Professor Elemental looks back at his beginnings and the importance of being true to yourself

Chap hop artist Professor Elemental shares with us how he got his start in the music business and the importance of being true to yourself after some slightly questionable attempts. We learn that taking risks can be important in life and not to have regrets.
As we take a look through his journey through hobbies and interests, have a listen as he reflects on the current state of geek culture, social media and the possible wonderful things that lay ahead for us as comic books have taken over mainstream media.

You can follow the professor on social media https://twitter.com/prof_elemental
His website is https://www.professorelemental.com/ and he has a Patreon, https://www.patreon.com/professorelemental
where you can find various levels of exclusive content

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Transcript

Professor Elemental:
Hello, my name is Professor Elemental. You might know me from the information superhighway. I got well known for doing a couple of videos quite a few years ago. One about tea and the other one about fighting trousers. And now I make my way into the world creating very silly rap songs about inclusivity and village fates and garden gnomes and that sort of thing. And it’s very nice to be here, nice to have a chat.

Paul:
I mean, what else do you need in life, really, other than those three?

Professor Elemental:
That’s what I’ve realized. Once I found a way of making a living from talking nonsense, I realized that’s all I really needed in life. I think increasingly as I get older as well, I’ve realized that ambition is a waste of everybody’s time. We’re all striving for the next thing. I Plateau now I’m not doing any worse, but I’m not doing any better. That’s it. Now there is no forward, there’s no big plan. I’m just there. I quite like it.

Paul:
Well, I think that is the secret to life, isn’t it? It’s just enjoying what you’re doing. It sounds bad, but accepting it for what it is. But we all have the thing that we like and sometimes we get too caught up looking for the next thing that we actually forget to just sit and enjoy it.

Prof:
Yeah, definitely. That is the absolute greatest lesson. I think being in my 40s has taught me that, kind of like enjoying the moment.
So I think the best book I read last year was called 4000 Weeks. And it was all about that because 4000 weeks is kind of the length of your life. If you’re lucky, you get 4000 weeks, which is not a lot. And this book was a lot about kind of how we’re constantly all throughout our lives striving to get to the next thing, whether it’s school or a job or the weekend or whatever, and actually just put them back and go, no, maybe this is as good as it’s going to get and that is okay. And I definitely have found that as a Professor, I’m quite happy in Malayan. I found a little nerdy crew and making music for a few silly nerds is about all I need in life.

Paul:
Sounds good to me.
Now, we will, of course, get back to the nerdy geeky stuff, but part of it also is to sort of show who we are outside of that. So I was wondering, how do you describe yourself outside of your nerdy geeky stuff, or is there part of you outside of that?

Prof:
I don’t like to think about that part. That’s why I’ve got my own offices. Either way, outside of this, I would describe myself as a dad. That’s the most important thing that I am. Being a dad and a partner is just that’s everything. If you got that nailed as a grown-up human man, then you’re sorted. I reckon if I can be a good dad, then that’s all I’ve realized. That is an actual ambition I want to achieve.
But, yeah, most of my interests feed back into the nerdiness almost my passions, whether it’s kind of horror or comics or hip hop, they’re all kind of through the frame, through the lens, rather of that sort of nerdy. There’s a sort of passion that only nerds can have where you like. I don’t just like hip hop. I need to know every single hip hop song that’s ever existed, that sort of thing. So, yeah, I’m very lucky to have been able to turn most of my hobbies into something to do with my work as well.
So I don’t have to escape and have to deal with the real world very much. Apart from hanging out with my kids, my partner. Sometimes I take off of my pith helmet and talk like a normal human man.

Paul:
And of course, all your boring business meetings that go with it as well.

Prof:
Yeah, exactly. Well, there are two sides of it. On the one hand, I’ve managed to make my nerdy passions into my living, but I’ve also sadly realized that the only way to make them into my living is by turning them back into kind of work. Like, I have a very wacky job in some respects, as a kind of middle aged hip hop MC, but most of my day is still spent doing effectively office work, which could be quite depressing. You’ve got to answer the emails and do all the invoices and spreadsheets and that kind of stuff. There are times in mind this is not what I signed up for. I’m supposed to be a rapper. Why am I entering the receipt into a spreadsheet for a pork pie I ate at a service station at 04:00 a.m? Depressly. So, yeah, there’s a bit of that.

