We’re continuing the celebration of our two-year anniversary week with another look back. This time, we’re going to count down the top ten most watched episodes of Hard N.O.C. Life, our (semi-)weekly YouTube series where I talk to folks about various topics.
When the site first launched in 2013, the idea for a YouTube show utilizing the Google Hangout format was going to be one of the main pillars. I had just come off a stint appearing on a similarly formatted show about basketball (more specifically, about Jeremy Lin) created by Terry Park for Asian CineVision and thought the format would be great for talking comics, movies, and TV. And thus, Hard N.O.C. Life
So just like we did yesterday, we’ve combed through the archives to find these, the ten most viewed HNL episodes over the last two years.
The first episode on the list is from July 2014 and focused on the art of cosplay. Panelists included host of Comics and Cosplay on YouTube Ian, NYC-based comics collector and enthusiast Jay Justice, cosplayer and costuming tutor on Saturday Morning Cosplay Nel, and ComicsAlliance’s superhero sartorialist Betty Felon.
Next up, way back in November 2013, we were fortunate enough to have multiple National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang on with Avatar: The Last Airbender superfans Julie and Rodrigo to talk about his work on the Dark Horse Avatar books and gave HNL viewers an exclusive first look at the then-still-in-progress Shadow Hero graphic novel.
Back in March of this year, Michelle Rodriguez stirred up a lot of controversy when she implored people of color to “stop stealing white people’s superheroes” as a response to racebending white characters. We couldn’t let that sentiment slide without commenting on it, so I called upon William Evans (@willevanswrites) of Black Nerd Problems and newest NOC contributor Valerie Complex (@ValerieComplex) to join me on the show.
The seventh most viewed episode is a return to the very beginning. On August 30, 2013, we officially debuted Hard N.O.C. Life with a panel discussion of the nerd-relevant summer movies of the season. Looking back at that first show, there are a few rough patches but you can see the seeds being sown for what HNL was going to be. Shout out to the very first panel of N’jaila, ‘Shawn, James, and Jenn.
A few episodes into the run of the show, once we established the format and got our footing, we finally invited some fairly high profile special guests in the form of former Batman editor Joseph Illidge and G.I. Joe creator Larry Hama. In addition to a comprehensive and fascinating conversation about diversity in the comic industry, the success of this episode opened the door to use the show to feature conversations with even more special guests.
An example of how Hard N.O.C. Life evolved into a show that featured great special guests, look no further than this episode from May of this year. Kicking off the top five most viewed Hard NOC episodes On the eve of the launch of DC Comics’ “DC You” initiative, I was lucky enough to have the writers of both flagship Superman titles — that would be Gene Yang and Greg Pak — on the show to talk about how their take on Supes would reflect their experiences as Asian Americans.
In April 2014, National Film Society’s Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino came on the show to promote the debut of their webseries turned film festival darling Awesome Asian Bad Guys. We were also joined by one of the film’s stars (and iconic Asian bad guy from Karate Kid II) Yuji Okumoto. This was definitely one of the most fun episodes we’d ever done.
One of the benefits of the N.O.C. being a collective is that I’m able to surround myself with so many awesome people. Even though, I’v hosted most of the shows, sometimes others have to fill in for me. In August 2014, Shawn Taylor guest hosted the third most viewed HNL episode centered around Storm, arguably, the most popular superhero of color. Joining Shawn on the show was an all-star panel, featuring Storm writer Greg Pak, actress Maya Glick — creator of the Kickstarted Storm fan film Rain, and Storm superfan Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds.
The second most viewed Hard NOC episode was led by another guest host, this time N’Jaila — who holds the record for most appearances on the show — took over to talk about the hashtag that dominated the gaming world in October 2014: #GamerGate. Who better to breakdown the controversy than Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu, This Week in Blackness’ Aaron Rand Freeman, #StopGamerGate2014 creator Veerender Jubbal, and Tanya, creator of the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag.
It’s no surprise that the number one most viewed episode in the history of Hard N.O.C. Life is also one of the highlights of my professional career. Remember when I said having Joe Illidge on the show opened the floodgates for us? Well, he’s the man most responsible for pulling together the most viewed episode in our site’s history. Thanks to Joe, who interned at Milestone Comics when it launched, we were able to have Milestone founders Denys Cowan and Michael Davis, along with artist Shawn Martinbrough and production manager/writer Erica Well to celebrate Milestone’s 20th anniversary in November 2013. A year and a half later, Milestone revealed it was relaunching a new incarnation, but I’m proud to say the N.O.C. was able to reunite many of the people that made the original Milestone special in the first place.