Archive for The Fantasticast At 100

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!

The Fantasticast at 100: The Fantasticast By Numbers

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on October 1, 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 go counting… with some help from Blandine Francois…

100 episodes of the Fantasticast is a lot. It’s the first time I’ve hit 100 anythings. I stopped just shy of 100 comics reviewed on the World of Superman. The 20 Minute Longbox had 38 episodes. This 100 is a big deal for me. But, it’s not the only big number involved in the show. If I were a fancy graphics designer, I’d come up with a nice, shiny info graphic. But I’m not, so you’ll have to settle for good old text instead.

The Episodes

If you sat and listened to all 100 episodes on the feed (not including the trailer, or the compilation episodes), then you’d be listening for 135 hours and 43 minutes. If you’ve been listening since episode one, then congratulations: You’ve spent over 5.5 days in our company. Try not to think about that too much… If you listened to Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech 485 times in a row, you’d be spending the same amount of time. And you’d have less Galactus.

The Comics

If you take into account 86 issues of the Fantastic Four, 6 annuals, 34 issues of Strange Tales, one annual, and a whole selection of guest-appearances and cameos, we’ve covered 172 comics. 176, if you count our Christmas Podcasters’ Choice episodes. Oh, and 2 movies. But we’d rather forget about those.

The Guests

We’ve supplemented our deranged ramblings on 27 episodes with the deranged ramblings of 16 good friends, roped in as co-hosts. We recently took a look at these friends, check out the posts from yesterday and Monday.

The Breakdowns

Apart from my regular fits of despair at the amount of editing required to get this show out at midnight every Friday night, the episodes break down like this. Sort of. A bit.

40% total running time spent commenting on the comics.

24% total running time spent making geeky references, including our regular obscure Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy references.

12% total running time spent reading e-mails, giving the history of the month, introducing the show, the UK number ones, etc.

12% total running time spent making innuendos (this number rises sharply if you take a look at the episodes before I clean them up).

8% total running time spent by Andy sniggering, snorting and guffawing at the above innuendos. Hey – in you end oh!

4% total running spent singing the Airwolf theme.

Like all good statistics, 71.6% of the above is made up, 64% was based on actual research, and the remaining 32% was supplied to me by my girlfriend.

Come back tomorrow when we’ll… well, I don’t actually know yet. There’ll be something, but at this moment, I have no idea what!

The Fantasticast at 100: The Fantastic Guest Hosts (Part 2)

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on September 30, 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 continue to take a look at our friends…

Professor Alan Middleton became our first listener-turned-podcaster when he joined us for episode 34. We like to claim credit for the extraordinary success of the Professor in the world of podcasting, as (if you ignore his contributions to The Book Guys) we were the first show to give the Cultural Attache for the State of Latveria his podcasting break. And what a break it was… Inspired by infamous pro-Doom stance as revealed in his numerous letters to the show, we decided that to not invite him on to reveal the origins of Doctor Doom, as seen in Fantastic Four Annual #2. We also took a look at just how useful the team were when Spider-Man needed their help whilst battling the Sinister Six. Alan hosts two shows on the Relatively Geeky Network – the random and brief Quarter Bin Podcast, and the commentary show Shortbox Showcase – and his writings can be found at Alan’s Eyes And Ears.

Christine Hanefalk became our first (and, so far, only) female voice (something we hope to remedy next year) on the podcast when she joined us for episode 44. Christine is the writer and editor for The Other Murdock Papers, an incredibly enjoyable Daredevil blog and, thanks to Chris Samnee, turned up a a corrupt juror in Daredevil last year. I met Christine in the most random and delightful way – over a curry in Leeds the night before my first Thought Bubble convention. I’d gone out with some friends and lots of strangers, got chatting to Christine, and after half an hour it suddenly clicked that we knew each other through twitter – we just hadn’t realised who we were in real life. Christine joined us for a prominent Daredevil guest-appearance as Doctor Doom neutralised the powers of the Fantastic Four. We enjoyed recording with her so much that we invited her back for episode 45, to wrap up Daredevil’s appearance in the book, and join us for the final issue of Strange Tales to feature Johnny Storm.

