Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the category “Housekeeping.”

7 Kray Z Years

7 years ago, I finally figured out how to record Skype conversations and Joe Rider and I fired up our computers and talked comic books for an hour or so and called it a podcast. I called it “Kray Z Comics and Stories” to bring in the references to a mini-comic about Joe called “Kray Z Rider, Comics Retailer” and “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” to let people know that it would ALL be comics.

For the first two years, we were just doing it for fun, the show came out when we had time and we slowly figured out what the hell we were doing. Now, we are about 3 months from recording our 300th show.

We wanted to do a comic podcast, and because we wanted it to be different than others, we brought our years of experience in comics retail, running comic conventions and decades of collecting, as well as other influences to make something we hoped people would like. From there we spun off a solo podcast for myself and then Joe, a podcast where I am turning the novels I have written into audio books, a new podcast where we talk about comic series in review as if it is DVD commentary of the comics, and other podcasts.

But, every Monday, we drop a new episode. We’ve had guests, co-hosts, new segments, and over 700 hours of audio since then.  Not everything has worked (conventions), some people didn’t quite work on the show (not giving any names) and some were amazing, but every hour was a joy where we got to talk about the things important in our lives.

In doing so, we’ve helped people find new comics to read, learn about creators and companies they may not have known about, had a companion on trips and at work and I have gotten e-mails from people who say that the show is an important part of their lives. There have been lots of changes in our lives, in the show and in the comics industry itself, and we’ve done our best to make all of those things make sense even if they don’t SEEM to make any sense.

7 years is a long time, and a lot of podcasts I loved have faded, didn’t last that long, or ran out of steam. We are still growing (over 800 downloads in the first week after a new episode drops), still trying new things, and still looking to have fun every week for 90 minutes. .  I always say we’d do this even if no one listened (and for the first year or so, I don’t think anyone did), but knowing that people like it makes it worthwhile.

So, I want to thank Joe for putting up with me, the co-hosts we’ve had over the years (no matter our current status), the incredible guests who have agreed to speak with us, other podcasters who have given advice or helped promote the show, anyone who has EVERY said anything kind about what we do and the listeners. And for the cuppa haters?  If we had a dime for every hater that made us slow down we’d have ZERO DIMES! (How you doin’?)

We’ve got cool stuff planned for the coming year, we’ll always be looking for new ideas and it always comes back to the core: Friends talking about comic books and telling stories about their lives.  As long as we keep the core, nothing can bring us down.

Thank you so much!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

ALL THE CREATIVE STUFF!

So, the no longer a NaNoWriMo novel is at about 30,000 words, and is chugging along nicely. I love the chaos and excitement of NaNo, but now that I decided I just didn’t have the time to finish it, I’m taking a bit more time on things, letting the each of the characters have an arc and the ending is…shifting.

We’re almost to the Festivus Episode of the podcast, so SEND ME YOUR GRIEVANCES! Last year, we didn’t have a Festivus episode due to my hospital visit and surgery, so this year, I’VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE, AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT!

I will also be getting back in interviewing mode after the first of the year, so look for those to start up again. I am looking to get back to interviewing non-comics people as well as comics people. I also want to do a few more experimental solo episodes of the Solitaire Rose Radio, so that’s coming.

The “Series in Review” podcast will have its premier on 12/26, and will be in the same feed as the Kray Z Comics, Solo Joe and Solitaire Rose Radio podcast. I’m keeping all of the comics stuff on that feed. There’s not a schedule for it, and if YOU are a comics creator who would like to do DVD commentary on a series or mini-series you’ve done, contact me!

The Weekly News Update Podcast will be back in a couple of weeks. It’s not a top priority, but I do like doing it and it’s a “when I’m not buried” show until it picks up new listeners and steam.

Novelcast is back up and the next Episode will be 12/22. I will also be working on the eBooks (it’s taking more time than I thought), but I will have THREE novels up on Amazon by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

I have a bunch of scripts I am working on for the World Wide News comic strip and should have the next year blocked out by the time our new Cheeto Colored President takes office. You have been warned.

