The Short Box: A Comic Book Talk Show

"The Reggie Miller of Comic Interviews": An In-Depth Conversation with SKTCHD Founder & Off-Panel Host: David Harper

May 31, 2023 Season 8
The Short Box: A Comic Book Talk Show
"The Reggie Miller of Comic Interviews": An In-Depth Conversation with SKTCHD Founder & Off-Panel Host: David Harper
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

David Harper, dubbed the "Reggie Miller of comic interviews" by Mike Del Mundo himself, is the host of the Off Panel podcast and the founder/writer of the comic site: SKTCHD. He joins Badr for a deep-dive conversation about comics, journalism, basketball, Pizza Hut...and Stiltman?!

Watch the behind-the-scenes video version on YouTube!


  • An introduction to David Harper - 10:50
  • Breaking into comic journalism and the origin of SKTCHD & Off Panel - 20:32
  • Advice for getting new people into comics - 41:12
  • How to prioritize your comics and reading order with The Immediacy Index  - 48:03
  • The Story Behind the X-Men x Pizza Hut Promotion - 51:08
  • The "Five F's" to staying consistent in podcasting and writing - 56:51
  • The unlikely charm of Stiltman  - 01:01:17
  • David's Comic Artist Mt. Rushmore - 01:08:32
  • Advice for aspiring podcasters & comic writers - 01:22:54
  • Ben's Top 3 Comic Picks! (Space Outlaw #1, The Incredible Hulk #1, & Creed Next Round #1) - 01:26:14
  • BOOM Studios comics giveaway! (Write in and tell us your favorite comic series from BOOM Studios, and automatically be entered) - 01:36:38

Jax friends, join us, for the 2nd Duval Comic and Zine Fest (DCAZ) on June 10th!

Proudly sponsored by Gotham City Limit!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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The Short Box Podcast Ep. #392 - "The Reggie Miller of Comic Interviews": A Very In-Depth Conversation with SKTCHD Founder & Off-Panel Host: David Harper

[00:00:00] Intro music plays

[00:01:16] Badr: Yoo, Short Box Nation. You heard the opening, right? Do I need to say any more? You're in for a good one today. All right. Welcome back to the podcast, and if you're new to the show, welcome to the Party. This is the Short Box Podcast, the comic book talk show that brings you the best conversations about comics and the pop culture they inspire.

[00:01:35] Badr: My name is Badr and this is episode 3 92. And if that may be like really real for you guys, like a hundred percent honest, because I consider you guys my friends, the existential dread and expectations that comes with planning something cool and big for the 400th episode. Well, it's weighing pretty heavy on your boy.

[00:01:54] Badr: All right, I'm, I'm, I'm having sleepless nights trying to figure out how I'm going to outdo what we've done for 390 episodes so far. But fear not, I'm, I'm gonna figure it out. I'm also lucky because I'm joined by someone who not only understands what I'm going through, but has already celebrated 400 episodes of his own incredible comic podcast.

[00:02:14] Badr: Matter of fact, he's on episode 4 0 2 by the time this one comes out. You heard his voice just now in the opening, and I have no doubt that his name is flashing across the screen on whatever podcast app you're using. So no surprise here, but I've got the one and only David Harper on the show. Now, if you're bashfully or even bluntly wondering, uh, who the hell is David?

[00:02:33] Badr: And should I know him? Uh, yes. You absolutely should know who David is. David is the host of the incredible comic podcast, off panel and the man who also runs incomparable comic website sketched. SKTCHD, the subscription comic site designed to tell the story behind our favorite comic stories, creators and the industry through a variety of content types, including deeply researched, long form articles, interactive forums, and of course the very popular and long-running podcast.

[00:03:00] Badr: Off panel, a podcast that I'm not afraid to say that I'm a huge fan of and one that has inspired me countless times. It's one of the best in the industry. And look, don't even get me started on the, the parent company and website sketched the articles, the interviews, the, the presentation, the attention to detail, the aesthetic.

[00:03:17] Badr: Look. Long story short, if you put the Fader, GQ, and Comic B guy in a blender, you'll get David Harper. Okay?

[00:03:26] David Harper: Oh my God.

[00:03:27] Badr: And since I can't wait to introduce you to the man that Mike do, Mundo himself called the Reggie Miller of comics, I will save all my shameless plugs and announcements for the end of the show so you can hear about the events I'll be at like, uh, the Duval Comic and Zine Fest taking place in June for all of my Jack's peeps.

[00:03:44] Badr: Uh, you can hear about this Boom Studio's Comic bundle giveaway that we're doing, and you can be reminded about how awesome and spoiled our Patreon subscribers are later on in the show after the interview. So, without further ado, let's finally a set the stage for today's guest of honor Short Box Nation.

[00:04:01] Badr: Let's welcome for the first time ever, David Harper to the show. David, welcome. How are you doing today?

[00:04:09] David Harper: I'm doing great. Uh, I have to say I have so many, my, one of my biggest problems about appearing on people's podcasts is I naturally want to interview them about whatever, because I'm so used to interviewing people.

[00:04:20] David Harper: But I have so many different things I want to ask. I wanna ask about Hitter this Duval event because I'm so, like, I, I don't know. All I know is Duval's related to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I wanna know more about it. I want to know about, uh, what your plans are for 400. I just wanna know all of it.

[00:04:37] David Harper: Also, I love the fact we both start our podcast with yo, which is very unusual.

[00:04:41] Badr: Wait a minute. Uh, has it never dawn on me that you started off with? Well, you know what? Yours is not as, uh, annoying and extended as mine is. I've kind of like, mine is very quick.

[00:04:49] David Harper: I I'm very much, I, I very specifically only do short intros on my 400th episode.

[00:04:55] David Harper: I actually apologize for doing a long intro, but I always say, yo, everybody to kick off every episode. So we are, we are, uh, peas in a

[00:05:02] Badr: pod. There, there we go. Um, my yo is become like a, a part of the show, like a cannon, like when people write in all of our emails, at least in everyone that's been maybe listening for a long time.

[00:05:14] Badr: Most of them. Start off with yo short box, love the episode, blah, blah, blah, et cetera, et cetera. So, all right. I'm gonna answer your two questions first, cuz I've got like a hundred for you. Uh, Duval Comic and Zine Fest, it is, this is the second year they've done it, and it's a celebration of independent comic creators, zine makers, um, from all over Florida.

[00:05:34] Badr: It's hosted at the Jacksonville Library, Jacksonville Public Library, uh, downtown. So super nice library. They did the first event last year. Uh, blew everyone's expectations out the, the water, big shout outs to the, the team that ran that event. They had a Jim Rugs show up. Last year for the inaugural event to be like the guest speaker and they let me interview him cuz I had already, you know, I've had Jim Ru on like three times, so there was already a report there and he loved the event as well.

[00:06:01] Badr: You know, someone coming from like that zine, independent comic background, uh, fantastic event. So this will be the second year they do that. But I'll have a link to that in the show notes.

[00:06:09] David Harper: But what, what is Duval like that's the, the Jaguar thing. I'm just thinking of the Good Place and Jason Mendoza always shouting out Duval.

[00:06:18] Badr: So Duval is the county, uh, is a county here in Jacksonville. Oh. And that, that's how fucking crazy we are here in, in Ja or Duval specifically, is that, uh, we, we want it to stand out among all the other counties in Jackson, in Florida. And we've got our Duval chant that, you know, originated, um, at the games and in via radio.

[00:06:39] Badr: So that's just kind of like become our thing. Okay. So if you go to a Jack's game, be prepared to not only hear it, but you better take part in it if you know what's good for you. Oh yeah, absolutely. So you'll find a lot of things here in town. Title like Duval, et cetera, you know, Duval Comic Magazine Fest, Duval Comic Show, things like that.

[00:06:56] Badr: And then, what was your second question? I

[00:06:57] David Harper: completely agree. Uh, second question was, what are your plans for episode 400? Because I understand the stress of, of trying to come up with something special. I mean, we're comic fans, right? We, we gotta do something big for the big round numbers at the moment, man,

[00:07:10] Badr: I, I don't know.

[00:07:11] Badr: I was for 30, 50, I think we did a call-in show or a q and a show. I don't think I've done a call-in show specifically, so I might go ahead and just bite your idea and do a massive call-in show and just take questions.

[00:07:24] David Harper: I mean, it'd be fun. I started trying to book my guest for 400 around episode three 40.

[00:07:30] David Harper: And it didn't work out. Jim Lee, coming off panel. Someday. Someday it'll happen.

[00:07:38] Badr: I think we both share Jim Lee as a, as a white. Well, and I don't know if Jim Lee does. I mean, he's a, well, he's the president of, of DC Comics now. I don't know if he's gonna have any time at all for even his, his live

[00:07:48] David Harper: streams and stuff he interview on NPR r this week.

[00:07:52] David Harper: And typically when you're competing against npr, uh, you're not really competing so much as losing endlessly facts.

[00:07:59] Badr: Facts. But I one can dream. All right. Uh, I'm might keep a podcast going as long as there's an, uh, uh, even this slimmest chance to have Jim Lee on the show. While we're on tangents and getting warmed up, I rarely bring up sports except for maybe outside of the Jags if they're playing.

[00:08:14] Badr: But I know you're really into basketball and your N B A tweets are some of my favorites, especially when I'm watching the same game. I'll see what you've gotta say about a certain play or something. So let me get this question out the way we're recording this episode on the Thursday night of Game five of the Eastern Conference finals.

[00:08:31] Badr: Miami plays the Celtics in Boston tonight. Ideally, if they win, they close out the series and then they move on to the finals against the nuggets. What's your prediction about tonight's game and who do you got winning the whole thing in the finals? My prediction

[00:08:44] David Harper: is that Boston's gonna send it back to Miami.

[00:08:46] David Harper: Uh, Boston is a disaster and they, uh, should not, I mean, Boston is a disaster in always. You can be a disaster, but they are a more talented team and they should, they, well, they should be in the position they're in. So I think that their talent and the fact that they have home court tonight will drive it back to Miami.

[00:09:07] David Harper: But I think Miami will finish it off in six, and then I think the nuggets will make pretty short work of them. Because the thing is, I, I don't know if you read this, Malcolm Brogdon from the Celtics had a really good line about the reason why the heat have them, and it's because the heat has a defined identity.

[00:09:25] David Harper: Uh, they have a defined identity that the Celtics don't have. The Celtics are still trying to find their identity, which is bad when you're in the Eastern Conference finals. And the heat do, and the heat will just hit them. And, and Jimmy Butler will, will their way to the finals. But the nuggets also have an identity and they are way more talented than the heat.

[00:09:44] David Harper: So, uh, YOIC will be a bit of a problem, even with Bam, being an incredible defender. Man,

[00:09:50] Badr: watching the Nuggets play is like watching a well-oiled machine. It's been crazy to watch them just sweep the freaking Lakers. Oh.

[00:09:57] David Harper: Yoic is like a, uh, he's a conductor. He's not really a basketball player. He just, he controls every facet of the sport and it is unbelievable.

[00:10:05] David Harper: Uh, sometimes even defensively, not as much o as offense, but he is, uh, he is one of a kind. Uh, he also, his arms are absolutely disgusting. I feel bad for that guy. He's just constantly getting cut up by everyone anyway, so yes, uh, I'm gonna call it heat and six, and then nuggets in five.

[00:10:21] Badr: It'll be fun to listen back to this episode and see what the predictions are looking like.

[00:10:24] Badr: What, what do

[00:10:25] David Harper: you got you, you got, you gotta make your prediction too. I,

[00:10:29] Badr: I think the heat beat the Celtics tonight to win the conference, and I'm gonna carry that faith over into the finals. But I don't think it'll come easy at all. I think the nuggets give the heat a very hard time. I think they forced them to play their best and it wouldn't surprise me if that one goes to game seven, but I'm placing my bet that the heat ticket all the way and that Jimmy Buckets a k a playoff Jimmy, a k a Hemi Butler reminds us why he got those nicknames.

[00:10:56] Badr: So the heat all the way from me.

[00:10:59] David Harper: Yeah, understandably

[00:11:01] Badr: so on a complete 180 from this topic, figuratively and kind of literally, since we're talking about Miami and Heat, it's no secret that you live in one of the coldest cities in the us. Most people who follow, you know that you live in Anchorage, Alaska.

