Last week, we had a little time after finishing the video reviews, so we decided to pull back the curtain for a conversation about process, sticking points, and the origin of the ubiquitous sunglasses.
If ONE podcast wasn’t enough, this week we joined Alex, Corwin, and Viet for a detailed dissection of October’s X-books over on EMX!
Given that we’re in the United States, and it’s that day when it’s customary to sit down and think about what we’re thankful for, we want to take a moment to do that.
We were completely unprepared for how quickly Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men took off. When we started the podcast in April, our threshold for ridiculous, unfathomable success was 50 listeners, not counting our moms. Seven months later, we’re averaging around 10,000 unique downloads per episode. Thanks to your support, the podcast and site have become a significant chunk of Rachel’s job.
But while we are thankful for those things, they’re not really what we wanted to talk about here. What we want to talk about is you.
When we realized how big we were getting, and how fast, we got really worried. We know the Internet; we know what happens when you tip over a certain size or a certain level of visibility. And we sat down and worked out rules for comments moderation, and contingencies for some worst-case scenarios, and generally kind of braced ourselves.
So far, we’ve had to use none of those contingencies. None. Think about that.
On the website, we’ve deleted or stopped maybe a dozen comments. Of those, all but two were accidental double-posts; and despite containing content we decided not to let through, the remaining two were polite and obviously well-intended. We’ve never needed to block a Twitter account. We’ve never gotten an e-mail that didn’t make us smile. (Even the corrections. Especially the corrections.)
Ten thousand listeners.
Two blocked comments.
Listeners, you are amazing. You are passionate and engaged: at our site and on social media, we loved watching you dive into involved, challenging, and universally respectful and civil conversations. You make us think. You make each other think. You share information and resources and recommend books. You make art. You send us wonderful, heartfelt notes that make us mist up at work.
We know a lot of people who podcast; who make art, and write, and work on the web. We’ve never seen anyone with a fan base as universally awesome as ours.
So, we’ve been thinking a lot about what we’re thankful for, in context of the podcast. We thought about characters we love and identify with, comics that have become touchstones and security blankets. But when it comes down to it, listeners–if we had to choose just one thing–we’re most thankful for you.
Rachel & Miles
We don’t normally post outtakes here–normally, they’re a Patreon subscriber perk, available exclusively on our backstage blog–but if there’s anyone who justifies exceptions to the rules, it’s Adam X the X-Treme.
To see more outtakes–as well as episode outlines and other behind-the-scenes content–you can subscribe to our Patreon at any level that includes access to the backstage blog!
Meanwhile, in this week’s videos, we’re getting into the spirit of the Stealth/Plainclothes Cosplay Contest (and Halloween). We’ll be doing that next week, too–as long as the contest is running–but here’s what we’re dressed as this week:
Listen to the episode here!
- Print of the week! You can find prints of David Wynne’s “Haters Gonna Hate” Scott & Jean illustration over at our shop until September 14–or drop David a line to buy the original!
- The real Cats Laughing
NEXT WEEK: Rachel and Miles are going on vacation. Read a book. WEEK AFTER NEXT: The New Mutants!
In which Rachel and Miles celebrate an anniversary with a retrospective of one of the great romances of the Marvel universe; the Summers/Grey family tree is more of a transdimensional strawberry patch; the X-Men play some football; Professor Xavier is not a jerk; and Scott Summers and Jean Grey are the power couple of existentialism.
- Summers kids
- Scott and Jean
- X-Men #32
- The worst date ever
- Madelyne Pryor
- Plot-relevant prosopagnosia
- Three proposals
- X-Factor #53
- Uncanny X-Men #308
- “Fatal Attractions”
- That one panel that gets us every time
- X-Men vol. 2 #30
- Some really excellent wedding vows
- The best kiss in X-Men
- Cats Laughing
- Why “One” is actually a pretty decent first dance
- Existential ramifications of fictional romance
Next week: Rachel and Miles take a much-needed vacation.
Week after next: The New Mutants!
You can find a visual companion to the episode – and links to recommended reading – on our blog.
Support us on Patreon!
I don’t usually talk about personal stuff here. But today is special.
In this week’s episode–the one that goes up at Comics Alliance today, and here on Sunday the 7th, Miles and I talk about Scott and Jean and how they are kind of our couple, and I want to write a little bit more about that.
