Radio Free Comix: The CBLDF Podcast

podcast logoIn support of our ongoing education work, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is now part of the audio-sphere! A mix of interviews, discussions about current Free Speech events, convention panels recordings, and archival materials, the CBLDF Podcast will be a monthly event, from our keyboards to your ears. The CBLDF podcast is made possible in part by a donation from The Gaiman Foundation and member support.

Listen to Radio Free Comix with the CBLDF Podcast!

Episode 1: Fred Van Lente and the Birth of the Comics Code

This inaugural podcast features an interview with Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers, Conan, Amazing Spider-Man, Archer & Armstrong), with CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox, in a discussion about the birth of the Comics Code, Fredric Wertham, EC Comics, the Kefauver Hearings, and how it all gets boiled down into 13 pages in the Comic Book History of Comics, from Van Lente and illustrator Ryan Dunlavey.)

Episode 2: Live from MoCCA Fest 2014!

This episode features exclusive interviews with Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby), Fiona Staples (Saga), and Robert Williams (Zap Comix), live from the floor of the 2014 Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival!

Episode 3: Vivek Tiwary Talks The Fifth Beatle

In this episode, CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox engages in a lively discussion with writer and producer Vivek Tiwary, as he walks us through the creation of The Fifth Beatle and discusses how the life and times of Brian Epstein resonate with free expression struggles today. Cox and Tiwary discuss The Beatles, Colonel Tom Parker, Oscar Wilde Laws, Alanis Morrisette, and the underrated films of Peyton Reed.

Episode 4: A Conversation With Babymouse Writer Jennifer L. Holm

CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox speaks to CBLDF Board Member and award-winning author Jennifer L. Holm (BabymouseSquish). Jenni is a one of the most important proponents of graphic novels for kids, and her books are wildly popular among humans of all ages. They talk about a variety of topics, including Five Card Nancy, Petri dishes, Bloom County, Sergei Eisenstein, New York real estate, and more.

Episode 5: BOOM! Studios’ ROSS RICHIE

In this episode, CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox sat down with Ross Richie, Founder and CEO of BOOM! Studios. Over the past few years, Ross has overseen BOOM! as it has grown into one of the most vibrant and diverse publishers in the market, and has turned what began as a handful of anthology books into a creative collective that publishes a variety of genres, including titles produced by Archaia, BOOMBox, KaBOOM!, and more.

During the podcast, Cox and Richie talk about everything from The Fourth World, Hollywood, Keith Giffen, the Austin Renaissance, Pacific Comics, and more.

Episode 6: Comics in Education, Live from NYCC!

In this episode, we present a live panel from New York Comic Con 2013, featuring a “Who’s Who” in All-Ages Graphic Novels. The panel is a roundtable on using Comics in the Classroom, and we hear from (among others) author and educator Meryl Jaffe, author Jenni Holm (Babymouse, Squish), cartoonist Matt Holm (Babymouse, Squish), cartoonist Eric Wight (My Dead Girlfriend, Frankie Pickle), cartoonist Larry Marder (Beanworld), and more.

They discuss: comics as an education tool, recommended reading for kids, and more.

Episode 7: CBLDF in the UK!

In this episode, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein takes the fight for the freedom to read international, traveling across the drink to Great Britain, where he visits Nottingham fixture Page 45 and the Cartoon Museum in London.

We discuss: Constantine, “Spitting Image,” censorship in British schools, Hunt Emerson, and much more.

Episode 8: HALLOWEEN! With Scott Allie and Jeff Zornow!

In this SPOOKY episode, we speak to Scott Allie, Editor-In-Chief of Dark Horse Comics, and cartoonist and horror expert Jeff Zornow, who is currently illustrating Godzilla: Rulers of Earth for IDW Publishing. Both of these gentlemen are big fans of horror as a genre and horror comics, and we spend some time with them talking about what has traditionally been one of the most controversial and challenged genres in comics.

We discuss: EC Comics, Uzumaki, Exorcist rip-offs, Paul Naschy, Salem’s Lot, Joe Orlando, and more.

Episode 9: History of the Comics Code Authority Live!