[00:11:14] Badr: But I noticed you describe yourself as a terrible Alaskan in your bio, and I'm curious like what's a good Alaskan look like and what are some of the maybe like unique things you experienced living in Alaska that a flora boy like myself would not be able to grasp?

[00:11:30] David Harper: So, I mean, I'm Alaskan born and raised.

[00:11:33] David Harper: Uh, I was born in an anchorage. I still live in Anchorage. And most Alaskans during the winter will go snowboarding, go skiing, go like cross-country skiing. I don't, I do varying things outside in the snow. I don't like snow and I don't like cold, and I simply choose not to, to not go out there. And, um, so ultimately it really just comes down.

[00:11:58] David Harper: The reason why I'm a terrible Alaskan is because instead of actually doing winter sports or anything resembling things in the snow, I always say that I hibernate. And that's when I get a lot of writing done and that's when I get my podcasting done and things of that sort. So it really, the weather works out really well for somebody who has a lot of hobbies like mine.

[00:12:15] David Harper: Even though I have no hobbies that resemble anything a normal Alaskan would do, I mean, I've, I went snowboarding three times and the last time I went snowboarding, I ended up in the hospital for two days. So, needless to say, I had enough of that. And, um, anyways, yeah, it's just, it really comes down to the fact that winter and I do not mix and Alaska is famously a place that really, really, really is all about that winter life.

[00:12:41] Badr: Damn. So that's the key. I was wondering how you get so much done with the website and a podcast. I need to go live in a cold as hell place and just hibernate and stay inside. I can do that. I can, I mean, I do that now when it dips below 50 or 40 here in Florida, I'm like, I'm staying aside for

[00:12:57] David Harper: the rest of my life.

[00:12:59] David Harper: I mean, it's 51 right now and it is May 25th. It is terrible. We haven't Wow. We've had one day over 60 so far this year, which is really bad for us. But yeah, I mean, I wish I could say that that's the secret. It definitely helps. Uh, lots of coffee helps, but it really, you know, uh, Alaska is a unique place and it's really amazing.

[00:13:18] David Harper: I mean, honestly, like the fact that I can pop on Zoom or Riverside or whatever and do interviews with people all across the world, that really makes it a lot easier. Because, I mean, I imagine you, yourself, it's like you're based in, uh, in Duval. I mean, could you really imagine reaching out to all the people that you have during your, your 392 episodes?

[00:13:39] David Harper: It's a, it's crazy. It

[00:13:41] Badr: is. Technology has been, uh, wonderful. Um, I think back to. The early years of trying to figure out how to do a Remo record, a remote call, I mean, it's easy to call someone, but recording it felt like I needed, um, an engineering degree. Like all the different little pieces of tech I would buy and the choppy software I would use.

[00:14:02] Badr: No, it's, it's, it's wonderful to have, um, you know, technology advanced so far for, for podcasting purposes, I will definitely be isolating your duval chant for the rest of time. All right. When the Jag season comes, comes around, best believe that's gonna be finding its way online. Nice. So, I guess being born and raised in, in Anchorage, Alaska, what's your earliest like, comic memory and, and does it differ from the moment that made, uh, that officially made you a fan of, of the comic

[00:14:26] David Harper: Medium?

[00:14:27] David Harper: The first thing is, it's not the first time I really was involved with comics. I remember. Buying my first com, my, my first comic that I bought with my own allowance, it was uncanny number 2 94, and I bought it from a spin rack in a grocery store because I love sports cards. And it had a trading card of I think, cable inside of it.

[00:14:46] David Harper: It was poly bagged with a card. And yeah, that was not my f not my first memory though. My first memory was, uh, when Superman died, my local comic book shop in Anchorage, Boscos comics, cards and games. They had one of their locations was having a, uh, basically a celebration of life for Superman. And I was small and I love Superman and I was really excited about the death of Superman's story.

[00:15:11] David Harper: And so I went to the celebration of life and I walked in a parade where I played a kazu, uh, along with everybody else as we walked through this mall celebrating Superman. And looking back on it, there's probably like, if, if I did that now, I'd probably mortified because. Uh, it was not a, you know, quote unquote cool thing to do, but when I was seven it was like the biggest deal in my life.

[00:15:34] David Harper: I was like, I must celebrate Superman. So I would say that's probably the first big memory involving comics that I have is, uh, walking in a very strange celebration of life parade for Superman. That

[00:15:45] Badr: almost sounds like you. Well, shit, I mean, you joined the cult today. That's what it was. You joined the cult today.

[00:15:49] Badr: The comic cult that day. That was your initiation. Exactly. Yeah. I love that. The first comic that you bought off the spinner rack, Xmen 2 94 is part one of Executioner song, which I'll be straight up. Oh yeah. I've got a super soft spot for, I know some people will kind of look back at it, you know, kind of funky.

[00:16:06] Badr: Uh, but I could not get enough of execution or song of strife of the whole cable thing. Like that was Oh yeah, probably still one of my favorite, um, X-Men, uh,

[00:16:15] David Harper: events. That's a, a perfect example of a lot of times people will say, It's too hard to get into comics because all this stuff is crazy and you don't know where to start and all that.

[00:16:25] David Harper: Mm-hmm. And I totally get that. It's a very valid thing to say. At the same time, jumping into Executioners song where you're like, wait a second, this guy is the son of these people. But also that guy is the clone of that guy and they're trying to kill each other. But one of 'em already shot Professor X with a gun that had the Legacy virus in it, and you're just like, what am I reading?

[00:16:49] David Harper: And I loved it. I, I wanted to know more now that

[00:16:52] Badr: you bring it up. That might be the first multi-part comic event series that I ever read. Those were all my dad's comics. And if you wanna be someone that really treated them like disposable medium. Like disposable media is my dad. He never had them bagged and boarded.

[00:17:11] Badr: He had all of his comics in an old wooden VCR cabinet and he would just lay them flat. It wasn't like no rhyme or reason either. Uh, he just read them, enjoyed them, and then moved on. But I remember like trying to read it and like, dad, this story doesn't, like, I was trying to read it like, you know, in, in order.

[00:17:28] Badr: So Xmen 2 95, 2 96 and just like, dad, this doesn't make any sense. He's like, oh, well boy, cuz you gotta look at the top part one, part two, part three. You gotta go find these other issues. And he was like, I don't know if I got 'em. So I think it took me a while to finish execution of the song. Yeah,

[00:17:43] David Harper: I, the, the first Xmen story I actually read was Extinction Agenda.

[00:17:46] David Harper: That was my first really big, uh, hook to that. And I had a, it was a really early, like trade paperback and I still have it to this day. And I just remember reading that and like if that hadn't been in order because it was in a trade paperback as opposed to like, It was just, I had the X-Men comics and the, the New Mutants comics and the Uncanny comics, or whatever it was.

[00:18:08] David Harper: Mm-hmm. I guess it was, uh, X-Factor New Mutants and or an Uncanny X-Men. If I didn't have those and I just had to like, just figured out myself, I would've totally read in the wrong order and probably quit. But at the same time that Jim Lee art was quite the hook for me. It

[00:18:24] Badr: was enough. It was like, I don't really care about the story anyways.

[00:18:28] David Harper: Exactly. I learned Latin from that

[00:18:30] Badr: comic. Exactly. Before I ask about sketched and, and, and off panel you brought up, uh, Boscos, um, being, uh, you know, the, I guess the first shop you walked in and on that very interesting, um, uh, cult initiation. Yes. Are, are you still shopping at Boscos? Is that still your local comic shop?

[00:18:46] Badr: Oh yeah, I went

[00:18:47] David Harper: there yesterday. I was told that I'm a very pleasant customer Yesterday by one of their, uh, their employees. I was having a conversation with another person and this one, uh, guy named Vaughn who's fantastic, was like, you guys are just pleasant. Could you guys just be here all the time? And I was like, I don't think my job would like that or my wife, but I do like being here.

[00:19:05] David Harper: But yeah. Um, Anchorage only, they've had a few comic shops throughout my life, but really Boscos is the only one that's kind of like legit. One of them, I had an ongoing theory that was actually a front for something illegal because I don't think they actually sold anything.

[00:19:23] Badr: There's been a few of those in Duval for sure.

[00:19:26] David Harper: I like that you said for sure. Sort of like, I would've said Duval, so, uh, but anyways, yeah, so it was, it was definitely like you would go in there and the person would have a lot of contempt for you as a human being for buying comics. But like these people would come in and they would like buy sodas and just run away and there would be like, Every single comic, he would get hundreds.

[00:19:47] David Harper: And I'm like, this is like the worst way to like, I don't know, launder money I have ever seen in my entire life. I'm like a child and I'm just like vaguely familiar with the concept of laundering money because I watched Goodfellows way too young and I was like, this, this man is very bad at this, uh, Boscos though.

[00:20:04] David Harper: Great shop binge shopping there since I was a kid. I actually worked in their sports cards department when I was 15 and, um, my boss still works there and I still check out from him, uh, every week.

[00:20:16] Badr: Is he aware of off panel and the popularity of Sketch and all that?

[00:20:19] David Harper: Uh, he backs me on Patreon, so hell yeah.

[00:20:21] David Harper: Pat shouts to Pat and he's great. Uh, I also beat him in fantasy football, which is a added bonus. Uh, unfortunately I do that by not drafting Jacksonville Jaguars. But it

[00:20:31] Badr: might change. It might change in the next couple years, right?

[00:20:33] David Harper: You Hey, Trevor Lawrence, actually, I did, I did, uh, finish in the money in my league last year with Trevor Lawrence is one of my main quarterbacks.

[00:20:40] David Harper: So there you go.

[00:20:41] Badr: Come on. There we go. All right. Well, I guess let's get down to, uh, brass tack here. I, I want to hear how you went from, uh, joining the, uh, Superman cult to eventually, um, transitioning from, you know, fandom to running one of the industry's most treasured comic sites online. And that's not hyperbole.

[00:21:00] Badr: All right. Because Declan Shelby, himself of Moon Night fame of injection fame, uh, has ascribed sketched as an oasis of good faith, comics, journalism, chisel eye, uh, one hell of a glowing review. How'd you get to, how'd you launch, sketch? How'd you get into the, the comic website and podcast space?

[00:21:20] David Harper: It started because I got back into co, I stopped reading comics after like high school into part of college, and I got back into comics because of wild Ass Man.

[00:21:30] David Harper: And, um, loved the comic star reading comics again. And I was also really, really into, uh, like pop punk emo screamo music at, at, at the time, back when I was in college. And, um, oh, only for like, really a year. But I, I ended up going onto this forum for this website called Absolute Punk. And I went onto that forum and I was talking to people in a thread called, Wednesday is New Comic Book Day.

[00:21:56] David Harper: This was like basically 2004 to like 2009. I was like talking in this thread with all these people and one day, this one dude was like, I'm starting a comic site, you know, it's called Multiverse Comics. Do you wanna check it out? Or people, does anybody on this thread wanna check it out? And I'd been writing a personal blog where I'd write about comics and I was like, do you need one to write for that?

[00:22:18] David Harper: And I ended up writing for them for five years during which we were actually nominated for an Eisner award for best, uh, periodical or comics journalism. And it was, it was really cool. It was where I learned how to do all, do everything. We built something really cool. Multiversity is still running, but I got to a point where I just kind of wanted to do my own thing.

[00:22:38] David Harper: And I actually started sketched in originally in 2015. Um, I ran it for a year. Basically, I was just kind of doing my own thing. The problem was, is over that year I made precisely $0 and I really tired myself out doing a whole lot of stuff, including off panel, which I launched that at the same time. And I ended up taking the summer off from the podcast and quitting the website altogether, doing some freelance writing.

[00:23:03] David Harper: But then basically like three or four years later, I brought it back. I had been actually asked by a couple different, Companies that were like thinking of trying to bring Sketch back. They wanted to pay me for it and everything. And they, as I kind of went down that path, I realized I was really excited about the prospect of doing it.

[00:23:22] David Harper: And because I'm a really big sports fan and I had really been paying attention to the way the athletic had been doing things, and also, uh, this, this basketball site called Clean the Glass, I decided to, um, use a similar subscription structure to actually try to monetize it. And it was, I mean, the, the good news for me is I'd kind of built up an audience between multiverse and the first wave of, of sketched and also, uh, through the podcast and through my freelance writing where I'd done things for like Polygon and for, uh, I mean eventually I had done like Polygon and Publishers Weekly and, um, the Ringer and also, uh, done some stuff for a Skybound.

