The Fantasticast at 100: The Fantastic Guest Hosts (Part 2)

This week, we released the 100th episode of The Fantasticast. In a break from showcasing tropes of The Fantastic Four (nearly) ever day, we're celebrating this milestone with a week of special blog posts taking a behind-the-scenes or sideways look at the show. Today, we continue to take a look at our friends...

Professor Alan Middleton became our first listener-turned-podcaster when he joined us for episode 34. We like to claim credit for the extraordinary success of the Professor in the world of podcasting, as (if you ignore his contributions to The Book Guys) we were the first show to give the Cultural Attache for the State of Latveria his podcasting break. And what a break it was... Inspired by infamous pro-Doom stance as revealed in his numerous letters to the show, we decided that to not invite him on to reveal the origins of Doctor Doom, as seen in Fantastic Four Annual #2. We also took a look at just how useful the team were when Spider-Man needed their help whilst battling the Sinister Six. Alan hosts two shows on the Relatively Geeky Network - the random and brief Quarter Bin Podcast, and the commentary show Shortbox Showcase - and his writings can be found at Alan's Eyes And Ears.

Christine Hanefalk became our first (and, so far, only) female voice (something we hope to remedy next year) on the podcast when she joined us for episode 44. Christine is the writer and editor for The Other Murdock Papers, an incredibly enjoyable Daredevil blog and, thanks to Chris Samnee, turned up a a corrupt juror in Daredevil last year. I met Christine in the most random and delightful way - over a curry in Leeds the night before my first Thought Bubble convention. I'd gone out with some friends and lots of strangers, got chatting to Christine, and after half an hour it suddenly clicked that we knew each other through twitter - we just hadn't realised who we were in real life. Christine joined us for a prominent Daredevil guest-appearance as Doctor Doom neutralised the powers of the Fantastic Four. We enjoyed recording with her so much that we invited her back for episode 45, to wrap up Daredevil's appearance in the book, and join us for the final issue of Strange Tales to feature Johnny Storm.

Sam Savage was our next guest host, joining us for episodes 48 and 49. You've probably noticed the artwork for each episode progress over the course of today's post and yesterday's from just the cover of the relevant comic, to a ridiculously basic template, to something rather lovely involving some original artwork from Michael Georgiou (see below) and some subtle editing of the comic cover itself. Well, that's all down to Sam. Like Christine, I met Sam at a convention. Whilst queuing for a signature from Edgar Wright, I got chatting to the people around me. The conversation moved around and eventually settled onto superheroes, at which point Sam realised that he recognised my voice from my appearances on Amazing Spider-Man Classics. A few months later, Sam offered to have a play with the episode images, and after a couple of false starts, we settled on the look for the show as we've been using ever since. Sam joined us for one of the middle chapters of the Frightful Four/Inhumans saga, as well as for the madcap craziness that was the marriage of Reed and Sue in Fantastic Four Annual #3.

Charlie Niemeyer joined us on the show for episodes 50 and 51. Other than recording a deadly Doctor Doom for our trailer, Charlie and I had never collaborated on anything before this episode. I'm really glad that Charlie joined us for these two issues, as they mark a real turning point for the Fantastic Four. The Inhumans, previously only represented by a sultry and sexual Medusa, step forward, revealing a complex and riveting backstory that rivals almost anything seen in Marvel comics to date. Charlie is the host of the recently-completed Superman In The Bronze Age podcast, a show well worth checking out if you have any interest in the pre-Crisis Superman.

Alan Middleton returned for episode 66 and episode 67. Knowing that we were going to cover the opening chapters of a truly epic story featuring Doctor Doom stealing the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer, we knew that we would need an extra-special guest host to join us for these episodes. We couldn't book one, so we got the Professor to join us instead.

Michael Georgiou was dragged away from his very literal drawing board to join us for episodes 73 and 74. Mike's one of my closest friends, and if you've been listening long enough, you may be aware of a bet he made with me in 2013. He bet me that I couldn't release four episodes of my solo show within a month, and if he lost the bet, he had to create artwork for one of my shows. I won the bet (I released another four episodes, just for kicks!), and on my 30th birthday, whilst waiting to take our seats for The Man Of Steel, Mike presented me with the artwork that now adorns the show. Mike joined us for two issues featuring the debut of the Kree, the Supreme Intelligence, and Ronan The Accuser. If you like Mike's artwork (and let's face it, who doesn't!), you can see more at and follow him on twitter.

Seb Patrick joined us for episodes 75 and 76. Seb's a journalist, writer and blogger who knows a heck of a lot about the Marvel universe. Rather uniquely for our guest hosts, he's not a great fan of Lee and Kirby's Fantastic Four, and I really wanted to have a guest host join us with a different point of view. I ambushed him in a signing queue for Garry Leach in late 2013, and he was up for joining us. To sweeten the deal, I offered him two issues featuring the inhabitants of the mysterious Beehive (sadly, not actual bees) and the debut of Him (or, as he would go on to be known, Adam Warlock).  Seb's writings can be found in many places, including on the Doctor Who review blog Unlimited Rice Pudding, and his comic site Panel Beats. His time-travel sitcom, A Brief History Of Time Travel, is available on a pay what you want basis, and is highly recommended.

Christine Hanefalk returned to the show for episodes 84 and 85. We did something very rare, and had an entire episode without a single Fantastic Four (or spinoff) comic in it, as we rattled through four issues of Daredevil in an attempt to make Fantastic Four #73 make sense. We tried...

Luke Jaconetti joined us just before my holiday for episodes 90 and 91. Luke has been a regular e-mailer into the show, and we roped him into joining us for two episodes featuring The Thing regaining his human form, with the Wizard attacking with what would be the first of many indestructible androids. We also encountered the most offensive Irish stereotype in 1960s Marvel Comics - yes, even worse than Blarney Stone from Captain Savage. Talking of which, we also jumped back in time to take a look at some of Ben Grimm's wartime adventures, as the Leatherneck Raiders are sent to rescue his not-yet-rocky backside from a Japanese internment camp. Luke can be found as the host of Earth Destruction Directive and of The Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror.

Al Kennedy was our most recent guest host, joining us for episode 93. I've been a huge fan of Al's for a number of years, as he's one of the hosts on my favourite comics podcast, House To Astonish. A big part of my Thought Bubble 2012 experience was getting to meet Al in person and chat with him. And go crazy on the dance floor to REM's Bad Day, but maybe we'll move on from that... I'd been wanting to ask Al to join us on the show for a long time, and I finally decided on a tempting offer: the first appearances of both Annihilus and Franklin Richards. The recording was ridiculously enjoyable, and if I have to pick a favourite episode from the past 100, then this one would be a strong contender. House To Astonish is currently on hiatus, but that shouldn't stop you from trying the show and discovering the joy that is The Official Handbook Of The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.

Well, that's it for guest hosts from our first 100 episodes. Before the end of the year, we'll be adding Shagg Matthews (The Fire And Water Podcast) and Emily Middleton (Shortbox Showcase) to the list, and in 2015... well, we'll see!

Tomorrow, we'll be taking a esoteric look at the statistics of the Fantasticast.