Podcast Notes: Panel by Panel

Category: One Panel
Last article published: 9 September 2021
This is the 300th post under this label

Show: FW Presents: Panel by Panel
Premise: Discussions of a randomly select comic book panel from the last 100+ years.
Available: Fire and Water Network, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RSS feed

Number of episodes to date: 16
The first was about... Young Heroes in Love #8, page 18, panel 1 (with guest Martin Gray)

How it all began
Well, I'd been doing the One Panel feature on the blog since 2016 - essentially pulling one panel from every issue DC (and its constituent parts) ever published since the beginning, or at least every issue I had access to - and that feature is still going weekly (we're up to books published in the Spring of 1942). Could it be done in podcast form? Well, a couple of Network hosts (that would be me and our dear departed Xum Yukinori) individually joked about it. For Xum, it was focusing on George Perez panels, and he produced a faux-trailer for such a show on one of Fire and Water's April Fool's programs. For me, it was Batman: Panel by Panel, truly a joke because imagine how many episodes that would mean given the number of Batman comics published since 1940, and I managed to produce 3 episodes with co-host Ryan Daly in ANOTHER April Fool's show, this one produced by myself, called Cancelled Podcast Cavalcade. These were meant to be rejected shows, with the conceit that Ryan and I had completed over 1500 episodes, with the included samples from across that imaginary run as Ryan felt more and more despondent.

From the joke on to the real thing. Though it would be ridiculous and highly repetitive to actually produce a Batman-centric Panel by Panel, I did think analyzing (or over-analyzing) those three examples had value and interest. So did listener Martin Gray who encouraged me to pursue it, perhaps RANDOMLY (as opposed to following a specific run/character/artist). I couldn't have done a Batman Panel by Panel anyway, because the only way to make such a project work is to really do it daily (if not Daly). Short podcast bites and a gradual descent into madness. That would glut the Network feed and page. If I were a lone agent, yeah, sure, why not? But I'm not, and taken random panels appealed to me, as did the idea of having a very short show format to cut on editing time with the Summer of 2019 coming up. Martin was roped into being the guest for the pilot, and we were off.

The Process
It started on the FW Presents feed (a catch-all for shows by any Network host who doesn't really see it as an ongoing concern). You don't want to start a whole feed, submit to Apple Podcasts, etc. if it's going to be casual and occasional. We learned that lesson as a group from such shows as Saturday Morning Fever and yes, Hero Points. I did manage to produce a lot of Panel by Panel episodes that first year, and while it's still something of a lark, meant to plug holes in the schedule, as well as serve as a nice try-out for people who have never podcasted or even guested on a show before, I have recently migrated it to its own feed. It does offer a service: Panel by Panel acted as first experience to such folks as Ward Hill Terry, Max Traver, and more recently, Brian Linton. Now, I KNOW when Martin said "random" panels, he meant "selected" panels "in no particular order". I went further and set up what I call the Randomizer. Basically, I roll for a year, a month, an issue that came out that month, a page, and finally a panel from across all the comics I have access to (through an app, archive, digital or physical). That leads to some weird choices sometimes, but there's great variety, and the Randomizer hasn't thrown up anything that didn't foster discussion.

The average episode is 15-20 minutes, which made it perfect for hit and runs as well. When Mr. and Mrs. Shagg came to New Brunswick that summer, Bass, Shotgun and I went to meet them at a town-by-the-sea. When podcasters meet, recording should be expected, and we did a quick Panel by Panel AS a panel, sitting at a picnic table. I only regret not doing the same with Diabolu Frank a few weeks later when he came 'round.

My favorite reaction to the show came from a sight-impaired listener who enjoyed specific discussion on well-described art, as most comic book podcasts focus more on writing aspects, probably because it's an audio medium. The open invitation to be on the show was answered by many and some, like I said, saw it as a useful "try-out" and went on to guest on other shows. (Get yourself discovered on Panel by Panel!) But there are also those who don't see the point of examining the panel as discreet unit of comics storytelling. To them I say: It'll be over in 15 minutes!


In my podcasting circle, I'm kind of known as the guy who comes with novelty podcast ideas that can't possibly work, but then do. Doesn't matter how many times I make it work, I'll still be told that it won't work. Panel by Panel is a good example.


The Future
In the short term, you may definitely see more episodes of Panel by Panel as Gimme That Star Trek is currently in between seasons. But the fact is, I don't really push for it. It's more about people dropping me a line and my finding room for it in the schedule.

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


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