Its hosts may call it “the most unnecessary show on the Internet,” but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable listening to geek podcasts Panel To Screen and Flash TV Talk. As the hosts of these shows, Beau York and Matt Beall are just two dudes talking about comic books, comic book movies, television and everything in-between. Friends since high school, Beau and Beall maintain their friendship even while living in separate states. Using the Podastery network, a podcasting website Beau founded that offers a wide range of podcasts covering a variety of topics, these two continue to hang out with each other, while at the same time hosting podcasts that are reaching a rising audience.
On Panel To Screen, Beau and Beall provide color commentary on the latest news and rumors surrounding upcoming comic book movies and television. This eventually spun off a sister show called Flash TV Talk, which examines the news and rumors on the upcoming CW Flash show, as well as peers into the vast history of the character himself. I sat down with these two to talk about how they became fans of comic book media, how they started these podcasts, and most importantly, what they like most about The Flash.
How did each of you become fans of comic books and related material?
Beall: My interest in comic books started in the early ‘90s with my brother-in-law, who at the time was my sister’s boyfriend. He was really into comics in the ‘80s. He had a lot of old comic books from that time, and he was the one who really started me off. I had maybe seen some comics in a shop at the mall and told him about it, and he showed me his giant drawers full of comics. He said ‘You like Wolverine?’ and he gave me copies of that and other different titles to start on my collection. He was probably the catalyst that got me into comic book collecting, but there’s all the ‘90s cartoons like the Spider-Man one and the Batman animated series that kind of fueled that comic book fire.
Beau: For me, it was the Spider-Man cartoon show back in the ‘90s that I think really pushed me over the edge. I think it was because it felt like you needed a guidebook to figure out what was going on in that show because there were so many different plot-lines going on. That, and the X-Men ‘90s cartoon show put me over the edge. I really dug into comic books. Spider-Man was my favorite character back in the day, and still is. I’ve been just been kind of back and forth. I’m not a huge comic book hoarder from any standpoint. I’ll go through waves where I buy a lot of comic books and I’ll go through and keep what I like and then I’ll donate the rest. Of course now that we’re in the digital age, I’ve been eating up anytime I can get some 99 cent books from Comixology. Those are pretty sweet.
I think because of Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men and the Spider-Man show, those really started a passion for comic book heroes specifically in that format. One of the things that really interest me about utilizing television, movies or video games to tell the story of superheroes is that it allows for all this great, rich comic book primordial convoluted kind of story to be drawn from and refined into whatever the specific story that the storyteller wants to tell.
What made you guys decide to do Panel To Screen? How did you start it?
Beau: When I started Podastery and I was looking at some different areas that I wanted to cover in podcasting, I knew that I wanted to a show that was specific to an interest that was really key to me, which was specifically comic book movies and the superhero movie genre. I also knew that it’s an area in which there are 30 gazillion podcasts doing the exact same thing, so I reached out to Beall and said “Hey man, do you want to do this? We probably won’t have anybody listen to us. We might get like three people. Let’s just do this and call it the most unnecessary show on the Internet.” Because it IS the most unnecessary show on the Internet.
So we started out and we had a nice little following that built up over time. I will definitely say that when I knew that I wanted to talk about superheroes and other media, I knew that Beall was the guy I wanted to do it with because we have such a history there.
Beall: If there was anybody who would have asked me to do a similar show, same feelings because the guy’s professional and he knows what he’s doing as far as the social media and stuff goes.
Beau: One thing that I wanted to make sure with Podastery and all the shows I’m either on or produce is that we do have top-tier production value, and I knew that doing this with Beall meant trading off a little bit in that area. He’s a very professional guy, but we’d be Skyping it in or using Google Hangout. Whenever you do that, you do lose a little bit of something in the the translation in terms of quality, but Beall is such a character and he’s just a really good guy. He brings a lot of positive energy, and there’s such a lack of that on the Internet.
Beall: That was one thing I really enjoyed when Beau was telling me about this podcast. Because there’s so much negativity on the Internet. Every site that you read there’s always rants about how they did this wrong or this is stupid and “I hate this,” that’s everywhere. In my experience you don’t see a lot of people going on there talking about how much they liked the kind of stuff. Even if there are some bad things, sure we’ll talk about those and voice our opinions, but we’ll keep everything in a more positive light overall because I feel that’s more entertaining. You hear people be negative all the time about all those different things and it kind of wears on you, but to hear someone speak positively on something, even if in a critical tone, is a lot more useful information.
