Podcasting Notes: Lonely Hearts

Category: Lonely Hearts Podcast
Last article published: 9 July 2019
This is the 21st post under this label

Show: Lonely Hearts - the Romance Comics Podcast
Premise: Four guys talk about romance comics, and about romances IN comics.
Available: Fire and Water Network, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Feedburner
Number of episodes total: 18
The first was about... Simon and Kirby's first romance comics, specifically "I Was a Teenage Pick-Up".

How it all began
I talked about this under the Improv tag, but to go over it again, when I got into podcasting, it was for a French-language improv-related interview show for my community AND as a proof of concept for podcasts as radio shows for the student station. So there were stakes and I needed a practice run, and that's what Lonely Hearts was. Just a silly idea to learn how to record, edit and (especially) publish a podcast (my thanks to the Completely Redeemable Shagg for the help on that end). The first couple episodes were even recorded in the radio studio (so should sound better), but I couldn't justify it later since the show is in English and the station all-French, so there was no way to repurpose the content FOR the station.

Anyway, the idea of four guys talking about comics originally made for female readers only occurred to me because at the time I had roped six women to rate every member of the Legion of Super-Heroes as Hot or Not on the Legion of Super-Bloggers blog. Women doing "boys' comics", so men doing "girls' comics" (at least in intent, I don't personally subscribe to the idea of gendered genres). Marty, Furn and Bass got into the action probably at some summer party where the idea came up and they jumped aboard. The improv show was being recorded concurrently - just not released concurrently - and I know that because OHOTMU's Elyse was the first female voice used on Romance Comics Theater, and I asked her to do it while she was being interviewed for the improv show! How we got to a Romance Comics Theater feature, however, is a story that's more about the Process...

The Process
Now, the show could have followed the first episode's structure all the way through, where we pick an old, probably weird/dated romance comic story, and discuss it with some measure of crude humor, woke politics, and accidental insight. But in the original discussions, we'd already decided we could also talk about romance IN comics, perhaps to make the podcast more appealing to the target audience. Yes, this time we're talking about some book with Love in the title that you don't know, but next month, it'll be about Superman and Lois Lane. While I was happy to do that, I still felt like it was cheating a little, and that's where Romance Comics Theater came in. By doing a fully-produced audio play of a romance story every episode, I could still inject some 1950s insanity into an episode about, say, the many loves of Peter Parker.

While the conversations between the four guys were rowdy and fun - my inspiration was Diabolu Frank's crew over at Rolled Spine Podcast - Romance Comics Theater quickly became a favorite element. For me, it was a way to get guests on a show with a stable regular cast, and though I ended up using many podcasters (a favorite thing of mine was to get actual couples to play the couples in the stories), I also went out and contacted old friends, even my estranged half-sister, to play roles. I gave me a chance to catch up with them, and keep touch at least for a few months. But it WAS a lot of work - music, sound effects, putting wild lines from people who'd never met together... It was one of the factors that led to the show's sidelining as I started up others once I joined the Fire and Water Podcast Network. But that's more of a story for the Reception...

This was definitely a "show you didn't know you needed", well received by those who listened to it, and completely ignored by those who didn't think romance comics were of any interest. We proved our point that they WERE of interest, but it was a little like preaching to the choir. But one demographic that would prove important was the guys from a podcasting network that was about to pop up. Though I'd guested on a few important shows - I was already co-hosting the very infrequent Hero Points podcast with Shagg, and had done a number of Secret Origins spots with Ryan Daly - Lonely Hearts was essentially my audition tape. The other four founders hit me up to see if I wanted to be there on the ground floor. So yes, a "founder", but really the last one to slip in under the wire. If that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have been encouraged to start other shows, so if you have a favorite, it just wouldn't exist.

The Future
I do consider that Lonely Hearts has podfaded. I tried to resurrect it after a year's rest, got one show out in 2018, promised more, and just couldn't make it happen. One of the reasons is that I found it increasingly difficult to get the cast together with their various schedules. By the time it wasn't an issue, I just wasn't feeling it, and dreaded the high production needs of Romance Comics Theater. We have to remember that I also went from producing one podcast a month to four, so more time-intensive shows were less appealing. It didn't help that Lonely Hearts focused on a niche part of comics culture and no one was beating my door down to hear more.

That said, when our dear friend Xum Yukinori passed away, he'd recorded, on his own initiative, dialog for a Bronze Age superhero romance story that we'd once joked about producing as a Romance Comics Theater. I'm still sitting on those clips - the man's voice will outlive us all - and hope to wrap an episode around them some day. I tried to get the band together as a tribute, but couldn't make it work, so it wouldn't be original cast. And I don't know WHEN it will be because even more than a year after Xum's passing, I don't believe I can talk about it without choking up. I just couldn't get through this episode. But one day, I may be able to . You'll just have to be patient with me.

Did I cover everything you needed me to? The floor is open to questions.



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