Paul:
It’s interesting because I was going to say there’s always this thing that if you turn your hobby into a job, it’s not a job, but it’s also not a hobby. But I guess in your sense, It’s kind of different enough. If, for example, you made a hobby out of podcasting and you loved podcasting, you are doing podcasting constantly, and it kind of takes the fun out of it. But at least in your area, the boring bits aren’t doing the bits that you like, if any of that makes sense at all.

Prof:
Yeah, I think it does. I think I know what you mean, because one of the rules about having a happy job, whether it’s your passion or just an employed job… a friend described it on a graph once we were talking about while we’re in a call centre, and every lunchtime we go and get really stoned, and the afternoon goes a lot better than the morning. And he said the problem is that our job is too boring, it’s too easy, and every morning we struggle because it’s too easy. So there’s no challenge. But by making ourselves stupid every single lunchtime, suddenly this very easy job has become a challenge that you can just about meet. There’s a graph you can chart where you need to have a series of challenges that you can achieve. And although those days are long past, I do believe that to be the case, you should always be slightly out of your depth. And I try and do that with Professor Stuff in creating either art or merchandise or music that is a little bit out of my depth. I’m a little bit uncomfortable making, and that keeps the whole thing lively. So even if there are some boring aspects to it, it’s all for the kind of greater good, if it makes sense. But yeah, the moment I’m working on a tabletop game with this really amazing guy and we can bounce himself back and forth, that’s an area of nerdiness I don’t have much to do with. I don’t really know the mechanics of Dungeon and Dragon and tabletop games, unfortunately, he does. But I’m kind of completely out of my depth, but trying to work out as we go along and that kind of stuff stops it from getting too boring and the same musically as well. And it’s important to do some albums that are not straight up professor albums just to make sure that I can still hold it down as an actual proper wrapper as well.

Paul:
So yeah, I guess your geeky journey, where did it all start for you when you start becoming interested in geeky stuff?

Prof:
I think that was just what it’s like if you’re born with it, aren’t you? There is that slight sense of exclusion from your peers and not quite fitting in.
For me, it’s like a gazillion nerds around the world. It was that thing I had lots of friends at school, but I didn’t really have any that share quite the same passions. And it was a way to sort of connect and find some solace. When things get difficult as well. My parents divorced, when I was maybe twelve, I think it was. And the fact that I quite like comics and things like that, that’s when I started really liking comics and hip hop because you latch onto things when times get difficult. I don’t know about you, but I found the early days of the Pandemic where I genuinely felt like the world could be ending or forever changed. No one knew what the fuck was going on. I really found nerdy stuff to be such a comfort. Like, I read a lot of old comics and I bought a lot of old comics on ebay. Well, this is a part of the world still makes sense. What’s Batman getting up to, I think initially as a kind of comfort blanket, and now it’s just a lens to view the world through.
What about you? Were you nerd right from the off, or was there a point or someone that you met that got you into certain things?

Paul:
I guess I was always a bit of a nerd. It was mostly video games and that sort of stuff there. And yeah, movies, but none of my friends. This is it. I think none of my friends read comics or were really nerds at all. It’s really weird. So I didn’t really have the influence. So I picked up a few things here and there, read the Beano and all that sort of stuff. Bit of asterisks And obelix that’s kind of as far as it went

Prof:
Funny that, It’s good for you sometimes to be doing it on your own.

Paul:
Well, yeah, I think some of the problems is… I think that’s one of the problems we have now is that it’s become bigger, which is good, but it’s also become bigger, which means we have to deal with each other.

