May 12, 2009.
The first episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast is released.
It’s really weird to think the show is now 10 years old. It’s also weird to think how it all started.
By April of 2009 I had been podcasting for nearly 2 years. Views From The Longbox had a modest, but awesome, listening base and I wanted to do another show that was more focused.
The question became; what subject do I focus on?
To answer that, we have to go back in time a little further.
Back in early 2007, I ran a very short lived blog about The All-Star Squardon called The Perisphere. It didn’t last long, but still exists out there if you want to see what 2007/Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing Mike’s output looked like. Even though it was short lived I actually got an email from Jerry Ordway about the site. He seemed to appreciate the fact that someone took the time to discuss the series in an era where the idea of devoting a blog or podcast to a character or series was still a relatively new idea. We had a brief back and forth and during that exchange I took the opportunity to tell Jerry how much I loved his era of Superman. During his response he mentioned that people seem to be forgetting the era of Superman.
It was remembering that simple email exchange that provided the spark that became From Crisis to Crisis. I would cover the Post Crisis era of Superman.
Because I could not let it pass from memory. I owed it to Jerry.
(If you want to imagine me holding a copy of Man of Steel #1 on a mountain top with dramatic lighting and music backing up my vow to give this era of Superman its due, go right ahead. If someone wants to draw that, go right ahead.)
I knew I didn’t want to do this alone. My output on Views was regular but far from consistent and I didn’t want this to be one of those things I start and then lose interest in. I figured a co-host would keep me honest. Jeffrey Taylor was someone I had been Internet friends with for a few years. We were both contributing writers for The Superman Homepage and every once in a while we would chat on AOL Instant Messenger. (If you don’t know what AOL Instant Messenger is, thanks for making me feel old.) We talked about a bunch of different topics, including The Highlander television series, but mostly we talked about our mutual love of the Post Crisis Superman. Even though we had never actually spoken to each other, I figured I would take a chance and ask him if he wanted to do the show. He said yes and we were off.
The first decision we made was how to cover the books. Jeff wanted to go in chronological order according to the continuity of the era. This meant we would look at all the stories told during the Post Crisis time period and put them in historical order and go from there. I wanted to go in publication order, because it felt right, and, frankly, was a lot easier to do. Eventually, and with absolutely no fighting or harsh words, that’s the order we went in and soon we were recording.
It was a bumpy road for the first few episodes. We were still inexperienced and I didn’t realize that the setting Jeff was using for his microphone was wrong, so those first two or three episodes of the show ended up sounding like I was recording Jeff through a tin can. We pushed on, though, and with support from The Superman Homepage we quickly found an audience.
For those that remember the early days, or have gone back and listened to the episodes, you might remember that originally we said it was going to be a five year journey. Obviously that didn’t happen. It’s ten years later and we are not even halfway there. This is how life works. The best laid plans and all of that. One of the main reasons we had to abandon the five year plan was logistics. When we started the show, we covered a month an episode, but by the time we got to the era where Superman: The Man of Steel launched it became apparent that these episodes were going to average out to three hours long and that was killing me as guy editing this thing. A three hour running time means that there was at least six hours in editing added on to the three to four it took to initially record the show. Nine to ten hours is a lot of time when you have a full time job and a life and other projects you’re working on, so we started splitting up the months into two episodes and that has turned into three episodes per cover month to talk about the side books.
Jeff and I have also taken a number of hiatuses over the years. These were always due to some personal issue. In 2013, my wife Rachel was in a serious car accident. Jeff has, sadly, had two dogs pass on and Rachel and I lost a dog last year. Other aspects of real life have gotten in the way, and we’re in the midst of one of those hiatuses right now, but the show isn’t dead and we should be back soon. If doing FCTC has taught me anything it is that you will find a way to continue doing something you love despite obstacles that life drops in your path. We have even met, in person, twice over the years, the most recent being last year when we met at the Atlanta airport while Jeff and his wife were on a layover.
Despite the setbacks and the hiatuses and the personal issues, Jeff and I have managed to produce 226 episodes and have covered hundreds of comic books, as well as the various television series that happened around the time period we are discussing. I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished, but if I had to pick the one thing we did that I am proudest of it’s our coverage of The Death and Return of Superman saga. We poured our hearts into those episodes, and I think we managed to do the most complete discussion of that story line ever. From the comics, to the novels, to the audio adaptation, to the collected editions that were available at the time of recording, to the history of why the story happened in the first place, FCTC covered it all. It also seems to be a place where new listeners come in, which makes sense and I like that there are people that discover the show when we knew what we were doing.
