This week I am writing about a book I was immensely excited about but also kind of disappointed in, its Image’s Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Sparks Nevada Marshal on Mars! #1, “The Sad, Sad Song of Widow Johnson, Part One” written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker with art by J. Bone. So sit down with a cup of Workjuice brand coffee, light up a Patriot brand cigarette and let me tell you what I thought of this book.
As I said I was really excited about this book. I am a long time fan and listener of the Thrilling Adventure Hour, a podcast that I can’t shut up about. Seriously this is the greatest podcast I have ever listened to and I will listen to it until they stop making it, which is sadly soon. For those of you unfamiliar with it, this podcast is actually a live recording of a monthly show put on by the Workjuice players, a collection of semi celebrities that you would recognize but may not be able to name such as Paul F. Tompkins, Busy Phillips and Paget Brewster, who are arguably the most recognizable of the cast. The theatrical production is made up of several segments and each segment is released as a podcast every Monday. The catch phrase and best description of the stories are new adventures in the style of old time radio. The two most popular segments are Beyond Belief, starring Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster as married alcoholic mediums (this segment apparently may have a TV series in the works but you didn’t hear it from me), and Sparks Nevada, starring Marc Evan Jackson and Mark Gagliardi.
Fandom aside I am a little disappointed in this first issue. The writing is solid and I managed to read most of the characters in their broadcasted voices but there are little things that just seem off about it. First of all, in the podcast, Sparks Nevada makes a lot of hilarious comments under his breath, some of which are barely heard over the other actors. Acker and Blacker, who are amazing comedy writers, try to bring this to the comics but it fails slightly as it’s hard to read these as snarky, under the breath comments, and not as dialogue. The writing is great, don’t get me wrong, and the fact that we are starting with a story that takes place years before we meet the actual cast is awesome too and I really can’t wait to read more, it just doesn’t capture Sparks Nevada fully. The other slight issue I have with the book is the art.
The art is great. It’s lively and colorful and really fits the book in tone. I just am not a big fan of it. It’s my own personal gripe with the art style. I would rather it be done a little differently, and I don’t like how Croach the Tracker, Sparks’ deputy, is drawn. I just see him differently in my head. J. Bone is a great artist and I think he was a great choice for the job, I just prefer Randy Bishop, who drew the Sparks Nevada story for the Archaia Thrilling Adventure Hour Graphic Novel. As a side note, the image displayed is not actually from the comic, but the characters are still designed the same.
This book is 5/5 still as I love the universe and the characters; I just think it will get better as they find their legs more. I urge you all to buy it and show some love. Also expect a review for Beyond Belief #1 when it comes out in April.