Archive for October, 2014

The Fantasticast Episode 102: Fantastic Four #88 – A House There Was

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2014 by quizlacey

the-fantasticast-episode-102-300

Disparaging The Words Of Clark Griswold

Hello, and welcome to episode 102 of The Fantasticast. Each week, Steve Lacey and Andy Leyland guide you through every issue, guest-appearance and cameo of The Fantastic Four.

This week we finally get to Fantastic Four #88, after a previous attempt at recording the episode went horribly wrong. We managed to re-secure the services of the wonderful Shagg Matthews of the Fire And Water Podcast and the Who’s Who: A DC Universe Podcast to help us through this issue.

And what an issue it is. Despite some fairly obvious warning signs, Reed and Sue decide to buy a very unsuitable house for them to live in with the still unnamed baby, and wouldn’t you believe it – it turns out to be a sort-of-trap laid by a super-villain! All this, and Sue’s collection of snow globes, job opportunities for hyper-intelligen space clouds, and we answer the burning question of the moment: Is hentai comic-code approved?

Shagg’s latest podcasting venture is a guide to the Ultraverse comics published by Malibu in the 1990s. It launches this weekend, and can be found at http://ultraversepodcast.com

Click on this link to go to the libsyn page for this episode, or listen below.

Send in your feedback to fantastic4podcast@gmail.com, leave your comments at the libsyn site, or below. Follow us on twitter, where we are @fantasticast

Original artwork by Michael Georgiou. Check out his work at mikedraws.co.uk

Episode cover design by Samuel Savage.

Strange Tales #121: Flamin’ ‘Eck 44

Posted in Flamin' 'Eck with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2014 by quizlacey
Strange Tales #121, page 13, panel 3

Strange Tales #121, page 13, panel 3

Written in the sensational style of Stan Lee

Drawn in the marvellous manner of Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

For me, one of the best things about this period of Strange Tales is that the stories are so bland, there’s very little for me to pull out and post. At least under the terms of this blog, otherwise the panel where Johnny, under attack from acorns, is extinguished whilst crying ‘Too many of them! Covered in dew! So moist!’ would be a definite contender.

So, we instead get this panel from later on in the story where Johnny decides to call for the police, not the Fantastic Four, by using the ‘Four’ signal. He’s somehow managed to alter his flame so that instead of cracking the glass of the conservatory and setting fire to the building, it passes harmlessly through the roof and into the sky. I have no idea how he achieved this…

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #121 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_30.mp3]

Strange Tales #121: Flame On 66

Posted in Flame On with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2014 by quizlacey
Strange Tales #121, page 6, panel 1

Strange Tales #121, page 6, panel 1

Written in the sensational style of Stan Lee

Drawn in the marvellous manner of Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

Strange Tales #121 featured the return of one of the more notable (and infamous) Human Torch villains – The Plant Man. Remember him? He’s the lunatic, convinced that plants had intelligence, who found himself able to command any vegetable matter when a lightning bolt hit his special pruning shears. He’s the only villain to temporarily defeat the Human Torch with the morning dew, and to escape by encasing himself in a tree.

He launches a wave of crime in Glendale, avoiding interrupting by dampening Johnny and locking him in the closet for half an hour. Johnny catches up with Doris at the scene of one of the crimes, before flying away, with his catchphrase once again framed as a sound effect rather than a cry or shout.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #121 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_30.mp3

The Fantasticast Episode 101.5: A Huge Mistake Has Been Made

Posted in Podcast with tags on October 11, 2014 by quizlacey

FF Banner New

Hello, and welcome to episode 101.5 of The Fantasticast. Each week, Steve Lacey and Andy Leyland guide you through every issue, guest-appearance and cameo of The Fantastic Four.

Except for this one. Unfortunately, a recent recording went horribly wrong when a software crash caused one of the tracks to save with multiple, unsurmountable errors. So, we’re delaying for a week whilst we get our re-record sorted.

As is traditional when this sort of thing happens, we’re not going to leave you empty-eared for a week. To keep your Fantasticast cravings under control, we’re presenting a selection of our favourite outtakes, distractions, insults, and idiocy from episodes 21-30. Featuring special appearances from our guest-hosts David Wynne and Michael Bailey.

Click on this link to go to the libsyn page for this episode, or listen below.

Send in your feedback to fantastic4podcast@gmail.com, leave your comments at the libsyn site, or below. Follow us on twitter, where we are @fantasticast

Original artwork by Michael Georgiou. Check out his work at mikedraws.co.uk

Episode cover design by Samuel Savage.

