This is it, guys. The big one. And whilst it’s a common webcomics mantra not to get caught up on milestones, every now and again one comes along that’s just too sizeable to ignore. This, friend reader and listener, is one of those times.
For thirteen years Digital Strips has been a constant force in the webcomics world, providing recommendations and insight into the medium we each and collectively love. Today, to commemorate the 500th episode, we’re going to look back on the people who grew the podcast itself and the special place it holds – the niche within the niche – in the webcomics world.
Digital strips began in 2005 as the brainchild of ‘The Mighty’ Zampzon and Daku ‘The Rogue’ Memmel, with the very first episode airing on January 24. As noted in this week’s podcast, the internet – and the comics that grew there like so many flat-coloured mushrooms – was a very different place back then. The creators who put their art online were still seen as those crazy kids giving away their stuff for free?! by cartooning professionals and organisations, and, well, some of the Webcomics Juggernauts we know and love today still looked like this…
Daku and Zampzon quickly put a pedigree behind them, with the first 36 episodes of the show reviewing a wide range of webcomics, and including interviews with creators and now webcomics luminaries Kris Straub, David Willis, Scott Kurtz, Tim Buckley, Ryan Estrada, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, and Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza. Whilst many more people would be interviewed by the podcasts – DS interviews continued until about 2011 – Episode 36 marks an important moment in the site’s history: the introduction of Phil ‘MoEffin’ Kahn, who would go on to join the podcasting team as a host. And in fact, it was only a short time later – Episode 77 – when Zampzon bid a gracious farewell to his role as host and moved on to other things (he can still be found running his strip Doctor Necromantic,and a full archive of his digital work since the podcast can be found on his personal website).
By Zampzon’s departure, however, the cast had grown to include not only Phil (who became an official regular in Episode 58) but also ‘The Serenest’ Wednesday White, who first joined as a semi-regular in Episode 73. By 2007, that cast had expanded even further, with Brandon J. Karr and Editor-in-Chief Brigid Alverson appearing as co-hosts and site authors… as well as two crazy kids you might have heard of – Steve ‘The Geek‘ Shinney and Jason ‘The Midnight Cartooner‘ Sigler. As time, and Webcomics, kept marching on the gallery of hosts would modulate along with it. Slowly but surely the ranks closed, with Daku scaling back his role shortly after Episode 100 and Phil stepping to the sidelines approximately 20 episodes later. By about Episode 155 Brigid, too, was passing the baton, and Brandon had dropped away somewhere in the 120’s.
But as the hosts winnowed away, the podcast continued – and over time, it has racked up not only some Webcomic milestones of it’s own, but the sheer amount of content is truly mind-boggling. Join us next time for a look at how each of these hosts over the years have contributed to the development of both the podcast and the site, and how the Digital Strips experience has refined itself into the form you hear today.
Do you have a favourite episode from the archives, or a past host who you still miss? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter and, until next time always remember – don’t eat the clickbait!