Prof:
Yeah, definitely. You’ve nailed it. Because it’s lovely that there’s a sense of camaraderie and people can find their tribe. I think that’s the most beautiful thing. But, yeah, occasionally you definitely find more vulnerable people can be enticed by the wrong tribe. Well, there are plenty of manipulative people out there to go, no, come over here to the far right, we’ll have you if nobody else will. And that’s just to the darker side of it. Or even when you see Pile-ons on Twitter, which I’ve been a victim of myself on occasion.
And that’s when you kind of see it at its worst when lots of potentially quite vulnerable people all decide, no, we can take that person down a peg or two, and that’s when it can become quite ugly.
But for all of that, it’s mostly beautiful. And I think it’s easy to get too caught up in all the dark sides of it. Mostly the amount of friends we make over the internet, the amount of communication and camaraderie. And if you’re feeling like shit and you went on Facebook or Twitter and said, I’m going through a thing at the moment, even strangers will get in touch and say lots of nice stuff and you see those acts of kindness all the time.
Overall, I think it’s still a force for good. And most people are good as well.
That’s the thing. It’s easy to forget how good most people are. And social media is designed to make us think the opposite is constantly trying to show us what’s going to make us most outraged. Actually, most people are nice. I’m a great believer in that.
And yes, being a nerd is a constant reminder of that because I bounced around loads of subcultures I don’t really belong in as well, i do anime conventions or science fiction ones or comic ones and even the cool music festivals and basically everybody’s the same, everybody’s lovely, everybody’s looking out for each other.

Paul:
So how did your interest develop from the beginning? You found things on your own. What kind of geeky interest did you explore as you grew up?

Prof:
Well, I think I was kind of bimbling along. The very first thing was my grandma used to work in a newsagent and they used to chuck out all the comics and she knew I liked them so she would give them to me. I grew this huge collection of comics really sort of out of nowhere. And then I met one friend, a friend of mine called Jamie Bailey, and he was the only other person that I met who liked comics. And there is my best friend in the world.
We still nerd out together to this very day, but he also liked hip hop as well. And that was really.. nobody liked hip hop and Suffolk, Jesus Christ, we used to have the piss taken out of us regularly for liking rap music.
And so I think the lovely unique combination of having that you needed, one friend who liked comics and liked rap music. Yeah. That was where it all developed. And then there was someone who when I was doing terrible rap songs, I’d made up myself. It’s like the worst possible raps you’ve ever heard A little white boy do. Then I had one other person to rap them to.
Jamie was always incredibly kind and encouraging, even though he must have been thinking, Jesus, why are you doing this? He’s put up with a lot. Shout out to Jamie Bailey,

Paul:
it’s all his fault.

Prof:
Basically, anybody who doesn’t like me, it’s all Bailey’s fault. He made me the man I am today.

Paul:
So it’s always been in you then, the hip hop right from the beginning?

Prof:
Definitely. Yeah. There was a point, I had some relatives in America and long story short, I was about twelve years old. Now there’s a really dodgy uncle who i idolized, lived in a really rough part of a town in Montana. And I went over to his house when we were staying on holiday and he just went out for the whole evening and just left me there. And he had a huge pile of old hip hop cassettes, so I just spent the evening working my way through all of them and being kind of like, just excited by it. It was sort of 1990, so it’s kind of a golden era. And also it was kind of the birth of some gangster rap and stuff and being impressionable and kind of like finding it as I think a lot of suburban kids did in that area. It’s kind of rebellion without having to actually do anything particularly rebellious.
I’m listening to naughty music! Just like the words and the power of all of these words. And then it was quite a political time for hip hop as well. So hearing about all of these sort of political struggles, how would I possibly have known about any of it just yet? I was absolutely obsessed about it.
Scarcity helps, I think as a nerd, most of us nerds quite like a bit of scarcity. And hip hop was hard to find, so it meant I had to kind of seek it out.
Same with American comics. Couldn’t find them very easily. That made me want them More. still same to this very day, you want the stuff you cant quite get.
Even now, I’ve got a complete set. I look at them regularly. Complete set of Kenna Superpowers 1980s DC figures. And there is one that I will never be able to own. I’ll never be able to own a Cyborg figure because he’s 500 quid. No way anyone could ever justify 500 quid for what is effectively like a tiny robot man. But I quite like the challenge. I still quite enjoy that. He’s always just out of my reach.

Paul:
One day, you never know.

Prof:
Yeah, one day if all my ships come in, if Disney finally get in touch, say, actually, we do want to make a Professor Elemental cartoon. on that day I shall buy that Cyborg figure.

Paul:
So You were writing your own stuff from an early age. Back then, was it more traditional or was it going towards the more geeky end of the hip hop genre, Shall we say?

