For The Love Of Indie is a podcast for independent, small press, and creator-owned comic books.
I have always wanted to run my own website. However, I was always too anxious and bashful to put myself out there. You can’t be judged if you never try, right?
A while ago a friend of mine recommended that I talk to her friend Drew about writing for his website. At first I brushed it off. As I said previously, I was not ready to start trying.
It took a few months for me to get the confidence to reach out to Drew. After a bit of getting to know each other, I decided to give it a shot. That was the very moment I began to rediscover my love of writing. This was also how I began pursuing my dream of being a blogger and webmaster.
Sometimes getting your feet wet is better than just jumping in the deep end. New adventures are always easier with a friend. This week I got to sit down and have a chat with that friend.
Drew Van Genderen is the host of an indie comics podcast called For the Love of Indie. As of writing this, the podcast is coming close to its 100th episode. Next month also marks my two year anniversary of regularly guest posting for the website. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!
An Interview With Drew Van Genderen
Aaron Iara: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today! Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your podcast.
Drew Van Genderen: My name… is Drew Van Genderen. I’m a laid back Cancer who likes cool weather and chilling with a nice book. I’ve got a dog and a wife and a kid and a theatre degree.
I’m also the host and “curator” of For the Love of Indie, a podcast and website devoted to creator-owned, independent, and small press comic publications and zines. I chose this subject matter because I noticed that there is no lack of coverage for the big two titles, but some of the smaller titles from a hand assembled zine to a professionally produced manga just weren’t getting the attention that they deserved.
There are so many more than the books being showcased in Previews, and independent comics have proven that they are growing, not going away. They are the new way everyone wants to tell their story, and I like to think I’m helping facilitate folks to grow with [at least some of] them.
Aaron Iara: Your dedication to independent art is one of the many reasons why I love For the Love of Indie. While I do enjoy a lot of mainstream entertainment, I have always preferred small and independent projects. I think it started as a child with my love of cult movies.
From what I understand, For the Love of Indie is not your first entry into comic reviews and discussion. What other projects led up to the creation of For the Love of Indie?
Drew Van Genderen: A few years ago I was living in the wonderful but expensive realm of Nashville, TN. At some point I wanted to make a comic publication and even had some folks on board, but it ultimately fizzled out.
From the ashes rose Music City Comics, my first comic review blog turned podcast. I was only reviewing one graphic novel an episode and was so anxious that I would over edit and spend faaaaar too long on it.
Show notes were paragraphs, I would freak out about timelines, it was a mess. Also during that time I reviewed [at most 5] independent comics and zines for a small distributor known as Brainfreeze Comics.
Then I moved out of Nashville, aka Music City, so I needed to rebrand. Plus, I wanted a fresh start.
Aaron Iara: I am sure the first few episodes of a podcast are a bit nerve-wracking. Luckily you stuck it out and became adept at the process. I can relate to the feeling. The first few articles on Effective Nerd are so cringy I can barely look at them, haha.
What draws you to indie comics and zines over the main publishers?
Drew Van Genderen: Originality is a big part of it for me. The reason why I enjoy independent comics to begin with is because they aren’t afraid to take risks and use ideas that you don’t normally see. As far as comics goes, in my opinion independent comics are the purest form of a comic creator’s vision.
I don’t discount the work people do for the main two or other big(ish) publishers, but being untethered from certain rules and standards to develop a particular vision is such a joy to witness. Not to mention the community and general positive outlook I’ve witnessed.
People are just so willing to get intimate with readers when it is in their specific format. I’m not saying every zine or indie comic is a slam dunk, but to me there is the world of the big two and then there’s a galaxy of creator owned content.
I also enjoy the feeling of validation from reading autobio comics and seeing people who have had similar experiences as me, good or bad.
Aaron Iara: I completely agree. I feel as though smaller projects coming straight from the creator are generally more genuine.
Creating anything great take a lot of time, resources, and effort. How do you balance your podcast with life, work, and family?
Drew Van Genderen: Not always easily, unfortunately. I work in the entertainment industry which gives me a relatively haphazard schedule. The being said, I like to find ways to get my family involved. Whether it is reading the list of upcoming books on an episode with my wife Jordy or handing my son all ages titles for potential review in the future, I like for them to be involved and in turn they are both very supportive and understanding of how important FTLOI is to me and potentially to those whose books I’m discussing.
Drew Van Genderen: In an ideal world, I record on Tuesday or Wednesday evening, type up my notes [at work shhh] and then make some edits the night before it comes out.
Excitement is a big factor in my productivity. If I read a book and love it I’m very enthused to discuss it. Plus, success is incentive. At the end of the day stats are just numbers on a page but when I know people are engaged I am much more eager to keep on track.
