Fancast Spotlight: The Dark Crusade

It’s Worldcon weekend, so the Hawkeye and Star Trek Discovery reviews may be delayed this week. If you’re at DisCon III, either on site or virtually, here’s where you can find me.

In the meantime, I have another Fancast Spotlight for you. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here.

Today, I’m pleased to feature The Dark Crusade, a podcast about the life and works of Karl Edward Wagner.

Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jordan Douglas Smith of The Dark Crusade to my blog:

The Dark Crusade by Karl Edward Wagner

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

The Dark Crusade is dedicated to the life and work of writer/editor/publisher Karl Edward Wagner. We are systematically moving through his work, discussing it from a historical and literary lens. In addition to the podcast, we have a companion blog that covers additional facts about the stories, links to scholarship, and overviews of some of the collections Wagner has edited.

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel? 

I would say I’m (Jordan Douglas Smith) the driving force behind the project. In the first season, I was joined by F. N. York. After that, Jonathan Gelatt came on as co-host.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel? 

It started as an obsession with Karl Edward Wagner. I was enthralled with his ability to wear the three different hats of writer, editor, and publisher. On top of that, he was a book collector!

The more I learned about him; I began to see an emerging narrative where he was a champion of the unknown writer, both new writers on the scene and writers who were fading into obscurity. My own experience of Wagner was that he was fading into obscurity, and folks from my generation and younger weren’t familiar with his work.

I want to spread the word and make sure he remains in the conversation. And if folks want to learn more about him, they have a place to go, a place to start looking deeper. The podcast also gives me the structure to continue my research of Wagner as I try to paint my own picture of who he was.

What format do you use for your podcast or channel and why did you choose this format?

We examine his stories one at a time, dedicating a whole episode to each tale or several episodes to each novel. I build each season around a book or two. Season one was his horror collection In a Lonely Place. In season two, we switched to his gothic fantasy character Kane, covering Night Winds and Bloodstone, and in season three, we returned to Kane covering Dark Crusade and Death Angel’s Shadow.

The idea is that if you can get your hands on a copy of his work, you can listen to a whole season of the show. Since a lot of his work is hard to find, especially the horror, I didn’t want to jump around a lot among his collections.

I love the individual story format. I have a background as a theater actor; one thing you do in theater is repeat the same story over and over and over, night after night. Something really unlocks when you keep examining the same story again and again. In the prep for these episodes, I try to recreate that feeling and peel the story apart, line by line, looking for every kernel of influence and nuance.

The fan categories at the Hugos were there at the very beginning, but they are also the categories which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines, fancasts and other fan projects are important?

So many reasons. The most important reason is community. Fans can go to these focal points and meet other folks with similar interests. So many times, my base of knowledge and my exposure to work is expanded and enriched.

These fan communities can also become a breeding ground for the future editors and writers of their genres. I have seen several editorial relationships spring from these areas. It’s also the perfect realm to cut your teeth and begin building experience producing your own media and writing.

To be crass, fan projects are also helpful to sales. Fan movements tend to snowball and become large marketing machines. Honestly, that is in the back of my mind. If we can get enough Wagner fans talking about him and bring on enough new folks, someone will see the dollar signs and reissue the work in affordable versions.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online and fancasts have sprung up. What do you think the future of fan media looks like?

Hard to say. I think it’s going to continue moving into the digital realm. We’re going to see more fan YouTubers and more podcasts. At the same time, I feel like I’ve seen a yearning for physical media. Cracking the nut of funding something like that will be a determining factor, I’m sure.

I have also recently begun to go back to cons. They have been wonderful but also not nearly as packed as before. Many of the programming has been hybrid, which allows fans to experience some of the cons from home. I think some of that community fan experience will also transition online. I’m not sure if cons will be as well attended as in the past.

The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?

I have been obsessed with the Whetstone discord recently. It has a welcoming vibe and a ton of enthusiasm for sword & sorcery. It is a sort of companion space to Whetstone magazine (which I’m loving).

I’m also a regular listener of Appendix N, Rogues in the House, Lovecraft eZine, and for film fans Fragments of Fear, a Giallo podcast! Can I also add Oliver Brackenbury’s podcast So I’m Writing a Novel…? It is a mix of interviews and episodes about his journey writing a novel. Oliver himself has been a champion of other folks in the community spreading the good word of fandom and helping connect people.

I also read James Maliszewski’s Grognardia and Brian Murphy’s The Silver Key.

Where can people find you?

The central hub and blog are



Just look for The Dark Crusade wherever you listen to fine podcasts!

Thank you, Jordan, for stopping by and answering my questions.

Do check out The Dark Crusade, cause it’s a great podcast celebrating an author who should be better known than he is.


Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast or a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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