Tag: Interview

DNA Podcast 081 – DNA Millwood Chapter with Anika and Matt

A while ago, friend of the show Jack Ward approached us about making his High School’s nerdly arts club into a branch of the Department of Nerdly Affairs. We naturally were flattered, and accepted- thus the DNA Millwood Chapter was born! Now we sit down with Anika MacMullen and her co-president Matt Bambrick to talk about the club, it’s membership, and their activities. Then Anika and Matt turn the tables on us, and interview Don and Rob about some burning questions they have about our organization. So, sit back and enjoy this very special Christmas episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.

Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt

Things Discussed:

DNA Millwood Chapter Twitter Page
Leigh Brackett
Sword Art Online Progressive
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
The Dark Dungeons Pamphlet
The Sword and Lazer Podcast
SHAZAM!/Captain Marvel

DNA Podcast 080 – J-Novel Club with Sam Pinansky

In this episode, Rob and Don are joined by J-Novel club founder Sam Pinansky. J-Novel club is the largest online seller of translated Japanese Light Novels, and one of the pioneers in bringing these Japanese works to English readers. During this great interview, the trio discuss Sam’s journey to becoming a publisher, the nature of the English Light Novel market, and why Light Novels are exploding in popularity in English right now. All this, and the challenges of translating Japanese Light Novel names into English, are waiting for you in this episode of The Department of Nerdly Affairs.

Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt

Things Discussed

J-Novel Club Website
String Theory
Quantum Field Theory
Quantum Entanglement
Light Novels
Sword Art Online
Goblin Slayer
In Another World with My Smartphone
Tezuka Productions
Hobby Japan
Media Factory
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom
Last and First Idol
Doujinshi (he called them Doujin)
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
JK Haru is a Sex Worker in Another World
An Archdemon’s Dilmmea: How to Love Your Elf Bride
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
Arifuretta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
Me? A Genius? I’ve been Reincarnated into Another World But I Think They’ve Got the Wrong Idea!
Apprently It’s My Fault My Husband Has the Head of a Beast!
My Next Life as a Villianess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
I Can’t Believe My Little Sister is This Cute!
Invaders of the Rokujoma
Record of Lodoss War
The Light Novel Review YouTube Channel
Shosetsu ni Naro! (I Want to Become a Novelist) Website

DNA Podcast 077 – Hub Comics with Tim Finn and Jesse Farrell

In this episode, Rob and Don team do an international team-up with Tim Finn and Jesse Farrell of Hub Comics of Somerville, Mass. to expose the true nature of owning a comic shop in this modern age. Thrill as the intrepid foursome discuss the perils of pissing off your comic reading audience. Gasp as Tim and Jesse expose the hidden side behind the counter at Hub Comics and what really goes on when the doors close. Shudder as the true reading habits of comic shop denizens are laid bare for your eyes to behold. All this, and more references to Persepolis than you can count, are waiting for you in this episode of The Department of Nerdly Affairs!

Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt

Things Discussed:

Hub Comics
DC INK line
DC Zoom line
Marvel Superhero Adventures
 Art School Confidential
Ghost World
Warriors Novels (fantasy cats)
Understanding Comics
Neil Gaiman
MICE: Mass. Independent Comics Expo
Fun Home
March by John Lewis
Toon Books


DNA Podcast 070 – Trinidad Dreams with Justin Charles

In this episode, Don and Rob sit down with Justin Charles of the A Dude and Chick Walk Into a Studio podcast to talk about Justin’s life growing up as a geek in the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The three explore how Trinidad and  Justin’s early loves of anime, video games, storytelling, and audio drama shaped his future and lead him to his work today in the media production industry. All this, and how Ruroni Kenshin made the strong men of Trinidad weep, are waiting for you in this episode of The Department of Nerdly Affairs.

Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt

Things Discussed

Dude and a Chick Podcast Page
Justin’s Website – Sandosavant.com
Trinidad and Tobago
Steel Drums (or if you prefer….)
Ruroni Kenshin
Spiderman and his Amazing Friends
University of the West Indies
Howard University
Justin’s Audio Dramas
Lgend of Zelda: The Wrath of a God by Rich Barrigan
Project Arclite
The Jumbee
Final Fantasy
Detroit: Become Human

DNA Podcast 064 – Russian Science Fiction with Simon Vale

In this episode, Don and Rob sit down with Simon Vale of Magic Dome Books, a company which specializes in translating Russian science fiction into English. The trio discuss Russian geek culture, Russia’s fascination with litRPGs, and the nature of the Russian book markets. All this, and why the Strugatskie brothers are the greatest Science Fiction writers you’ve probably never heard of, is waiting for you in this episode of The Department of Nerdly Affairs.

Things Discussed

Magic Dome Books
Balder’s Gate
Stanislav Lem
Issac Asimov
The Lexx
The Witcher
Peter Watts (author)
Perry Rhodan


Simon’s Notes:

What first Russian S/F should someone who wants to check them out read?

There are some great authors, Strugatskie brothers for example:

Roadside Picnic – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1613743416

The Doomed City – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7SVFC4

Hard to be a God – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TONTAFK

This is Russian Sci-Fi classic. Unfortunately many of their books including some amazing stories aren’t translated or as in this case (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0026151200) are only available for a great deal of money.

Then there are modern authors:

Vasily Mahanenko (LitRPG)

The Way of the Shaman – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VQRW14E

Galactogon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012B9L0DI

Michael Atamanov  (LitRPG)

The Dark Herbalist – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M9F1AM7

Perimeter Defense – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015JMSSJS

Dmitry Gluhovskiy (PostApocalypse)

Metro 2033 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003774XKG

Sergei Lukyanenko (Vampire Fantasy)

The Night Watch – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0031RSB5U

Pavel Kornev (steampunk)

The Sublime Electricity – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J1WY2U6

Zotov (ironical Sci-Fi, dystopia)

Moskau – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IWR5R32


  •        What distinguishes Russian Science Fiction/Fantasy from English Novels? Style? Audience? Attitude?

Speaking about Fantasy I think that there is no big difference. Russian Fantasy is having the same roots as every other Fantasy in the world – books by John Tolkien and Joanna Rowling, Dungeon & Dragons tabletop games and old computer games like Baldurs Gate or Eye of Beholder.

There is also some national material based Fantasy in Russia and it is relatively popular. Some authors do specialize on it.

It is much more complicated with Science Fiction. The way I see it is – in the end of XIXth century world Science Fiction was mostly positive. You know, human progress, improving medicine, magic of electricity. On that positive basis people once again tried to build the ideal modern society but ended up building two horrible dictatorships – Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. That’s why world Science Fiction of the second half of the 20th century is all about disappointment. Disappointment in progress which is not helping to solve every problem as it seemed before.

But since Russia was one of those ideal societies we couldn’t afford such a view. With censorship and all that. So when Polish author Stanislav Lem wrote about how we can’t communicate with any other alien forms because all we’re looking for in space is a mirror and when Isaac Azimov wrote about danger of artificial inteligence and when Heinlein wrote about hunger of the outgrown human population, all that time we kept writing about how great and kind people of the communistic future will be. It was a little naive but Soviet censorship just wouldn’t allow anything else to be published.

Maybe this is why PostApocalypse and cyberpunk genres are still popular in Russia. Dark Science Fiction, you know, to balance things up with our inheritance. Maybe this or else maybe because many Russian Science Fiction writers are former military people.

For a few years now Russians are reading YA Fantasy mostly. I see many young women writers coming up on stage with that genre.

  •        Where does most modern Russian S/F come from? (Websites? Print companies?)

I have to say that Russian publishing market had seen better days. In 90-s average number of copies for a fantasy novel easily could be 25-50 thousands of copies. Even more! Today it’s more like 5000 copies. I mean paper editions of course.

Our big problem is the market itself. We have one big publisher which is publishing like two-thirds of all books in Russia. Up until recently we had two. But they merged together and now we have one. It is very hard to work on that market first of all because Russia is very big. Most books are printed in western part of Russia. So when you need to deliver them to the east – it costs a fortune.

