posted by @HeyItsKamo
A week or so ago, I had the chance to talk with Drew Celestino and Jay Gelsomino, the duo behind the Omni Comics Podcast. Then I got really sick with the flu and thought I hallucinated the entire thing. Well, it turns out it actually happened (I have proof!), and if you keep on reading you’ll see that I have a pretty good case against the idea that it was all a feverish nightmare from Hell.
If you haven’t given it a listen yet, I recommend heading over to iTunes or paying a visit to OmniComicsPodcast.com and trying out an episode or two- if you like comics (and even if you don’t) you’re in store for some quality entertainment.
OCP is a unique take on the comic book genre of podcasting (yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: just what we need, another podcast about comic books). The format is pretty straight forward: Drew and Jay read and then review comic books and graphic novels, both new releases as well as old favorites. Each episode, they give a random character a spotlight segment and throw in some recommendations for the listeners as well. In their most recent episode, the pair tackle the first issue of Happy, the latest from Grant Morrison, and then dive in to a review of some old Thanos titles.
However, what sets OCP apart and gives them a leg up on other podcasts that touch on the same subject is that one host is a life-long fan of comic books/graphic novels, while the other is just getting back into the hobby of reading and collecting. “We’re friends, and because Jay is new, I teach him and suggest titles, and at the same time revisit old comics,” said Drew, touching on the interesting situation he’s been given. “If it’s Drew approved, I read it” added Jay, explaining that the process allows him to develop his tastes.
When asked what rekindled his interest in the medium, Jay explained that, “The Dark Knight brought me back into the fold. I started reading Batman comics, and I would go to Drew’s and see a ton of comics. Now that I [am older and] have disposable income, I can get back into reading comics, and I just dove head first back in; the medium is amazing.” Amazing indeed, but why? “I love good, flushed out stories,” Jay continued. “I like it because it’s a good solid story, but your not investing a 12 episode, 12 hour run- you can read it in 25 minutes.”
Personally, Jay’s words hit home with me with on that last part. I’ve just recently gotten back in to comics myself, and one of the main draws is being able to pick up a trade and read 10 issues of a series in the span of 30 minutes, all while being highly entertained.
Getting back into comic books is no easy task (take if from me), but lucky for Jay, he had plenty of help from his co-host. “The Dark Knight peaked my interest, but Drew gave some push towards the good stuff,” he explained. “If you told me I’d be picking up Marvel trades… I don’t think that would have been something I would have been doing a while ago. Thanks to Drew, it happened.”
Drew’s background with comics, while different from Jay’s, is relatable for many fans and collectors. “When I was a kid, my cousins were reading them, friends had them- I wasn’t a heavy reader but the pictures were cool. I noticed that comics at the time were a lot of style, but not a lot substance,” said Drew, hinting towards the 90’s line from Image. “Something got me back in to comics. It might have been the relaunch of GI Joe, or maybe when Grant Morrison got into X-Men. This time I was old enough to appreciate stories- fuck the art work. If the stories gonna be great its gonna be great, and now there was no turning back. Comics are my favorite story telling medium.”
The main question that I wanted to pose to Jay and Drew when I had the chance to talk to them was- How did the podcast come about? The conversation went a bit like this:
Drew: “There are a zillion comic book podcasts, but about a year ago I got into the Kevin Smith podcast (SModcast). I noticed that he didn’t have a dedicated comic book one, there were some that were comic related, but none that focused on comics. This [the starting of OCP] coincided with Jay getting into comics again, so it worked out.”
Mike: “But comic podcasts could touch on so much, how do you keep up with content?”
Drew: “I have a whole list of books I read each month- I’m up to speed. I read the stuff I like, and the writers I like.”
So with that, you might be wondering, what kind of comics are two guys like Jay and Drew into? Well, if you’re a fan of the show, then I’m sure you already know the answer to that. “Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, all day every day, no matter what. If they get together its going to be incredible,” said Drew, with some serious excitement in his voice, I might add. “I tend to follow writers more than titles, but Daredevil, Punisher, those are two of my favorites.” Jay chimes in with another great one-two punch in the comic world, “[Ed] Brubaker and [Sean] Phillips are two more of our favorites.”
