There is no end to comic book related podcasts on the internet, but I would be amiss if I didn’t share with our readers a little about Ink Pulp Audio, which is, pound for pound, the best comic book related podcast on the world wide web today.
Ink Pulp Audio is the brainchild of Shawn Crystal, comic book artist and Head of the Sequential Art Department at the Savanagh College of Art & Design, Altanta Campus. The podcast is not about new 52s or big crossovers, or what the newest trailer for the Wolverine movie looks like. Shawn is a natural teacher, and the podcast is an intimate examination of creativity, motivation, and the human condition. He breaks the podcast into 2 main sections. In the first part of the program he tells a personal story about his own history, passions, and creative process, and the latter part of the podcast has him interviewing an artist or writer from the industry. Past guest include Sean Murphy, Eric Canete, Rick Remender, Ryan Stegman, Skottie Young, and Elmore Leonard (yes, that Elmore Leonard).
On each episode Shawn and his guests delve into the difficulty of mental blocks and personal neurosis for creative individuals and how they have learned to overcome and cope with them. For some it may be a level of self-deprecation, or perfectionism, or procrastination, but all have challenges that they need to surpass in order to produce the art that the love. When I talk with comic book fans (or even non-fans) there is always a sense that creative individuals are naturally good at what they do and so it comes very easy. But natural talent for drawing or an aptitude for sequential storytelling doesn’t automatically equal success. There is a lot of blood, hard work, and overcoming personal barriers that goes into success in the industry.
Colleagues jokingly call Shawn the Oprah of Comics. This is due to how Shawn elicits such raw and honest responses from his guests. Shawn is so honest with his own personal stories that he puts both the listener and his guests at ease, and every podcast has each guest sharing such personal stories that you cannot help but know them better by the end. Once you hear someone on Ink Pulp Audio you’ll never be able to look at his or her books in the same way.
A large number of the discussions centre around being a parent and the fear and anxiety that one feels when the life of another is in your hands. Or guests may discuss how they constantly struggle with acceptance in the industry, or how they find personal motivation when facing that daunting blank page.
Not all topics are heavy though, as career history, personal passions, and hobbies also form a large part of the discourse. Breaking into the industry, hip hop music (and music in general), skateboarding, and other artists as influences get woven into each episode, painting a picture of how guests went from being inexperienced amateurs to successful professionals with world recognition.
I find it fascinating to see this side of creators, and gain a fuller picture of who they are and how they make their art. Each podcast is a master class in so many ways.
This isn’t a podcast that would only interest artists, nor is it only of interest to comic book fans. Ink Pulp Audio is really about how to succeed and how to keep succeeding, and that you are not alone with your struggles, and that is a lesson which is applicable to everyone and anyone no matter what your chosen field or profession is. Shawn should be proud of what he has done and I hope his listeners grow with each episode.