Lastly, I have started a NEW podcast with Dan Mohr and Wolfie called “Bad Advice” where we will be dispensing advice to people every two weeks, so send in your questions. Come on, you KNOW you need life coaching and advice from a comic nerd and a puppet, right?
I think that’s about it. If there’s anything I have forgotten please let me know. Remember that I am doing this on top of a full-time job and a part-time job that explodes with extra hours from time to time, so, as the New Yorker always says: Artists lead complicated lives. It’s advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Not why I podcast

I have been reading up on what I do and how it is seen, and comics podcasting has a bad reputation in some circles.  More and more I am seeing a variation of “It’s a bunch of wannabe comics creators trying to get publicity to break into the business” or “It’s a way for people to try to make themselves feel famous.”

As with any stereotype, there are elements of truth to it.  I have listened to many comics podcast from artists who talk about what they do and what projects they are working on.  I listen to a number of writer podcasts spanning from people who have been writing for 50+ years to people just starting out and trying to learn their craft.

But the whole “All podcasters want in the business”?

Nope.

Some are fans, some are broadcasters, some are retailers, some are creators, some are cosplayers and some are a mix of all of these and more.

My story is unique, as is everyone’s.

When I was in high school and college, I wanted to work in comics, the same way my classmates wanted to be rock stars, and we all knew nothing about the career.  We lived in a tiny rural area, and to go see an actual “rock star” perform or meet a comics creator, it was a nearly 4 hour drive to Chicago and I chose to see comic book creators when I went instead of rock concerts.

By the time I was in college, I was sending submissions to comics publishers, and while a few of the very small publishers were excited and offered me work, they went out of business before anything was published.

After a few years of this, I decided that I didn’t WANT to do comics any more.  Not because of the work to get in, but because I was also writing prose and enjoyed it much more.  I don’t think as visually as a good comics writer needs to, and I much more enjoyed working out a story with words, rather than describing to someone what the pictures would be.

I haven’t eliminated writing comics.  In fact, I have done a pair of webstrips.  The first was when the artist wanted to work with me on something, and asked that I create a strip for her to draw.  A few years after it ended, I took a couple of ideas I had for TV projects and slammed them together, as well as bits and pieces of the first strip and created World Wide News, which runs off and on when Dangerous Dan Mohr and I have the time, energy and ability to put it together.

But nowhere in my mind do I think that a major publisher (or even a minor publisher) will be picking it up.  I have some expansion plans for it that will return it to it’s roots, creatively, but I don’t see it being published by Image any time soon.

I get that there are a LOT of people who want to get into comics. It’s a field where most of the people who are fans want to dive in, whether it’s to do the Spider-Man story they’ve had in their head since they were 12, or to draw their own creations.  I also get that podcasting is a great way of getting your name out there for very little cost.

I also don’t podcast for it to be all about me.  Other podcasters I listen to want to be “famous”, and I reject that entire idea.  Fame for fame’s sake is nothing I am interested in.  Want proof?  Listen to Kray Z Comics and Stories and you’ll see that I don’t even give my actual name.  It’s not about me.

It’s about the stories involved in comics.

When I interview people, I will give my experiences to help connect with the person I am interviewing, but it’s all about them. Their stories.  Their work. What they do.

I started Kray Z Comics and Stories because I rarely saw my friend Joe Rider.  We both thought were were going to have jobs where we were on the road all the time, and it would be a great way to get together and talk once a week.  As time went on, I didn’t get the travelling job and the premise of the show stayed the same:

Two best friends chatting about their lives and their time reading, selling, and loving comic books.  That is the core of of the show and it always will be.  We’ve added things, but in the end, that is what the show is.  I did some convention appearances, and while they were a fun experiment, it didn’t add anything to the show, and felt as if it was draining the fun and enjoyment from what I do.

And I believe that if it isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it.

It is fun for me to talk to people.  It’s not fun to set up, deal with buggy equipment, crowds and asking those I care about to put themselves out for me. So, I called it a day so I can focus on delivering more and better content.

Because, it’s not all about me.

If you want to podcast for some other reason, more power to you.  Like any other artistic medium, there are no maps, no roads, just endless frontiers.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How I Fund The Things I Do

Before I write this, I want to say that I am writing for ME only. I have no problem with anyone doing whatever they want on their shows.

OK?

Are we cool?

