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Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Monster Society of Comics

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The Monster Society of Comics
Hosted by Elle Collins and Kieran Shiach
goodeggpodcasts.com

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You belong in the Monster Society of Comics. That is the central tenet of this new podcast, hosted by veteran podcasters and former Comics Alliance writers Kieran Shiach and Elle Collins. Once a month, the hosts and two guests each present their top comics pick from the last month. It doesn’t have to be a comic that was published in the last month, just their favorite thing they read. Each comic is carefully considered by the panel. They also discuss comics news and read listener submissions of favorite comics for the month.
Two episodes in, The Monster Society of Comics is off to a great start. Unfortunately, it is plagued by audio issues that I hope are resolved in further installments. The most glaring of these is the recording levels of the participants. Elle’s audio in particular is very loud, while Kieran’s is often too low. Leveling a podcast recorded over VoIP is always a challenge, but the podcast needed almost constant adjustment.
That issue aside, The Monster Society of Comics is shaping up to be a great forum for positive and intelligent criticism, which is something that the internet sorely needs in the wake of Comics Alliance shutting down. You can find it online at GoodeggPodcasts.com and in the podcatcher of your choice.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Six Stories Told at Night

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Six Stories Told At Night
Produced by K. T. Bryski
Performed by Blythe Haynes
KTBryski.com
sixstories_album
“Six Stories Told at Night” is masterfully written and produced Canadian meta-fiction.  It is the story of Sam and Joelle, two college-age friends in Toronto.  Joelle is an artist and folklorist who suddenly disappears.  Concerned, Sam goes to her apartment and finds a note.  Joelle claims to have left for Fairyland, the place all stories come from.  Sam struggles to find her, using Joelle’s notes and their own personal history as a map.  But getting to Fairyland isn’t the same as getting in, and Joelle has already told her all the stories she knows.
The product of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, the podcast examines some famous Canadian folktales and the nature of storytelling.  Each episode tells a different Canadian folktale, and also follows Sam as she searches for Joelle and recounts a little bit of their history.  It is effectively and subtly done, always connecting the historical tale to modern characters in a way that doesn’t feel moralistic.
The audio is well-mastered, with editing by Bryski and original music by composer Alex White.  Blythe Hayne’s performances are both fantastical and evocative as she switches between anxious, clipped Ontarian Sam and the languid, artistic Joelle, and between the present, and the past.  Haynes’ voice is as subtle and varied as the story, and the two are an excellent match.  “Six Stories” is a creation perfectly tailored for audio podcast, and it shows in the way that Haynes’ and Bryski’s work mesh so seamlessly.
The tales themselves are a collection of chilling ghost stories and supernatural encounters.  They are a perfect treat for a chilly autumn night.  You can subscribe or listen online to “Six Stories Told at Night” at KTBryski.com.  I highly recommend it.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Hello From The Magic Tavern

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Hello From the Magic Tavern
Produced by Arnie Niekamp, Evan Jacover, and Ryan DiGiorgi
Hosted by Arnie Niekamp, Adal Rifai, and Matt Young
hellofromthemagictavern.com
magictavern1
Hello From the Magic Tavern is a difficult podcast to explain.  It’s kind of like The Lord of the Rings with less wandering and more poop jokes.  Half improv, half interview show, the podcast is hosted by Arnie Niekamp, playing himself.  The premise is that he fell through a magical portal behind a Chicago Burger King and landed in the magical land of Foon.  He still gets wifi through the portal, and hosts a podcast interviewing locals along with his co-hosts, a talking badger/shape-shifter named Chunt, and Usidore, a wizard of less than legendary talents.
The interviews with guests are improvised, but each one becomes canon for the podcast, and episodes build to form a larger story.  It’s a neat premise, that has resulted in a lot of pop culture jokes and references becoming ongoing bits.
The producers are also a part of the creative team at Jackbox Games, who create indie party video games like “You Don’t Know Jack” and “Fibbage.”  The signature humor of those games is on display here as well, so fans of their video game work will be well at home with “Hello From the Magic Tavern.”  The ongoing story line, which involves Arnie’s fervent wish to return home, but utter lack of action, and the land of Foon being menaced by a Dark Lord simply referred to as “The Dark Lord,” get stranger and more complex with every episode, but it is one heck of a trip.
You can stream Hello From the Magic Tavern online, or find it in iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Gosh Darn Fiasco