What’s the process of figuring out what you’ll talk about on Panel To Screen?
Beall: One thing that we do is we have show notes in Google Docs, and what I do is while I’m on break at work, I’ll peruse the different websites I go to, and look for different, interesting things that I think would be good topics for the show. I’ll find at different resources and find different things and put them in the show notes, and Beau will go in afterwards and spruce them up and will divide things up and get it organized.
Beau: It was a lot of tweaking over the first 5-10 episodes. We went through a lot of different processes as far as how best to present the content. Should we do Marvel, DC, other? Should we do TV and movies? And then we thought, “Let’s cover news and separate the rumors.” If you want the official stuff that’s coming from the studios, we’ll cover that first, and you don’t necessarily have to stick around, but I think most people do because the rumors are fun.
As far as the stories that we choose from, there’s a number of websites we visit daily and what we’ll do is poll from that what we consider to be the top-tier stories. A lot of those websites will put a lot of filler up, so we’ll pick from the bigger stories and we will put those out on our Facebook page. We like to think of our Facebook page as The Huffington Post of comic book movie and television news. We’ll curate that, put it up there, and from the week’s post that we have been pulling, we filter that through what’s official, what’s rumors, and then based on that we’ll carve that down.
Beall: I check the show notes very frequently throughout the week, and if I see something I think is cool, I check the show notes. If Beau already has that, I don’t bother putting it in, but a lot of times I’ll be reading something that might be interesting to me, but not so much to him, and I’ll throw those notes in there and we’ll be sure to cover it, because it’s a better dynamic. So if there’s something I’m more familiar with, we talk about that. It kind of gives more exposure to it, whereas if there’s something that I don’t know about that Beau knows about, he brings that to the table and we talk about that.
How would you say your tastes differ with comic book media?
Beall: (laughs) I’d say the big difference is that I’m not a big fan of The CW, specifically Smallville. I was not the biggest fan of Smallville, and I think it’s only because Beau liked it so much. I really think that’s the only reason. I watched a couple episodes here and there, and I couldn’t really get into it, but I think that was less that the show was bad and more that he liked it so much.
Beau: I think I did try to oversell it quite a bit, especially in college.
Beall: I would also say overall I’m more of a Marvel person than a DC person, and if I had to guess I’d say Beau would be the opposite. He’s more of a DC person.
Beau: Well, it depends on the medium. As far as comic books go, I go back and forth based on story lines. I’m not that brand loyal to one or the other. It really depends on the quality of content that’s coming out, but right now when it comes to quality of television, I’m a DC guy, and when it comes to movies I’m a Marvel guy. I’d say that’s probably in line with most people. The broader geek spectrum in that regard.
So, Flash TV Talk spun out of Panel To Screen. Of all the things you could have made a spinoff podcast about, whether it be Marvel movies, DC movies, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., whatever, what made you decide on The Flash?
Beau: We got to a point where we were constantly getting Flash news. It was right during that early window when all the casting news was coming out and everything else, and we thought, “Man, we might as well call this episode ‘The Flash Show.’” So we did look and we saw that there were a few other Flash podcasts, and they’re all wonderful, but we thought that we could bring something a little bit different to the table. So we packaged up the show.
The great thing is we learned from the early episodes of Panel To Screen. At that point we had a really good flow down and we had a good chemistry. I got to the point where I was really confident in my audio abilities. And so we thought this would be a really fun venue for us to not only focus on one particular character and not be so all over the place, but also take a different approach to the show. With Panel To Screen, it’s a little bit more relaxed. [With Flash TV Talk], it allows us to be very refined in our approach, so everything is very intentional in that show, whereas in Panel To Screen it is a bit more conversational. Not to say Flash TV Talk isn’t conversational, but we want it to be focused. I think that comes across very well in the final product.
