The Radio Personality Behind The Comic Book Podcast "Panel Borders"

Alex Fitch
March 14, 2018 - "Treat an interview like a conversation with someone you've just met or a friend you're catching up with, and then you'll get a genuine response."
Since 2006
Comic Books

►Tell us about you and your podcast

"Panel Borders" is hosted by Alex Fitch with occassional guest hosts (when I've recorded someone else's interview at a comic book event in front of an audience, with their permission). My podcast is about in depth interviews with comic book creators who work in all genres and make all kinds of comics; from people just starting out, to independent graphic novelists, to writers and artists of American Superhero comics.

My listeners include anyone with an interest in comics from all over the world, including comic creators themselves who want to know more about their peers (and apparently it's a relaxing listen when inking as well!).


►Why & how did you start this podcast? 

I had some experience as a guest on community radio as a film critic, when they asked me if I'd like to present some film shows. Emboldened by this, as one of my other passions is comics, I started asking comic creators for interviews and edited versions of these interviews are broadcast on Resonance FM in London, with uncut interviews included in my podcast.

I have been recording, editing and presenting Panel Borders since 2006, amassing over 450 episodes along the way. Then and now the majority of comics podcasts were hosted by presenters who wanted to discuss the latest comic book releases, but I've always been interested in finding about the people who make comics, and so this gives me the opportunity to talk to them!


►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?

I just manage to squeeze it in amongst all my other responsibilities! I release an episode a month, and having a deadline - the first Wednesday of the month - for the broadcast version ensures I put something together every month, even if I am a little behind with the podcasts of the radio show. Including recording the interview, editing it, uploading it, writing a blog post about it, emailing interested comics news sites etc., it takes around 5 hours each month - I find a bit of time in the evenings (usually burning the midnight oil the evening before broadcast).

It's hard to come up with a monthly spend as it varies - some months cost me nothing as I have a number of prerecorded interviews already 'in the bag', but other interviews involve travel (though I try to conduct them in places I'm going to anyway), and recently I had to replace an old laptop that was on its last legs, in order to have equipment to edit on at home.


►What do you gain from podcasting?        

I really ought to look into sponsorship, especially as I only have a single person supporting me on patreon! I pay for all expenses out of my own pocket, but have earned some money on the back of my podcast by being invited to conventions and festivals to host interviews on stage, which I am paid a decent fee for. It has also opened doors to getting interviews with other creators - one of the first I recorded was with Alan Moore, and that made it easy to ask other people.

The podcast has given me the opportunity to interview loads of amazing people including Gerard Way, Stewart Lee, Emma Vieceli, Riad Sattouf, Joe Kelly, Neil Gaiman, Patrice Aggs, Tomohiko Matsumoto, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Sandi Toksvig and many, many others.


►How does your podcasting process look like? 

I use a zoom to record interviews (and my intro) in person, and a line-in from a phone into a Mac at work to record phone interviews. I edit using Adobe Audition and store podcasts on archive.org.

I use social media and connections in the comics industry to find guests. Before doing an interview I read as much recent work as I can by the person I'm taking to and make two or three notes about topics I want to cover. Very occassionally I'll write questions in advance, but I prefer to let the conversation flow naturally.

I've never had much luck using Amazon Associates to promote books by my guests but record some of my interviews at a monthly discussion group called Cartoon County at a pub near the sea, and guests are more than welcome to sell their wares to the audience there.


►How do you market your show?

I advertise my show via twitter and facebook, and kind bloggers at Forbidden Planet International and Down The Tubes promote it as well. As the radio version goes out on a regular day of the month, there is a built-in expectation of when the podcast will arrive, and hopefully people who tune in to the radio broadcast for the first time will also explore my back catalogue. Twitter is the easiest to track in terms of mentions and retweets, and I can also get an idea of listeners via my blog and archive.org - I'm also on iTunes and need to get advice on how to find out how many people listen that way!


►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?

Don't be scared of interviewing your heroes, and even if they turn out to occassionally be a bit spikey and unresponsive, the majority of people are actually really nice and happy to talk about something they love doing. Treat an interview like a conversation with someone you've just met or a friend you're catching up with, and then you'll get a genuine response; make sure you actually listen to what your guest is saying and if they mention something you'd like to know more about, ask about that, rather than going ahead with your next prepared question.


►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?

Updated: a year ago