Sam Savage was our next guest host, joining us for episodes 48 and 49. You’ve probably noticed the artwork for each episode progress over the course of today’s post and yesterday’s from just the cover of the relevant comic, to a ridiculously basic template, to something rather lovely involving some original artwork from Michael Georgiou (see below) and some subtle editing of the comic cover itself. Well, that’s all down to Sam. Like Christine, I met Sam at a convention. Whilst queuing for a signature from Edgar Wright, I got chatting to the people around me. The conversation moved around and eventually settled onto superheroes, at which point Sam realised that he recognised my voice from my appearances on Amazing Spider-Man Classics. A few months later, Sam offered to have a play with the episode images, and after a couple of false starts, we settled on the look for the show as we’ve been using ever since. Sam joined us for one of the middle chapters of the Frightful Four/Inhumans saga, as well as for the madcap craziness that was the marriage of Reed and Sue in Fantastic Four Annual #3.

Charlie Niemeyer joined us on the show for episodes 50 and 51. Other than recording a deadly Doctor Doom for our trailer, Charlie and I had never collaborated on anything before this episode. I’m really glad that Charlie joined us for these two issues, as they mark a real turning point for the Fantastic Four. The Inhumans, previously only represented by a sultry and sexual Medusa, step forward, revealing a complex and riveting backstory that rivals almost anything seen in Marvel comics to date. Charlie is the host of the recently-completed Superman In The Bronze Age podcast, a show well worth checking out if you have any interest in the pre-Crisis Superman.

Alan Middleton returned for episodes 57 and 58. Knowing that we were going to cover the opening chapters of a truly epic story featuring Doctor Doom stealing the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer, we knew that we would need an extra-special guest host to join us for these episodes. We couldn’t book one, so we got the Professor to join us instead.

Michael Georgiou was dragged away from his very literal drawing board to join us for episodes 73 and 74. Mike’s one of my closest friends, and if you’ve been listening long enough, you may be aware of a bet he made with me in 2013. He bet me that I couldn’t release four episodes of my solo show within a month, and if he lost the bet, he had to create artwork for one of my shows. I won the bet (I released another four episodes, just for kicks!), and on my 30th birthday, whilst waiting to take our seats for The Man Of Steel, Mike presented me with the artwork that now adorns the show. Mike joined us for two issues featuring the debut of the Kree, the Supreme Intelligence, and Ronan The Accuser. If you like Mike’s artwork (and let’s face it, who doesn’t!), you can see more at and follow him on twitter.

Seb Patrick joined us for episodes 75 and 76. Seb’s a journalist, writer and blogger who knows a heck of a lot about the Marvel universe. Rather uniquely for our guest hosts, he’s not a great fan of Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four, and I really wanted to have a guest host join us with a different point of view. I ambushed him in a signing queue for Garry Leach in late 2013, and he was up for joining us. To sweeten the deal, I offered him two issues featuring the inhabitants of the mysterious Beehive (sadly, not actual bees) and the debut of Him (or, as he would go on to be known, Adam Warlock).  Seb’s writings can be found in many places, including on the Doctor Who review blog Unlimited Rice Pudding, and his comic site Panel Beats. His time-travel sitcom, A Brief History Of Time Travel, is available on a pay what you want basis, and is highly recommended.

Christine Hanefalk returned to the show for episodes 84 and 85. We did something very rare, and had an entire episode without a single Fantastic Four (or spinoff) comic in it, as we rattled through four issues of Daredevil in an attempt to make Fantastic Four #73 make sense. We tried…

Luke Jaconetti joined us just before my holiday for episodes 90 and 91. Luke has been a regular e-mailer into the show, and we roped him into joining us for two episodes featuring The Thing regaining his human form, with the Wizard attacking with what would be the first of many indestructible androids. We also encountered the most offensive Irish stereotype in 1960s Marvel Comics – yes, even worse than Blarney Stone from Captain Savage. Talking of which, we also jumped back in time to take a look at some of Ben Grimm’s wartime adventures, as the Leatherneck Raiders are sent to rescue his not-yet-rocky backside from a Japanese internment camp. Luke can be found as the host of Earth Destruction Directive and of The Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror.