We talk on the podcast about having known each other since forever. For context, that’s well over half our lives: we’re in our early 30s now, and we met when we were 11 or 12, and became friends when we were 13.
I’m not–look, how much I identify with Cyclops should be a pretty good indicator of how socially inclined I’m not. I didn’t have a lot of friends in middle school. I was the kid who sat in the back of a class, hiding a book under my desk and hoping that no one would notice me–because if they did, it never, ever went well.
In eighth grade English, I sat in my usual far back corner. Miles was in the row in front of me, and at some point, he decided–out of nowhere–that we should probably be friends. He initially expressed this mostly by whipping around dramatically when no one was looking and whispering bad puns at me during vocab review. It was slightly terrifying and absolutely delightful.
At some point, Miles started asking me about books. We’d both grown up on the Dark Is Rising sequence and the Chronicles of Prydain; he lent me Bored of the Rings and the big collected Hitchhiker’s Guide that had the then-nearly-impossible-to-find “Young Zaphod Plays It Safe”; I lent him More Than Human and The Hero and the Crown. There was an end-of-the-year eighth-grade graduation dance and we danced together once, awkwardly, at arms’ length; and each of us was pretty sure the other was just doing it to be polite.
We dated briefly and awkwardly our freshman year of high school, and then we didn’t really talk for a while, and then we were friends again, and then we were friends who slept together and were looking at colleges together and still staunchly refused to put a label on what we were doing because we did not buy in to that nonsense, even after we moved in together two months into our first semester of college. We spent years aggressively reinventing the wheel, because even if we didn’t entirely know what we were or where we were taking it, we knew it was ours.
So, when we talk about how Scott and Jean are kind of our couple, we’re not just talking about the awkward teenage romance thing. Editorial mandates aside, every step of their relationship was a “fuck you” to fate, a conscious choice to not even find but make their own meaning. They’re not together in most of the Multiverse, and when they are, it’s usually something they have to fight for.
Even without supervillains and cosmic forces, being and staying with someone you’ve known since you were a teenager isn’t always easy. Everyone has hard-wired buttons; when you’re with someone you’ve known for that long, there’s a pretty good chance that they–or at least who they were when you were kids–wired some of them. It’s difficult and painful to grow and figure out who you are and who you’re becoming when you’re with someone who still responds to–and probably always will respond to, to some extent–who you were at sixteen.
And Scott and Jean are our couple for that reason, too: because it’s not always easy, but it never stops being worth it–every day, but especially today, because ten years ago* today, I married the best person I’ve ever met: my partner in crime, my best and truest friend; who still finds me when I’m lost, and coaxes me out when I get stuck in my own head, and holds me so that I can let go.
I love you, Miles Stokes.
And every day for the rest of my life.
*According to Miss Manners, the tenth anniversary is–for obvious reasons–the X-Men anniversary.
We get questions.
We get a lot of questions.
But there are some questions we get more than others.
This is the first of a multi-part series. As we post questions and answers on the blog, we’ll also add them to the FAQ page!
Today, we’re going to cover content:
- Why haven’t you covered my favorite story / character / miniseries yet?
- Are you going to cover [specific story arc / X-related series like Excalibur, New Mutants, Fallen Angels, X-Factor, &c.]?
- When are you going to get Brian Bendis / Matt Fraction / Chris Claremont / other X-writer or artist on the show?
- I am a writer, artist, editor, or other creative professional with experience on X-Men stuff, and I would like to be on your podcast!
- Will you be guests / guest hosts on my podcast / YouTube channel / blog?
- Can I be a guest or Emergency Back-Up Co-Host on Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men?
- Will you publish my article or guest post?
- Will you post my fan art?
Why haven’t you covered my favorite story / character / miniseries yet?
Are you going to cover [specific story arc / X-related series like Excalibur, New Mutants, Fallen Angels, X-Factor, &c.]?
When are you going to get Brian Bendis / Matt Fraction / Chris Claremont / other X-writer or artist on the show?
When they return our e-mails. *rimshot*
Nah, seriously, we do have a long wish-list of guests–and some very cool ones confirmed for future episodes–but we try to make sure they’ve got a reason to be there, either because they’ve got a relevant book coming out, or because they’ve got a particular connection to territory we’re covering in a specific episode.
I am a writer, artist, editor, or other creative professional with experience on X-Men stuff, and I would like to be on your podcast!