Fantastic Four #27: Sue’s Force Fields Of Awesome 13

Posted in Sue's Force Fields of Awesome, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by quizlacey
Fantastic Four #27, page 22, panels 4-5

Fantastic Four #27, page 22, panels 4-5

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Our final entry from Fantastic Four #27 returns the focus to the object of this story, Sue Storm. I use the word object very deliberately, as, up to this point, this is how she’s been portrayed. She’s a thing for both Reed and Namor to covet, from the cheesecake portrait at the start of the issue, to Namor’s stalking and kidnapping, to Reed’s uncharacteristic rage when he can’t have the thing he considers his. At one point, she was literally put into a glass display case in Namor’s throne room.

What saves Sue is her defining moment of awesome shown here, stepping up and using her fields to force her combating suitors apart. A rare moment of authority from Sue, these two panels allow her to be actualised somewhat, although the conclusion of the story has her committing to Reed and him being distrustful of her intentions, rather than a more interesting dramatic twist of having Sue temporarily reject Reed following his behaviour in this issue.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_30.mp3]

Fantastic Four #27: Reed’s Stretchy Body 72

Posted in Reed's Stretch Body with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2014 by quizlacey
Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 5

Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 5

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

The inventiveness continues. One of the joys of revisiting this issue panel-by-panel has been to see the sheer number of different ways in which Kirby manages to visually depict Reed’s stretching powers. As we can see, Reed has made a bow from his body, and that visual is really strong.

So, let’s thanks Stan’s penchant for over-writing for working against the art here. We really don’t need Namor and Reed narrating this panel – it’s obvious that it’s a bow, and that Namor is going to be the arrow. It’s a shame – with two small dialogue balloons instead of three overwritten ones, this would be a really great panel.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_30.mp3]

Fantastic Four #27: Reed’s Stretchy Body 71

Posted in Reed's Stretch Body with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2014 by quizlacey
Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 2

Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 2

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It’s been a couple of weeks since we last checked in with Fantastic Four #27. I hope you enjoyed the week of special content celebrating our 100th episode. It was great fun to put that all together, to get Andy onto the blog, and to share some behind-the-scenes secrets of the show with you all.

It should come as no surprise that Reed and Namor are still throwing down with each other. You don’t make a move on Sue (by which I mean, kidnap her and imprison her in your underwater palace) without risking the wrath of Reed, and this wrath continues to manifest itself in inventive uses of his stretching powers. In 89 issues of the Fantastic Four read for the show, this still stands out as the only time Reed uses his legs not only as a trip wire but to flip an opponent upside down.

Great stuff!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_30.mp3]

The Fantasticast Episode 101: Fantastic Four #87 – The Pride And The Power

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2014 by quizlacey

the-fantasticast-episode-101-300

The Jackanape Sanity Test

Hello, and welcome to episode 101 of The Fantasticast. Each week, Steve Lacey and Andy Leyland guide you through every issue, guest-appearance and cameo of The Fantastic Four.

It’s the end of an era, as the final Lee/Kirby Doctor Doom story comes to a close, not with a bang, but with possibly the most off-beat ending this year. Yes, it’s the turn of Fantastic Four #87 to come under the gaze of The Fantasticast. We’re also taking a brief, two-panel look at Namor, The Sub-Mariner #14 as Ben Grimm tries to avoid getting involved in the plans of Egghead, something highly recommended by anyone forced to deal with that particular villain over the years.

Along the way, we spy on Doctor Doom’s sleepover, listen to some mid-combat shouting matches, discuss Latverian small talk, discover Rob Liefeld’s Bullpen Bulletin, and find a scene that actually passes the Bechdel test. In the 1960s, Stan Lee-penned Marvel comic. Yeah, it surprised us too…

Click on this link to go to the libsyn page for this episode, or listen below.

Send in your feedback to fantastic4podcast@gmail.com, leave your comments at the libsyn site, or below. Follow us on twitter, where we are @fantasticast

Original artwork by Michael Georgiou. Check out his work at mikedraws.co.uk

Episode cover design by Samuel Savage.

The Fantasticast at 100: A Peek Behind The Curtain

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on October 3, 2014 by quizlacey

This week, we released the 100th episode of The Fantasticast. In a break from showcasing tropes of The Fantastic Four (nearly) ever day, we’re celebrating this milestone with a week of special blog posts taking a behind-the-scenes or sideways look at the show. Today, we pull back the curtain and pay rather a lot of attention to the man hiding behind it…

Episode Editing

An hour of audio takes an awfully long time to produce. At an estimate, from the moment I start writing notes to hitting the ‘publish’ button on Libsyn, each episode takes 8-10 hours to produce. That’s a lot of time, each and every week. I don’t have the time of ‘not be in the mood’, to not want to do something else. There are times when producing the show feels like a burden, when I wish I could ignore the release schedule and spend the night vegging out in bed, watching DVDs and eating crisps.