Prof:
It was so bad.
It was lots of, like, rap songs about and I was even doing this right after my early 20s. I thought I should battling was the way you should rap. I would not only write battle raps about how incredibly tough I was, and I would also write sometimes really outrageously awful lines. Remember, my friend after reminds me, one of my lines was like, ‘I’ve had it up to here, I’ll take your mum from the rear’. I would never do that. I would never take someone’s mum from the rear, particularly without permission. It was the very opposite of anything. And I also remember writing songs about politics. I wrote one about South African politics called Shades of Grey and just the worst possible, like, teenage poetry that anybody has ever written I wrote it all, but you have to do that. You have to be shit at something to become eventually good at something. So it’s all part of the journey to finally getting to where I was supposed to be. And I think it was when I first started hanging out with other rappers and producers and people that knew me, they would go, yeah, that’s all right, Paul, but you seem to have a Brooklyn accent, and you’re talking about taking someone’s mum up the rear, and that doesn’t seem quite you. Okay, maybe there’s another way of doing this. And instead of hiding all the things that I’m sort of potentially ashamed of, I’ll bring them all to the forefront and talk about being middle class and just nerdy and all the rest of it.

Paul:
Yeah. So that came sort of as part of, I guess, accepting yourself as, okay, I am a nerd. This is now what I do.

Prof:
Exactly. Just having that rather than as a way of sort of combating trying to be up with the alpha males, just thinking, actually, that’s not something. Why am I pretending to be something that I wouldn’t even want to be if I was. in casual conversation I’ll normally derive it, and then I’m trying to act out like I’ve got some sort of skills in Bravada that I’m not feeling at all. And, yeah, that’s perfectly tied in with steampunk coming around at that sort of time and allowed me a way of being able to kind of find my tribe in life. Once you find your tribe, everything’s going to be fine, isn’t it?

Paul:
Well, exactly, yeah, because that’s what I was wondering because you went from one extreme to the other. I mean, how was the reaction or was it did you happen to find that tribe at just the right time

Prof:
Probably amongst my friends, probably a bit of relief. Oh, my God.
But yeah, there was a nice middle patch where I was kind of when I first moved to Brighton, and I was trying out my hip hop, and I’d been sort of booed off the stage several times in London. And then when I moved to Brighton, I did find it was a bit more accepting. And there were other rappers doing some unusual things, people like Tiege and John Clark and Disraeli. He would mix in folk music or more whimsical themes and all that kind of stuff. So kind of I started to find a new way of expressing myself. And then the professor just sort of burst forth, and I was like, okay, maybe I could do this. And what was supposed to be a one-off joke has turned into a decade long adventure. Now I’m trapped under a pith helmet for the rest of my life.

Paul:
That is your character Now. has there ever been sort of a thought of changing it a bit?

Prof:
No, I don’t think I’m good enough to do anything else. But also the character is so close to me in terms of his personality. There’s always a really good Chuck Jones quote where he would talk about his classic kind of Daffy and Bugs cartoons and say, oh, Daffy is who I am exaggerated and Bugs Bunny is who I wish I was exaggerated. And the professor is kind of a bit of a mix of those two things as well. There are kind of aspects of him as a character that I really admire and tap into his kind of like inclusivity and enthusiasm premise, that’s me like times a million. But also he’s kind of quite egotistical and can be quite shallow and hogs the spotlight a lot. And they’re the aspects of my class that I’m not so proud of, but I’m able to indulge in thanks to this lovely Character, and it’s also a way of teaming. I’ve said it in a few podcasts but having this thing as a way of focusing all your creativity through a single lens. So if I want to write a horror book or work with someone on a comic or make toys or whatever, I’ve got something that I can hook it into. I don’t know that many people would want to buy a Paul action figure, but I might get some people to buy a professor elemental action figure. It kind of all works out.

Paul:
Was there always an intention in your life doing the hip hop to sort of turn it into something you could make money out of? Or did it happen by accident?