[00:24:00] David Harper: I'd kind of built up some sort of audience and so I decided to launch it as a subscription site and. That's what I did and I really just did it. I mean, the reason why I wanted to do my own thing with Sketched is because I really, I appreciate that everyone does like the news reviews, previews beat where you have to like write about all this stuff and you have to stay on top of it.

[00:24:21] David Harper: But I realized I didn't want to do the things that require timeliness anymore. I just wanted to look at stories that were interesting to me and I wanted to follow my own curiosity, whether that was like, I mean, my podcast guests, I mean, I've had some very. I've had a very wide mix of people who have different roles in the industry.

[00:24:42] David Harper: Like I was looking back through my list and I was like, I had a lawyer, a comics lawyer on the podcast talk about like what a comics lawyer does and why precisely comic creators need lawyers and all of these things like that. Um, I've had people who started Comic Cons on there. I've had editors letters, uh, you know, colorists, et cetera, not just the normal creators.

[00:25:02] David Harper: And it's really, I mean, the, the whole thing has really come down to, like I said, just me following my curiosity and trying to build something that I'm interested in. And thankfully, for some reason people like it. Uh, I cannot explain why they like it. Uh, I, I like it, but, you know, I'm kind of biased cuz I'm the one that's doing it.

[00:25:22] David Harper: So, uh, but yeah, I've been crazily enough, I've been writing about comics for almost 14 years now. Wow. And I've been podcasting about comics for eight years. And sketched has been around for like a total of like s. I guess like five years now. And yeah, it's, I, I do it cuz I love it and I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for that because it's a lot of work.

[00:25:47] Badr: Oh yeah. I can only imagine having a website that turns out the content that you put out in addition to running a weekly podcast. Like, my hat's off to you and you can definitely add me, uh, to that list of people who enjoy, uh, what you do. You mentioned, um, uh, looking at sports writers and articles as inspiration like on, on the comic front.

[00:26:08] Badr: Were there any websites, uh, podcasts or other journalists that you were, you know, looking at or, or, you know, for inspiration or just enjoying their work that might've maybe, uh, fed into what you were

[00:26:21] David Harper: doing? This is a terrible answer, but the answer is no. I mean, to be honest, the, the writers I like the most, like my favorite website ever was Grantland.

[00:26:29] David Harper: I don't know if you ever went to Grantland, but, um, Once upon on time, I love Bill Simmons. I don't really love Bill Simmons as much anymore, but Bill Simmons was a big influence for me. I love Zack Lowe. He's a writer for espn. I love Mina kms. Mina Kimes has done some incredible profiles for, for espn. Um, I've really mostly looked at sports and I think that's part of the reason why my approach is the way it is, is I kind of look at comics like somebody who looks at a sports writer looks at sports rather than.

[00:27:02] David Harper: You know, I, I don't really look at the, the characters as much as the kind of business and the, the industry and the art form in a very specific way. I'm, I'm always looking at the story behind it. Um, that's not to say there's not a lot of really great people. I mean, Heidi, McDonald's amazing. Um, I mean, Tom's Spurgeon who ran the Commerce Reporter and passed away a few years ago was just an absolute legend.

[00:27:23] David Harper: And like, he was just, I mean, one of the best to ever do it. There's a lot of people who have done it, but I wouldn't say that they were an influence because I mostly started reading their stuff after I started, you know, doing what I did. So, um, I guess I could say that they have become influences, but it was mostly the sports influence going into all of

[00:27:45] Badr: it.

[00:27:46] Badr: Understood. I, I can respect that. So, so there was no formal training in regards to. Like writing, you didn't go to co, did you go to college for writing? What did you go to college for?

[00:27:54] David Harper: I went to college for marketing and uh, okay. Basically I went to business school and in the process I also got an English minor cuz I always wanted to Gotcha.

[00:28:03] David Harper: Write. I actually wanted to be a, uh, a fiction writer, but then I actually realized I really liked, I, I. For my, um, local newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News. I actually did food reviews, restaurant reviews, and I also did like, uh, pop culture writing where I'd interview like musicians who were coming up and things like that and would write profiles on the those people.

[00:28:22] David Harper: So I did some of that, but I never really had any like journalistic training, which is probably why I'm extremely bad at it. And still write articles that are like 5,000 words long. Uh, I mean, for listeners that don't know, which is probably most of you, I mean, one of the things that I'm known for is I write a lot of long form features where I researched stuff for months at a time.

[00:28:42] David Harper: Like for example, I did, uh, the first piece I did when I returned to sketched after my break was I did an oral history of the Marvel event, annihilation, where I talked to like everybody that was involved with it and then did this big oral history. Looking back on it, that took me four months and that's.

[00:28:59] David Harper: A lot of my pieces take several months at a time, and I'm just kind of always cooking them in the background. I also have a day job, so there's a lot of cooking in the background going on all the time. So, um, yeah, uh, it's just, there's a lot of spinning plates. I'm just always just trying to see what I can do to, to keep things working.

[00:29:17] David Harper: And if I get overwhelmed, I just take a break and give everyone else a break too.

[00:29:21] Badr: What would you be reporting on and writing this intensely if it wasn't about comics? You, you mentioned sports and, and you know, uh, uh, being a foodie at one point, like, do you have any other passions or hobbies that you feel like you could dedicate this much time and energy to if it wasn't comics,

[00:29:36] David Harper: basketball?

[00:29:37] David Harper: The answer is basketball. I mean, to be honest, I, I was talking to somebody in my shop yesterday and, uh, he was like, yeah, you, you sure know a lot about, you know, basketball. And I was like, I told him he works in the comics department and I was just like, I. Like basketball more than I like comics. And that's true.

[00:29:54] David Harper: I mean, I actually like sports in general more than I like comics. That's not to say I don't like comics, I just really like sports. And I think either basketball or like this, this would be, uh, is a very small niche of people who can get a job in this. But fantasy baseball, I'm very good at fantasy baseball.

[00:30:10] David Harper: It is one of my true strengths in life is fantasy baseball. Another one is shuffleboard. I'm very good at shuffleboard. Um, I can't really write about shuffleboard though, so that one's probably out. So I would say one of those two. I mean, my dream job would be a be, uh, if I could be a traveling food journalist, that would be great.

[00:30:29] David Harper: I just wanna get paid to travel and eat food, but I'm pretty sure everyone would want that job. So, uh, that's not really unique. So I think that those places would be the ones I would focus on. The problem is, is there's so much good writing about basketball already. Um, yeah. And it's kinda, I'm not saying it'd be hard to get in there, but at the same time I kind of feel like I'd rather just read like.

[00:30:51] David Harper: I don't know the amazing people who are already working in that space. And yeah, I mean, there's just like, uh, there's just so many really, really amazing books and articles that come out from that space and it's, it's really an amazing time to be a basketball fan for that reason. Yeah.

[00:31:07] Badr: You brought up your, your day job, uh, a few times I understand.

[00:31:11] Badr: In digital marketing, correct? That's correct, yeah. Does your day job play a role in like, the attention to the design and aesthetic of Sketch? Because that is something I, I thoroughly appreciate is how clean the website is, how good it looks, and the presentation overall is, you know, chef's Kiss. Um, does, does that come from the day job working, digital marketing or does it come from somewhere else?

[00:31:33] David Harper: I mean, it comes from the fact that I was smart enough to hire people that I know who are really good at doing this stuff. So, for example, sketch original logo and design was created by somebody I worked with at my advertising agent. I work in an advertising agency as the vice president of digital marketing and well, vice president of Digital, that's just, just digital.

[00:31:52] David Harper: And uh, back when I first started, there was this amazing art director who had started a business as a web developer and I worked with his team to come up with the original version of Sketched. And then when I was bringing it back, there was another web developer I had met who had a friend who had done like app work for like the NHL and things like that.

[00:32:11] David Harper: And I worked with him to come up the new version where, uh, like part of the thing, one of the things I really wanted to include was footnotes that you could click on and it would bring up a little note about it. And he worked that in there. And then like for off panel's, logo Off panel's, logo was created by.

[00:32:26] David Harper: In my opinion, the, the best designer in all of Alaska, um, he is, he used to work for my agency. He's now freelance, and he is just a remarkable talent. And I pitched him on the idea and he probably thought I was drunk and terrible at suggestions, but he came up with something really fantastic and I've kept it ever since.

[00:32:45] David Harper: And so I would say that my job helped me most in the sense that, It helped me know what I don't know. And it helped me know people that do know the things that I don't know. Hmm.

[00:32:55] Badr: I work in, um, I work in marketing, I work on the marketing side. I'm a traffic manager, so more on like the project management side, but I work closely with like a design team.

[00:33:04] Badr: And I'll say the, the impact it's had on the way I view comics, especially like the design, the packaging, the presentation. Um, I, I, it definitely has been very helpful and like even like the podcast stuff too, like rethinking how you know, what you put out into the world and things like that. And now I'm like familiar with like names like da, uh, is it David Mueller?

[00:33:22] Badr: Tom Mueller. Tom Mueller. Thank you so much. Tom Mueller. Yeah. Sorry. That's why I'm gravitated towards Sketch is because you put a spotlight on folks outside of like the core creative teams that most people would think like the designers, the lawyers, et cetera, et cetera. I mean,

[00:33:35] David Harper: Tom, Tom is great. Uh, one of my earliest features I did for Sketch was actually on how much design was kind of, Becoming a bigger factor in comics.

[00:33:46] David Harper: Mm-hmm. This was like back in like 26. I gotta kick on my cat now. He's headbutting my microphone. One second. Oh, good, good. Kubo, what are you doing? The funny thing is, the other one is just now sleeping in a, a bed next to me and is probably gonna go and stare at the door and then they're gonna start yelling at each other.

[00:33:59] David Harper: But anyways, um, I did a feature on, uh, design and comics back in like 2015 or 2016 where I talked to Tom and Jonathan Hickman and a bunch of other people who do design and comics and, um, I don't know. I mean, that, that stuff is, is really important because the design for everything is such a huge factor in terms of how you engage with stories and, and, and how you, I don't know if people even will continue reading that.

[00:34:28] David Harper: I mean, that was my big thing for sketches. Like I didn't really care about flashiness, I just wanted it to be easy to read. And the subscription model also allows me to not have ads, which means that. I don't get gunked up with a bunch of video ads that pop up everywhere, which, you know, I get, I mean, if you're a website that has to have that, that is something that today's structure requires for a lot of websites.

[00:34:51] David Harper: But thankfully the subscription model allows me to have zero ads. Um, just like with, I, I don't know how you feel about it, but it's like, with my podcast, um, I have like a list of people who want to advertise and I have a cap of two people who can advertise at one time. Cuz I don't want, I don't want listeners' experiences to be worse.

[00:35:09] David Harper: I, I mean, I know this is, it's a terrible business sense. It's like, I wanna make less money, so listeners who pay me, well, you know, patrons pay me stuff. But it's just like listeners can have a better experience, but I just, I would rather produce a good podcast than like, have one more sponsor, if that makes sense.

[00:35:27] David Harper: I

[00:35:27] Badr: think two has always been our, I don't, I don't think we've ever run more than really one. Um, I try to go about sponsorships in a unique way and you're, you'll probably be experiencing that here in a couple uh, minutes when we do fistful of comics. But, Yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm on board for that. Cause I, I like to think of the podcast, you know, it's not like you can design outside of the cover art and maybe your episode artwork.

[00:35:48] Badr: Um, you can't apply like, a lot of graphic elements to the podcast. Like, you've gotta think about the presentation and design in a completely different way. And I think the listener experience is at the very top of that. So I, I'm of the same, um, mindset as well. You know, I, I don't want my podcast to feel like a shitty, uh, mobile app with a bunch of ads that you have to, you know, close and stuff like that.

[00:36:10] Badr: Can I ask you a

[00:36:10] David Harper: question? Yeah. Hit it. Um, when it comes to, like, when you're coming up with, you know, you have a guest on and you're coming up with how you approach the interview and everything, like, what is your approach? Like, do you have like, uh, something that you view as like a successful approach to an interview?

[00:36:26] David Harper: Or like, or, or what is your approach in general, I guess.

[00:36:29] Badr: You know, I'm, I'm glad you asked this cuz I actually, uh, I was listening to 400 in, in your interview of Hickman and I think it was in the 400, you mentioned your approach was to find the story in your interviews. Yeah. And when I heard you say that, I was like, huh, have I been doing that?

