I don’t listen to a lot of comic book podcasts that come out on a regular schedule (and definitely not video podcasts; comic book fans are not the most photogenic of people, and I don’t want to watch overweight men in extra large superhero t-shirts, sorry), although I have sampled a selection in my time. However, I do make the effort for two comic book podcasts in particular. One I’ll get to later, but the first one chronologically was House To Astonish, from Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy.
Al Kennedy was a new name to me (although he did contribute to the much-missed Ninth Art), but Paul O’Brien is a long-time internet comic book fan: I remember him posting on rec.art.comics groups, and I followed his writing on The X-Axis (where he reviewed every mutant book from Marvel, among others), and his regular column on Ninth Art. He finally succumbed and got his own blog, If Destroyed, but he’s moved the writing he did there over to the House To Astonish blog. His writing has always been intelligent and sharp, with a great ability to get to the heart of the matter and express himself clearly. This talent is evident in his talking as well, because the podcast is very entertaining.
Both men are lawyers, so it makes sense that they can analyse and talk about comics and comic book news very well. The podcast is essentially the same format: they discuss any comic-related news of the moment, followed by reviews of three or four comics of that week, and finish up with a section they call The Official Handbook Of The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe; in this, Al highlights an old character from the Marvel universe and imagine an updated version for the modern incarnation. Of all the sections, this is my least favourite, but the boys seem to enjoy it and that at least comes across.
The chaps have a great rapport, are able to chat about comics knowledgeably but with a sense of humour as well, and they come across well in the podcast. It’s also nice to hear British voices talking about comics – Al and Paul are both Scottish – which balances the amount of American voices in comic books. They have recorded 31 podcasts so far, and I recommend them all if you are a fan of comic books and incisive yet funny chat about ‘funny-coloured bits of paper’ (to quote their website).