Step 1: The Reading

We record two episodes of the Fantasticast in one sitting, meaning that every two weeks, we sit down and cover two months worth of Marvel comics. A month a week. You’ve probably noticed, we briefly summarise each and every original Marvel comic towards the start of the episode. The idea behind this is to context each issue of the Fantastic Four with the other Marvel books that share it’s cover date, so if you know your Amazing Spider-Man back-to-front (as Andy does), you should be able to line this issue up in the grander scheme of things easily. Of course, that means that someone’s got to go and read these comics. Some are available commercially (as I’ve said before, I own all the DVD collections from the mid-2000s, so I legally own all of the main titles). Some have synopsises that are easily available (Official Indexes, marvel.wikia, etc.), but there are a handful of titles (such as Captain Savage) for which there exists no way to read or receive a plot summary. So… yes… I use torrents to ensure that I cover everything with a modicum of accuracy.

Right now, reading for episode 102 (cover date July 1969), there are 13 books to cover, all of which are densely-dialogued (and, in the case of Doctor Strange, fairly incomprehensible to me). This takes time – I can read a trade of Bendis-era Avengers faster than I can read two Roy Thomas Avengers issues. Thankfully, I have bus journeys to and from work every morning, which allows me to squeeze most of the reading in, but when I hit a run of comics that I don’t enjoy, it can be a chore.

Step 2: The Writing

Somewhere on my hard drive, I have the full script for episode 1 of the show. And when I say full script, I mean full script. Andy and I used to share a document and write out (long form) our notes for each issue. Thankfully, we don’t do that any more. The only bits of full scripting I do now are the introduction (that’s a very recent thing, as the majority of the the episodes will attest), the history blurbs, the ‘elsewhere in Marvel’ blurbs, the issue synopsis, and the summaries of the Bullpen Bulletins and the letters pages. The rest… well, I let it come to me during the record, although for key information, I’ll have a couple of bullet points scribbled down in front of me.

Step 3: The Recording

This is the most enjoyable bit of the whole process. I treasure the opportunity I have every two weeks to sit down and record with Andy. We spend about three hours on Skype together, lots of which doesn’t get recorded or doesn’t make it into the show. If you’ve listened to the show since the early days, you’ll have noticed a huge improvement in the quality of the audio. In August 2013, we stopped using various Skype call recording software to record the call itself. I was irritated with Skype compressing the audio quality, with the latency that would pop up (normally whilst Andy was talking, which is always difficult to deal with). Instead, we started recording our individual microphones directly, using Skype only to facilitate the two of us talking. It slows the editing down a little, but I hope the difference in audio quality is noticeable and better.

Step 4: The Editing

Welcome to the most time-consuming and tedious part of producing the show. Ask any podcaster what the worst part of their workflow is, and ‘editing’ will be top of the list. If not, then they don’t do the editing!

As you can see from the screenshot, I use Audacity on a Mac. I tried Garageband, but the reduction in speed from learning a new system was too much, and I’ve managed to customise Audacity to make the edit as quick and painless as possible. If it’s just Andy and myself, then I work at a rate of 1 hour’s editing for every 15-20 minutes of audio. It varies, as monologues (reading the history, bulletins, synopsises, etc.) tend to be very easy to edit, whilst back and forths tend to have more audio issues to contend with, such as flubbing our words, talking over each other, long pauses whilst we gather our thoughts, and the inevitable arguments!

On top of this, there’s the time spent manipulating the audio (equalising, normalising, compressing, and rendering into mp3 format) which, depending on how my computer’s feeling, can take only a few minutes each… or up to half an hour each!

Step 5: The Publishing

This part is normally a case of filling in a web form, uploading the episode, and scheduling it for release. Before I submit the audio, I embed the audio file with the cover artwork provided by Sam Savage, using elements from the original cover as well as the show’s artwork by Michael Georgiou. The hardest part of this whole process is writing the episode description. I like them to be informative and fun, and hitting the balance can be a bit tricky, especially if, at the time of writing, my recall of the tangents and funny moments is rather poor… as it is most weeks! Libsyn also handles the social media notifications, which means that everything can be queued up in advance. The episode goes live at midnight UK time, late afternoon/early evening for the US (depending on time zone). I’ll almost always be in bed at that point, trusting that nothing will go wrong!

