Indie Comics Spotlight: The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Who Needs the Moon, Hugh and Bot


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

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 showcases 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 keep 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).

Who Needs the Moon #1
“It’s a darker loneliness now though.”

Being a werewolf is hard enough without having to be a writer as well. Oh, and vampires. Needless to say, that’s just what one unlucky soul finds himself trapped in the middle of in Who Needs the Moon #1. The first issue is written and illustrated by Todd McCullough.

Ethan Ronald is putting together a good picture of Kingsford. Posing as a writer he’s getting closer to the full moon and on that night he’ll attack the vampires. Of course, vampires themselves are a wily bunch and tend to have an inkling of suspicion when something is afoot. What unfolds is a game of cat and mouse (wolf and bat?) pitting the two supernatural heavyweights against one another.

McCullough is writing about two subjects one could argue are played out in werewolves and vampires, but his approach is more about the setting they exist in. The way the first issue is written is very suspenseful in a way. McCullough pits the two against one another only once in the course of the issue, primarily to set them up as adversaries. The rest of the issue is told form Ethan’s perspective; one of loneliness and sorrow. It reads with heavy brooding and a darker undertone, slightly belied by the illustration style.

McCullough’s style is a little juvenile in appearance. It’s definitely not bad, but it’s a little cartoony for the subject matter. The thing is though that it works. Ethan’s emotions are shown as exaggerations in a form of caricature; his sadness is gloomy and his happiness is chipper. The art style depicts a sliding scale of feelings and gives reader a bit more insight into the happenings in the town. What’s more is that the vampires aren’t shown as monsters and you never even see a werewolf, adding into the issue’s intrigue.

Who Needs the Moon #1 is a very interesting mix of werewolves and vampires. It’s almost as if someone wrote an Archie story about the two beings. McCullough paces it very well though and relies on the unknown to carry the suspense, offering readers something to be worried about off the pages. It’s an intriguing first issue and–if the second issue reveals more about the impending battle between the two factions–could be a fun series.

Who Needs the Moon #1 is available on comiXology now.

Hugh and Bot #1
“Yeah. Things are getting a little nuts around here.”

Such a simple statement is apt at summing up a ridiculous situation. What do you get when you pair a robot with a depressed man dealing with a break-up? You’ve got either an endearing sitcom or a comic, the latter of which is called Hugh and Bot #1.

Hugh and Bot #1 is written and illustrated by Drew Crowley.

Hugh was recently dumped by his girlfriend Daisy. That’s the reason for his apartment being in its current state: cluttered and with a robot named Bot making do with the situation. The depression is enough of a motivation for a trip to Rocket Roy’s, where the duo get quite an interesting proposal: a food reality show that pairs them with an executive and an all-new adventure.

Crowley’s story plays off the familiar odd couple dynamic, but it’s given a bit of fresh air with Hugh and Bot being thrown into the reality show mix. The duo have an entertaining back and forth, playing off one another and giving the reader a glimpse into their friendship. The story is straightforward enough, which gives the reader time to enjoy the banter between the two lead characters. The introduction of Ariana will add some flavor to the dynamic and should make for a rather interesting next issue.

Art duties are also handled by Crowley and he presents it in a comic strip format. It plays off the script very well and the story feels like something you would read over a series of weeks in the Sunday newspaper. Characters have a Penny Arcade look to them, which makes it feel modern and in the now. Some pages have somewhat unique panel layouts as well, with some panels offering what appears to be a tree of panels, with one panel at the top cascading down to more at the bottom of the page.

Hugh and Bot #1 is a lighthearted comic that gives readers a fun dynamic to follow in the title characters. Bot doesn’t resemble Bender too much (which is something that many creators go for in robot friends) and Hugh is likable enough so far to stay interested. The end game of the whole series remains to be seen, but it’s likely that once an episode of their reality show is in the can that things will evolve. As it stands though, fans of something a little different will enjoy the first issue.

Hugh and Bot #1 is available from comiXology now.

    One Comment

  1. JayneAugust 14th, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Cool – I’ve been interested in The Thrilling Adventure Hour since the panel they did at NerdHQ so I will definitely check it out. Amazon has it on offer (but the US version has 40% discount and we only get 20% discount in the UK … yes, I’m complaining about money again lol)

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