Finally, before I start thanking people, this show brought me a great number of friends over the years. For a brief time circa 2010-2014 we were part of something called The Superman Podcasting Network, which was the brain child of Billy Hogan (host of The Superman Fan Podcast, the oldest Superman podcast on the Internet and I doff my cap to Billy for keeping it going for so long) and myself and through that network I got to know people like J David Weter, Michael Bradley, Charlie Niemeyer, and other people I am sadly forgetting at the moment. Jon Wilson, who became a prolific podcaster in his own right, and I met because of FCTC. Scott Gardner and I became friends because of the show and started our own podcasts and through that I got to know a bunch of people at what became The Two True Freaks Podcasting Network. Bob Fisher became a friend despite the fact that he hated Man of Steel and the era that followed, but he decided to give the show a try and eventually he became a podcaster himself when he took the reigns of Superman Forever Radio from J David Weter. Tom Panarese wrote into the show and that led to us becoming friends. Andrew Leyland started corresponding with me because of the show and this site and we’ve gone on to record many a podcast together, including The Overlooked Dark Knight.
(Apologies if someone feels left out because I forgot to mention you. This isn’t on purpose. I am writing this on the fly because I forgot what day the show launched and now I’m scrambling.)
And that doesn’t include the people that I’ve gotten to know because they listened to the podcast. Of all the podcasts I produce or am a part of, FCTC is the one with the most downloads, the most number of subscribers, and the one that still gets consistent downloads even if months go by without a new episode. It is humbling that people stick with the show through feast and famine and I cannot tell you how much Jeff and I appreciate that.
It’s amazing to think how things have changed since the show began. When Jeff and I started the show, this era of Superman had not been widely reprinted and digital comics were in their infancy. Now, most of the era is available digitally and more collected editions have come out. I mean, they’ve put out two Death and Return of Superman omnibuses over the past ten years, as well as an omnibus reprinting the Exile arc and a handful of comics that came before and after that story. Podcasting and YouTube channels have also exploded over the past decade. For awhile, Jeff and I were one of the few people talking about these stories and now there are probably hundreds of videos and podcasts that have talked about some part of the Post Crisis era, especially the death and return. Some people might feel threatened about the competition, but we don’t, because it’s a big pond and there is room for everyone at the table, to mix my metaphors.
Also, we do it best, so there’s that.
To wrap things up I wanted take the time to personally thank some people for the show’s existence and continued success.
- A huge thank you to Steve Younis, webmaster and all around boss at The Superman Homepage. Steve not only designed our first iTunes logo but also provided us with a huge platform to launch from. The fact that the first few years of the show were shared over at The Homepage is why we started with as large an audience as we did and we can’t thank Steve enough for helping us get on our way.
- A huge thank you to our listeners and everyone that has sent feedback over the years. This podcast covered a niche period of a niche character and because of this show I learned how many people still loved this era.
- A huge thank you to Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway and Dan Jurgens for coming on to the show and sharing so many great stories and insights. For me, those interviews are some of the highlights of recording this podcast, especially our first interview with Jerry. We are looking to do more in the future.
- A huge thank you to Mike Carlin, who helped out with background information on a number of occasions. We hope to interview him at some point. That’s a bit tougher logistically.
- A huge thank you to anyone we’ve had as guests on the show, especially during The Death and Return coverage. Guests make for a more interesting conversation and we’ve enjoyed every single person that were nice enough to come on and chat with us.
- A REALLY huge thank you to our wives. Megan (Jeff’s wife) and Rachel (my wife) have not only put up with us recording this but have also been on the show from time to time. Megan was the voice of our Happy Clown ad from the first year of the podcast and Rachel did some narrating during our coverage of Time and Time Again.
- Lastly, a huge thank you to Jeffrey Taylor. He’s become a friend, a brother, and a partner in all of this. I couldn’t have done this show without him. We may disagree from time to time and have widely different views on the material, but we always stay friendly and civil. Except that one time.
And that’s it. Ten years. To quote Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, “I never thought it would have gone the distance.” Here’s to finishing the show, hopefully before we celebrate the twentieth birthday.