And that’s how a podcast is made. Every week. For nearly three years.

I need a break!

Tomorrow… the cycle begins again, with the release of episode 101!

The Fantasticast at 100: Andy’s Not-So-Secret Origin

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on October 2, 2014 by quizlacey

This week, we released the 100th episode of The Fantasticast. In a break from showcasing tropes of The Fantastic Four (nearly) ever day, we’re celebrating this milestone with a week of special blog posts taking a behind-the-scenes or sideways look at the show. Today, Andy arrives on the blog (426 posts late… work shy fop…), and reveals how a cheap, black-and-white reprint changed a comics fan forever…

Fantastic Four Pocket Book 9

Fantastic Four Pocket Book #9 is one of the best comics ever published.

A bold statement, you say. Better than Amazing Spider-Man #33? Fantastic Four #51? Daredevil #47?

Absolutely. I’d read the FF before I read Pocket Book #9, but, as I pored over this issue as a lowly 10 year old, this was were I stopped being simply a reader and became a fan.

For those not in the know, Marvel’s Pocket Book line was initiated by Dez Skinn, back when he was Editor In Chief of Marvel UK in the early 80‘s. Reprints of old material cost nothing so they were money in the bank for Marvel and as such a range of competitively priced pocket books would, presumably, pay for themselves. These Pocket Books couldn’t hold a candle to DC’s line, then licensed to Egmont Publishing – they were 100 pages of full colour, square bound, cardboard covered awesomeness for 75p. But the Marvel editions scored on one major point – they were cheap. For 15 British pennies, the eager purchaser received, in one compact A5 booklet, 2 complete 20 page stories, in glorious black and white.

For reasons known only to Marvel, the FF pocket books, unlike the Spider-Man line, did not start with reprints of FF#1, rather they leapt straight in with a reprint of FF Annual #3, “Bedlam At The Baxter Building!” and proceeded from there. This was probably a wise decision as this is, by general consensus, where the Fantastic Four truly became ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!”  I devoured these pocket books. From Spider-Man to the FF, The Incredible Hulk to the Star Heroes, here was a chance to read complete tales from the early days of Marvel, plus more recent Micronauts adventures, for a decent price. But none were devoured quite as eagerly as Fantastic Four Pocket Book #9.

For one, this issue was double sized. 100 glorious pages for only 30p was still a bargain and this issue had it all. After turning the cover, a magnificent image of Dr Doom and The Thing pounding the shit out of each other, the reader was treated to DOOMSDAY! Now, more knowledgeable FF readers will know this is smack dab in the middle of an epic, 4 part story in which DR DOOM steals the phenomenal Power Cosmic from the Sentinel Of The Space Ways, the Silver Surfer! If, in reading this for the first time, I was confused by the fact that we begun halfway through the story, it barely mattered. Jack Kirby’s powerhouse art conveyed the seriousness of the situation as Dr Doom, infused with power, threatened the entire world. THE PERIL AND THE POWER lived up to the cover as one magnificent page has The Thing and Dr Doom go toe to toe in an all-out battle for supremacy. One would think anything that came after this would be a come down but WHERE STALKS THE SANDMAN featured one of my favourite Spider-Man bad guys so seeing the FF match powers with him was just as exciting as seeing Dr Doom riding the Surfer’s board. The continuing plotlines compelled the reader forward as Reed was sucked into the deadly Negative Zone where they met one of my favourite FF adversary’s – BLASTARR THE LIVING BOMB BURST.

Incident piled upon incident as the FF conquered their enemies but always at a cost. The family dynamic was never more potent, the drama never more heightened, Kirby’s art never more exciting than in these issues – at least to my 10 year old mind. I think I learned everything I needed to know about the Fantastic Four in these 100 stunning pages. From the extended family of The Inhumans and the Surfer to the most vile of villains, the FF wasn’t just about the four core characters – it was a book about the many different people, both good and bad, that came into their orbit. Each had their own relationship with the other and none were the same. There were no cookie cutter relationships here, no bland sameness to the characters, they lived and breathed. The stories were all over the place, they bled into each other, people drifted in and out, important one minute, gone the next – It was like life if we all had a Negative Zone portal in our basements.

It was the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine and Fantastic Four Pocket Book #9 was the best of the best. I literally read that comic until the cover came off and to my 10 year old self, it was one of the best comics ever published.

30 years later, it still is.

Thanks Andy! Tomorrow, we’ll take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Fantasticast!

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