Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: As a creator, writer, and producer of audio dramas, what is it about the medium that you feel appeals most to you and to listeners?
Reginald Nelson: I originally wanted to do a podcast talk show about theatre, but the more I learned about podcasts in general, I began to get excited about the audio dramas in particular. I started to do research online and found old radio dramas like the Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, and The Shadow, etc., which prompted me to create my own characters using the medium. I love audio dramas, because it is a beautiful and cost effective way for independent creators to get their intellectual property to market.
BD: Your audio drama, The Primordials, is an urban fantasy that combines the supernatural with modern-day New Orleans. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the podcast series?
RN: The Primordials deals with black immortals dwelling in modern-day New Orleans. It's Marvel’s Thor meets HBO’s Treme. The main characters, Shango, Oya, and Ogun, are Yoruba “Gods” with secret mortal identities, struggling to re-build the city post-Katrina. The Yoruba is an ancient tribe in West Africa whose people and culture were brought over to the Americas (Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti) during the slave trade. The Yoruba pantheon of Gods resemble other pantheons such as the Norse, Egyptian, Greek, Aztec, etc.
BD: What inspired you to set your story in New Orleans and to tell the story of The Primordials?
RN: The great Jazz musician Branford Marsalis once said, “New Orleans is both the most African and European city in North America.” New Orleans has such a rich history with music, politics, language, and cuisine, and along with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, I thought, “If African Gods actually existed in the New World, of course they would be in New Orleans.”
BD: Producing audio dramas can be a long and involved process, often requiring a very talented creative team. How would you describe the creative process for your shows, and how long does it generally take to go from concept to air date?
RN: Since I come from a theatre background, I was very excited about writing an audio dramatic script. I get ideas for material from current events or headlines. Once I decide on a subject and outline the script, it usually takes about a week to actually write it. After the script is completed, I email it to the actors for a table reading in order to get their feedback. The actors give their feedback, I re-write, then about a week later it’s on to the recording studio. It generally takes about six or seven hours to record a sixty page script, then on to sound editing/mixing which takes about a week. Overall, from concept to air date is usually about a six-week process.
BD: Do you have a set number of episodes in mind that will span the story of The Primordials, or are you continuing to write new episodes for future storylines?
RN: I think The Primordials as an audio series is pretty much done. We have a total of sixteen 10-14 minute episodes online for people to listen to and enjoy. Right now, we’re in the process of turning four of our most popular episodes into anime cartoons or shorts. I would love to continue The Primordials as an Anime series.
BD: Is it possible for fans of your shows to become more involved, whether it be as as a cast member or behind the scenes, and how should they go about doing so?
RN: In March we’re launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the Anime project, so they can donate or help out that way. In the meantime, they can also “like” us on Facebook under The Primordials Podcast.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” and I know you to be a longtime comic book collector, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite audio dramas, comics, films, or books?
RN: Currently, I’m “geeking out” on Geoff John’s Aquaman and what he’s doing with that character. I also love Arrow the television series on the CW based on Green Arrow. I was a huge fan of Mike Grell’s take on Oliver Queen back in the ‘80s, and this is very similar in tone. Finally, I LOVED Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and what he’s accomplished with the comic book summer blockbuster. I’m probably in the minority when I say that the first film, Batman Begins, is the best out of that series.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to fans who may be interested in creating their own audio dramas?
RN: Go online, find old radio drama scripts, read them, listen to them, and get the structure down before you begin writing. Once you’ve completed a script, place an ad or audition notice on Craigslist to find the actors, but the first thing is to focus on that script and those characters.
BD: What is the best way for fans to find more information about The Primordials?
RN: The best way for fans to stay informed about what we’re up to in 2013 is once again through Facebook. This year we’re hitting up WonderCon, Anime Expo, and of course Comic-Con. Stay tuned for The Primordials Anime series premiering this fall on a mobile device near you.