Prof:
No, total accident. And it was just at a point where really I needed to start thinking about doing something different with my time. Because when you get to your early 30s, it’s no country for old men, The rap game, even on an amateur level. Get to your early 30s, And there’s loads of young up and comers who are just looking at you like, what are you doing, old man? Get off the stage. Which is as it should be. That’s as it always has been. It’s almost like a sport in that respect. So having just found this kind of escape hatch to enable me to keep doing rap music and keep teaming up with people and also having Tom Carowana producing it all as well. If I didn’t have a solid producer who would just continue to give me these amazing beats to work on, it might have been harder to keep it all going.
But no it’s just luck. Just pure luck. I’m very fortunate. I used to kind of talk about how, yeah, I found a new way to do things and that’s how I made my living. But as you get older, you go, well, that’s not really true. You just got lucky to do the right thing at the right time. Because there was a middle period where I was still teaching, but I was performing and I was talking to people who are doing it full time, and I was just rinsing everybody for advice. I was like, you do this full time, what’s your secret? What do I need to know? And the best bit of advice I got was that if you’re in a sort of, let’s say you’re in a job you don’t like much and you’ve got something you’re really passionate about and you’ll be scared that if you try your passionate thing and it doesn’t work out, then what are you going to do? And this guy said to me, like, if you’re in a job you hate and you give it up and you do rapping for a living and it doesn’t work out, just get another job you hate, there’s plenty of them out. It’s not the end of the world if it fails and you go, fuck it. Well, nobody really wanted this and I’m going to have to go back to making it a hobby, just grab another job and carry on. I know that might sound a bit simplistic, but I think society is set up to have you slightly fear the idea that what will I do for security if I don’t have a job? And how will I get a regular wage?
Actually, the security of a job is a complete illusion. The moment you’re not making money for any company, no matter how moralistic they seem to be, you will be dumped. You’ll be dropped in a hot second. Actually, it’s certainly no more scary to be working for yourself. And if it’s something you’re passionate about and you had even a crumb of success or interest or a bit of affirmation from someone saying, oh, yeah, no, you should do this, then it’s definitely worth pursuing.
Actually, the other thing people that I really noticed was that I was like, I’ve got some gigs, but how would I have enough gigs to sustain me? And somebody else said, when you’re not working full time, you’ve got the time to generate opportunities and take up opportunities that you never would when you’re trying to balance work and your passion at the same time. So, yeah, it’s always worth taking the plunge. Otherwise, you might die sad and regretful that you did.
There was a really good documentary with Jim Carrey and he talked about his dad in it quite a lot and how funny his dad was. His dad was this like incredibly funny man, but was an accountant and never dared leave accountancy because he wanted to feed his family. I appreciate that pressure, but Jim Carrey said he sort of passed away Sad that he’d never been able to achieve his dreams. There is nothing sadder than that. Imagine getting to your deathbed going, no, I fucked up. No, I should have given it a go Really, Damn it. That’d be horrendous.

Paul:
How long do I have you for, by the way? How are you doing? I know you’ve got a meeting.

Prof:
Oh I’ve got a good fifteen minutes of time, a good 15 minutes of hot professor action. Oh, that’s horrible, don’t leave that in the podcast, no one needs to hear that.
I’m moving on from that, I’m now doing a nineties sex line. I’ll talk about my trousers, my cape taking off my hat slowly, that sort of thing.

Paul:
There’s an image.

Prof:
No, sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve derailed us

Paul:
Right, okay, moving on from that… horror, there’s a good segue; horror.

Prof:
Yes, perfect.

Paul:
You mentioned it a couple of times. Do you remember your first sort of experience into horror? And that sort of genre how did that happen.

Prof:
the first scary film ever. The first time I’ve been frightened, I feel like I’ve got a few little markers throughout my life of just seeing horrible things again. I think it was seeing, not that I encourage it as a way to do it with my own children, but sometimes it’s seeing something when you’re a bit too young to watch. It will kind of either instil a dread and hatred of that thing or it will instil a passion for it. And I think I saw the Blob. Actually, that was probably the very first film when I was about five years old and my mum turned it off, like just. It was getting scary, the old 1950s movie. And I spent days just going, mom, what happened to the blob? What happened to the blob? What happened to the blob mum? And she was just like ‘Fine! There you go, just watch it.’ And I was mesmerized. And again, actually, even though, now hip hop is obviously the most popular form of music in the world, comic books are everywhere. But a love of horror is still the one thing that can silence a dinner party absolutely dead. Stop it. If I start talking about it, even with a little bit of passion, and particularly if I start talking about films I like, I have killed the conversation. And my partner is kicking me under the table going, Stop talking about the human centipede.
I quite like that. I like the fact that I’m on a Facebook group called Books of Horror, and people always talk about these really shifty books and you can sometimes tell in their post. It’s like, I can’t really talk to anybody else about this book, but I’ve just read it and I’ve got to tell you guys, I quite like that. Proper nerdiness that I enjoy.

