Interview with Part-Time Comics
Keith Quinn, founder and co-creator of Part-Time Comics, sits down with Cranium Comics to answer a few burning questions about his inspiration, motivations, and processes in creating the podcast.
- How did the idea of Part-Time comics come to fruition? Why did you feel that it was necessary?
I listen to a handful of podcasts. Some relate to comics, others to tech and web design, and one or two center on general interest topics. In my spare time, I like switching around from project to project, and I started thinking a podcast might be a fun project to work on. A fun experiment that could help me become a better comics creator.
The podcast needed a theme and a purpose beyond just simply doing it. I decided focusing on part-time comic creation. There were already “how to” comics podcasts, but they focused on helping you reach the “big time.” There weren’t any to help you manage a part-time comics career alongside your day job, and that was something I knew a little about and was hoping such a podcast would help me refine my process.
This new podcast felt like a project I would enjoy better when working with someone else. I felt the free Talkshoe.com service would also be helpful, especially if the podcast didn’t work out. Within Talkshoe’s live broadcasting environment, we could learn from each other’s successes and mistakes, create and refine processes, even chit-chat with our audience.
The thought that the podcast might not work out, or that we would run out of topics, stuck with me. From lessons learned in previous day-job experiences, I decided that the podcast would have an end-goal purpose. My co-host and I would select a months-distant event and focus many of our conversations and short-term goals on that target. It would be great if the podcast continued after that, but if not then at least we had a nice self-contained series of part-time comic creation exploration.
Asking Anthony Rezendes to be my co-host was a no-brainer. We lived in the same city, went to some of the same comic functions together, had similar personal goals for our comic projects, and already shared comics tips and tricks with each other.
Once Anthony was on board, we realized there was another benefit to our podcast. We would share our respective goals for our projects and, since we would be podcasting about them in public, we would use peer pressure to commit to those goals.
It seemed a win-win situation from both sides. Anthony and I would be declaring and pursuing our own part-time comics goals, while the public could benefit from hearing about the lessons we learned.
- How has the show changed from a technical standpoint and what have you learned about producing the podcast?
We recorded the first couple of episodes together in an office with one mic. The recording was fine, but we made a lot of side noises. We try to not make any unnecessary noises now, and to be quieter when the other one is talking. After those first recordings, we switched to using Talkshoe so as to live broadcast all future podcasts. The Talkshoe system works pretty well, but the quality is a bit lower than pre-recording in a studio environment.
Recently, something changed with the sound system on my computer. I can only broadcast loudly and with a lot of electronic noise. In earlier months, we dabbled with using Skype, so I decided to use that service until I can figure out my chat issues. It seems to work out okay, although I have a bit of a “home caller” sound when I speak. One thing I wish I did differently was to not have iTunes pull updates right from the Talkshoe RSS feed. I don’t get a lot of data from Talkshoe regarding downloads. Someday, I may switch the feed location to some system that gives me better download/user data.
- Do you have any podcasts that inspire you in doing what you do? If so, what are they and why?
I love the comic-related Art & Story podcast, and all its spin-offs. Another favorite of mine is Boagworld, which focuses on creating websites and managing websites created by others. The recently returned Webcomics Weekly is great for both learning and being entertained by the Halfpixel crew.
- Talk a little bit about how the podcast has evolved over the years.
As I mentioned above, the first couple of podcasts we pre-recorded in an office. So far, nearly all the following ones were live conversations between Anthony and me. After achieving our original target goal, we moved the focus off of the two of us and now interview fellow part-time comics creators and chat about the lesson’s they have learned.
- What’s the future for PT-Comics? How do you see it growing? Have you accomplished everything you’ve set out to accomplish with it?
For the forseeable future, we’ll be continuing with the occasional interview of our part-time comics peers and keeping the operation small. Because we both like and want to keep our day jobs, this level of commitment works well for both of us.
I think it would be nice to have a reoccurring guest or even a third host. Because Anthony focuses on a long-form print comic and I’m all about my story-based webcomic, it would be interesting to team up with a joke-a-day cartoonist, or maybe someone who had great ideas regarding the production and marketing angle.
- How long do your podcasts typically run?
The times vary from ½ hour to over an hour in some cases. We don’t cut off the podcast at a specific time to allow the conversations to stay organic and natural. It felt awkward to impose a time limit on our conversations. We have a general time frame, but everyone should feel free to finish their thoughts before the show ends.
On the other hand, we didn’t want the conversations to go on forever. I listen to a lot of podcasts. They were anywhere from 10 minutes long to almost two hours. To me, the sweet spot felt like it should be between 30 and 45 minutes. Short enough that we felt compelled to stay on topic, but long enough that we can drill down a bit and get to the core of things.
- How has working in a team benefited the show, and have your two distinctly different approaches added a level of variety that has opened the doors for more recent podcasts?
In general, working with someone else always helps energize my creative process. I feel the need to do a top notch job because I know the other person is counting on me.
Working with Anthony specifically is great because we approach our comics in two very different ways. I am the sole-creator of my mostly-weekly webcomic while Anthony is both creator and third-party staff manager. Those perspectives on their own generate interesting conversations, and Anthony personally is a bright guy who is great to bounce new ideas off of.
- In addition to the podcasts that get posted through iTunes and Talkshoe, you also maintain the show notes on the PT Comics website. Do you find the maintenance of the site beneficial with regard to your site metrics/return visitors?
As I mentioned above, we don’t have a great method of tracking listener interest. But I feel the show notes absolutely help with our search engine ranking, however meager it might currently be. Search engines can’t track the content of a podcast, and summarizing the podcasts in text helps in both search engine optimization as well as allowing the user to peruse the PartTimeComics.com site more effectively.
- You’ve had some pretty big names such as Jason Neulander of Intergalactic Nemesis and Jason Hendersen of the Van Helsing series. Who’s on your list as the next “Must Land” comic personality and are there any people you simply won’t interview? How do you choose?
I don’t have a specific list, but I will say I’ve been extremely happy to have guests with diverse backgrounds. It would have been easy to invite interviewees into the show that were all artists, or do-it-all creators, but we’ve been lucky to get people who could focus on writing, marketing, and even theatrical production perspectives.
In addition to Part-Time Comics, Keith Quinn produces his own webcomic Local Heroes, a weekly strip about a powerless sidekick who struggles to keep up with his super-powered mentors.