Al Kennedy was our most recent guest host, joining us for episode 93. I’ve been a huge fan of Al’s for a number of years, as he’s one of the hosts on my favourite comics podcast, House To Astonish. A big part of my Thought Bubble 2012 experience was getting to meet Al in person and chat with him. And go crazy on the dance floor to REM’s Bad Day, but maybe we’ll move on from that… I’d been wanting to ask Al to join us on the show for a long time, and I finally decided on a tempting offer: the first appearances of both Annihilus and Franklin Richards. The recording was ridiculously enjoyable, and if I have to pick a favourite episode from the past 100, then this one would be a strong contender. House To Astonish is currently on hiatus, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying the show and discovering the joy that is The Official Handbook Of The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.

Well, that’s it for guest hosts from our first 100 episodes. Before the end of the year, we’ll be adding Shagg Matthews (The Fire And Water Podcast) and Emily Middleton (Shortbox Showcase) to the list, and in 2015… well, we’ll see!

Tomorrow, we’ll be taking a esoteric look at the statistics of the Fantasticast.


The Fantasticast at 100: The Fantastic Guest Hosts (Part 1)

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on September 29, 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 take a look at our friends…

One of the joys of running a podcast is being able to chat with my favourite podcasters. Over the past three years, I’ve had the hosts of many of my favourite shows come and join Andy and myself on the show. My podcasting career started by guesting on other people’s shows – Teenage Wasteland: An Ultimate Spider-Man Podcast and Amazing Spider-Man Classics, both sadly departed – and before we’d recorded our first show, I’d already pencilled in a number of podcasters to join us on the show.

I’ve been very lucky with guest hosts on The Fantasticast. Nobody has turned me down*. Everyone has been up for reading comics of varying quality (Should I apologise to everyone from the Strange Tales era for forcing those strips on them?), writing detailed synopses, and singing the Airwolf theme at the drop of tenuous segue. I’ve had the opportunity to record with podcasters, bloggers and artists that I respect, and had the most amazing time whilst doing so.

So, I’d like to thank every one of our guest hosts from the past three years, offer a reminder of when they turned up on our show, and let you know where they can be found today.

*Someone managed to agree to be on the show then fail to turn up for the record. Twice. Which is even more embarrassing when you realise that he lives in the same house as Andy. But we love him anyway, the work shy fop…

Joshua Lapin-Bertone was the first podcaster to join us on the show, jumping on board for Episode 6. A former member of the Amazing Spider-Man Classics crew, I first met Josh at about 2 in the morning when, having had about four hours notice, I turned up to join the team on one of their earliest episodes. Josh has been a great support to the show, never short of a good word, and never afraid to utter that good word in public. We subjected him to the first appearance of The Wizard and his alarming facial hair, the Puppet Master and his alarming lack of any hair, and Alicia and the creepiness of having her look just like Sue Storm. Josh can currently be found as a member of the Comic Book Film Revue podcast, and has just launched a new podcast covering the TV series Gotham, over at

Donavan Morgan Grant was our second guest host, joining us for Episode 8. Amazing Spider-Man Classics was a huge influence on The Fantasticast (and, in fact, an early episode features Andy and I ‘meeting’ for the first time, when we both have e-mails read out.), so it was no surprise that another former member of the crew would join us on the show. Together with Don, we broke the fourth wall for the first time as Doctor Doom met Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and were introduced to the villainous Paste-Pot Pete. Ahh, the days when paste was regarded as the supreme weapon… Don and Josh still podcast together on their Gotham podcast at and at the Clone Saga Chronicles. You can also catch him on the phenomenally successful The Next Dimension: A Dragonball Z Podcast.

J. David Weter was our next guest host, joining us for Episode 10. I first encountered Dave as the host of Superman Forever Radio, but it was his Incredible Hulk podcast, focusing on the work of Peter David, that led me to ask him to join us for this show. Fantastic Four #12 was the first ‘crossover’ book in modern Marvel history, as the recently-cancelled Hulk found himself in the best-selling Marvel book. We had great fun with secret identities, the lack of effort taken to conceal those identities, and were introduced to one of the greatest villains ever to appear on the show – The Acrobat, or, ZANTE! Dave’s taking a break from podcasting at the moment, but you can check out his most recent show, Dave’s Daredevil Podcast, or read his contributions to the Legion Of Super-Bloggers.

