Jimmy Aquino: Comics/Renaissance Man -By: Richard Beach

Written by on September 8, 2021

On Comic News Insider, Jimmy Aquino’s bio starts: Jimmy Aquino is the pretty one.  He wrote that.  Actor, bartender, podcaster on all things Comics, he is an interesting character.  Read on and get to know an interesting renaissance man.

RRX: I’m speaking with Jimmy Aquino. He is the host of the Comic News Insider (https://www.comicnewsinsider.com/). He’s a bartender. He has been an actor and generally an interesting guy. So first, thank you very much for joining us. 

JA: Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

RRX: I’d like to get a feel for your background. Are you a native New Yorker? Are you not a native New Yorker? What were your influences when you were younger that have gotten you to the place you’re in?

JA: Well, I grew up in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and moved to New York in my early 20s to pursue, like many people do, an acting career. 

RRX: How did that work?

JA: Yeah, pretty good for a while. I enjoyed it, had a great time. I did mostly musical theater as a singer and dancer, and all that stuff. Did about four shows a year. Between those shows, I either bartended or waited tables.

Around 2000, after my last national tour, I decided to step away for a bit. A bit became pretty permanent. I still enjoy it and love it, my friends still do it. But I just didn’t feel like I wanted to do it anymore. 

RRX: You and I met because – as my wife and I are wont to say – so we were sitting in this bar and we met this guy. 

JA: Some great stories happen that way.

RRX: Well, they do, they do. You are currently – and I don’t know exactly for how long – at a pretty cool place in Hell’s Kitchen.

JA: Yeah, I lived in Hell’s Kitchen when I first moved here. It’s always been my spot. I still hang out in that area, although unfortunately some of my favorite spots closed down due to the pandemic. There are still a lot of great spots there. I’ve worked all around that area. 

I found this spot almost 20 years ago. I’ve been there almost 20 years now. I love it and it’s really great. 

RRX: Was it happenstance that you became acquainted with all things comic? We just had an article in the Xperience Monthly about an artist for a number of pretty popular comic books. 

JA: Well, I’ve always been an avid comic book reader since I was a kid. Dipped in and out of it, then really got back into it in my late teens/early 20s. My comic stack every week was huge. Even when I was an actor on the road, the first thing I’d do was seek out the local comic shop wherever we were – to visit it, to get my comics for that week. 

Then, when podcasts started happening around, I guess, 2004, I was listening to a tech one because, again, I’m not very tech savvy, so I thought maybe I can learn something. So, my former co-host, Joe, and I actually started it with a friend of his because I was busy doing a sketch comedy. But within that year, 2005, April, when we started, I did probably half of the 20 episodes we did that year. It was just love of comics 

RRX: How many people would you say you meet outside what I will call the “artist community”? Is that a regular thing? Does it only happen to me? It seems that it can sometimes be a bit random.

JA: Yeah, for sure. That’s what New York is so great about, I think. I remember my first two weeks here, I ran into some guy riding his bike that was from my hometown. He was visiting friends. Like, what? I hadn’t seen him in ten years. 

But really, a lot is the podcast now. Yes, at the bar. Being in New York City in Hell’s Kitchen, which is also the theater district, I meet several. I’ve met so many, like a lot of big names have come through that bar, and then different places I’ve worked in. 

But then, going to conventions for the podcast. That’s where I meet so many people, obviously. Most of my really good friends have come out of that. 

RRX: A lot of people’s incomes were hit hard this past 18 months. How was your experience surviving the strain of it?

JA: The first three months, when everything was locked down, obviously no one was going anywhere. Especially in the restaurant business, we couldn’t do anything. We reopened July just for outdoor dining. But those three months of just being at home, I’d go once a week and do a grocery store run. 

I really discovered my love of cooking about four years ago. Pre-pandemic, I’d have a friend over at least once a week to podcast and whoever came over, I’d cook for. That was my late-night sessions of YouTube, which were cooking videos. I was really challenging myself. That was really fun. I’d put up a picture and my friends were like, “We can’t wait to come back over to enjoy that food!”

But also, besides doing the regular weekly Comic News Insider podcast, my friend Heidi McDonald – she’s a comics journalist; she used to be an editor for Nickelodeon, Disney, DC, and all these things. She’s the BaRRXara Walters of comics journalism, basically. 

I posted, now is a good time to catch up on movies I’ve never seen. One was the Evil Dead Trilogy. I’d never seen it and I –

RRX: Oh my lord, those are the best. 

JA: I know. I finally watched it. So, I decided, I’m gonna watch it and she suggested, “Why don’t we podcast about it? Like the first-time watcher.” Oh, that’s great. That’s a great idea. 

We started a side podcast and we just combined… The name of her website is the Beat or Comic Beat, mine is Comic News Insider. So, we called ourselves Comic Beat Insider. 

That was a nice side project that just only recently we decided to take a little step back ’cause now things are opening and we’re busier now. But we’re still gonna do it off and on. We closed out with K-pop Month because I’d fallen down a deep well of K-pop. That was a really fun side project. 

Podcasting, cooking, and watching TV is pretty much what kept me busy. 

RRX: Do you have any projects or things that you’re working on that are upcoming that you’re looking to try to develop? Where do you stand on that?

JA: With the side podcast, Comic Insider has taken a hiatus. I still do specials on… the weekly show, Comic News Insider, is basically news, reviews, and maybe an interview, although I started doing the interviews separately because interviewers like to do long ones. 

I do interview specials, where I just interview a writer, artist, actor. I just interviewed my friend Grace yesterday. She’s a big YouTuber, podcaster, actress, comedienne. She’s the voice of Cindy Bear in the new Jellystone HBO Max series based on Yogi Bear. So, we talked a lot about that, just doing a catch-up since we haven’t talked in years. 

RRX: Are you optimistic about the new and reworked version of Suicide Squad?

JA: I’m very optimistic. I can’t wait. The trailer was fantastic. It looks really good. Word of mouth already is that it’s really good, so. I can’t wait. What, in a couple of days it comes out? So yeah, definitely gonna be checking that out. 

I also love talking to voiceover actors. I’ve interviewed so many over the years ’cause obviously a lot of animation comes to ComicCon. Last time, I stayed with Tom Kinney, who’s the voice of SpongeBob. His voice is in every cartoon you can think of pretty much anyway. He’s so talented and so nice, and just a generally great guy. 

RRX: To conclude what I will call the official part of the interview I like to ask a question. That question is, if there’s something that you want to say to the world. It can be anything you like. It can be how you feel about things, or things you’re passionate about, or anything. What would you say to the world?

JA: Wow. Hmm. So many things, then I can think of nothing at the same time. Hmm. Let me think about that for a second. Hmm. The first thing I can think of is the obvious. Be kind and care about your fellow human, things like that, which unfortunately we have really seen the opposite of during this past year and a half in a lot of people. Check in on friends and see how they’re doing, especially during times like this. Just show some love. Show some love to your friends. Even if you think they don’t need it, give them a holler. You never know what the slightest little hello might do for someone’s day. 

RRX: Well said. Thank you very much.

JA: Of course. No problem. Thank you. 


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