Beall: Yeah, it’s a sophomore effort, so it’s a lot more well-rounded. I fell it’s a lot more cohesive. This is pretty much all Beau. He came up to me and said, “Hey, I got a great idea for a sister show,” and it was a chance for me, who doesn’t really follow a lot of the CW shows, to get in on the ground floor. I missed the first season of Arrow. Friends told me it was great and I’m going to watch it, but this gives me a chance to get on the ground floor of a new show, of a character I’m not too familiar with, and that was one of the really appeal aspects of it. I get to learn about the character and the audience can learn with me.
Beau: One thing we didn’t realize was going to come along with the show is how awesome this particular fan community is. It seems like for a lot of different fandoms and different television shows, there can be a lot of negativity. Just like the Speed Force has a Negative Speed Force, fandom seems to have a negative fandom.
One thing that I have enjoyed so much is how the fan community has embraced us and welcomed us into the conversation and how much positivity there’s been. Everybody is excited for this. Very rarely do we get comments like, “Oh, this is gonna suck,” and we don’t even engage those because we’re people who really want to be a part of this community and want to be fans of The Flash. It’s been an awesome byproduct. We knew that we’d be bringing in our old audience from Panel To Screen, and we’ve gained a lot of new Flash-centric fans as well. It’s been a lot of fun.
Beall: I was completely blown away by the fans for Flash. When we’re sitting here doing the show, the feedback we get from these fans is incredible. I never really expected that. That’s something that’s really neat and something that’s great about this community that I’m really proud of.
That’s how actually how I found you guys. I started following a lot of Flash pages, followed you, and you’ve really built up a huge following.
Beau: The great thing is that people aren’t just following us, they’re also engaging with us. That’s one of the biggest things that I think really encourages us is that they’re writing iTunes reviews, they’re tweeting us, we’ve got these digital relationships with all these different people because they’re constantly sending us information and we’re all getting hyped together.
So, for Flash TV Talk, the show’s just started filming and there’s no guarantee yet it will go to series. For those who haven’t started listening to it, can you give me a rundown of the format for each Flash episode you do in the meantime?
Beau: We start off every single episode letting you know that we are all about the news, reviews and spoilers for the upcoming show. With that in mind, of course, there’s not always news and there’s not always things to review, and obviously there’s not always spoilers. What we’re doing as part of the buildup to the show is doing two different things. We’re doing what we call Flash Facts, where we take an aspect of that universe specifically related to The Flash, and we kind of dive into what the history is in the comic books.
We also do Flashpoints From Around The Multiverse, and with that we take a look at Flash as he’s been depicted in other TV media. So we just got done looking at Bart in Smallville. In a very near future episode, we’ll be doing the Flashpoint Paradox movie that came out back in August. So we’ll take sections there and review the movie as a whole, but specifically with the lens of how The Flash was depicted in that movie.
Beall: Yeah, and once the show actually comes out, we’re going to have a section called The Rundown, where we actually recap the episode and provide a spoiler-free review of what went down.
Beau: There’s also a goal too that we’ll cover spoilers, but we’ll try not to get too crazy spoiler-heavy. That will always be after the credits, after the bump. There’s a couple things you get when listening to our show. Hopefully you’re getting the highest quality, you’re getting absolute consistency, and it will always be work-safe.
We touched on this earlier, but Beall, you’re not that familiar with The Flash. Beau, what’s your Flash experience been like? Have you been a fan since you were young?
Beau: My enjoyment and love of the character comes from comics actually before television. It was while I was living in Oxford, Mississippi; the library had a lot of graphic novels, so I was consuming graphic novels back in the day and really got into Wally West and also Bart Allen. His [Bart’s] transition from Impulse to Kid Flash I thought was really a great coming-of-age storyline, even though it happened so fast, pun intended.
The other thing too is that I really loved Michael Rosenbaum’s take on the character in the Justice League television series. I think that’s probably what solidified the character for me. Like, I learned who this character was and really got interested in the power set because of the comics, but Michael Rosenbaum’s take on Wally really made me think, “Okay, this guy’s awesome.” The scene where The Flash takes on Lexiac (Brainiac and Lex Luthor combined into one being) and he taps into the Speed Force for the first time is one of he most epic moments in television history. I mean, it’s just awesome.
For both of you, what would you say your favorite thing about The Flash is?