Paul:
Is there a sort of weird attraction to things that do put you on the sidelines a little bit?

Prof:
You nailed it. Oh, my God. That’s exactly how I used to be with hip hop in Brighton, to my shame. I used to get kind of quite grumpy and resentful with the other rappers and say stuff online, be a bit Narci about things, but actually I was desperate for their approval. There were these kinds of Alpha males that I’d be a bit like, oh, I’m not like them, I’m better than them. But secretly I wanted them to go, hey, nice job. And I think I go out of my way to find things that are just on the fringes of being approved. And I think that’s quite a common thing with nerdy people because if you’re someone who maybe got a bit bullied or you felt like you didn’t quite belong, it’s quite natural to seek things that kind of like, add to that as a part of your personality.
Yeah. Equally, I turn into ‘comic book guy’ sometimes when everybody likes something. Like when Princess Diana died and everyone was banging on about it, it made me cross. But then when there’s a Royal wedding that makes me cross, the Olympics, that makes me cross frigging World Cups, Adele, anything that everybody enjoys, I hate it just on principle.
That might be just because I’m a grumpy bastard rather than because I’m a nerd. I’m a horrible person. I don’t like to see people happy.

Paul:
This is the secret. We’re unravelling it now, actually, you want the whole world to be miserable.

Prof:
Well, if you’ve seen my shows you can attest to that, I go out and try and do that every single weekend. I used to have some old routines about Where are you Marvel movie fans Like when I was having to buy holographic covers drawn by Rob Leefield in the 90s, I sat through loads of episodes of Voyager and you just turned up watching all the good stuff. You haven’t had to put the work in. That’s what annoys me.
Again. I think that’s also getting older, isn’t it? That’s just being old. You immediately look at anybody younger than you and think you weren’t here in the golden era of whatever it is I like. But there’s a period where that’s quite uncomfortable. But then I’m 47 now and now I’m really getting into it, really enjoying the fact that I can wave at all the kids on my lawn and just go, you don’t understand. You’re not going to be cool ever again. You might as well enjoy getting old and grumpy. It breaks you in a Simpsons comic book guy.

Paul:
So other than sort of shouting at people, what benefit do you think that geek culture has on individuals? And in particular on your life.

Prof:
Literally everything from an appreciation of art to an engagement with the bigger questions and the philosophies of life to camaraderie and friendship. I mean, it’s woven into the fabric of everything you do To a certain extent.
I can’t remember the quote. I read a quote recently and it was from a very famous high art director. I wish I could remember the name. But he was just talking about the fact, actually, low culture and high culture should be viewed as having the same worth. And I genuinely think that. sometimes I can read a very simplistic old Bronze Age Batman comic, But because of certain sort of moral questions that are inherent within this really simple story, they can spin off a whole load of thinking about much higher things.
Or you can appreciate the pop art of say, old Jack Kirby panel in the middle of a crappily written Marvel story.
There’s aspects of beauty and high art to be appreciated to any of these things. Look at the Muppets. I love the Muppets, the philosophy inherent in everything that the Muppets do and the outlook that they’ve got on life that Jim Hanson put into the world is a perfect example of how nerdy culture can be.
It’s a real force for good. I genuinely believe that.

Paul:
Do you think people are too invested in a stereotype then, to look at the outward image? They just see oh it’s the muppets and then turn around and go, yeah, I’m not even going to bother then. Do you think people are too invested in sort of the outward appearance of it all?

Prof:
Sometimes, But then again, that falls back to the kind of like, oh, you don’t like it a little bit on the fringe… all more for me, thank you very much. And I also think things like comics become so subversive. I’m very much a believer in the Grant Morrison school of how amazing superhero comic books can be and how they often predict where culture is going. And I think at the moment, you can moan about the prevalence of too many Batman comics or how I’m not mad into Marvel at the moment. They’re all a little bit too much like the movies, but actually, they’re incredible all the stories at the moment are really inclusive, and the LGBTQ plus stuff is just, like, right at the forefront. And in some ways, they’re always a bit culturally ahead of where the rest of the mainstream is going. And that’s a wonderful thing.
So I still think that they are a mighty force for all that is good in the world but often ruined then by the capitalistic market. It’s a complicated picture.

