The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a graphic novel anthology created by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, the guys responsible for the wildly funny and popular monthly stage show that shares a name, among other things, with this graphic novel. Equal parts Prairie Home Companion, Buck Rogers, and something all their own, this graphic novel is for anyone who loves well-done illustrations paired with every kid’s (or big kid’s) dream adventure.
Just as the stage production pays homage to all the riveting radio shows that were prevalent in the days before television, this anthology is a collection of stories paying tribute to a time when genre specific stories were the bee’s knees. Each included story is a rendition of the segments, settings, and characters from the stage show that viewers have fallen in love with.
Geek approved and funded, this graphic novel is being born into the waiting arms of its already adoring fans. The team’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign successfully raised over $192,000 which was nearly quadruple the amount of their original goal. And their first printing started popping up with an “out of stock” note more than three weeks before it was slated to hit store shelves.
The collection of stories spans all the classics from sci-fi rangers to war dramas and the superheroes, fantasy worlds, cowboy campfire tales, and horror stories in between. The characters are lively. The people of Moonshine Holler make readers re-recognize that secret fantasy everyone has about living as a hobo, complete with dirt-smudged cheeks and bindle in tow. Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars takes the usual alien narrative and turns it on its head by making the Martians the good guys, adding in some robots to fill the evil quota and then layering the classic cowboy hero right on top. One can’t help but feel like the reader has somehow been given the keys to several worlds, all of which are classic and contemporary at the same time; each full of characters or perhaps even people and robots and spacemen to love or loathe.
Much like other successful anthologies such as Kazu Kibuishi’s Flight series, the art is an eclectic mix that somehow manages to be seamlessly interwoven. The underlying purpose runs as a single connecting thread throughout and ties each one to the next with a neat and sturdy knot. Each individual style is a treat and a building block upon which the next one sits, sturdy and self-assured. This collection is something one would be unsurprised to find on Ray Bradbury’s nightstand because it’s up all those fun, quirky alleys he’s so famous for loving and fashioning.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is 50% homage, 50% something that could come from the brains of comedy genius fanboys, and 100% fun. It’s a feast for the eyes, a wonder to read, and a valuable addition to any geek’s comic collection.