Considering the influence of Amazing Spider-Man Classics on this show and the fact that he gave me my first podcasting breaks (both on ASMC and Teenage Wasteland: An Ultimate Spider-Man Podcast), it was pretty inevitable that Jon M. Wilson would turn up as a guest host for the show, which he did for Episode 16. Our longest episode to date saw us tackle the first two Marvel superhero annuals of the 1960s. One was a tightly-written superhero epic that made use of the extended page count to develop characters and present a superb plot involving the invasion of New York by Atlantis, showing off some of the best artwork produced to date by Jack Kirby. The other was Strange Tales Annual #2. If I were to list all of Jon’s past and present podcast projects, there would be no room to showcase other hosts. So, I’ll settle for his latest shows – Avengers Inspirations and The Star Wars Saga Cast.

We took a break from podcasters when we invited David Wynne onto the show for Episode 21. I’d met Dave at the first London Super Comic Convention, about 8 weeks into the show, and we bonded pretty quickly over our love of classic comics and podcasts. Flash forward a few months, and knowing that I had an episode involving Hitler, the first modern appearance of Nick Fury, and… er… Strange Tales… I couldn’t think of a better person to invite on. Dave’s appearance coincided with the arrival of inker George Roussos onto the book, and it was great to have an detailed artistic perspective on the change in inker. Dave’s current work includes providing artwork for the superb podcast Rachel & Miles X-Plain The X-Men, and the webcomic Spacescape.

Another dead cert for joining us on the show was Michael Bailey. From Crisis To Crisis has been the keystone for so many podcasts – it was mine and Andy’s first podcast we ever listened to – and we wanted to have Michael on for something special. Little did we know that two planned episode would explode into four, meaning that we rounded off our first year of the show by devoting the entirety of December 2012 to Mike’s episodes – 25, 26, 27 and 28. It was the first great Marvel crossover, as the Hulk and the Avengers turned up for a truly epic smack down. Grandiose storytelling in the Mighty Marvel Manner doesn’t get any better than this. There were also some issues of Strange Tales to round out the episodes. From Crisis To Crisis still continues on its mission to chronicle the post-Crisis Superman comics, and Mike’s solo show Views From The Longbox recently featured myself on a Forever Evil retrospective. You can also check out Mike’s blog at Fortress of Baileytude.

Our second year of guest hosts kicked off with Shawn Engel, who joined us for episode 31. Shawn leapt onto the podcast scene with his Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner-focused podcast, Just One Of The Guys. We asked Shawn to join us for the Fantastic Four’s first crossover with the X-Men, and for a Strange Tales issue featuring the most underwhelming team of super-powered henchmen in Marvel’s entire history of publishing. As well as chronicling the 1990s Green Lantern comics, Shawn also wrangles a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine discussion podcast, Listen To The Prophets, and is a co-host on Parallel Lines: The DC Comics Tangent Universe podcast.

Dave Walker is the final guest host we’ll look at today, and he joined us on episode 33. Dave become the first (and only) guest host to cover an issue featuring the line of dialogue that he recorded for the trailer – in this case, the unforgettable Burgomeister and his warnings about the castle of Diablo. Talking of Diablo, the big surprise this episode was that the second-rate sorcerer’s debut appearance was a pretty decent comic, helped by the inks of incoming inker Chic Stone. We also covered another Paste Pot Pete story in Strange Tales, but at this point, I’d struggle to describe any of the Paste Pot Pete stories from Strange Tales. Dave is the host of the Wally West podcast, Flash Legacies, and is part of the panel for Who True Freaks.

We’ll take a break here, and return tomorrow to take a look at the second batch of guest hosts who have helped Andy and myself get through the last 100 episodes.



The Fantasticast at 100: In Pursuit Of Happiness

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags on September 28, 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 take a look at the first thing we ever released…

One of the first things I did when planning the Fantasticast was to try and come up with a unique idea for a trailer. I knew that I didn’t want a portentous narration (although I ended up flirting briefly with one in the final edit), I didn’t want obvious music, and I didn’t it to be boring. There were a lot of podcast trailers around at the time that hit at least one item on that list, and with the amour of podcasts I was listening to, I was hearing those trailers a lot. The idea that stuck with me was creating a very brief narrative of The Fantastic Four’s origin, then showcasing several notable villains. I’m still not sure how good a trailer it is for the show as it is now (it’s definitely too long, and it does rather suggest that we’re dramatising the issues rather than analysing them), but I think that as an interesting and repeatable piece of audio, it stands up.