In this episode, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein presents the History of the Comics Code Authority before a live audience at Wondercon 2014 in Anaheim, California.

He discusses: Tarzan, Fellini, Johnny Craig, Speedy’s drug use, Wolfmans, Phil Sueling, Elfquest, and more!

Episode 10: Susan Alston

In this episode, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein talks to former CBLDF Executive Director Susan Alston about the early days of the Fund!

We discuss: Mike DianaPaul Mavrides, social media, the Supreme Court, and much more.

Episode 11: Brian Heater

In this episode, we speak to Brian Heater — journalist, podcaster, comic critic, and all-around big thinker when it comes to comics, comic art, and the comic industry. Check out Brian’s regular podcast, RIYL, at

We discuss: Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor, Roz Chast, Charlie Hebdo, tablets, Raina Telgemeier, comics journalism, and much more.

Bonus Episode: Neil Gaiman

In this bonus episode to celebrate the launch of our news magazine CBLDF Defender, we speak to author and CBLDF Advisory Board Co-Chair (as well as CBLDF Board of Directors Alumnus) Neil Gaiman! Neil is one of the most popular authors working today, a ground-breaking graphic novelist, a humanitarian deeply involved in multiple charitable projects, and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He has been a tireless voice for free expression over the years, and is one of the most passionate voices in the literary world when it comes to fighting censorship.

We discuss: Charlie Hebdo, British censorship, libraries, icky speech, and much more!

Episode 12: Emerald City LIVE! With Josh Fialkov, Ed Luce, and Dirk Wood!

In this episode, we come to you from Seattle, Washington, with a live recording from Emerald City Comic Con! Our panel includes Josh Fialkov (Elk’s Run, Punks, The Bunker, Ultimate FF), Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf), and IDW Publishing’s VP of Marketing, Dirk Wood.

We discuss: Libraries, chest hair, The Kroll Show, Gengoroh Tagame, Palestine, and much more!

Episode 13: Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson

To celebrate today’s launch of CBLDF Defender #2, we have a special edition of the CBLDF PODCAST! In this episode, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein speaks to Image Comics Publisher (and author of Nowhere Men and They’re Not Like Us) Eric Stephenson.

Topics: being offended, being offensive, bawdy humor, satire, the writing process, Image comics, the Beatles, breastfeeding, and more!

Bonus Episode: COMIC CON INTERNATIONAL 2015 Preview With IDW Publishing’s Sarah Gaydos!

Join the CBLDF staff for a quick preview of everything happening at Comic-Con International 2015, in San Diego from July 8th to July 12th!

IDW Editor Sarah Gaydos also joins us to discuss a Very Special Variant Cover!

Episode 14: Raina Telgemeier and Alex Segura!

To celebrate the launch of CBLDF Defender #3, we have a very special episode of the CBLDF Podcast! In this episode, CBLDF Editorial Director Betsy Gomez speaks to cartoonist Raina Telegemeier (Drama, Smile, Sisters), and CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox talks with Archie Comics Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing, Alex Segura.

Topics: Kevin Keller, libraries, Predator, Wally West, film noir, orthodontics.

Episode 15: LIVE from Baltimore Comic Con With Ron Marz, Vivek Tiwary, and Dirk Wood!

In this episode, we are LIVE from Charm City! CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox talks with Vivek Tiwary (The Fifth Beatle), Ron Marz (WitchbladeGreen LanternSilver Surfer), and Dirk Wood (Vice President of Marketing, IDW Publishing) in a thrilling conversation!

Topics: KISS, Mutant Turtles who are Teenage Ninjas, diversity and representation, comic book rockstars, marriage equality, PINK FLOYD, and a STAR WARS ring-tone!

Episode 16: Black Panther Artist BRIAN STELFREEZE

In this episode, CBLDF Editorial Director Betsy Gomez talks with artist Brian Stelfreeze (Day Men), hot off the launch of the what is likely the year’s biggest release: the new Black Panther series with author Ta-Nehisi Coates from Marvel Comics.

Topics: Blaxploitation, self-censorship, costume design, and more!


In this episode, we speak with author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight ClubFight Club 2Choke), who has just completed adapting Fight Club 2 as a graphic novel with artist Cameron Stewart.