[00:36:47] Badr: I know it's not a conscious thing where I'm asking what's this person's story? You know, what is the story of, or the pitch behind it? But I think unconsciously I try to find like, you know, what is it about this person's story that might resonate with a listener that. Either enjoys comics from a strictly a fan perspective or someone that's inspiring to be a comic creator or do what they do.

[00:37:09] Badr: I think I try to find like the, uh, I I connection is the only one that comes to mind, but the connection of like, what is the connection between this person and a listener? Like what is that arc? What is that story arc in their life that, you know, would give someone inspiration or new information or just strictly entertain?

[00:37:26] Badr: I think I go about it that way. I try to like give you a very quick dilution of like, you know, their career, especially of like a creator. And then we try to find like, what are those pieces that would resonate with someone else that maybe doesn't have the exact same talent or situation or stories. I think

[00:37:41] David Harper: that's a good approach too, because not everyone's gonna have read every comic by every guest.

[00:37:47] David Harper: Yes. And so it's like, if you're gonna get deep in the weeds about like what were your thoughts when you were writing Detective comics 8 33? And I'm like, apologies to whoever actually wrote that comic. But it's just like, Not everyone's gonna know that. Not everyone's gonna know what happened in every single comic.

[00:38:03] David Harper: So digging in the weeds like that becomes like an exclusionary approach. And so I think it's good, you know, you saying what you do, it's just, that's a way to bring listeners into the story, I think a little bit better. Yeah. Uh,

[00:38:16] Badr: some of the best compliments I've ever gotten about the podcast, I've come from people who don't read comics at all, that gave the, an episode a shot because the interview sounded interesting and they didn't feel lost.

[00:38:29] Badr: Like, that is always my goal is to, and I think sometimes that holds me back from maybe appealing to, um, maybe a more serious, you know, quote unquote serious comic collectors or readers. Um, I like to keep it high level enough where someone could just jump in and have an entertaining listening experience.

[00:38:45] Badr: But still inside baseball enough where like, you know, um, a, a comic guru could be like, oh, he knows his stuff. So I think walking that fine line of offering a pod, I think I look at it like this is still a podcast. It, we happen to talk about comics, but I want to appeal to as much, you know, as many people as possible.

[00:39:01] Badr: I think I'm trying to put out a quality product that can be enjoyed by all. So I bring that into like the interviews and stuff like that.

[00:39:07] David Harper: That is a much smarter approach than me because my approach is basically, I described it as my wife of like, I'm not really like the 4 0 1 class, but I'm probably like the 3 0 1 class for, I'm, I'm like the, the third level.

[00:39:19] David Harper: Yeah. Where it's, uh, junior year, it's very, it can be very inside baseball. I know a lot of creators and re uh, retailers listen to my podcast and I think it's because it's like very in the weeds in that sort of way. And it's like a bunch of the wonks, like the people who are really into this sort of stuff listen to it.

[00:39:33] David Harper: But I imagine if you're just like, Like, you know, um, somebody who occasionally reads comics you probably listen to, and they're like, what is this dude talking about? And who is stilt man?

[00:39:42] Badr: Yeah. I'm gonna get to that stilt man thing here in a sec. But, uh, you brought up your wife and I, and I learned from episode 400 that she's involved in some of the, I guess the behind the scenes stuff for, um, of Sketch, right?

[00:39:53] Badr: Is it, is it strictly design? She's an artist, right?

[00:39:56] David Harper: Yeah, she, no, she's an architect and she does graphic design stuff too, but so she does, um, she updates all my podcast headers to make sure that they have like the right name and all the stuff like that. Oh, cool. She actually designed all of my books. Um, she learned, uh, I mean she already knew in design, but she really got in the weeds on that and I actually figured out how to lay out an entire book.

[00:40:15] David Harper: And so I have four print annuals, all of which are laid out by her. And she does a fantastic job and I mean, she's. She is so talented. It is crazy. She's way better at what she does than I am at mine, and she does a very good job of making me look like I know what I'm doing. And, um, I don't know. I mean, it, it's also like, it's funny, one of my early podcasts, I remember this one guest, I told 'em that I had my wife read my articles sometimes just to get my, give her my perspec or her perspective as a person who doesn't read comics.

[00:40:45] David Harper: And he was like, you shouldn't do that. That's crazy. And I'm just like, why? And he was like, because she doesn't know comics. And I'm like, that's precisely why I do get her to read comics because, or read my articles. Because if she understands it and is entertained by it, then it's probably going to be pretty effective for people who, who like, Just come into it without knowing a lot about it.

[00:41:04] David Harper: Like I don't, I don't necessarily want to be that 3 0 1 person. It's just kind of how I end up being. And, uh, yeah, anyways, she's very good at what she does and she is the best sounding board a person could ever ask for. She's amazing. Amber, you rule you're not gonna listen to this. Whatever

[00:41:20] Badr: big shout is to Amber.

[00:41:21] Badr: Yeah. Big shout to Amber. What's your advice for someone who's trying to maybe bring their significant other partner or just friend or, you know, acquaintance into the world of comics but doesn't know where to start? Like, do you have any advice on how to get someone into comics? There's two

[00:41:36] David Harper: levels to it.

[00:41:37] David Harper: One, if they don't want to, you can't force it. I mean, my wife doesn't read comics that said she does read or watch anime, so I did get her some manga and she's read some of the mangas. There we go. And that's good. Um, I look back on it, uh, there's this one retailer, John Hendrick, who co-owns, uh, Dublin's Big Bang Comics.

[00:41:54] David Harper: He's amazing. John is, is fantastic. And John. Basically what he does is he, when when somebody comes in and they haven't read comics before, he just asks them questions. It's like, what's, you know, what's a book you really like? What's a show you really like? What's a movie you really like? Listens to those questions, takes that information in, and then comes up with something for them.

[00:42:14] David Harper: So I think it really comes down to more about listening to what a person likes and or wants and trying to find something that fits them. Um, there's, as much as we want to act like there's like universal comics out there, I mean there might be, but for the most part you'd be a lot better off trying to tailor something to somebody.

[00:42:34] David Harper: So it really just comes down to, uh, listening to what the person wants. If the answer is they don't wanna read comics, that's fine. But if the answer is they're interested, then find out what else other things they like and then try to tailor something to them off that.

[00:42:48] Badr: My best friend came up with my favorite approach to it, and that's, Asking what movies or TV shows they like.

[00:42:55] Badr: Yeah. And kind of going from the genre perspective, I always thought found that kind of work as well. Yeah. Now I bring up significant others because, uh, this one comes from my girlfriend who is a complete badass. She's got her own company. She works in digital marketing for, uh, in logistics. I mean, she builds websites.

[00:43:13] Badr: She's very hypercritical about websites as well. And I was, um, telling her about, you know, uh, this interview and then having you on and how much I really liked, you know, the presentation for Sketch. And she's like, all right, lemme take a look at this. And David, you got an audible. Hmm. Which she never gives, but I've shown her other comic websites and apps and she'll tear them apart.

[00:43:35] Badr: But for yours, you got a very strong.

[00:43:38] David Harper: Hmm,

[00:43:38] Badr: I'll take that. And she did have a question for you. What's the value of a website in today's day and age of like, social media? You know, like, I feel like most people opt out to have a social media profile and things like that instead of, you know, having a, uh, real estate on the web per se.

[00:43:53] Badr: Like, what, what is the value of a website in your eyes?

[00:43:56] David Harper: I think that in this age of algorithms and breaking social media sites and all those things like that, I mean, I've talked to people who think that we're actually moving back towards websites, like especially for comics. Some people have told me, they're like, I think we're gonna go back to creator websites being a really big deal.

[00:44:17] David Harper: And I could absolutely see it. A website on its own has no value. You have to have like a distinct point of view and you have to have something that you bring to the world and that like distinguishes you. Like, um, you know, there's comic sites that have their own thing. It's like, you know, the beat offers, uh, really, really, uh, great insight into the world of comics, business and stuff like that.

[00:44:41] David Harper: Bleeding Cool brings you rumors and brings you a lot of stuff before you're gonna find it out elsewhere. Like women write about comics, bring you amazing criticism and really great insight into the world. Uh, a lot of comics that you wouldn't actually come across otherwise. I mean, there's all a panel by panel.

[00:44:57] David Harper: Panel by panel isn't a website, but panel by panel is like a PDF based, uh, you know, Basically digital magazine of criticism and all of them have their own point of views and the, the value to a website doesn't exist without having a good idea behind it or a good structure and a good approach. And so I think the value is that you offer a one-stop shop for something very, you know, specific.

[00:45:23] David Harper: And um, especially in the social media era, because like social media, it's like, here's the thing, I could make a tweet, I could create a tweet that has almost no engagement here. Actually, that's a perfect example. So it's like I will run articles that I open up to non-subscribers and like get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of engagements, like retweets, likes, everything like that, zero subscriptions to the site.

[00:45:52] David Harper: And then I'll run one that's like deep inside baseball wonky stuff. Like today I wrote an article about, um, how. People who shop at comic shops, their habits are shifting. And I interviewed a bunch of readers and I wrote about that and talked about why these things are happening. Some of the commonalities that are, are happening.

[00:46:13] David Harper: And I have only, the very first part, um, is before the paywall. And I've gotten like eight subscriptions today from that. And I have, I think a total of like five likes and like two retweets. And so the question becomes, for me, it's not a question of what's the value of the website. The question is what's the value of social media in that situation?

[00:46:34] David Harper: Because I consider engage, like likes and retweets, generally speaking, I consider that to be kind of low calorie engagement for me, like the metric is subscriptions. And so, and the metric is like, are people reading this and engaging with it? And so, The weird thing is, is like switching to the subscription model has actually changed my kind of paradigm where social media isn't as valuable except for in the sense that it raises awareness of what I do.

[00:47:02] David Harper: Um, so I guess the value of the website comes down to it's kind of my everything. It's the, the place you'll find off panel. It's the place that you'll find all my writing. It's the place you'll find me. And the weird thing is, is uh, I think for a lot of people it's like I'm David Harper, but I'm also the sketched guy or the off panel guy.

[00:47:23] David Harper: And so, or the sketch d guy, a lot of times people who mispronounce, sketched, uh, which is funny because it's a fake word, so it's totally understandable. Um, but anyways, yeah, I mean, It's, it's probably imperfect answer to, uh, you know, what she was asking about. But at the same time, that's kinda my view on it.

[00:47:41] David Harper: It's in, in 2023. I just don't know if social media as valuable as it once was beyond like an advertising standpoint, like organic reach is just terrible. And sometimes it's not even that meaningful.

[00:47:53] Badr: Not, not to speak for her, but I've, I've heard her speak a lot about the value of owning your own content, having, you know, owning a spot on the web and, you know, equating a website to having real estate instead of like, you know, renting out a social media profile or something.

[00:48:10] Badr: That, so well said. And, and I can't wait to, uh, for her to hear this part. I wanna take it back to a recent article about your reading habits and approach to prioritizing what you read and shared. Something called the Im the Immediacy Index. Yeah. Which I thought was, Was pretty fucking badass, for lack of better terms.

[00:48:29] Badr: All right. I feel like that is a conversation that you always bring up with, you know, other readers, with other friends that are into comics. It always feels like we're always looking for some sort of magic formula to figure out what's the best way to go about reading all these books I buy, like, how do I prioritize this and that, and how do I, uh, get caught up?

[00:48:47] Badr: And it sounds like you might have figured that out with this index. Can you explain the immediacy index?

[00:48:51] David Harper: Well, first off, it's total nonsense. I mean, it's, it's kind of like a, uh, it is a, uh, it's me trying to make method to my madness. Mostly it's madness, but, uh, and most of us are looking for that though.

[00:49:05] David Harper: And you brought up, you know, you brought my wife earlier. My wife did all the graphics for that. So shouts to Amber once again. But, uh, I mean, basically it just kind of came down to like, I have like some arbitrary rules to my reading habits. Like if I don't read three issues in a row before, uh, if, if I have th buy three issues in a row and I don't read it, As a rule, I drop it.

[00:49:24] David Harper: It's just I'm out. And because if I let it sit for that long, it's clear that I don't like it as much as I think I do, even though I tell myself I like it. Um, I mean a lot of it's just formalizing those rules and then also kind of thinking about what comics really mean to me and what the urgency is behind it, and then creating kind of a hierarchy to it.