The key to this, I think, was in choosing the right piece of music. As great as the acting is in the trailer, without the driving escalation of the music behind the voices, the trailer is simply a collection of villainous pronouncements. But the music – the introduction and orchestral break from the Divine Comedy track In Pursuit Of Happiness – is what holds the trailer together and makes it, if I may be a little vain here, something a little special.

The Divine Comedy are a special band for me. They were the first ‘current’ band that I started following, off the back of their hilarious song ‘National Express’. Pretty much the only constant element in their music, aside from vocalist and front-man Neil Hannon’s amazing voice, is their refusal to conform to any kind of genre. Their 1999 Greatest Hits album was a wonderful mix of deliberately-cheesy pop, dark and twisted love songs, Noel Coward remixes, and stunning orchestrations. And this is where I first encountered In Pursuit Of Happiness.

I love this song so much. It’s the lead song from A Short Album About Love, and for the most part, it’s a gleefully joyous song about confessing the feeling of being in love with someone for the first time. It’s upbeat, it’s got a great piano riff, and it’s even got castanets. Neil Hannon’s vocal is, frankly astonishing – the way he he ends each verse on the word ‘happy’ makes my spirits lift no matter what the mood, and his attack on the third verse is just wonderful. But something starts to happen to the lyrics in that third verse: “Hey, I’m not so blind / that I can’t see where we’re all going / and it’s no fault of mine / if humankind reaps what it’s sewing.” There’s a darkness coming into the song, which resonates throughout the instrumental section, which lasts for nearly two minutes.

The orchestrations on this section are utterly gorgeous. There are so many little touches that I love during this section. The staccato of the xylophone. The way the drummer sounds like he’s having the time of his life without ever once overpowering any element of the orchestra. The brass section drives the entire piece, gently discordant and keeping the darkness from the lyrics present throughout. And then there’s the climax to it all, that driving crescendo that was so damn good, the BBC nicked it for their science and technology magazine show Tomorrow’s World. I love and adore this section of the song, especially when the brass kicks in at the top of the melodic progression to top it all off.

As anyone who’s listened to an episode of the show will be aware, the climax of the song stops suddenly. Normally, Andy and I then chime in with a grand ‘Hello!’ and rapidly improvise an introduction. But the original song ends with a dark coda: “Hey, don’t be surprised / if millions die in plague and murder / True happiness lies / beyond your fries and happy burger”. It’s a perfect example of the Divine Comedy’s refusal to be categorised, to turn on a sixpence and flip the mood of a song entirely.

The music gave me everything I needed for the trailer. It opens brightly, underscoring the theme of being explorers that runs throughout the best Fantastic Four stories. It starts to darken as the villains appear, and the final section starts to build as the villains get stronger, ending pretty damn epically when Galactus appears. The final notes, underscoring the battle cries of ‘Flame On!’ and ‘It’s Clobbering Time!’ still make me shiver with delight three years later. It was only later that I remembered the use of this track for Tomorrow’s World, an incredibly happy and appropriate coincidence.

I’m very proud of the trailer. I consider it to be pretty unique, and whilst I am certainly biased, I never tire of hearing it when it turns up in other podcasts. This is due partially to the great acting of various podcasters who volunteered their voices, but mostly to the music, which worked better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve taken delight in including the whole song a couple of times in the show, and I hope you’ll click on the above video for an amazing live performance.

The Fantasticast Episode 100: Fantastic Four #86 – The Victims Of Doom

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , on September 27, 2014 by quizlacey


Our Actual 100th Episode For Real

Hello, and welcome to episode 100 (yes, that reads 100!) 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 anniversary time at the Fantasticast, as we’re celebrating our 100th episode. Steve and Andy have the third part of the Latveria saga to cover, with more Achilles Heels than you can shake a poisonous arrow at. There’s also a lovely last-page reveal, that is totally spoiled by the cover of the comic, proving that today’s comic covers owe rather a lot to Jack Kirby.

But this episode is about the celebrations. You’ll discover the very secret origins of The Fantasticast, find out what happens when Andy wants to recast the Fantastic Four with DC characters, how few alternate FFs Steve has actually read, what the worst Marvel comic published in recent years is, what the Fantasticast might look like in an alternate universe where there are no Fantastic Four comics, and why Steve doesn’t answer his texts.

Check out this blog every day this week for special content celebrating our 100th episode!

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

Send in your feedback to, 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

Episode cover design by Samuel Savage.

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