Paul:
Yes, it is. Yeah. Do you think if the popularity had happened a long time ago or another way of looking at it, like in 15/20 years time, after all these billions of dollars has been spent on it, do you think it will be better or worse off for it?

Prof:
Yeah. When it comes out the other side, I think it will probably be better for it. It’s a really difficult question because, on the one hand, the huge influx of money and the cultural shift has enabled comics to survive. Superior comics might not have even survived if not for this huge, great Marvel Disney behemoth that’s come along. On the other hand, something like Steampunk is a perfect example of a nerdy thing that no one ever made money out of, never really got that popular, has sort of stayed in its own little bubble, and has been all the more beautiful for that, really. It’s enabled people to make art without any restrictions at all times, and just really lovely. So it’s a bit of a weak answer, but I think there’s advantages to both, really. Yeah. I think when superheroes die out and aren’t quite so popular, even now, you’re seeing things like Suicide Scored and Peacemaker, where they’re like, well, we’ve kind of done all the basic stuff. We’ve done Avengers, End Game and stuff. What else can we do with superheroes?
A bit like Westerns now, when Westerns come out. They tend to be really interesting, cool ones, like the power of the dog Western. They’re a little bit strange now. So when superheroes eventually become less popular, then we’ll get some really cool movies and some really unusual art. I hope.
once many people take their eye off the creative process, things get better. Like in the 90s with hip hop. The reason hip hop was so good in the 90s was there’d be like some big fat white guy with a cigar going, I don’t understand any of this shit. You just make some music and if it makes money, then we’ll put it out. And now, unfortunately, you’ve got loads of executives who think they’re cool and try and be part of the frigging process and they ruin, I think, a lot of the kind of creative stuff they’re like. They’re getting too involved, they want to be part of it. I think one of the reasons I quite like DC comics now is because I get the feeling they’re not quite so invested. They’re a bit more sporadic. They’re not quite so invested in a big whole picture. So DC is putting out this really weird miniseries, just almost in spite of themselves, like human target, Supergirl and the Blue and Gold and the One Star Squadron. They’re just kind of like. You feel like they sort of like sneaking them out when the boss isn’t looking
It’s like Batman, Batman Batman, and then a few little weird things on the side. I’m just ignoring all about that stuff and getting the weirdness, it’s great. And I think comics have always done that. If you look like Marvel in the 70s, that’s when they put out loads. They’re not my cup of tea with things like Howard the Duck and all the weird stuff used to do with the Defenders, they kind of just sort of snuck them out there. And yeah, Denny O’Neill used to do a lot of that in the 70s as well, putting out really unusual stories. And they’re often the ones that in 20 years time, people look back and go, wow, that was an absolute classic. No one thinks these things are classic at the time they come out, but it’s weird stuff that gets looked upon more fondly, I think, a lot of the time.

Paul:
So for people who are listening to this, who have kind of got into the movies a bit but still think, oh, that’s a bit nerdy. I don’t want to read the comics. I don’t want to sort of get into the cartoons or that sort of stuff. What would your message be to them to try and convince them otherwise?

Prof:
Reading is the key. Don’t worry about the movies and the cartoons and stuff. Just get loads of stuff out of the library and see which ones you like. And we’re in an age of luxury in terms of choice. You can just read a load of stuff and if it’s not grabbing you, you can check it on the bin get someone else till you do find something because there will be something that suits you out there there’s something for everybody. that’s the nice thing about the world we live in. It’s just digging around till you find the right thing for you.

—post-credits—

Paul:
I don’t know how long you’ve got left but I just wanted to say if you would like time to talk about plastic man feel free

Prof:
No, it’s ok, I reckon I’ve touched on enough weird superheroes and I’ve laid out my sort of rule of things I like in the world. on this one occasion, I will not start ranting about plastic man.

Paul:
Blimey, that must be an important meeting.

Prof:
Exactly!

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