Awesome! Please drop us a line!
Will you be guests / guest hosts on my podcast / YouTube channel / blog?
Can I be a guest or Emergency Backup Co-Host on Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men?
Will you publish my article or guest post?
Will you post my fan art?
If it’s podcast pertinent, totally (we don’t usually post general X-Men fan art, though). E-mail it to xplainthexmen(at)gmail.com.
Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men makes its official Comics Alliance debut with Episode 17: The Island of Dr. Corbeau!
A quick note on what this means going forward:
If you listen to the podcast here, or via iTunes or Stitcher, nothing’s changing. New episodes and visual companions will continue to go up at rachelandmiles.com every Sunday.
BUT new episodes will also be up a few days eariler–Thursdays–at Comics Alliance and on their YouTube channel.
CA is one of our favorite comics sites (full disclosure: Rachel’s a regular contributor, but we’ve been reading it since long before), and we’re really, really excited to be joining badasses like War Rocket Ajax and the Arkham Sessions in its lineup.
For CA listeners who’ve made their way back to us, here are some links to help you get started:
- Previous episodes
- Images, links, and further reading for every episode (You can also click through from any given episode description)
- The X-Perts
Thanks for listening!
We mentioned this on the podcast yesterday, but we want to talk a little more about how the Rachel and Miles X-Plains the X-Men Patreon works, and what it is and isn’t.
Patreon is a crowdfunding site designed specifically for serial works. Kickstarter is a great way to raise funds for one big thing; Patreon is better suited to people making a lot of little things over a longer period of time–like podcasts. Patrons pledge a given amount per unit–that can be per item made, or per month (ours is per month, not per podcast)–and can also do things like set monthly maximums to keep from going over budget.
So, what does this mean for the podcast?
We’re solidly committed to keeping Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men both free to download and free of outside advertising. Neither of those things is contingent on the relative success of the Patreon. Neither of those things ever will be.
Then why are you asking for money?
Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men takes a lot of time and an increasing amount of money to make happen. As our listener base has grown (awesome!), so has the cost of hosting (not awesome!). We also use a lot of varyingly accessible source material, and we do our best to get it all through legitimate means–which adds up pretty fast, even with a pretty good industry discount at our local comics shop, and services like Marvel Unlimited (which is great but far from comprehensive).
But the real issue is time. Every episode takes about 6-10 hours of work, between research, writing, recording, and things like the write-up and visual companion. There are a lot of things we’d love to do on the podcast or offer on the site that we don’t currently have the bandwidth to put together.
That’s where the Patreon comes in. Rachel is a freelance writer and editor, and the main goal of the Patreon is to let her fold more of the X-Plain the X-Men stuff into her professional workload, as a paid gig. That’ll mean being able to devote more time and energy to more features–things like long-form written posts, giant-size annual episodes, weekly video reviews of current X-books, and more.
What about other stuff, like a one-time Donate button or a bookstore affiliate?
We’ve talked about setting those up, too, and we probably will eventually. Right now, it’s mostly a matter of how much time we have to invest, and where it’ll be best spent, and neither of those was as high on our list of priorities as the Patreon.
If the podcast is staying free, what do we get for donating?
The warm, fuzzy feeling of supporting media you care about!
WAIT, NO. There’s also STUFF!
In no particular order, here are some (but not all) of the incentives we’re offering:
-Fancy foil-variant stickers, because it’s always 1996 in here.
-Tote bags, for lugging around those huge Omnibus hardcovers.
-Semiannual comic-book care packages, featuring semi-random backissues, weird comics-related ephemera, and personal notes (AKA the “No one in Portland buys backissues and we’re running out of box space” reward.)
-Bespoke answers–hand-written and wax-sealed–to your burning X-questions.
-Access to a secret backstage blog, where we’ll be posting scripts, show notes, and other behind-the-scenes stuff.
There are also a series of Milestone goals, based on the total amount pledged–think of them as the badass team-up moves of Patreon. Those are things like additions to the site, video reviews, regular text posts, giant-size annual or semiannual episodes.
Whether or not you choose to pitch in to the Patreon–thank you for listening, and thank you for your support!
Many, many thanks to Graeme McMillan, who helped us a huge amount with navigating Patreon; and to Anne Moloney, Ben Coleman, and Scotty Iseri, who collectively made the video happen.