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HLP-Gosh-Darn Fiasco
Hosted by: Angela Webber, Richard Malena and guests
Goshdarnfiasco.simplecast.FM
GDF Podcast.jpg
Gosh-Darn Fiasco is a live-play role playing game podcast hosted by musician Angela Webber.  But where most of these kind of gaming shows feel like audio dramas, this one is more like improv.  The difference lies partly in the source material, and partly in the rotating team of talent that comes to play.
“Fiasco” is a GM-less roleplaying game in the style of classic caper movies.  Written by Jason Morningstar and published by Bully Pulpit Games, it is a storytelling RPG.  This means the goal of the game is to play out a scenario, rather than winning a battle.  As the name implies, the fun isn’t in winning, it is in snowballing the story from a small problem into a huge catastrophe.
Each episode, Weber and her guests play through one single play Fiasco game from beginning to end.  There are a variety of settings, or ‘Playsets’ that they have gone through, from a Colonial Salem to McMurdo Station to a heist at the Jim Henson Workshop.  Each episode takes the Cohen Brothers aesthetic of the game and turns it even more towards the comically ridiculous.
Frequent guest such as Lucia Fasano and Kevin M. Arnold add improv chops to the game, making it a lighthearted, gonzo joy to listen.  Gosh-Darn Fiasco is a monthly podcast that runs about 90 minutes per episode.  It’s not something you’re going to get through in a single commute, but it is a heck of a lot of fun.  Find it at Website, in iTunes, or in your preferred podcatcher.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Alice Isn’t Dead

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Alice Isn’t Dead
Joseph Fink/Jasika Nicole/Disparition
nightvalepresents.com
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America can be a weird, lonesome place.  This is something the creators of ‘Welcome to Night Vale,’ no strangers to weirdness themselves, learned firsthand while touring with a live version of the hit podcast.  Co-writer Joseph Fink was inspired to write a new show based in part on his experience of traveling across the country.  But like the original, ‘Alice Isn’t Dead,’ takes place in a world much stranger and scarier than our own.
While ‘Night Vale’ uses its off-kilter atmosphere for humor, Alice is a straight-up horror story, with a fair bit of mystery thrown in.  The podcast follows a truck driver, played by Jasika Nicole, as she travels the country in search of her missing wife.  Along the way, she tells her story into her CB radio as though it were a letter or a diary.  At first she just wants answers, but she quickly becomes embroiled in an inexplicable conspiracy, and attracts the attention of The Thistle Man, a supernatural impossible serial killer.  From there, things only get worse.
Produced by Disparition, each episode is a rich soundscape.  I expected the CB chirps and engine hum that provide the basic sound floor to take me out of the story, but they are expertly mixed, and rather than distract, they provide a sense of realism and tension to the performance.  Set on the lonely highways and the weird nowhere towns of the American imagination, “Alice Isn’t Dead” is a creepy mystery that proves that the Night Vale creative team have real chops behind their satire.  You can find the show in iTunes, or at nightvalepresents.com.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Journey Into Misery

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Journey Into Misery
Hosted by Helena Hart and Keiran Shiach
JIMPodcast.com
JIMPodcast
Comics continuity can really suck.  With the  wrong writer, it can be a confounding mess that ruins favorite characters, and even in the best hands, it creates a barrier of entry for new readers.  But as media becomes more and more serialized, continuity becomes more and more omnipresent in entertainment.
Fortunately, The Journey Into Misery podcast is here to help.  Each episode, Keiran Shiach introduces a new character, event, or creator run of superhero comics to his cohost and partner Helena Hart.  In the wrong hands, this could come off as a dour, mans-plainy mess, hence the title, but the pair make every show a delight.
First of all the chemistry between the pair is immediately evident.  They each bring something to the podcast that makes it more than the sum of its parts.  Keiran’s breakneck descriptions are lightning-fast but still easy to follow.  He’s both patient and skilled at explaining some of the weirdest bits of DC and Marvel continuity.  And Helena’s enthusiasm and interest are infectious, elevating even the worst of comics concepts.  The pair has covered all sorts of topics from Batman: Knightfall and The Spider-Man Clone Sage to Runaways and Final Crisis.  They even did a delightful April Fools Day episode where they turned the tables and Helena explained the plot of one of her favorite bits of pop culture, Les Miserables.
Catching up on comics continuity can be a joyless, gate-keeping slog, but with podcasts like Journey Into Misery, you can still enjoy the ride.  Visit JIMPodcast.com or subscribe in your preferred podcatcher.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Into It with Elle Collins

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Into It With Elle Collins
Hosted by Elle Collins
Intoitpodcast.com
IntoIt
A podcast for all the things you love, Into It is an interview podcast in which host Elle Collins delves deeply into a piece of pop culture with a guest who is a dedicated fan.  It’s similar to Jackie Kashian’s The Dork Forrest, but more tightly focused on pop culture ephemera than unusual hobbies.
Host Elle Collins invites a guest on each week to share something they love and talk about why they love it.  Topics are usually quite nerdy but Elle and her guests do their best to approach each episode with a perspective that outsiders can enjoy.  It is a podcast about sharing, after all.
Episodes range from Pokemon to pro wrestling to an excellent three-episode retrospective on the Star Wars trilogy.  Guests are often other podcasters or media critics, and this show can be a gateway drug to a host of other cool, nerdy podcasts.  They’ve included Jay Rachel Edidin, Chris Sims, and DJ Benhameen, all of whom have other excellent podcasts in a similar vein.
For a nerdy, offbeat podcast that shatters the conventional stereotypes of nerd culture while embracing true nerdiness, give Elle a listen.  You can find Into It with Elle Collins in iTunes or at intoitpodcast.com .

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