What I've Been Listening To ... Tall Tale Radio

I listen to a lot of stuff as I draw. I listen to audiobooks, comedy albums, songs and, yes, podcasts.

There's a sea of quality podcasts.  I can't keep up. I wind up binging on them like a nice Netflix meal of entertainment. It wasn't always this way. The time has finally passed when I have to listen to a lot of needless droning to find something good.

Way back in the day, and I'm talking about when Obama was president, there were many podcasts supposedly about subjects I liked that were simply people talking for, oh, 20 hours, using recording equipment that produced what sounded strikingly like test broadcasts from 1923. The people making them were having fun but as a listener I was left slightly lobotomized (which, sure, may have done me some good in the long run, but an ice pick between the eyes would've been faster).

Then there was Tom Racine and Tall Tale Radio. Tom had actual content, actual guests, actual prepared questions, and could actually move the conversation along while being informative and funny. His voice was superb and the show sounded as professional as it gets. Tom made Tall Tale Radio podcasts for quite awhile, interviewing many wonderful cartoonists, and then (like most of us who do things for a long time) he got bored. 

A brief run on my favorite site, GoComics, wasn't the best fit for Tall Tale Radio and as interviewees we cartoonists tend to have similar back stories: Charles Schulz is a god, we were enthralled with the medium from an early age, a lucky break occurred, and occasionally money was earned so that we could quit our day jobs ("we"...HA! ...like I'm not a poor graphic artist competing with tech school graduates for the jobs that haven't gone overseas...oh, just let me have this inclusion.)

Sadly, had Tom been interviewing idiot celebrities like Justin Beiber he'd be hailed as a genius and rewarded with steady pay. But cartoonists, as much as we love them, don't attract a mainstream crowd. We're still a niche.

So Tom took a hiatus. I was convinced "hiatus" was code for "goodbye". It seems like no medium is spared from losing quality material that only exists out of a labor of love. But then Tom did something I thought was impossible.

He came back with a better show.

He brought the wonderful Lucas Turnbloom (the cartoonist's cartoonist who does Imagine This) with him, continued Jonathan Lemon's always-informative "Lemon List" and combined a variety of guests and subjects into each episode.

This isn't niche stuff, kids, this is an informative entertainment podcast that covers topics across the board.

Just this year he's interviewed Doug Adams about music from Lord of the Rings and other movie soundtracks, spoke with Egyptologist Dr. Kara Cooney in a can't-stop-listening piece, and brought back one of my favorite people, Justin Thompson (creator of Mythtickle) to discuss movies, books, parenting and all things geekdom and wonderful.

Cartoonists are still interviewed, and the shows with Sarah Anderson, Kenny Durkin, Jim Keefe and Francesco Marciuliano (who made the greatest Pee of all time) were fantastic.

As I write this the most recent episodes are with Justin Thompson and John Sanford. I could listen to them talk about animation all day.

I even forgot that one of my questions was discussed. I asked for modern animation executive horror stories. I figured that whatever John had to say would be another version of the wacky "management doesn't understand creativity" stories that have become legend from the days of classic animation. I was wrong. John's story caught me so off guard that I may have ruptured my spleen laughing. Maybe it's because I met the exec he was talking about and found the guy to be weird myself, but I don't think we're going to find a story to top this one. You'll have to listen to the episode to hear it. Un-be-lieve-a-ble.

Let's not forget that the consistent presence in each episode is Tom. Everyone talks about Tom's great voice, but let's not forget that Tom can really conduct an interview. He's top-notch. And he's funny. Very funny. He always manages to make an observation that just kills me.

So that's what I've listen to somewhat recently (I'm back on audiobooks right now).

I implore you: Listen to Tall Tale Radio. It's one of the best podcasts out there.