[00:49:45] David Harper: So it's like the, the top one is, um, God, what was it is the day one is the things I read first thing, and like those are typically like X-men books or like Ed Brew Baker and Sean Phillips comics. Uh, the funny thing is, I even have some distinctions in there between like, Edward Baker's, Sean Phillips, single issues versus graphic novels.

[00:50:04] David Harper: Um, or like, oh, consequential big two. That's like another one of them. Uh, consequential big two is like, I always read events first because I don't want 'em to have 'em spoiled. It's like, I don't want, you know, judgment day or Dark crisis to be spoiled for me or whatever. So I read those first so I can get ahead of the curve.

[00:50:19] David Harper: And also it's like a lot of it comes down to, I found a lot of my biases lean towards things that entertain me versus things that are like very well crafted. Um, not that all the books don't entertain me, but it's like, would I rather read, uh, once in Future that was a Kieran Gill and Dan Moore book? Yep.

[00:50:35] David Harper: Would I rather read that which entertains the living hell outta me? Or would I rather read something like Die by Kieran Gillon and Stephanie Hans, another really good comic that is very dark and I, I don't wanna say it's miserable to read, but it's, it can be pretty dark, and so it's like, It's, they're both equally good comics, but one is like watching Die Hard, and the other one is like watching, I don't know, something very dark.

[00:51:04] David Harper: And so it's like I, I have a, a natural lead towards enter or entertainment. And so, yeah. Um, a lot of this really just comes down to the fact that I'm a simple person who just wants to be entertained. That that's really the long and the short of it. There were some

[00:51:17] Badr: good tips in there that I, I plan on adopting, uh, another long form that caught my eye that I haven't gotten around to reading yet.

[00:51:22] Badr: Pizza with all the extras, the story behind the Xmen and Pizza Hut promotion 30 years later, you best believe that is at the very top of my reading pile. Um, I, I won't ask you to, to go into a long diatribe about everything about it, but can you share one fact that might, that you found out during your research that might blow my mind about the whole Pizza Hut X-Men, uh, promotion?

[00:51:43] David Harper: Do you know who Chris Pallo is? The artist? Come on, David. Don't disrespect me like that. So here, here's the, you would learn this if you read the article, but the, the gist of the article is in 1993 there was a Pizza Hut promotion where they had all these place mats and a special personal pan, uh, pizza box and oh, yeah, uh, cups and all this stuff.

[00:52:01] David Harper: I talked to the dudes who did it. And who put all that together. And I like, I tracked them down. And, um, it was partially inspired because artist Russell Derman, every time I would bring it up, he's like, you need to write about this, you need to write about this. And I'm like, get off my back Russell. I do what I want.

[00:52:17] David Harper: And eventually I just did what Russell wanted. And he was totally right. But, uh, Chris Patello. So basically, um, at that point he was a Vertigo artist. He had mostly done stuff related to, uh, like he had done a, a death series. Um, and he was not somebody who'd ever drawn for Marvel at that point. He had done an incredible Hulk issue, but it hadn't been released.

[00:52:39] David Harper: And basically what ended up happening is the dudes who were making it, who were putting this whole project together, uh, uh, Dana Moore's head and Mike Thomas. Wait, hold on a second. I gotta confirm that. I don't want to get that wrong. Uh, Dana. Yeah, Dana Moore's head and, and Mike Thomas. So those two guys were putting this all together.

[00:53:01] David Harper: They were just like, listen off artists that they really liked and they were like, We should get, you know, we should get Chris Patella to do one. And so they got Chris Patella to do one. He was like, are you sure you want me to do this? And they're like, yeah, you're awesome. So he, he, he apparently used to um, like go to seven 11 and have superhero cups with Slurpees in it.

[00:53:24] David Harper: And so he had some nostalgia for it. So he dug into that and did kind of like a Jim Lee inspired thing. And that was done. He went back to his Vertigo work. And so one night, uh, Dana Moore's head was in his office and Scott Lde comes in and he's like, crestfallen because the person who was supposed to draw X-men unlimited number one had had to back out, something happened with their scheduling.

[00:53:47] David Harper: And he was like, do you know anyone that I could get for this book? And he has showed him the cup that Belo did. And he is like, this guy's great. And they ended up calling Scott or Patella Wright. Then Patella declined and then called back a little bit later because he said his, uh, his wife said he'd be crazy if he didn't do it.

[00:54:03] David Harper: So he threw his name in there. Oh, yeah. And that is the only reason, well, that's not the only reason, but that was the first time Chris Pato worked on the X-Men, and shortly thereafter he did Generation X with, uh, Scott Lde. And it's entirely possible. Uh, it, it, you know, there's no way to tell, but it's entirely possible.

[00:54:21] David Harper: Without that Pizza Hut project, Chris Patella would've never drawn an X-Men comic.

[00:54:27] Badr: That was my, which is crazy being blown sound effect. That is

[00:54:30] David Harper: insane. I mean, he's drawn so many X-Men comics too. Yeah.

[00:54:34] Badr: He's like synonymous, uh, synonymous with X-Men I, and to tell me that the origin of it comes from. From terrible pizza.

[00:54:42] David Harper: Pizza. Yeah. Hey, I'll tell you what, when you're nine years old and of stuff, it was the best pizza in the world. Yeah. Besides godfather's, uh, dessert pizza. Shout to Godfather's Dessert Pizza. My first,

[00:54:55] Badr: uh, job was at Dominoes, and I would constantly berate my boss, like, never did anything cool. Like Pizza Hut, xmen.

[00:55:01] Badr: Like, I just let 'em know that all the time. I

[00:55:02] David Harper: mean, the funny thing is like, that article is actually a really good kind of microcosm for what I try to do. I try to find stories that are really interesting to me. And my hope is that if they're really interesting to me, they would be interesting to someone else.

[00:55:18] David Harper: I actually, do you know who Ray Rena Telgemeier is? No. I, I'm not familiar. Uh uh, Rena Telgemeier is one of the most popular cartoonists, uh, for like, um, kind of middle grade and kids comics. Uh, she did a book called Smile and she sold like millions and millions of copies. She's like the Beatles to Children.

[00:55:33] David Harper: She came up and she spoke. At my comic shop, Boscos this past weekend, along with a bunch of schools and everything, and it was packed. It was crazy. And she had this line that I really loved where she said, um, you know, she does a lot of autobio stuff. And she said that basically something along the lines of like, the personal can be universal.

[00:55:54] David Harper: And I think that that's kind of what I try to do. It's not that I'm trying to make universal stuff, but I'm trying to do things that I'm really passionate about. And if I write about those things, maybe other people are passionate about it too. And sometimes I succeed and other times I don't as much.

[00:56:11] Badr: Well, this one, uh, definitely succeeded in my eyes. And I think you, you mentioned like your, your curiosity being like a driving factor in the topics and, and things that, that you cover and what sets you apart. And, and I gotta cosign that. You know, I look at just the list of long form content you got and some of these headlines and subjects.

[00:56:27] Badr: It's like, damn, I'm glad someone is thinking like about these like, obscure, you know, things and wanting to like bring them to the light. Uh, so, you know, kudos to you on that, man.

[00:56:38] David Harper: Uh, I'll tell you that Pizza Hut article was probably the most shared article I probably the most shared article I've ever done.

[00:56:45] David Harper: And the thing that was really cool for me is I got an email from the people who created X-Men, the animated series, telling me how good of a job I did. And I was like, oh, hell yeah. That was, uh, unexpected and I appreciate it. That's

[00:57:01] Badr: awesome. On the topic of time management, so you've given us some good tidbits, uh, in regards to maybe how to prioritize our, you know, uh, our stack of books.

[00:57:11] Badr: But on your 400th episode, You got a, you received a question from a listener asking about like the secret behind your longevity and, and how you're able to balance both the website and the podcast for so long. And you mentioned the, the set, the set of principles that you got, you called them the five F's, and, um, I think you'd do a much better job at telling us and recap in that.

[00:57:31] Badr: But I think this is, I think what you shared was really helpful from, you know, someone like myself that's, you know, sometimes feeling, getting to that point of feeling burnt out or trying to figure out how do I balance work regular life and a podcast. Can you share the, the

[00:57:44] David Harper: five Fs? Well, the funny thing is, is that similarly to the Immediacy index was more of like a, uh, impromptu the freestyled it.

[00:57:52] David Harper: Oh, oh yeah. That entire thing. I freestyled, but I mean, um, I'm trying to remember. The first one was fast. I am very fast at what I do. Um, one of the things that always has stood out to me is the things that take a lot of people a long time to write. Don't take me that long. Like, I remember back when I wrote at multiverse, people would take like hours and hours and hours to write reviews and I would write my entire review in like 15 minutes.

[00:58:14] David Harper: They're also probably better at that than I was, but at the same time, what are you gonna do? Um, but so I'm fast. Another one I remember is that I'm, I was fortunate that, fortunate in the sense that, um, my wife supports me, my job supports me. I have a lot of people who for some reason decide to respond to my emails despite the fact that there's plenty of evidence to su suggest that when they see my email, they should just press delete.

[00:58:39] David Harper: Um, and then another one is flexible. Um, I have a very flexible schedule thanks to my j my day job. Um, I, I have spent years trying to do everything I can to try to add flexibility to my schedule and they are very accommodating of me, which is really great. Um, I remember one of them was fake. Oh, no. One of 'em was foolish.

[00:59:00] David Harper: Then the, the fourth one was foolish. Uh, the fifth one was fake. It's all fake. Fifth one was fake, fourth one was foolish. The, the re uh, foolish because I put all this stuff on me and I just keep going. Um, basically I don't know when to quit. And so foolishness is my friend in that case. And then the fifth one is fake, uh, fake in the sense that I do feel burnt out.

[00:59:20] David Harper: I feel, you know, there's a lot of times where I'm stressed out and I'm like, I don't know how I'm gonna get this done. Like, a good example was this week's feature. I was like, I was having a really tough day on Monday. I was not having it mentally. I just couldn't get it done. And I decided instead of trying to put up something that wasn't as good on Tuesday, I just punted it to Thursday and I got it up today and it's great.

[00:59:44] David Harper: I think it turned out really well. People seem to really like it, and I think that, you know, it's not, it's not that I'm always fake, but I think it's important to realize that when you don't have it, And if you can push it, it's better to push it and have something good, rather than forcing yourself to put something out there just to put something out there.

[01:00:06] David Harper: No, I mean, I've, I have 402 published podcasts as the time this goes up, plus a bunch of ones that are unnumbered, so like 423. But there's actually entire episodes that I've killed because I was just like, this is not my standard and I will not run this. And, uh, sometimes that's with companies who are not very happy about that.

[01:00:26] David Harper: Uh, but gotta stick to two guns. I gotta live up to the standards I have for myself. Well said.

[01:00:32] Badr: What, what was the, uh, uh, fake was the fifth one. What, what, what was the fourth eth? Foolish. Foolish. Those were the two that really resonated with me when I heard you first explain it. I was like, yeah, I know that's, that's me, uh, foolish.

[01:00:45] Badr: And I fake it till I make it. Yeah. Foolish in the sense that I, I'm, I I take on things that I'm like, you know, you don't got no bandwidth for this

[01:00:52] David Harper: shit. What are you doing? Here's the thing is like, do you like what you do?

[01:00:56] Badr: I think the reason why I have not stopped podcasting, cause there's been a few milestones where I'm like, okay, I'm gonna take a month off, or I'm gonna take a year off.

[01:01:03] Badr: I think it's because it's, I couldn't imagine not doing this, you know, not sharing my hobbies and talking about this thing that I love so much. It's very hard for me to imagine doing anything else, you know, on a, on a Thursday night, you know, before,

[01:01:17] David Harper: before the, the heat loose to the Celtics. But I'm sorry.

[01:01:20] David Harper: Don't worry about that. All right, David, but I, I mean, I, I will say this, you're good at what you do and you like what you do, so why not? Right?

[01:01:27] Badr: Well said. Let's, let's, uh, switch gears to something a little more lighthearted and let's address the elephant in the room, David. Where does the origin of your stilt man fandom, and it's not even really fandom, it's kind of like borderline obsession come from, uh, for our audio listeners, David is pointing at a really cool, oh, that's the, um, uh, the Stilt Man Marvel Legends.