What’s your favorite non-popular comic? “Drew put me on to something different- my whole mindset was Spider-Man, Batman. I’d say [Robert] Kirkman’s The Walking Dead or Thief of Thieves is a favorite.” The Walking Dead is rising in popularity, thanks in part to the popular television show on AMC, but Thief of Thieves is a relatively unknown title. “It’s hard to say this isn’t popular,” laughed Drew, “but it’s one of our favorite comic runs: Animal Man. A normal person would be like ‘what the fuck is that supposed to be?’ but when I heard of the DC relaunch, I though ‘fuck yeah!’ Its my favorite current “under the radar” comic.”
Marvel or DC? – “Batman brought me to the dance,” said Jay, speaking for an entire generation of comic fans. “A majority of what I have now is still Batman. I never really dabbled into newer stuff or other DC characters. I always liked Marvel characters more (thanks in part to collecting Marvel cards).” Drew chimes in after a minute of thinking “At heart, I’m a Marvel kid. I like Marvel characters more- they’re more relatable, interesting. I think DCs universe, when you look at the whole thing, it’s kind of stupid and nerdy, cheesy; it’s a bygone era. A lot of the “classic stories” tend to be DC stories, big heavy mythos stories. Marvel… I can’t say the same. They don’t hold the same weight. I like Marvel more, but I enjoy a lot of DC.”
With the recent release of higher quality tablets (see: iPad, Nexus 7, etc.) and a whole slew of comic book related apps, I had to ask the boys: Digital or Print? Not surprisingly, they went with the old school answer and each agreed on print. “With the iPad, I tried the Marvel and DC apps,” said Jay. “It’s ehh… it looks nice, it’s crisp, but I like physically holding the comic. It looks pretty, but its not something tangible that you [feel like you] own.” Drew, while sharing his co-hosts opinion on the matter, had a different view on the ongoing battle of print vs digital comics: “I should get into it. I have ten long boxes, bookshelves of trades. I’m running out of room.” Drew goes a bit further on the point Jay was getting at, explaining that, “There’s no substitute for having the book in your hand, turning the pages. It’s a comic BOOK. I’d like to be wow’d [by digital comics], but there’s no substitute for a good ol’ comic book.”
Since digital isn’t much of a factor for the pair, local stores seem like the way to go. “The Queen City Bookstore,” they said in unison when asked which was their favorite; Drew admitted that he’s been going to QC for 13 years. “It’s incredible,” he said, noting that the owner, Emil Novak, is a personal friend. “He runs the Buffalo Comic Con,” added Drew, which the two will be appearing at on October 7th.
The Con is sure to be a great event, which is set to include a variety of special guests. Artist Graham Nolan (Rex Morgan, M.D., Bane) is the headliner, but plenty of local artists will be on hand showing off their craft. “Were gonna be there to meet the fans,” explained Jay. “We’ll have a booth set up,” added Drew. “We plan to give out some freebies, get some audio, that kind of stuff- we’ll be kissing hands and shaking babies.”
So what am I trying to get at with all this? That you should fucking listen to this podcast.
The main draw OCP has for me, besides the fact that it’s a podcast about comic books, is the rapport and generally funny banter that goes on between the shows two hosts. Jay calls it “two gentlemen having a spirited discussion” but it really is funny to start an episode and hear the two curse at each other in between lines from The Big Lebowski. It also doesn’t hurt that the pair have a background in acting and performance, with Jay, a D’youville College (English) and University at Buffalo (Theater Performance) grad, landing roles in feature films and the Buffalo theater scene; Drew’s passion is music, which he flaunts as the front-man for heavy metal band The Long Cold Dark.
“Hopefully we can keep it fresh and entertaining,” noted Drew about the podcast. “One of the neat things about our show is that we keep it high level; we don’t get into the nerdy, basement dwelling level of other podcasts. Maybe we can get people into comics- anyone that reads comics, I like to think enjoys listening to people talk about comics. I think we have fun. Hopefully our listeners think so too.”
“Basically, I talk into a mic and Drew puts it on the internet,” jokes Jay. “I feel like I’m a bit of a wandering puppy dog, coming into it. We try to keep it lighthearted; we’re not going to go through and nit pick. We want to talk about what we enjoy about stories, or that certain run [of a series]. We’re not too ingrained- someone who’s a hardcore reader can get entertainment out of this podcast.”
Wandering puppy, zombie, whatever- these guys are doing the podcast game a solid and it would be criminal not to check out their show. Look for new episodes mid-week each and every week on itunes and the OCP website. Now, my friends… go read some God damn comics.
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