I was sent an e-mail a week or so ago asking if I would be setting up a Patreon for my podcasts. I have also been asked if I will be selling merchandise. My answer to both is no, and I want to explain why.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. A LOT. And there are some I used to listen to that I don’t listen to any longer because they became more about making money than entertaining people. I don’t have a problem with anyone wanting to make money. Hell, I want my podcasts to make money. But the reason I don’t listen to NPR or watch PBC during Pledge Month (they say it’s a week, but….) is because they may pull out the big guns entertainment-wise, but the endless begging for money and going on and on about how “We Need Your Help To Bring You This Fine Programming” chaps my hide and makes me want to quit listening.

I DIDN’T ASK YOU TO BRING ME THIS FINE PROGRAMMING!

I tune in because it’s there, but I didn’t call you up and say to do this. I take advantage of it when it is there and I listen through the “This program is brought to you by” ads. Yes, they are ads. But when you say that without my help you may go off the air…well, that’s not a threat to me.

Especially with a podcast. Trust me, if you go off the air, I’ll find something else to listen to. Even if I love your show, all things must pass. Just ask Infected with Martin Sargent.

So, I get very tired very rapidly when a podcast starts constantly pushing their donation button or their Patreon or they fundraising drive, etc… There are a few that do it discreetly or don’t hammer you with it, but when you have a nearly five minute pitch at the beginning of the show and also bring it up again during the show, then forget it. I’m done.  I don’t want to pay for your equipment, your travel, you convention tickets, your whatever.  I want to listen to the show.

I don’t want to do that. It doesn’t fit what I do and the vision I have in my head of what a good interwebz radio show should be.

There are also people who go the Rush Limabugh route and have TONS of Merch. Mugs and shirts and necklaces and on and on and on…gotta be blunt, not only will I never buy the merch for a podcast, I will never SELL merch for my podcast. If you want to buy a piece of a show and your life is made better with a Bill O’Reilly inflatable chair, have at it.

I am old school.

I like ads.

I only have ads for things I use. I try to make the ads fun and short (on Kray Z, you get 90 minutes of podcast with 90 second of ads, sometimes shorter). You can buy the stuff or not. I also know not to overdo it with ads. When I listen to some of the bigger podcasts, I get tired of wading through the long ad copy, the barrage of ads and there was one interview podcast I listened to when I clocked that 1/3rd of the show were ads and plugs. I removed it from my feed and wished them well in what they are doing.

Less is more, in my opinion.

Why do I like ads? Because it means I am not asking the listener for money. I ask the advertiser for money, and that pays for the show. Just like network TV and over-the-air radio. I don’t ever want to ask the listeners directly for money unless it is for some sort of artistic thing where I would be buying an ad from myself. AND I put it in the ads, which was clearly labeled.  We may have fun with them, but I will never do the Paul Harvey thing where I tell a story that turns out to be an ad.  Ick.

When I interview peop0le, I tell them to plug their work.  Why?  Because I am having them on to promote what they are doing.  Much like how Tom Hanks shows up on a talk show to tell people about his new project, and it’s part of the give and take of things.  If I get interviewed on a podcast, I am doing to have a fun conversation and to let people know about what I am doing (by the way, want to have me show up on your podcast?  solitairerosenetwork@gmail.com.  I’ll talk your damn ear off about things).  It’s a funny line when I try to explain it, but it’s clear and stark in my head.

When I have novels available, I will have ads for them. That’s me selling entertainment, and I will also make sure not to have them be any longer than an ad for Dreamhost or Bombas socks.

A lot of great people are using Patreon. They offer up art they wouldn’t have created otherwise, can fund on-going projects, and I am more than happy to support them. But for ME, I don’t want to do it.

Are we cool?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How it got away from me and what I will do about it

I am a content provider. I don’t have an editor, a business partner or anyone else looking over my shoulder to make sure I hit deadlines. I set my own deadlines and have to count on myself to hit them. While I do have other people who work with me, they just show up, hit their marks and go on their merry way.

While a lot of my friends don’t seem to understand why I get so upset when I blow deadlines, I am of the firm belief that the way to grow is two-fold:

  • Give entertaining content
  • Give that content on time

I can’t tell you how many podcasts, novels, comics, etc… I have dropped simply because they come out at random intervals. I won’t even read continued fantasy novels because they tend to be 3 or more books that seem to come out whenever the writer gets around to it. It’s not because I feel they OWE me, it’s because I don’t want to have to wait years between installments of a story if I have no idea when (or if) the next installment comes.