[01:01:45] Badr: That was golden figure, right? Was that a with, uh,

[01:01:47] David Harper: with, yeah, with extra legs? Uh, I actually had people mail me legs. Uh,

[01:01:53] Badr: yeah. So is that, is that the stock, I guess? No,

[01:01:56] David Harper: no, his, his stock is, I think there's two extra legs I added on top of it. Um, okay, okay. Yeah. So I had, I had somebody who bought hand ninjas and they just mailed me the legs.

[01:02:06] David Harper: And so I, I have extra legs because of it. I actually have more legs than just the one that's up there, but at this point it's basically maximum ceiling height. So where are you at? Did you ask where my origin is? Yeah. Where does this, uh, where

[01:02:19] Badr: does this obsession with Stilt man come from? And can you give me, uh, I mean, I'm, I'm up here challenging now.

[01:02:24] Badr: Can you give me one trivia that would blow my mind about Stilt Man?

[01:02:27] David Harper: So, um, Two part question. The, the funny thing is, I'm not gonna say I don't love Stilt Man, but to some degree it kind of started as a bit and then it just continued and kept going and going and going. And I, I do really love Stilt man. I think he's, I think all versions of Stilt Man are great.

[01:02:46] David Harper: And part of it is because I have a deep love for the kind of like grinders of the world. The ones who really aren't that good at what they do, but they just keep doing it cuz it's all they know. And I mean, objectively stilt man is a stupid idea. It is just a terrible idea. Like any number of things, like, I dunno, tripping hazards or, I mean, at one point he actually gets taken out by cockroaches when Daredevil realizes he has cockroaches in his suit because he hadn't storage for so long and he lives in New York City.

[01:03:17] David Harper: Um, he's gotten taken out by a lot of really, really remarkably dumb and easy things that only stilt man would get taken out by. But the thing that I love about it is the fact that. It's an objectively dumb idea that everyone in the universe knows is dumb. And yet at least six people in the Marvel universe have taken that identity and tried to make it work, which tells you that there's like a desperation amongst these grinders that you are ready and willing to try out a very dumb idea to make success happen.

[01:03:50] David Harper: And if there's anything more relatable than trying out dumb ideas just to try to make success happen, I can't think of many. And I don't know. I've always, uh, found the idea of like this legacy in, in superhero comics to be really interesting. It's like Batman begets Night Wing, night Wing begets Robin, Robin, you know, et cetera, et cetera.

[01:04:09] David Harper: There's all these different characters, but the fact that the legacy even exists with somebody like Stilt Man, uh, objectively. Insane character that like started off, I mean, here's my, here's my little fact for you. This, this is, um, I, I highly doubt you read Daredevil number eight, but the best part about Stilt Man is like, unlike a lot of technology villains, he didn't even invent his stilts.

[01:04:35] David Harper: He stole his stilts Wilbur Day, stole his stilts, and then caused a bunch of havoc, which included going stilting up so high that he was at a garden party at a skyscraper, at which point he used a vacuum cleaner to like suck up everyone's jewels and money, and then he bounced. He, he's just a deeply absurd character and I just, I've always loved the absurd characters that.

[01:05:04] David Harper: Work because of comic logic, but also work because just sometimes people make bad decisions and sometimes those decisions include putting really long stilts on your legs and walking around and trying to cremate crimes. The worst kind of decisions right there. It's a terrible decision.

[01:05:19] Badr: I'll have, you know, I actually have read Daredevil at number eight when I was first getting into comics.

[01:05:24] Badr: Um, it was the House of Marvel in my house. My dad only for the most part, like his collection was like 99% Marvel and then some DC a little bit of image here. But when I first got into comics, I read through everything that he had and he was always kind of preaching to me of like going back and reading like the original stuff and, you know, so you could appreciate, you know, what was, um, what was out then.

[01:05:47] Badr: So he would buy me and I would also spend a lot of my hard-earned Domino's, uh, non X-Men of funny Money on like essential Marvel books. And I remember reading, um, the Essential Daredevil was like one of the very first ones I bought and thinking. Wow. I remember actually, I, I was not the biggest fan of Daredevil then.

[01:06:06] Badr: I was like, you know, this is silly. Like all his heroes are silly, the matador, the owl, stilt man. Uh, but obviously he's quickly grown on me, you know? Oh, yeah. I mean,

[01:06:16] David Harper: Daredevil, uh, in, I actually, I, I would say, I was about to say, in my opinion, the best Marvel comic ever, but I would say objectively the best Marvel comic ever.

[01:06:26] David Harper: It's really hard to disagree with that. I mean, some people would say Fantastic four, but I would disagree with him. But, um, anyways, yeah. Uh, stilt man. I mean, I love the fact that also for some reason, this stilt based hero starts the comic in Daredevil number eight by like triggering a runaway car to distract daredevil from doing his weird, like garden party heists.

[01:06:48] David Harper: It was completely unnecessary. The whole thing is just remarkably dumb. I love it so much.

[01:06:53] Badr: Stillman is, is the walking, uh, embodiment of number four and number five F right there,

[01:06:58] David Harper: foolish and fake. It was also the last time that he was respected, his first appearance. No more respect for a Stillman,

[01:07:06] Badr: not even when Turk took over

[01:07:07] David Harper: the mans Silverman.

[01:07:08] David Harper: Oh man. I love Turk too. Turk is, uh, Turk is awesome. I he's another grinder. I love him. And also he was great in the Netflix series, all the Yes. I love that he was in all of them. Yes,

[01:07:18] Badr: he was, he was one of my favorite supporting, uh, he might be like, probably my favorite supporting cast member in, uh, Miller's Dare double Run.

[01:07:26] Badr: Like mm-hmm. Turk could not catch a break, but for somewhere for reason. He never, like, you know, for a guy that was like steadily snitching on everybody, he never got too much in trouble. What,

[01:07:36] David Harper: you know, he reminds me of, um, this is like a terrible story to b tell about myself. But I remember one time talking about.

[01:07:43] David Harper: Talking to a person who worked in a bar and I was like, we were talking about like people getting kicked outta bars. I have a friend who gets kicked outta bar or used to get kicked out of bars a lot, even when he would just be like leaning against the wall, doing nothing. And he was just like, some people have like bad vibes.

[01:07:57] David Harper: The worst luck. Yeah. And he told me, he, he told me that, um, this was like way back in the day, but he told me, he was just like, uh, he told me that I was known in the bar community as somebody that just had a really good time and made sure other people had good time. And so there was a general rule that I didn't get kicked out of places, which is part of the reason why I've never been kicked out of a bar.

[01:08:17] David Harper: And um, I was like, that. That's pretty nice. I feel like I, like that's Turk's thing too. Turk is just like, it's hard to get mad at him for snitching on you cuz he is just got great vibes.

[01:08:26] Badr: Yeah, you're right. Yeah. Well said. Well be more like Turk. All

[01:08:29] David Harper: right. Be more like Turk people. Well, in certain ways he, he is also a criminal.

[01:08:33] David Harper: I guess

[01:08:33] Badr: I tend to overlook that part a lot. All right.

[01:08:35] David Harper: Be a cool dude. Uh, maybe don't cool dudes, no crimes. Let's go with that route.

[01:08:41] Badr: There we go. Start off with that first. All right, David, who's on your, uh, comic Mount Rushmore? Like, if you had to pick a top four favorite comic creators, maybe specifically artist, who would be on

[01:08:52] David Harper: that list?

[01:08:53] David Harper: I'm not gonna pick the best. I'm gonna pick my favorites. Uh, the first two that come into mind are David Maza Kelly and Stuart Emon. Uh, I love both of them so much. I actually have a, well, you can't see it, but I have a Stewart imminent page over there. Uh, David Mazza. Kelly, I've tried to get on the podcast a number of times.

[01:09:09] David Harper: He hasn't made a comic since 2009, I think so a long time. Understandably. Uh, he has not. Come on. Um, God, let's think. All right. Uh, I'm gonna give the first names that pop in my head. Um, a cartoonist named Faith, Aaron Hicks. I absolutely love Faith. Aaron Hicks. She is absolutely incredible and her art, uh, she's like the best character actor in comics.

[01:09:31] David Harper: She's fantastic. And, um, fourth, let's see. Javier Rodriguez. I love Javier Rodriguez. That's not actually, I'm not gonna say that it's my Mount Rushmore, but that is my Mount Rushmore for where my brain is right now. Javier Rodriguez, he was the colorist of Daredevil and then he started drawing Daredevil and he is drawn defenders.

[01:09:50] David Harper: And he is drawn. Um, yes, he's good man. A whole bunch of things. He's unbelievable. Uh, I think that he is the best superhero artist working today and if he did anything else, he would be the best that artist working today cuz Javier Rodriguez Mo Rules, he's

[01:10:06] Badr: not the same artist that did the history of Yes, the Marvel Universe Mar.

[01:10:10] Badr: Oh, he was? Yeah. No, his work is fantastic. His work reminds me like I could put him in the same pool. Uh, sometimes I get mixed up to be honest. Um, alright. I used to get mixed up between him. Paul Rivera and Marcos Martin, like, they always kind of had a similar vibe. And I don't know if it was the color actually thinking about it.

[01:10:27] Badr: He might have colored all of 'em, but, um, something about like the, their, their line art and their body composition and just like the, this retro kind of old soul to their artwork. Uh, I used to get them mixed up all the time.

[01:10:41] David Harper: I, I think Paolo's the only one that's kind of, uh, not necessarily a fit in there, but the, the commonality is they all worked on Mark Wade's, uh, Daredevil Run too.

[01:10:49] David Harper: And so they, that's kind of had that consistency. And they were also probably all colored by the same person who was all probably Javier. Um, and, uh, I mean, another one you could throw in there is Javier Polito. Javier Polito is, yes, uh, comes from the, uh, the Spanish school of Artis Paolo is just like, I think he lives in San Francisco.

[01:11:06] David Harper: He's just, I mean, not to, that'd be make it seem like he's not like cool too. He, he's uh, he comes from a different root in, in art to some degree. Uh, also very painterly. But yeah, there, there's a lot of overlap there. Um, I don't blame you for kind of connecting those two. It's kind of like, I don't know, do you know who Dermot Mulroy and Dylan McDermott are?

[01:11:26] David Harper: No. They're two actors that people always mix up cuz they have vaguely similar names. And so, um, I kind of feel like it's like Dermot Mulroy where, and Dylan McDermott where you, if you really looked at their art, you'd be like, eh, that's not that much overlap. But they feel similar. Marcos and the two Javier I think have, have a fair amount and they have a lot of dico in them,

[01:11:47] Badr: I think.

[01:11:48] Badr: Yes. Well said. I think those are the three. I'm thinking Paul Vera is on a whole nother level. With all due respect to those three. His artwork is unique in a lot of different ways. I was expecting you to mention Niko Ira.

[01:12:00] David Harper: Yeah, so he, he's one of my favorite writer artists for sure. 20th Century of Boys is my, one of my two favorite comics ever.

[01:12:06] David Harper: Uh, the thing about him though is, is like, it's not really, I love his art, but it, it's not as specifically art oriented as the other ones that I listed. Um, also I didn't think of him, so I didn't say

[01:12:21] Badr: That's fair. I heard you, uh, mention him on the 400 episode. I think someone asked you a similar kind of question and you brought him up and obviously my ears perked out cuz I fucking love Pluto.

[01:12:32] Badr: But you mentioned Master Keaton and, um, I, I, I read volume one a few months ago, uh, when I had, um, Chris from Comic Tropes on, he got me back on that on my manga train and I was like, what else has he done? Because Chris went on about like, oh, you gotta check this out, this out. Uh, and I checked out Master Keaton and it was the most fun I've ever had learning about history in archeology and a comic book.

[01:12:55] Badr: So when you brought it up, I was like, yeah, someone else that found

[01:12:57] David Harper: that you're very, very comic great. Yeah, it's hard to go wrong with anything he does. I mean, Pluto is spectacular. 20th Century Boys is my favorite. Azor is really good. I mean, uh, monster is horrifying, but also very like entertaining. Yeah, I mean that's the thing about Alba though is, is like, it's so technically well crafted.

[01:13:17] David Harper: Every story is way different. And even when it's about like serial killers or about like friends fighting off the apocalypse or things like that, it's still really fun. And I love fun in comics. Hell

[01:13:30] Badr: yeah. Co-sign that. David, judging by your list of, of patrons, I was blown away when I seen some of these names, right?

[01:13:38] Badr: Like your patron's list is not limited to, but it includes comic artists like Terry Dodson, spider-Man, editor, Nick Lowe, Fiona Staples from Saga Fame, and the list of comic creators and industry professionals goes on and on, which I feel like, you know, that must be a big honor in itself, that people. Like what you're doing enough to support the brand, especially like folks that work in the industry themselves.

