Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review - The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1

"I'm a hobo!"

Old time radio shows are more or less long gone, but there was a time when they had a stranglehold on rapt listeners. The Thrilling Adventure Hour has reinvigorated the genre, staging productions in the style of old time radio that is held monthly at the Coronet Theatre and running since March 2005. While folks who can see the show are in luck of something awesome, not everyone has that chance. Now, thanks to a partnership among Archaia Entertainment's Black Label, Workjuice and Patriot Brand Cigarettes, those interested can check out The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1.

This is an anthology and it's got a ton of stories, all written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker. "Sparks Nevada: Marshall on Mars" is illustrated by Randy Bishop, "Philip Fathom" is illustrated by Jeff Stokely and colored by Andre May, "The Cross-Time Adventures of Tick-Tock" is illustrated by Chris Moreno and colored by Heidi Arnhold, "Captain Laserbeam" is illustrated by Lar deSouza, "Cactoid Jim: King of the Martian Frontier" is illustrated by Evan Shaner, "Jefferson Reid: Ace American" is illustrated by Evan Larson, "Tales of the USSA: United Solar System Alliance" is illustrated by Natalie Nourigat, "Down in Moonshine Holler" is illustrated by Joanna Estep, "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer" is illustrated by Joel Priddy and colored by Casey Crowe and "Beyond Belief" is illustrated by Tom Fowler and colored by Jordie Bellaire.

Re-creating the popular stage show and Nerdist Industries podcast in print, The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a timeless collection of original genre tales that harkens back to the heyday of old-time radio entertainment. Each stand-alone tale celebrates and reinvigorates a new genre from the radio comedies of yesteryear, including science fiction, fantasy, westerns, superheroes, horror, war dramas, and many more. A unique, timey-wimey blend of silver age pulp and post-modern pop, this one-of-a-kind anthology promises something for everyone as this cult phenomenon jumps off the proscenium stage and onto the page for the first time in over eight years and 100+ consecutive shows around the globe.

Acker and Blacker are on their game here. Every story is rife with a tongue planted firmly in cheek, with characters being thrown into primarily old western and space settings. Those settings are appropriate for the rather outlandish scenarios presented, throwing the characters right into the thick of it. Every story is wildly entertaining and a blast to read, with just about every line laugh inducing. There's not really a common thread across all of the stories, but if you could read out loud with your eyes closed, you could hear the audio presentation coming through. Admittedly, that sounds crazy, but the work is really good at what it's aiming to accomplish: making you laugh at inanities of life.

There's a wide variety of artistic talent on display in the book and it all works extremely well. The beauty of it all is that the myriad of illustrators showcase their talents in a way that's not too varied from one story to the next. While there's no overarching theme connecting all the individual tales, the art styles resemble one another and keeps the reader moving along. There are a few stories where the art deviates from the cartoonish look pervasive throughout the work, but they still work for their respective tales. The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is a collection of talent and bringing all the phenomenal artists together in one work is a testament to its sway over pop culture.

If you've ever seen The Thrilling Adventure Hour live, then you know what you're in for. If you've never attended a show, then The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is the perfect entrance into the culture. The anthology maintains all the charm of the production with the brevity of a sharp graphic novel. The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is a testament to what it means to be a great work; it offers readers everything they could possibly want for in an anthology and then some. The writing is fluid and entertaining, the amount of illustrative talent is overwhelming and the presentation properly represents Archaia's attention to detail and quality. This is definitely a book worth checking out and is deserving a spot on your bookshelf.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is available in stores now (bookstores August 20) with interiors below.


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