I wanted to share the story of how Reggie got me into podcasting. I know this isn’t the sort of content people expect from this site… and I apologize. Comics really don’t have much meaning for me right now… and the thought of writing about them, just doesn’t feel right. In fact, writing anything at all doesn’t feel right.
This is the first time I’ve lost a friend this way. The first time I’ve lost someone I’m close to… who is also close to me in age. The pain of losing someone also comes with that strange (and perhaps somewhat selfish) clarity that nothing’s guaranteed. I want to spend some time remembering my friend and reflecting on our relationship. If that’s not the sort of thing you want to read, again, I apologize. I really do. This is just me working things out… getting some of these stories and memories out of my head.
I want to take you back to probably late March of 2016. I was a couple months into my blogging “career” here… and it had been a little while since I’d begun “sharing” my stuff on social media. I learned via the Weird Science show that Twitter was a good way to get engagement… and so, that’s where I went.
I’ve told the story before about how I actually started blogging. It’s really not relevant to this discussion, except for one detail. For my earliest posts, I copied and pasted them to the short-lived Weird Science DC Comics message board. Where they sat, largely unread… and only ever commented on by one person. He loved the fact that I included discussion of the old comic ads at the end… which would go on to be, what I believe to be, one of the “trademarks” of the site. Or, at least something that I’d include, that not many other “comic book reviewers” did.
Back to Twitter. I shared my stuff, where again… it largely went unread, and very seldom commented on. Back then, I used to actually send Direct Messages to anyone who would “retweet” me in order to thank them. And so, it became almost routine for me to send Reggie a “thank you” message… immediately followed by a “sorry to keep bugging you” message. He assured me, time and again, that it was no bother… but, the guilty little Catholic that I am, I always felt like I was putting him out. That would become something of an inside joke going forward.
So, back to late March, 2016. DC Comics was just about to release a miniseries based on the 1993 Annual event, Bloodlines. The guys at Weird Science wanted to put together a piece talking about the history of the event… just in case it provided any necessary context for what was to come. Thing is, nobody wanted to actually write that piece.
One day I woke up to a message… from Reggie. The first one that I didn’t provoke. Knowing that I’m somewhat knowledgeable about DC Comics history, he asked me if I’d mind writing a piece about Bloodlines for the site. At the time, I want to say he and his wife were vacationing… either in Italy or Greece. It was somewhere Mediterranean… I really think it was Greece.
I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was I a huge fan of the site… here was a guy, whose work I respected and enjoyed… asking me to contribute. It was one part elation… another part dread. I was so scared that I was going to wind up letting him down. With very few exceptions, I have little confidence in the quality of my work… even to this very second. I wanted this piece to be good… and, more than that, I wanted Reggie to be proud. This is a dude who I didn’t really know… and his approval meant a lot to me.
What followed was an incredibly stressful weekend, where I pushed off schoolwork (I was at the tail-end of my Junior year of college at that point)… but, I got the Bloodlines piece done and sent over before the deadline. And… Reggie loved it. Everyone on the site did. I think it was here, that Reggie saw that I can be pretty detail oriented… which, was something he was looking for.
I was invited to sit in on the Bloodlines segment of the Weird Science show… another one of those, one-part elation… one-part dread situations. I was, folks… I was petrified. Despite my not having a microphone (I was using some cell-phone headphones with a mic built in to the cord), and the fact that Reggie had an electrical outage during the session… it went about as well as you might imagine… at least the second time through (the first recording… well, didn’t record).
During the recording (both times), Jim from Weird Science asked if I’d be down with doing a weekly segment with Reggie. I don’t think I even let him finish the question before answering. But again… this is another one of those one-part elation… one-part dread things.
I still didn’t know Reggie. All I knew was that he was a very intelligent, passionate, and professional guy, with a booming baritone voice. To be completely honest… and this is something I’d eventually tell him (to which he’d laugh… a lot), I was totally intimidated. I mean, at my best, I’m a stammering idiot.
I remember reaching out to him the following day to see what he had in mind for our segment. It was presented to me as, basically, talking about old comics… but Reggie had another idea. We’re both sort of kindred spirits in our love and appreciation for comics history… and, I come to learn… his idea all along was to cover (in brief) some of the more interesting bits and pieces from the history of the industry.
