Wandering the SDCC showroom floor looking for literally anything is a great way to meet people. If your rule is “talk to anyone who engages you,” it opens up so many unexpected doors––some leading to “meh” but others to really, really great discoveries.
And this is how I stumbled upon Fanbase Press. Fanbase Press founders Bryant and Barbra Dillon radiate optimism and genuine love of all nerdy media. They have a small, select line of independent comics worth checking out––but they’re much more than publishers. They’re the very nexus of a community of creators and fans who support each other to do creative work and promote the products of that work.
Turns out Fanbase is a podcast network, as well. (They even do radio plays!) The show from the network that immediately captured my interest was The Arkham Sessions.
The Premise of The Arkham Sessions is so simple and so obvious, I’m actually surprised no one else has done it before 2014 when the show launched. Here it is: Clinical psychologist Andrea Letamendi and co-host Brian Ward discuss the psychological pathologies in play with the characters in Batman the Animated Series. They take on the cartoon episode by episode, starting from the beginning. And it’s amazing!
Co-host Brian Ward is great, and brings a critical knowledge of television production to the show. But, obviously, Dr. Letamendi is the star of the show. Ward goads her with alternate theories and teases out hidden facts from the show bible; he’s a perfect Watson. Good humored and smart.
Of course, Letamendi is Holms and she plays that role with a cool professionalism that doesn’t mask her enthusiasm for what has to be a perfect combination of nerd passions. (If only everyone could be so lucky as to find a way to unite their professional and fan-based interests in one creative enterprise!) She brings a staggering amount of specialized knowledge to each episode. I wish I had this show back when I was working in the mental health field; it’s a genuine education. Truly informative.
I think the key to Letamendi’s insightfulness, with regard to the Batman characters, is her clear love of and respect for the material. Yes, Batman’s a kid's show and there are lots of outlandish and improbable aspects to it that do not go unnoticed by Ward and Letamendi during the podcast. But the reason the animated series resonates with so many fans is that the characters are all too human. Letamendi gets that. She puts herself in the world of Batman to analysis the characters from her office in Gotham City. (Which happens to also be literally true...er...literarily true?)
I’m about 10 episode into this show, and I see myself listening to the entire series. If you’re interested, I recommend dipping in at episode 2, “Christmas with the Joker.” While Letamendi and Ward come out of the gate strong with episode 1, the second episode is a better example of what makes the show so damn good.
The Arkham Sessions is an impressive introduction to the creative community that is Fanbase Press. There’s a lot of other content and entertainment on offer at the Fanbase website, too––looks like I’ll be hanging out there for awhile.