Topics: Kolchak the Night Stalker, EC Comics, radiation poisoning, and more!

Episode 18: KATIE SKELLY on Crepax, Manara, and More!

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist and writer Katie Skelly (Nurse Nurse, Operation Margarine, My Pretty Vampire) about two classic European comic creators: Guido Crepax and Milo Manara. Skelly discusses the craft, context, and legacy of these two masters of erotica (and more).

Topics: Jeff Koons, Fellini, Frank King, Bondage (Full disclosure: explicit content discussed at length.)

Episode 19: Gilbert Hernandez!

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets, Blubber) about his career, his work, and his early inspirations. We discuss reactions to his work and controversies therein, and his personal views on mature content in comics and elsewhere.

Topics: Heavy Metal, Steve Ditko, Katy Perry, Grindhouse cinema, Classics Illustrated

Episode 20: Ed Luce

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf) about coming to comics from fine arts, educating a new generation, and life in the Oaf-O-Verse. We discuss his early inspirations, and how he has managed to find broad appeal with what was once considering niche content.

Topics: Johnny Ryan, Shepard Fairey, full frontal nudity, and paper dolls


In this episode, we speak with cartoonist and journalist Sarah Glidden (Rolling BlackoutsHow to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) about her work and the evolution thereof. We discuss the process of becoming a journalist and the role and responsibilities of reporters in the world.

Topics Include: birthright trips, German book reviewers, art school, activism, Jill Stein


In this episode, we speak with writer Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home4 Kids Walk Into A BankRocket RaccoonKingpin12 Reasons To Die) about his work, and the influence on his career of personal politics and activism. We discuss the early days of Black Mask Studios, interacting with an angry audience, and maintaining nuance in politically divisive times.

Topics include: Raymond Chandler, Occupy Comics, the NY Mets.

Episode 23: ANNE ISHII

We speak with editor, publisher, writer, and translator Anne Ishii about her current venture Massive Goods and the world of gay manga. We discuss cultural differences with regards to erotica, gender politics, and pornography; examine niche subcultures; and take a diversion into our mutual love of the greatest death metal manga ever made.

Topics include: yaoi / BL, Osamu Tezuka, Detroit Metal City


In this episode, we speak with cartoonist Jeffrey Brown about his work, and the changes (and lack of changes) in his art and his interests over the years.

Topics include: autobiography, bad reviews, The Transformers, and being comics-typecast.

Episode 25: R SIKORYAK

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist R Sikoryak about his latest book, The Unquotable Trump, from Drawn & Quarterly. We discuss his career, his thoughts on activism, the variety of places he’s been published, and the wide world of literature and comics he has managed to mush together, recontextualizing both in the process.

Topics include: Hostess Twinkies, X-ray specs, Picasso, and RAW

Episode 26: SINA GRACE

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist/writer/editor Sina Grace about his career and current work, including Nothing Lasts Forever from Image Comics, and Marvel Comics’ Iceman. We discuss his start in the industry, the various roles he has filled over the years, his creative process, and his approach to adult content.

TOPICS INCLUDE: Longshot, Chvrches, gentrification, and Jeffrey Brown

NOTE: This episode contains frank discussions of sex and sexuality as well as language you would not hear on a primetime network sitcom.



In this episode, we speak with legendary publisher Ron Turner, starting with his early days as an activist, through the creation of foundational publishing house LAST GASP, the heyday of the Underground Comix movement, and a myriad of other topics from an amazing life.

TOPICS INCLUDE: Amputation, Activism, Air Pirates, Ecology, and R. Crumb


Episode 28: Ronald Wimberly

In this episode, we speak with cartoonist/writer/editor/designer RONALD WIMBERLY about his career and current work, including the new magazine LAAB, his webcomic/essay LIGHTEN UP, and his upcoming book SUNSET PARK.

We discuss his inspirations, his thoughts on politics, art, and activism, and a dozen other fascinating tangents from one of the sharpest minds in comics.

TOPICS INCLUDE: Gekiga, Kreigstein, Zipatone, and BAD BRAINS.