By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)
Two weekends ago, I helped my good friend Rick move to Oakland. Yes, I was sweaty. Yes, I ached. But, it was good sweat and good aches because I knew I was helping a friend. Plus, I got to drive a truck, a big ol’ moving truck doing 70 down the highway in a bouncy seat. The other bonus is that I got to listen to four hours of The Thrilling Adventure Hour as I drove over the Grapevine pass and out into the vast farmland of the Central Valley. The air conditioning was on “arctic” as Rick described it when he stepped into the cab to talk at one point, and it was just me and Frank and Sadie Doyle, Sparks Nevada and Croach the Tracker, Gummy and Banjo Bindlestuff, Amelia Earhart fighting dirty krauts and Captain Laserbeam and the Adventurekateers. I couldn’t have asked for a better drive. (Plus, Rick treated me to In N’ Out which is such a delicious meal after a bit of the lift and sweat, if you know what I mean. Oh heck, moving is what I mean.)
This morning, another good friend, C.J., sent me a link to a preview of Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel from Archaia/BOOM! Studios, available in comic book stores today. I jumped at the chance to read it and compare it to my time shared with the show on the road and at Largo at the Coronet.
The first two things I encountered were the prefaces by Patton Oswalt and Ed Brubaker, two more artists that I enjoy immensely. In Brubaker’s writing, he mentioned all of the distractions that are in the city of Los Angeles and how this show based on old-time radio scripts sells out every week. It got me to thinking of all the glorious things that can distract on a monthly or weekly basis here that interest me. There’s Harmontown at Meltdown on a weekly basis. There are movies at the Arclight. There are shows at the UCB, including the Dead Authors hosted by H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins, aka Frank Doyle). There are concerts all over the place. There are hikes into the mountains and walks along the beach. There are bike rides in Griffith Park. There’s improv shows at the IO West. There’s golf at the Los Feliz Par 3 and Penmar Golf Course. There’s baseball at Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium and many more Single-A stadiums in the California League South. There are restaurants to try, board games to play, bars to have a whiskey or beer and books and graphic novels to read. I may have only seen the Thrilling Adventure Hour live twice, but I have to give others a chance, don’t I? I have to explore all that this great town has to offer.
In the time between those things, as I voyage out into the overcrowded roads of the city, I have podcasts to keep me company. It had been a while since I had listened to the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Sure, I listen to music all the time in my car for short distances, but I like the long drives for podcasts. Besides the Thrilling Adventure Hour, there’s Radiolab, there’s The Memory Palace, there’s 99% Invisible, there’s Go Superego, and there’s the podcast of the Dead Authors which I can catch if I don’t catch the live show. That doesn’t include The Best Show, Never Not Funny and WTF, all of which I enjoy and wish I could give them a listen, if I had more listening time. (It’s hard out here for a nerd, if I may paraphrase Three 6 Mafia.) Just like Los Angeles adventures, the world of pleasurable listening is a crowded one.
Now though, for one of them, when I can’t get to the show live or listen to the podcast, I have a graphic novel that I can turn to and immerse myself in the stories and worlds of the creators. As I read The Thrilling Adventure Hour Anthology, an interesting thing happened. I got new mental pictures of characters. I could picture Paget Brewster, Craig Cackowski, Hal Lublin, Marc Evan Jackson, Mark Gagliardi and many more people and guests as they performed the scripts. But, I hadn’t ever pictured what the characters might look like. Now, I have a better idea of the form that the condescending Croach the Tracker takes as he tries to clear his onus. (I’m not judging Croach. If I had to deal with Sparks Nevada, I’m sure I’d be the same way. Just ask the Red Plains Rider.) I can see Captain Laserbeam’s costume. I can see the true ages of the Adventurekateers. I can see the clever facial design of Lady Haiku. I can look and see the joke of The Imperfect Palindrome much easier. I can see voice bubbles that separate the jokes (though the timing of the actors does a fine job when I listen and watch.) I also got to see adventures I hadn’t heard before like “Tales of the USSA” and “Phillip Fathom: The Deep Sea Detective.” The comedy is still there on the page, just as it is when spoken. The art has added a new layer to my enjoyment and now costumes and landscapes can fill my mind as I listen and watch future episodes.
I could go on, but you should experience it yourself. Grab the graphic novel, listen to the podcast and travel to Los Angeles for the show. The more you support this anthology, the more likely we will be able to get a monthly comic version. You’ll have more than a few laughs. I’ll be joining you in those adventures soon, after I do some more of that crazy voodoo that I do in Los Angeles…doo.