People do read digital books and here we’re across another big problem of the market – piracy. Still there are ways to make some money on this market, but it’s not very well developed. Many authors in Russia are having their own online shops.

  •        Is there a typical Russian Novel reader in English? What are they like?

Russian literature on English market is mostly represented with classics. Dostoevskiy, Chekhov, Tolstoy. So I guess typical Russian novel reader in English would be a person who studies foreign literature in university. Russian Fantasy and Sci-Fi are represented much worse. But we’re working on it! Since we’re publishing LitRPG, our readers are mainly gamers. At least many of them are. MMORPG games are the same everywhere – World of Warcraft or Eve Online. So readers are familiar with all the references inside books.

Unfortunately, books from Eastern Europe and Russia aren’t very popular in US in general. There is a splendid series from Polish author Andzhey Sapkovsky. The Witcher. Even if u didn’t read it, u probably know the computer game. And also as you might know – there is Netflix series coming up soon. In Russia it has a huge fandom!

The Witcher (book 1 – Classic Fantasy) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0043M6712


  •        Is there a typical Russian hero? What are they like? How are they different from an American one?

In modern literature I think typical Russian hero is strong and silent. He’s a loner and he is irregularly shaved. But that’s modern Sci-Fi. There is a classic hero from Russian fairy tales. A fool. Brilliant idiot who gets lucky all the time. Some Sci-Fi author do borrow him for their books.





DNA Podcast 063 – A History of GI Joe with Tim Finn

In this episode, Rob and Don sit down with Tim Finn, author of the upcoming book GI Joe: A Real American Book, to discuss the history of GI Joe. The trio discuss Joe’s origins as the first Action Figure for boys, how the GI Joe comic helped reboot the franchise, and the GI Joe: A Real American Hero animated series. All that, and the real meaning of the name Hasbro, is waiting for you in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.

Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt

Things Discussed:

Tim’s Website 
GI Joe (Wikipedia Entry)
Hasbro Toys
Mister Potato Head (Oh, sweet Merciful Fates…!)
Don Levine
First GI Joe TV Ad
Larry Hama
Shogun Warriors
General Hawk
GI Joe Steel Brigade
Lady Jaye
Mysticons Toys
Ron Friedman
Sunbow Productions
Marvel Productions (animation)
Steve Gerber
Howard the Duck
Shipwreck (Character)
Buzz Dixon
Sergeant Slaughter
Slaughter’s Marauders
Kenner Toys
GI Joe Extreme
ROM:Space Knight

DNA Podcast 046 – Interview with Larry Houston


In this episode, Don and Rob sit down with Larry Houston, storyboard artist and animation producer, to talk about his history in animation and work on X-men: The Animated Series. The trio discuss how Larry broke into the animation industry back in the 1980’s, what  it was like to work with Stan Lee, and his techniques for sneaking things past the TV censors.  All this, and how Larry ended up creating the coolest openings in TV animation history, and waiting for you in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.

    Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt 

Things Discussed:

Larry F. Houston (IMDB)
Astro Boy
Will Meugniot Interview (DNA)
Mark Evanier
Hanna Barbera
Don Christianson
Sport Billy
Stan Lee
Thundarr the Barbarian
Gil Kane
Jacky Kirby
Rick Hoberg
Russ Heath
Lone Ranger Tarzan Hour
Jane Fonda
Ted Turner
X-Men the Animated Series
Saban Entertainment
Graz Enteratinment
Ruby Spears Productions
Alex Toth
Art Vitello
Andrew Lumis (How to Draw the Human Figure)
Boyd Kirkland
Robocop Alpha Commando
The Karate Kid (Cartoon)
Lupin the 3rd
Galtar the Golden Lance
GI Joe the Movie Opening
Mighty Orbots Opening
The Spirit

DNA Podcast 036 – Interview with Will Meugniot


In this episode, Rob and Don are joined by comic artist and animation director and producer Will Meugniot to talk about Will’s long history in the comics and animation industry. In this deep exploration of the animation industry of the 80’s and 90’s, they discuss the DNAgents, Will’s role as showrunner for X-Men the Animated Series and Exo-Squad, and so much more! All this, and how Urusei Yatsura shaped JEM and the Holograms is here for you in the 36th episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.

    Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt 

Things Discussed:

Will Meugniot’s IMDB Entry
Will’s Wikipedia Entry
Will’s Comics Database Entry
The Masked Mayhem Presents The Almost Unseen Artwork of Will Meugniot
California Comics
Jo Meugniot Comics Database Entry
Tony Isabella
Dick Giordano
Mark Evanier
Godzilla (1978 cartoon)
Dave Stevens (Rocketeer)
Vanity (Comic)
Pacific Comics
Misfits of Science
Street Fighter (USA Animated Series)
Rick Hoberg
Dick Sebast
Russ Heath
Spider-man Newspaper Strip
GI Joe Animated Series
GI Comic Animated TV Commercials
GI Joe TV Openings
GI Joe Movie
Defenders of the Earth
Conan the Adventurer
Return of the Living Dead 3
Larry Huston
Pryde of the X-Men (episode on YT)
Eric Lewald (X-Men Story Editor)
X-Men The Animated Series
TOEI Animation
Sunbow Entertainment
Force Five
Battleship Yamato
Captain Harlock
Buzz Dixon
Flint Dille
The Real Ghostbusters
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Bucky O’Hare
Sigfried and Roy Animated Series
Duke dies in GI JOE the Movie
Nippon Sunrise
Spider Man Unlimited
Dragonlance Animated Movie
Villains and Vigilantes DNAgents Sourcebooks
Murdoch Mysteries
JIN (time travelling doctor)
Time Taxi
800 Words
Miss Fisher Mysteries
Osamu Dezaki
Dunegons and Dragons Cartoon
Urusei Yatsura
JEM Music Videos
JEM Opening
UY- Beautiful Dreamer

DNA Podcast 034 – What are litRPGs?


Don and Rob are joined by the awesome Ramon Meija of the litRPG podcast to talk about the biggest new genre you’ve probably never heard of- litRPGs. The three discuss the origins of the genre, what makes a litRPG, what books you should be checking out, and how the litRPG genre reflects the world we live in today. All that, and how to write litRPGs in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs!

    Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt 

Things Discussed:

The litRPG Podcast
Gate of Revelation (the novel Rob couldn’t remember the name of where our world is the game world)
The King’s Avatar (another one Rob mentioned)
Legendary Moonlight Sculptor (English fan translation)
Adventures on Terra: Beginnings (Ramon’s Book! Check it out!)
Sword Art Online
Ready Player One
litRPG Forum- LitRPG Forum – Books, Geeks, & Gamification


Ramon’s Extensive Notes for the show:

What are litRPGs?

    • LitRPG or literary RPGs are stories that incorporate role playing game mechanics.
    • There’s a facebook group dedicated to LitRPG (https://www.facebook.com/groups/LitRPGGroup/) that’s had that discussion several times. As a group, we’ve come up with two identifying marks of LitRPG. I’ll paraphrase them:
    • 1) The story must exist, at least partially, in a world with expressly stated game mechanics. This can mean that the story is set in an MMO, a VR game, an RPG game, or even a parallel or alien world. As long as there are expressly stated game mechanics. For example: Level up Notifications, Experience Points given for completing quests or killing monsters, learning game skills, health/mana bars.
    • 2) The main character progresses in an expressly stated way. For example: Leveling up, Increasing skills or abilities, increasing ranks, or increasing reputation.  Also by expressly stated, I mean that it says it in the text of the book and isn’t something that’s inferred or something only the author would be aware of.
    • The easiest and most common way this is done is usually something like this:
    • “A blue notification screen appeared before the character.
    • You’ve gained 1 level.”
    • It’s not complicated. It’s just not hidden in the background of the story or some table of information only the author sees. This type of information is conveyed to the reader. LitRPG, or literary RPG, merges the things gamers love about RPGs and MMOs and a good sci-fi or fantasy story. Those guidelines allow for maximum storytelling flexibility while maintaining the core elements of the genre.

How popular are they?

