chatting up the previous nights episode of the latest hot show. However, I didn’t actually have time to watch long stretches of TV like I use to do. It was simply on in the background and I would catch glimpses of the news or shows in passing.

The primary motivation for the decision was financial, of course. I was paying about $160 a month for a package that didn’t include a cell phone (I should mention that the typical media package consists of cable TV, internet access, traditional telephone or a landline, and cellular phone service). I felt this was very expensive so I started taking a closer look at the situation, only to learn that many of my friends were paying about $350 a month for their media package. That’s about $4200 a year… 10 years ago. Add to that setup costs, hardware and subscriptions to specialty channels and the cost of media could be even higher. I have a love/hate relationship with the telecom industry and their trials and tribulations have all been documented, so needless to say, the thought of being freed from the shackles of our two main local providers was also very enticing.

Our VoIP phone service didn’t work out so well and we struggled with it for almost a year. In the end, we caved to social pressure and finally signed up for individual cell phones. My kids have become more media/computer literate and more aware of technology. My wife watches her Chinese specific programming for free online. And as for me, I’m all over the place, popping in and out of online forums, mostly researching comics as a form of entertainment these days. In short, we don’t miss TV at all (except for live sports) and anything I’ve missed but is worth watching can eventually be sourced online with relative ease.

As such, YouTube has become a big part of my media diet. I wasn’t a fan of YouTube initially, but for all the crap that is uploaded to Google servers, I’ve come to appreciate what this represents. A voice for people like you and me, and an opportunity to be well rewarded for those willing to make an effort. But hark! For every success story there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of fail attempts that you never hear about. But for every porn star who has found success playing with… **ahem**… toys, for those who are paid millions for simply playing video games, and the many, many unboxing channels like this fellow OCAD alumni and one of YouTube’s top tech reviewer… what makes certain YouTubers so successful? I suspect a lot of it has to do with chemistry… and the simple fact that they are doing it on a regular basis.

All this leads me to some of my favourite comic related channels and YouTube finds:

For comic related material, I like NerdSync for their diverse and informative uploads. These guys are able to explain and address many comic related questions in a manner that is easy to understand. But for a more “to-the-point” manner of presentation, I prefer The Big Picture, which is a subset of the Escapist. Again, very informative but not as frequently uploaded as NerdSync.

For movie reviews, I love the sarcastic tone of YourMovieSucks, which makes for a fun watch. I find creator Adam Johnston to be highly intelligent, whose keen observational sense and overall presentation can be compared to that of the legendary Mr. Plinkett of Red Letter Media. But most of all, unlike guys like Chris Stuckmann or Grace Randolph who tend to be soft or overly positive, I appreciate the direct, honest and logical approach, which ultimately is inline with my own personal views. My only complaint is that he doesn’t upload as often as the others but I also think he puts more thought and effort into his reviews.

In addition to formal YouTube channels, there are tons of random uploads from fans or the comic creators themselves. You can learn a lot from simply watching the many art demonstrations, documentaries or interviews. This short video of master inker Scott Williams embellishing Jim Lee’s pencils is mesmerizing to watch.

Speaking of Jim Lee, you don’t have to be a fan to appreciate this small glimpse into his process.

This 5 part series of Adam Hughes is worth watching in their entirety. Not only is it a keen demonstration of his ability, but we are given insight into his personality as well. Through his informal comments, we are pleasantly greeted by his sense of humour.

Here is the legendary Joe Sinnott taking about his relationship with Jack Kirby.

A big part of watching Bill Sienkiewicz is the performance… as the image develops over a series of smudges and scratches.

Quintessential to Marvel’s house style back in the 1970’s, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watch this clip of big John Buscema.

From art tutorials, convention sketch demos, cos play, discussions, opinions, reviews… you’ll find things online that traditional television does not offer. The beauty of forums like YouTube is the customization and being able to pick and choose the things that interest you. So, have fun and enjoy.