[01:14:01] Badr: Like what, what was the moment for you that made you feel like you had made it or instilled confidence in what you were doing with Off panel or Sketch? Was there a particular moment or maybe like a, uh, a creator supporting you or saying something to you? Mm.

[01:14:18] David Harper: I really wish I could say there was, but I think part of being in Alaska is, I never really feel like I'm kind of part of it in, in my own way.

[01:14:26] David Harper: Like I'm kind of separate and I mean, it's, it's really exciting a lot of times to, you know, have the names kind of pop in there and. Um, but at the same time, it's just like, if there's one thing that having the podcast has taught me, it's that these are just people and that I try not to put them on a pedestal.

[01:14:45] David Harper: Cuz if I put them on a pedestal, to be honest, I would like lose my mind all, all the time. Like if I was just like, oh my God, how's this person talking to me right now? Um, so I wouldn't say that There's, um, one, one that came in where I was like, oh my God. Um, I would s i I would say probably the closest I've ever gotten is, you know, like I, I don't know if you ever get this sense, but sometimes you get a sense as to who listens to your podcast and who doesn't.

[01:15:08] David Harper: And so, you know, it's like I knew, like I'd talked to Fiona before, I'd talked to Terry before, I'd talked to Ron before. Like, I, I remember meeting Ro before, like, RO was like really blowing up back at, uh, comics Pro in Portland in like 2018, I think. And, uh, I mean, rom is just like the best. Ron's Rom is such a great guy.

[01:15:27] David Harper: Um, so I knew all those people, but I remember one day I was on. A treadmill. And I checked my email and I, I saw the, the latest, um, I don't even think they go by it anymore. It used to be milked Master, uh, masterminds, but it's the Kelly Pseu and Matte fraction newsletter. And Kelly Pseu Konic wrote this big like email doing all these different things and was kind of catching up on things that she's been enjoying.

[01:15:52] David Harper: And one of the podcasts that she specifically cited was off panel, and there's three podcasts she cited, cited. And I like, legit, like almost fell off my treadmill. And I was just like, I was so bewildered. Cuz I, like, I never, I I've never talked to Kelly. Uh, I've talked to Matt once and seeing that come in and then like Kelly started backing me on Patreon and it has been so kind and so like, thoughtful and like will comment about like different things.

[01:16:21] David Harper: Like she really wants me to read Sandman and like sometimes I'm just like, Kellys wants me to read a comic because she wants me to talk about it. And like, that is so bewildering to me. And, uh, anyways, uh, I would say that's probably the one that, that like surprised me the most, uh, and was the most, I was probably the coolest to me.

[01:16:43] David Harper: Uh, I, I just like, I, I legit, like I was, I like stumbled on my treadmill and it is not an advisable thing to do when you're on a treadmill. So, um, but yeah, I mean it's, it's really, it's, it's really cool to have people who read my stuff and or, or listen to my podcast and think that it has value and that it helps them in some sort of way.

[01:17:08] David Harper: Like the, one of the my favorite things anybody has ever told me, and I've heard this multiple times, it from like creators, they've told me that listening to my podcast is like listening to. Creators talking, or like, you know, it's like listening to people. It's like the conversations they have when they want to talk about comics and like, the fact that I can get to that level and I can get to a place that, like a depth that they're at is really like, I don't know.

[01:17:34] David Harper: That's, that's meaningful. And it, it means a lot to me when people say nice things like that. Um, also, I, Brian K. Vaughn once told me, I was like, uh, comic book family. And I was just like, I was like, my mom had to have hacked Brian k Vaughn's email. There's no way that this happened.

[01:17:53] Badr: Uh, that's great. That is great.

[01:17:55] Badr: What do you remember from your first podcast episode? Cuz I, I, I know that it was, I've heard you mention that it was Sean Gordon Murphy out the gate. Yeah. Which I think is fucking a, a mic drop right there. But I couldn't find the episode, uh, like on Spotify or Apple Podcast. I'm assuming it's probably behind a, a paywall or something.

[01:18:12] Badr: But what do you recall from like that first

[01:18:15] David Harper: episode? The, probably the reason why you can't find it has nothing to do with the paywall. It has everything to do with the fact that I'm very bad at podcasting. Um, I, I have no idea why I didn't even know it wasn't out there. Um, so I will look into that. Well, first off, I'll just say like, it was easy to get Sean, just because I'd been already doing comic stuff for.

[01:18:36] David Harper: Six years by the time I had started off panel. And so I'd already made a lot of connections. And so, um, and I'd also done a lot of interviews, so I was pretty comfortable with it. So actually talking to people has never really been a problem for me. The big problem was I had no idea how to do a podcast.

[01:18:54] David Harper: Um, the first podcast I did, I did not have headphones or a microphone, and I was in a giant room that was cavernous. And uh, so if you ever discover that podcast, you'll probably be like, wow. Uh, this is, uh, some super subpar audio quality. Um,

[01:19:09] Badr: I'd be like, Brian Kon, he's a family, a member of the family. This

[01:19:13] David Harper: guy.

[01:19:13] David Harper: Yeah. Yeah. This guy, this guy is uh, must be like, uh, the hot mess family member that you guys don't talk to. Uh, the black sheep. Yeah, exactly. But anyway, so, uh, I would say that, I mean, honestly the biggest thing I learned was, uh, just Stella getting better at the technical side of the job. Um, I had no experience with any of it, and I had to learn on the fly and I progressively got better at it.

[01:19:37] David Harper: A big part of it was, um, Listening to feedback and realizing that people are giving me feedback. It's not malicious. Like, I remember one time somebody told me that, like they couldn't listen to it on the subway because the audio levels were so bad. And so I figured out how to level properly and um, you know, just figuring out how to edit properly, figuring out what I want my podcast to sound like.

[01:20:01] David Harper: And so that's probably the biggest thing. Um, in terms of interviews, I would say the biggest change is that I've just gotten more and more comfortable. I mean, I am very comfortable at talking to people and I have no problem, um, doing it. I mean, one time I was having dinner with some folks from comics, and I remember one of them is like, are you interviewing us now?

[01:20:23] David Harper: And it's just how I, my my wife told them, they were like, this is just how he is. Like, he's just curious and he is just always asking questions.

[01:20:30] Badr: Same that has happened to me multiple times where, um, whether it be, uh, my girlfriend or my friends are like, Hey, snap out of it. All right, that we're not in front of Mike's buddy.

[01:20:40] Badr: All right. You know, cuz I'm, I'm pitching, you know, I'm lobbing like questions about like, so I mean, what was the real impact of that? You know, X, Y, and Z where

[01:20:46] David Harper: like, oh my God, McDonald's. God, you asked me way better, you asked way better questions than I do. I remember one time I went to the restroom when my wife and I were having breakfast and I came back and I asked her very sincerely, I was like, are gremlin's Pokemon?

[01:20:58] David Harper: And, uh, that was what the rest of our breakfast conversation was. Uh, what was the answer? Uh, conceptually yes, but it also suggested that there was another level. And then my, I actually talked to my friend about it later and he said that he thinks the gremlins from gremlins too. They get like, like turn into electricity and like host like talk shows and stuff like that.

[01:21:17] David Harper: That's like the final evolution where they start developing dis distinct personalities that can speak in things like that or turn into a spider. Much to my chagrin, uh, I don't like spiders. But, um, but anyways, yeah, so it's just, that's my nature. Uh, if, if somebody wants to talk about, uh, whether or not gremlins are Pokemon, they have a podcast with me

[01:21:37] Badr: and there's a long form 5,000 word article coming your way, so, oh

[01:21:40] David Harper: hell yeah.

[01:21:41] David Harper: I mean, you, how did you get in my journals? You know, what's coming,

[01:21:46] Badr: speaking about, you know, uh, back, uh, episodes and stuff like that. Um, I told you that I'd listened to the Hickman episode before we talked, and I did, I listened to episode 3 24 from 2021. So your second, uh, Hickman interview, which is kind of a flex, uh, to be able to say.

[01:22:03] David Harper: That's three, that's my, that's my third episode

[01:22:05] Badr: of the three I could find, uh, it was number two, but it was from 2021. He's on there talking about ck I mean, it was during the pandemic, so, you know, working from home. But man, the knack you have for creating like, laid back, disarming, but yet like really informative conversations in, in the, um, Segues that you go, uh, down your conversations and your conversation style is such a smooth listening experience.

[01:22:29] Badr: And your convo of Hickman, I thought was a great example. You guys started talking about like the cost of milk and how that is a good like sign of like the economy and, and, and shit like that. And then you went into talking about X-Men and then, uh, he was very open about humble bragging about making his creative team money, which I thought was really cool to hear, like a really, um, confident, you know, comic creator like him.

[01:22:50] Badr: But you've mentioned that Hickman is one of those interviews and one of those people where you've come away, where you've come out of the interview a way better interviewer or it makes you a better interviewer cuz you know, he'll push back, he'll, he'll force you to go down different lanes and things like that.

[01:23:05] Badr: What's the best advice you could give to an inspiring, to an aspiring podcaster interviewer or someone looking to be like the next David Harper when it comes to approaching comic creators or bringing something new to comic analysis and journalism.

[01:23:19] David Harper: Don't interview Jonathan Hickman. It's really stressful.

[01:23:24] David Harper: Uh, no. I, I, I like Hickman. All right. Sorry, Jonathan, if you listen to this podcast, my bad. Um, I think that the best advice I can give a person doing anything involving all of this, or whether you're writing about, you know, sports or competitive cooking shows or whatever, is like, you can succeed doing what everyone else does.

[01:23:48] David Harper: But if you find what you want to do and you do it well, Then I think you'll find more success, both in the sense that I think people will connect with what you do and also you'll like what you do more. Um, a part of the reason why I left Multiversity is Multiversity comics back when I did was because I didn't want to do news anymore and I didn't want to review the Walking Dead anymore, and I didn't want to write previews, uh, write-ups anymore.

[01:24:13] David Harper: I just wanted to write what I wanted to write. And I like it a lot more because of it. I'm just following my own curiosity. And so if I can give, whether it comes to interviews or whether it comes to, um, articles you're writing or whatever, if you lean into the things that you like and if you lean into the things that you're interested in, then you're gonna be, you're gonna be more successful than if you're just like, I don't know, asking about Batman or something like that.

[01:24:44] David Harper: Like everybody can ask about Batman, but can you ask, I don't know. Um, my, okay. Uh, the, the thing that I always point to for people, my favorite question I've ever asked, my favorite conversation I've ever had in the podcast, I can't believe I didn't bring this up when you asked that question for 400 is Becky Cloonan came on and in the front of her book by Chancellor Providence, she dedicates it to two people.

[01:25:09] David Harper: One is to Madeline Pryor from the X-Men, and then the other one is, um, I think it was Madeline Pryor. Yeah. And then the other one is to Guy Davis, the artist. And like, it's like this poetic thing to Madeline Pryor. And then the next one is to Guy Davis. Thanks for the toaster oven. I asked her about the dedication and we ended up talking about toaster ovens for like 10 minutes and like talking about like tuna melts and making stuff like that.

[01:25:34] David Harper: And the thing is, is I think a lot of people when they do interviews are afraid of leaving the roadmap. And the thing is, is like a roadmap is great. But you can't let it take away from the journey. That's a very like hallmark version of what I'm trying to say. But it's just like the, the journey comes from like following your curiosities and following the things you're interested in, whether that's toast or ovens or stilt man or whatever.

[01:26:00] David Harper: If you're gonna do something that represents you and represents you well and is gonna be something you're gonna enjoy doing for a while, if you try to just do what everyone else does, you're not gonna like it and you're not going to be good at it. Do what works for you and you'll find more success.

[01:26:18] Badr: Well said. And it sounds like sketched Hallmark cards are coming very soon. Oh,

[01:26:24] David Harper: don't

[01:26:24] Badr: tempt me. David. There's one last thing I'll ask of you before I let you go and we start wrapping up. And that's hoping that you can join me for the last segment of the show, which is a celebration in preview of some new comics and can't miss titles coming out next month, we'd like to call this our Fistful of Comics segment, and this is how we kick it off.

[01:26:46] David Harper: You can either have a mouth full of tea or a fistful of comics.

