Driving back from Huntsville, I had an idea for a video podcast. I don’t have microphones, cameras, or any of the gear I need to do this right now, which is usually how my ideas function. I had just had a wonderful time watching a dear friend make a giant batch of homemade spaghetti sauce. There is nothing in the world that makes me feel comfortable and at ease in my own skin as cooking with someone. I got to watch a child learn to peel garlic and a cook recover from one of those cooking slips that happen when someone invades your space and throws you a bit off your normal rhythm. For the record: the sauce did come out any bit less tasty for having not browned the onions first. I speak from experience and full belly.

I was carrying bags of frozen spaghetti sauce. One for my freezer, and one for another friend’s freezer. I was heading to that friend’s home next and she had decided to cook, you guessed it, SPAGHETTI. String theory was born as I tried together a network of friends with pasta.

So, here’s the idea, in its absolute simplest form. Once a month, I host a guest from the comic book world, and we cook pasta together, eat pasta together, or both, while discussing a comic-related topic. The show would be titled “String Theory”, evoking all sorts of highbrow physics, but what is really holding it together is two or three people debating comic theory whilst bonding over tubular pasta. Highbrow collapses into lowbrow, and if I’m lucky, we all leave feeling full and happy. Some of the episodes will end up adjusting to various dietary needs, so I’m figuring at some point, zoodles will come into focus. Such is life.

I haven’t got a hot clue about how to assemble this in real life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a couple friends who would probably help me sort out the hardware and software. But when it comes to luring people in the comic world to come play with me… well, if I had that angle sorted out, I would have worked for Marvel for the last thirty years. I once shook Jim Lee’s hand at a fan event, but while I might remember it, there is less than zero chance that Jim does.

In order to get this idea to stop bouncing around my skull, I’m going to outline the first few episodes. I want to span print and digital comics, television and movies.

Guest Topic
Tom Hardy Tom Hardy guests as himself, and there will be voiceover interruptions from Venom (in character). Together, we will explore gender issues in the comic world. Tom’s just a nice guy, but Venom has a horse in this race as a non-binary character in a world with a lot of binary gender assumptions about how things should work.
Florence Pugh Florence Pugh plays Yelena Belova (Russian: Елена Белова) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Yelena is the adoptive sister of Natasha Romanoff and a Red Room operative who worked for General Dreykov. We’re going to discuss accents in the comic world in written and spoken forms, and we will (of course) be eating mac and cheese, made from a Kraft box, and eaten straight out of the pot. Florence will have all the hot sauce she wants, and this time, there will be two real forks.
Lauren Ridloff Although ableism and disablism are both terms which describe disability discrimination, the emphasis for each of these terms is slightly different. Ableism is discrimination in favor of non-disabled people. Disablism is discrimination against disabled people. Lauren Ridloff will guest, helping us explore these concepts in the comic world. Kirsten will learn some sign language along the way.
Ryan Reynolds guests as himself, but since he can’t resist an opportunity to plug his products or himself, Deadpool will also appear (in full costume, of course). The fourth wall is a performance convention in which an invisible, imagined wall separates actors from the audience. While the audience can see through this “wall”, the convention assumes the actors act as if they cannot. Deadpool is famous for breaking the fourth wall, and this podcast is going to go just about as meta as a podcast can. Penne all vodka will become penne alla gin, because… well, we all need to pad our retirement funds.
Ming-Na Wen Ming-Na Wen has won the trifecta, playing a badass in the Disney world (Mulan), Star Wars (Fennec Shand), and Marvel (Melinda May aka The Cavalry). She will discuss the importance of having a variety of female role models for children to look up to.
Simu Liu Simu Liu will wade deep into the problematic space of the Yellow Peril in comic history, and then bring us forward into modern times to see if there is reason to believe that representation of oriental characters will take on a more nuanced approach. We’ll be eating Spicy Korean noodles, or “japchae”.
Chris Claremont Anyone who grew up to become something that their parents didn’t want or expect understands the pain of a specific discussion with them that is framed on some variant of “Have you tried not being a mutant?” Chris Claremont created (or co-created) the X-Men characters Dazzler, Longshot, Rogue, Mystique, Mojo, Destiny, Pyro, Avalanche, Kitty Pryde, Sebastian Shaw, Phoenix and Legion, among others. Who better the feeling of being Othered with than Chris?
Margot Robbie In an attempt to correct for a blatant bias towards Marvel, we invite Margot Robbie to join us. Margot plays Harley Quinn in the DC universe, and she’s going to discuss how some of the sexism baked into the comic world can be corrected moving forward.
Ryan Coogler Ryan Coogler is a writer, producer, and director who brought us Black Panther. We’re going to talk about Afrofuturism as a way of combatting pervasive racism in North America.