Beall: I’d say is my favorite thing is the actual speed. His power of being able to run extremely fast. I think next to flight, super speed would be the best. There’s so many possibilities and so many interesting stuff you could do with that. I’m a big science nerd, so the faster you move, you got time dilation and relativity and things like that to get into, which gives writers a lot of leeway for writers to do a lot of interesting story things.
That’s probably my favorite aspect, the actual power itself, and that goes across all the Flashes. [The Speed Force] is just an interesting concept in itself and just the fact of being able to run very fast, and even running faster than Superman. That’s one thing I dislike about Superman. He’s just so powerful, but there’s someone who’s faster than him, and that kind of makes both those characters more interesting.
Beau: For me, it depends on the Flash. For Wally, the overall of who he was and who he became. Dick Grayson is one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe, and I love how he was THE sidekick which almost every single sidekick is based off of to some extent. Seeing the journey that Dick Grayson goes on where he does eventually become Batman, but he’s never really Batman. We know he’s Nightwing. That’s the hero he grows up to be. Wally, because of the death of Barry, he was put in that position to take up that mantle before any of the sidekicks were ever put in that position, and he did it so well. He owned that role! [If you followed Wally in the ‘90s comic books], you’re not reading a sidekick. You’re reading a full-fledged, Justice League top-tier hero, and his origins are that he’s a sidekick. That’s where he came from. That’s something I’ve really liked about Wally: you get to see the complete journey of his character and the complete evolution.
For Barry, what Blackest Night helped me realize is what a beacon of hope he is for the universe. Seeing Barry in that light and seeing the role he plays with al the other characters kind of opened my eyes to that, and gave me perspective on everything that came before that as well because he became the saint of the DC Universe. He was dead longer than most other comic book characters, but during that time, he impacted the universe. The pains of his loss was felt not only by his sidekick, but also the Justice League and throughout the entire universe. So, partially because of Blackest Night and mostly because of Grant Gustin’s interpretation in Arrow and the DCTVU, I’ve become more of a Barry guy and accepted him as that center of hope for that universe.
What do you guys enjoy most about co-hosting these podcasts?
Beall: For me, it’s just a chance to bs with a friend of mine. We’ve known each other for years, and all the time in high school we’d have these conversations, we’d talk about this kind of stuff. To me, it was a chance to relive those high school days of us kind of shooting the poop and talking about comic books, movies and comic book movies, to use our tagline. I had so much fun with those conversations and I have so much fun doing this podcast that it’s just fun to talk about comic books and stuff like that with someone you’ve known for a long time.
Beau: With the shows I do on Podastery that I’m hosting, co-hosting or producing, for the most part it’s a miniature side business, and all those have their own unique goals and reasons for being. With Panel To Screen, it was kind of the podcast that was never supposed to be successful. I wanted to talk to someone about this stuff, and because of what we’d done thus far with Podastery, we had a platform to do it, and I wanted to specifically talk about it with Beall.
This gives us a chance to hang out regularly, and the great thing is that when you have this kind of high school relationship, and for us college as well, when you’ve been apart in different cities for going on seven years, you pick back up and it’s like no time has passed. Because you can sit back down, you can have fun, you can geek out, and the great thing is that throughout high school and college, the two of us kept our geekdom alive. We went to the comic book shop together, we were playing the old X-Men ‘90s arcade game at the bowling alley together, and all kinds of fun stuff. I just wanted to pick that up, and with Podastey and having that platform, it was a reason to do it.
Beall: For me, I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined this thing getting as big as it did. It just blows my mind. Like Beau said, if it was just him and I listening to our podcast, I would still do it because it’s that much fun. You know, a lot of times people will do these kind of things and they’ll be like, “Oh, I’m gonna be get Internet famous and it’s gonna be great,” and they just try so hard to make it popular that a lot of times it will fall flat on its face, but when you go into it just for the love of doing it, it becomes popular because of that, I feel like. If we coast where we are for the next 400 years or whatever, that’s cool, but I’ll keep doing that because that’s what I enjoy doing.
You can find both shows at paneltoscreen.podastery.com, as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. You can check out their Facbook pages, as well as their Twitter pages @PanelToScreen and @FlashTVTalk. For more information on the Podastery network, click here.