[01:26:54] Badr: Fistful of Comics is the segment dedicated to helping all you comic curious newbies and loyal Wednesday warriors. Find the best new comics, find the best starting points and creative teams that you can't afford to miss and always down to help us with that mission is our friend Ben Kingsbury, the owner of Jacksonville Premier Comic Shop, Gotham City Limit.

[01:27:14] Badr: He's a fantastic comic shop owner. There's no one better. You could ask about the best new comics coming out than Ben Kingsbury. He's got a sixth sense for finding great comics. That's what I'll say. So let's get some music going and see what he's got for us today. Kicking things off. Ben has got not only a, a very interesting new comic series coming out from Scout comics, but he is also got some words of wisdom, uh, when it comes to simplifying your comic buying process.

[01:27:39] Badr: So add this to the, uh, index, the immediacy index that, uh, David brought up, and I think you got a good formula. Here's Ben. Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, short box listener. I'm Ben K representing Gotham City Limit in Jacksonville, Florida. And these are my three final order cutoff comics you should add to your poll

[01:27:59] David Harper: list immediately.

[01:28:01] David Harper: First up, scout comics presents space outlaw number one. You know, the best part of going through

[01:28:08] Badr: all these badass comics coming out each week is that I've pretty much figured out what I wanna read just by

[01:28:13] David Harper: some simple bulletin points. Does

[01:28:15] Badr: the following comic contain space outlaws? Alien bounty hunters, a protagonist who's actually

[01:28:23] David Harper: the universe's most deadly villain.

[01:28:25] David Harper: Check, check, check. Yep.

[01:28:27] Badr: Check again. Once again, that was Space Outlaw number one. Uh, writer Artist cover artist variant. Cover artist. All done by one man, Marco Fontan. Uh, this new Western sci-fi series is coming out through Scout comics and hit shops on July 12th. All right. Next up, this next pick, we'll have you, uh, either seeing green or, or possibly purple.

[01:28:48] Badr: If you've been looking for a reason to bust out your, uh, best Bruce banner or Holt cosplay early, take it away, Ben. Next up, the

[01:28:57] David Harper: Incredible Hulk, number

[01:28:58] Badr: one, the newest volume to the Legacy Incredible Hulk series. And know as

[01:29:04] David Harper: much as I love the writer Donny Kates, who previously did the last Hulk run. This is not your inception Hulk anymore,

[01:29:13] Badr: back to the age of Monsters where Hulk originally began.

[01:29:17] David Harper: Fun fact, did you know Hulk was inspired by DC Solomon Grundy?

[01:29:22] Badr: That's why the Hulk was

[01:29:24] David Harper: originally

[01:29:24] Badr: gray. Not the green. You know him for now.

[01:29:27] David Harper: However, I

[01:29:28] Badr: digress. I think I can speak for all Hulk fans. When we say all we really wanna see is Hulk Smash. Sally, what other comic segment is giving you words of wisdom?

[01:29:41] Badr: Uh, 10 foil hat theories and, uh, you know, uh, comic trivia. All right. Only through Ben Kingsbury. Once again, that is the incredible Hulk number one. This new chapter for Marvel's famous Jade Giant comes to you from the creative team of Philip K. Johnson and Nick Klein and Matt Wilson. You could pick it up on June 21st and last, but not least, is a knockout punch in comic book form.

[01:30:03] Badr: Here's pick number three for you. And last but not least, this

[01:30:08] David Harper: week, boom Studios, presents

[01:30:10] Badr: Creed, next round

[01:30:12] David Harper: number one of a four-part series.

[01:30:14] Badr: You

[01:30:14] David Harper: know what's harder than creating one dynastic movie empire doing it a second time?

[01:30:19] Badr: That's why I think the three Creed movies, which follow the original dynastic movie, empire of Rocky Balboa

[01:30:26] David Harper: have done a

[01:30:27] Badr: fantastic job carrying on the Rocky Spirit, i e grit, hard work, and a never give

[01:30:33] David Harper: up attitude.

[01:30:34] David Harper: Now comes a comic set

[01:30:35] Badr: 10 years after Creed three, which promises some illegal underground street fighting. All I can hope for is some John Claude Van Dam, lion Hart Street Fight Vibes. Well, another week is Come and Gone, and I'm still Ben k representing Gotham City Limit in Jacksonville, Florida. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility and always take it to the limit.

[01:30:58] Badr: Once again, that was Creed next round number one. That comes out June 28th. Right David, we got our options. Which one of his options are you, uh, you know, peaked your interest the most? Like which one would you realistically, uh, put on your poll list?

[01:31:12] David Harper: It's a, it's a tough selection. Uh, space Outlaw. That one's the easiest cut.

[01:31:17] David Harper: It has got big pitch black energy to it. I love Pitch black, but there's only one pitch black, and it's not Riddick and it's not Chronicles Riddick. It's the original pitch Black. Um, the other two, I mean, incredible Hulks, the obvious pick. I love Nick Klein. His art is incredible. Matt Wilson, color and hims fantastic, but I have to pick Creed, uh, creeds.

[01:31:37] David Harper: The pick for me, just because I always say that there needs to be sport, more sports comics, and so if I don't support a sports comic in this ca or in this segment, I would seem like a liar. But then on top of that, the Creed movies are great. The Rocky movies are great. Well, some of them are great, some of them are just deeply ridiculous.

[01:31:56] David Harper: But, uh, the Creed movies are great. I haven't watched Creed three yet cuz it came out while I was on vacation. But I am very interested in watching it, especially cuz I. Read that Michael B. Jordan brought some, uh, anime influences into it. Uh, I also, I just like Michael B. Jordan brings a really great energy to storytelling.

[01:32:12] David Harper: And so the idea that he's bringing this in with a really great team, working on it as well and continuing the story in an interesting way that's pretty promising. Um, it's a, it's an interesting way to take a, a licensed property and it's a very unusual licensed property, so I am genuinely curious as to what they, what they cook up with, that that is, uh, it's an, I remember when I got the press release, I was very surprised by it, but it makes sense and it'll be cool to see what they come up with for that.

[01:32:38] Badr: You've gotta watch CRE three. It was amazing. And yeah, the anime influences amazing. I'm gonna go with Space Outlaw just because, uh, this is a new, um, ur and, uh, for me, I'm not familiar with Marco's work and the fact that he's doing seems like pretty hands on. I'm curious to see, uh, just how he brings his vision, uh, to life being, you know, completely in control of it.

[01:33:02] Badr: And it's a new number one through Scout Comics. I feel like they've been on a pretty strong run in regards to putting out some new stuff, and I'm always down to support independent publishers and smaller publishers trying to get, put their name out like that. So I'm gonna say space Outlaw and the premise too sounds pretty badass.

[01:33:16] Badr: Uh, uh, space Outlaw on the run from, uh, robots or killer robots and stuff like that. Sign me up. Yeah. And just a reminder for everyone tuning in Ben's picks will be linked any show notes. So if any of those titles pique your interest, check them out and make sure you get your pre-orders in of your local comic shops right now.

[01:33:34] Badr: And remember, even if you don't live in Jacks, you can still take it to the limit. Comics, collectibles, and exclusive variant covers you won't find anywhere else are all available on gotham city Big shout outs to

[01:33:45] David Harper: Ben. One more time. Also Duval.

[01:33:50] Badr: Sorry, I had to do it one more time. I love it. I appreciate it.

[01:33:53] Badr: David. I'm gonna have links for off panel and sketched listed in these show notes, uh, so people can follow along with the projects you got going on. Um, and, and you know, that way they can see this gremlin Pokemon long form article coming to life. Yeah. Do you have anything else that you wanna share with the listeners, like, um, upcoming projects, special announcements, parting words, et cetera, et cetera.

[01:34:14] Badr: Take it away.

[01:34:15] David Harper: I mean, only that Shin Godzilla introduces the idea that Godzilla himself could be a Pokemon. So I have a lot of, I have a lot of things to think about after this podcast. I, uh, but no, um, I really appreciate you having me on. Um, it was a lot of fun.

[01:34:30] Badr: Thanks man. I appreciate it a lot and continue doing all the great things that you do, uh, for the world of comics.

[01:34:36] Badr: Enjoy the rest of your night. Go heat and just to know that you're always welcome back. Thanks, man.

[01:34:41] David Harper: Also, Celtics up 32, 20. I'm sorry. God damn. I was gonna tell you earlier, but I didn't wanna throw off your flow.

[01:34:47] Badr: No, it's hope you should have actually just jumped in with that. That's,

[01:34:49] David Harper: yeah. It looks like Tatum has decided to be, uh, serious about the game of basketball today.

[01:34:53] David Harper: Of course you would. Of

[01:34:54] Badr: course. To it. And there you have it. Short Box Nation. That's the end of the show. If you made it this far, it's probably safe to say you enjoyed this episode. So do me a favor, help us spread the word right? Send and share this episode with a friend or so many you know that loves comics as much as we do.

[01:35:12] Badr: And if you're feeling extra generous, and if you've got like 10 seconds to spare, leave us some kind words. All right. Leave us a five star rating review on Apple Podcast or Spotify. Share what you like about this podcast with the rest of the world, because it would mean a lot to us, right? It would really help us out.

[01:35:26] Badr: Now, I promise I'd take care of the housekeeping items right here. All right. Save the best for last in a way. So here's those important announcements I wanted to share. First and foremost, the Duval Comic and Zine Fest is taking place back in Jax on Saturday, June 10th, from one to 5:00 PM It'll take place at the Jack's Public library downtown.

[01:35:45] Badr: This free event will feature over 35 local creators of independent and self-published zines. Small press and do-it-yourself mixed media. I'll be there enjoying the festivities as well as hosting a panel with special guest speaker Leila Corman, who is an acclaimed zine maker. We'll be talking about what it's like being an independent comic creator self-expression and a whole lot more.

[01:36:07] Badr: If this event is even a fraction of what it was like last year, then you won't wanna miss it. It'll be another can't miss event here in Jax. So start making plans to come out for the Duval Comic Kaine Fest on Saturday, June 10th. In terms of next week's episode, you can expect a Spider-Man across the Spider Verse movie Review next Wednesday with the usual suspects from our short box movie watch party.

[01:36:28] Badr: So expect the return of Blythe and Drew and, and a special guest co-host that I am beyond excited to have. Join us for that episode. So you have to come back Wednesday to see who the guest, special guest co-host is. So make sure you watch across the spider verse, uh, before that episode comes out. Because I would love to hear what you guys have to say.

[01:36:46] Badr: All right. So get your emails and your opinions and thoughts ready? Speaking of emails, don't forget about our Boom Studio's Comic Bundle giveaway contest that was announced, uh, in last week's show when we had, uh, Greg from Boom Studios on the podcast. The rules were really simple. You, uh, write us a short email via the short box, or you send us a DM via Instagram or Twitter telling us what's your favorite comic series from Boom Studios.

[01:37:10] Badr: It could be a, a current series or maybe one that was recently ended, whatever. Just tell us what your favorite Boom studios, comic series, and we'll pick a winner two to win some free comics and then some exclusive variance out was given to me. I'm here to spread the wealth. So write us an email or send us that dm.

[01:37:27] Badr: Uh, it doesn't matter where you live too, if you live outside of Jack's. Well guess what? I'm gonna mail those comics to you free of charge. So this contest is open to all of the Short Box Nation in the us. So forget your prompts sent in in the next week or two. All right, we'll be announced in the winners, uh, very soon.

[01:37:42] Badr: Maybe not next episode, but uh, maybe the episode after that. And last, but not least, if you're someone that's been enjoying the show lately and you wanna support us in the best way possible, if you want to take your support to the next level, consider joining the Short Box family over on short box.

[01:37:59] Badr: Outside of feeling good about supporting an independent podcast, you'll also be treated to your very own private podcast. Feed early access to all of our content before everyone else, and you'll get access to a bunch of bonus episodes as well as our spinoff podcast series. That should keep you plenty entertained.

[01:38:16] Badr: If any of that sounds enticing to you, please consider joining our Patreon community overall at short box. You can sign up for a month to see if it's a good fit for you and you can cancel. If not, it's all good. Regardless, we'd appreciate it and thanks again to everyone supporting us already.

[01:38:32] Badr: In the meantime, take care of yourselves. Go read some comics, go read the comics that you've got in a stack in the corner that you've been meaning to. All right, do me that one solid. Go read your comic books and most importantly, continue to make mine and yours, short box. I'll talk to you next week. Peace.