    • Among the fans, amazingly popular. LitRPG stories are like literary crack to the fans. They just can’t get enough stories. I’ve personally read over 300 LitRPG novels and online stories this year.
  • How big is the fandom?
    • Our facebook group has about 3,000 members.
    • Over 7,000 people visit the Royal Road regularly, a place where people post a lot of free/amature LitRPG.
    • FogCon, a literary convention is considering adding a panel on the genre.
    • It’s also a lot more popular in countries like Russia, Korea, China, and Japan.

Where did the genre come from?

    • There have been stories set in Virtual Reality and game worlds since the 1970s, when there was a virtual reality boom. However, the recent explosion of LitRPG originates overseas in places Korea with the Legendary Moonlight Sculptor (2007), a story set in a virtual reality massively multiplayer online game (VRMMO). With the popularization of gaming culture worldwide LitRPG stories spread throughout Korea, China, Japan, and Russia.
    • It’s only in the last 5 years or so that it’s spread to the U.S because those international works were translated into English either by fans or specialized publishing companies like Magic Dome Books.   

Where did the term litRPG come from?

    • Vasily Mahanenko, a Russian LitRPG author of Way of the Shaman, says he and another author came up with the term LitRPG or Literary RPG to describe their brand of fiction that has their stories set in game worlds (2012).

Why do people enjoy litRPGs?

    • They’re fun. It’s the same reason people like to play video games and tabletop RPGs.They’re fun. They incoporate game rules that make sense to the reader. I’ve played video games for twenty years so the worlds that LitRPG stories exist in make more sense to me sometimes than the real world. Additionally many LitRPG stories speculate about a future where full immersion VR exists and people can explore their favorite MMOs as if they were real worlds. What gamer wouldn’t like that kind of world?

What do you wish people understood about litRPGs? (What is most people’s misunderstanding about them?

    • I don’t know that the genre has been around in the U.S. long enough for people to misunderstand LitRPG.
    • I guess if I there was one thing, is that while a lot LitRPG has video games as their base, not all video game fiction is LitRPG. They need to hit those two qualifies we talked about earlier: 1) Set in a Game World with expressly stated game mechanics, and 2) character growth in game terms.

How did you get into them?

    • I fell into the rabbit hole that is LitRPG through my love of another geek culture. Anime. I saw the anime Sword Art Online and fell in love with the idea of living in a game world. So much so that I searched the internet for the original Korean Light novel that the anime was based on. I found that I enjoyed the books more and searched the internet for more like it. I read a ton of translated LitRPG from Japan and Korea. When I exhausted those sources I started trolling fan sites like the Royal Road and then paying good money for new stories on Amazon. Now I spend most of my waking hours either reading, writing, or podcasting about LitRPG.

What are the most popular LitRPGs and where do people find them?

Why did you start the LitRPG podcast?

    • I love LitRPG. I started interviewing LitRPG authors on my podcast the Geek Bytes Podcast as a way to express that love to those listeners and found they were really popular. So I spun it into it’s own podcast where I talk about LitRPG news, reviews and author interviews. The community has responded well.

What are some of the challenges of writing LitRPGs?

    • The same challenges as writing normal. Figuring out a good story to tell and getting people to read it. Some of the unique challenges are figuring out the game rules your story uses. Most of the LitRPG authors I’ve interviewed have multiple spreadsheets to keep track of all the formulas they use, character sheets, skill and ability descriptions, and research material. That and how all your readers are gamer and are more than willing to point out the flaws in your game systems.
    • Adventures on Terra: Beginnings http://amzn.to/2fXJRfw

DNA Podcast 032 – Voice Acting with Kimlinh Tran


In this episode, Rob and Don explore the possibilities of sound by talking with voice actress Kimlinh Tran about her experiences and perspectives gained voice acting in anime and video games. They talk about her efforts to improve her craft, why being near entertainment production centers is a must, and why recording walla is so much fun. All this, and why having a voice acting safe word is a must, are waiting for you in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.

    Closing Music:

Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt 

Things Discussed:

Kimlinh’s Homepage
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Ms. Fortune
Tweeny Witches
Hookers (The story I told is apparently not quite right- Rob)
Voice Acting Club