Aaron Iara: Both of us only review projects that we like. However, I agree with you that is much easier to review those books like that just click with you.
There are other people who work on the podcast and website with you. What is your strategy for delegating tasks and ideas?
Drew Van Genderen: I take a relatively grassroots approach to the folks I have working with me. I don’t require approval for reviewing titles or anything like that, and I have a preferred schedule but understand that life has other plans.
I have a pretty open invitation out for anyone who wants to be heard with only 2 rules:
- Only review titles you enjoy.
- No Marvel or DC, other shows give them plenty of attention.
Aaron Iara: That is a pretty lax approach! However, it is the approach that works best for me. That is why it is so easy to write for you every week. As far as my personal work style goes, I am most productive when I am left alone with little guidance. I know that this style works for a lot of others as well.
You have a great speaking voice and presence. Is podcasting something that came naturally, or was it a skill learned over time?
Drew Van Genderen: Oh you charmer. I don’t talk to myself often, but when I do you can bet your ass it’s because I’m recording an episode. I’m sure that subconsciously I have improved through repetition, but it sure feels like I am still doing the same thing I’ve always done.
I come from a background in theatre, starting with performance, though now I’m more backstage, so I’m sure some of those experiences have made me the happy go lucky host I am today. I am pretty conscious of my diction though (on some episodes moreso than others), which I would say is my strength.
Aaron Iara: What is currently your biggest challenge when it comes to creating and managing the podcast?
Drew Van Genderen: Well I’m not the biggest fan of my website provider, but that’s mostly just growing pains. For me the hardest part is SEO. I’ve never been much of a social media savant and although I make a lot of jokes about not understanding internet shit on the show, it’s only half an act.
It’s also hard to gauge how the show is doing. I can see numbers and know it is doing well statistically, but there isn’t a ton of verbal feedback, which I find to be very helpful.
I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’ve got some issues with anxiety and depression, both of which, at times, have affected when the show gets released. However, on that same token I find talking about these books to be almost cathartic and can help with anxiety.
Aaron Iara: I feel your pain there. I also started on a more closed website system. As my website grew I quickly felt the limitations of the platform. Switching over to separate hosting and design was one of the best things I did for Effective Nerd.
I also have struggles with anxiety and depression. It is incredibly difficult to be a positive face to the public when you are feeling bad. I find that keeping myself organized helps a lot. I try to set up systems that allow me to be productive regardless of my emotional state.
Let’s assume time travel is a thing. What would be the one thing you would go back and tell yourself as you started For the Love of Indie?
Drew Van Genderen: I’ve thought about this a lot and for me I would tell myself a few things:
a) do NOT pick a location based name (unless it’s a podcast for your own business)
b) don’t beat yourself up if you fall a week behind
c) numbers ebb and flow, a slight dip now and again doesn’t mean failure
You also make zines. Do you have a specific creative process?
Drew Van Genderen: Ha! I wouldn’t exactly call myself seasoned. My drawing skills are pretty darn lacking so for me it’s all about that collage or more text heavy stuff.
My process is outlining the content, figuring out how many pages it would take to say what I want to say, determine page size and format from there, find the images I want, adjust as necessary and assemble, knowing that I may need to go back to certain pages before actually considering it done.
Aaron Iara: What advice do you have for those looking to start their own podcast, or those who want to make their own comics and zines?
Drew Van Genderen: As far as podcasts are concerned, just make sure you have things to talk about that will be new to folks. Look, if you want to discuss Action Comics #1000 or Saga then go for it, but balance it with stuff that people may not know about as well. Everyone (exaggeration) will have read Civil War II, so give your opinion but then move on. Especially if you’re new.
Also, be confident in what you’re saying, if you like a book and it makes you passionate then be passionate. The impact something has had on you should be tangible through your discussion. Oh also, people say “um” and “uh”, it’s not a big deal.
For comics and zines, for the love of Bird please make sure that after you create the media you take a step back and actually look at it. If you create a comic or zine then be proud, you made something and it’s all yours, but you will be even more proud if it’s well received.
Occasionally we get some comics that someone took the time to make, but they didn’t have critical eyes on it before they sent it our way, and it ends up not being something that speaks to us. Create whatever you want to create, but make sure the grammar is right, the art is not “eh yeah this will do”, and the story is either relatable, original, or the perfect combination of both.
Aaron Iara: Thank you for your time and for sharing your wisdom with our readers!
Drew Van Genderen: Thanks for all you do.
Check Out For The Love Of Indie Podcast
A huge thank you to Drew Van Genderen for taking the time to speak with me this week. Make sure you listen to the For the Love of Indie podcast. You should also keep an eye on the website for more reviews by yours truly.
Check out the most recent episode of For The Love Of Indie Podcast