And so, Weird Comics History was born. We put our heads together to figure out what would be the best “opening salvo” for the segment… and, considering we were going to be on a DC Comics podcast, ultimately settled on the DC Implosion.
This was before there was a great big TwoMorrows book on the subject… so, information was pretty “piecy” online. This was also a time when we were wanting to keep the segment to fifteen minutes or less… so, we knew we weren’t going to go quite as deep as we wanted. A deeper-dive/revisit of the DC Implosion is actually one of the topics on our most recent “to-do list”.
I’m usually quite the digital packrat, but I can’t find our outline for that episode. If I come across it, I’ll be sure to add it. From what I recall, it was very sparse… certainly unlike anything we’d do in the future. Again, we wanted to keep this to, ideally, 10-15 minutes as to not cause all of Weird Science DC Comics’ listeners to hit “stop” on their devices.
I remember getting that script, via Google Docs. You would’ve thought I’d just gotten my “star” on the Podcasting Walk of Fame. I was on cloud nine… it felt like I was “somebody”, which is equal parts hilarious and sad. Just such a surreal feeling to be “accepted” by someone you respect and admire so much. Even though, I’d only been listening to his work for… I dunno… four months at this point. This show had become the only show I was listening to, which gave it a bit of a “larger than life” sort of feel… if that makes any sense? Maybe it does… maybe it doesn’t.
I’m going to include the show here… this isn’t an attempt at getting anyone to listen to the thing. It’s more for me, if and when I revisit these pieces down the line. It’s been a little while since I’ve listened to these “oldies”… but, my main takeaway… and it’s going to sound weird, but… for audio that’s less than a half-decade old… we both sounded so young. It hurts to think about.
The segment… was interesting. I was terribly nervous… and really kind of “in my own head” about wanting to make sure I a) didn’t misspeak, b) didn’t make a fool out of myself, and c) showed a little bit of personality… despite my iPhone cable “microphone”, and most importantly, d) didn’t let Reggie down.
He knew that… and he did his damnedest to ensure I was comfortable. Sure, there were a lot of starts-and-stops early on. Even to this day, I have a big problem when it comes to “opening” a show… it’s kind of the only part of a show that doesn’t sound right being completely scripted… and so, it’s kind of the only part of a show where I’m “without a net”, ya know? I stammered my way through the earliest seconds of this recording… and, boy… we had to start over so many times. Around the fifth time, I was so embarrassed… and worried that Reggie was going to realize I was a lost cause… and just “call it”.
He didn’t. And an hour-plus later, we had ten or so minutes of usable audio.
After hitting “stop” on the recording… I was closing out of some of my tabs, when he asked me if I had a minute to talk. I immediately figured this was it… ya know? I thought this was going to be a one-and-done, considering all of the trouble I had getting words out… my sometimes hard to understand accent… and my overall lack of vocal charisma.
But it wasn’t that. He wanted to actually talk. He knew that I was intimidated… and wanted to fix that. We talked for about an hour, sharing our “secret origin” stories. How we got into the hobby… other hobbies we had. I learned what I big collector of New York and World’s Fair ephemera he was. I learned about his wife, his family… his love of cats… his real name.
It was a very special conversation… and it’s one I won’t forget. It was the first time, in a very long time, that I’d made a friend. It was exactly what I needed at that moment… and, from that point on… the switch just flipped. Recording with him and “working” with him… just felt natural. Just felt right.
Weird Comics History would last as part of the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast… around eight or so weeks, before we “outgrew” the format. We could no longer keep the segment to 15 minutes… even if we broke the subjects up into different “parts”. Weird Comics History was about to become its own standalone program… but, we still had a segment we wanted to produce for Weird Science… but, I think that’s a story for another day.
If you’re still reading, I want to humbly thank you for letting me share this memory with you… and also for allowing me to work through and process this, in one of the very few ways I know how. This piece, if it were on paper, would be bespeckled with “smiling tears”… which, is definitely a (small) step in the right direction.