When I started up Kray Z Comics and Stories we were just doing it for fun. We got together, acted like it was college radio and generally goofed around for the first year or two and put it out whenever we got it recorded. When I decided to take it more seriously, we decided to drop a new episode every Monday, and for the past few years we have, with very few exceptions, and usually with advance warning.

Because of that, the audience has grown. Usually about 20 – 30% annually. Because of that growth, I added an infrequent solo podcast, but last year when I did a new episode of the solo podcast every week, the audience started growing on THAT, to the point where people were commenting on it almost as much as Kray Z.

Last Fall, I added the Novelcast which is me taking my novels and turning them into audiobooks. And, knowing I didn’t want to overload myself, I made it bi-weekly. I was disappointed in the speed of the growth until I measured it against Kray Z, and it is actually growing FASTER that Kray Z did for its first three years.

At the beginning of the year, I restarted my Weekly News Update. I haven’t added it to iTunes or Stitcher yet due to wanting to work out some bugs and figuring out exactly what I am doing…it’s taking longer than I thought, but once I have that in place, it’ll be on iTunes and I will stick to the Every Tuesday schedule.

However.

Leading up the MSP ComiCon and Kray Z’s 250th Episode, we had a lot of things converge that threw me off schedule. We had last minute guests who needed to do publicity for the Con, and they were such great “gets” that I couldn’t turn them down. So, in the two weeks leading up to 250 AND MPS ComiCon, we put out 5 episodes. All of which were damn good if I say so myself. I also released the regular Novelcast episode and two Weekly News Updates.

At the convention we did 15 hours of live podcasting.

And then the merry-go-round fell down.

I had to follow up with people I had networked with at the convention, deal with the aspects of my personal life I had put on hold for the month before, maintain personal connections with people (which is increasingly hard for me) and both of my jobs ramped up the hours I would work.

So, I didn’t to record the written stuff.

Recording the Weekly News Update and Novelcast is harder than just podcasting because it is both reading AND acting. Varying tone, deciding how to emphasize things, and the actual copyediting takes a LOT of time.

That’s not counting the writing.

So I blew deadlines.

And I feel like an utter failure for doing so.

When that happens, the dominos begin to fall and by this week, I was trying to get the train back on track, get ahead on things, and try to do a better job than before to make up for my failure.

So, here’s the schedule for the summer:

Monday: Kray Z Comics and Stories

Tuesday: The Weekly News Update

Wednesday: Solitaire Rose Radio (yep, every week. I have interviews and history episodes as well as some experimental stuff I want to record)

Thursday: Editing, promoting, business stuff – No new podcast that day.

Friday every other week: Novelcast

Weekend: Putting things up on YouTube, editing, writing, creating the eBooks from Novelcast and recording.

I am also starting to look into more convention appearances, more ideas to shake things up and more networking.

So, there’s that. But I still feel like I let people down for blowing deadlines because, in the end, it all falls on me. And for that, I am so, so sorry.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Website plans

Every “semester” I take a couple of free courses on line to boost my knowledge. Usually it is something I am interested in like history or science, or sometimes (like this year) I will take courses on things I am woefully undereducated on like Opera or economics. The upcoming “spring” semester, however, I am going to go through a few classes I bought under a “pay what you think they are worth” offer about webdesign.

I am terrible with aesthetics. I can tell you about comic book art, as I have studied it, listened to masters talk about their craft and mentally taken it apart for years, but if you ask me to design something, ANYTHING, it looks like a 4 year old made it because I “think” verbally and visually. I have been using WordPress for my podcast pages because it’s easy and fairly generic. I also tend to believe that people subscribe to podcasts rather than go to the pages involved. However, I have a TON of old stuff on my old website, which is a complete mess, and I’d like to clean it up, archive it and generally pack it away so it’s there, but not as gawd-awful to look at.

So, those are my classes for the spring. As if you care.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hello world!

Sadly, I had to delete the previous blog due to a virus.  The good thing is that it will make me think about using this damn thing.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Post Navigation