Jessica Abel has managed to offer some sort of How To/inspirational guide to podcasting here – even though that wasn’t (entirely) the aim I’m sure. This in fact is more than just one book, or one type of book, so much is gathered here in what is essentially a narrative graphic non-fiction run through American radio shows and the rise of storytelling podcasts.
Abel, a talented cartoonist/comic storyboarder, artist and writer, here shows her research – and places herself (as an actual character) in this tome. She interviews the big names – like Ira Glass – and compiles a narrative history of the evolution of the form.
That she’s able to draw – literally – so much, in such heightened, vivid detail and fit so much information on the page is constantly dazzling. That it works as an easy-to-digest textbook is further proof of Abel’s great skills.
Here we learn about This American Life, Snap Judgement, Planet Money, RadioLab, Serial and other shows that have had millions of listeners suddenly caught up in the worlds of strangers; pulled in by the power of great story-telling techniques and audio documentary.
Abel’s potted history is riveting. And graphic novel fans cold enjoy this simply for the artwork – the way this is formatted and how everything fits, the lettering, the skill of compiling this much data – would be influential for any would-be storyboarder or graphic artist. That information, the actual text, then offers clues and concepts for would-be documentary makers, radio hosts and podcasters.
It’s all here – able to be read through in a few easy bites but with the likelihood that it will take on a second life as (continual) reference book.