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Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Adventure Zone, Revisited

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The Adventure Zone
Hosted by Griffin, Travis, Justin, and Clint McElroy
http://www.maximumfun.org/shows/adventure-zone

The Adventure Zone Flat_7

When I originally reviewed The Adventure Zone in January of 2015, it was still in the midst of its first arc. Having just finished the first campaign of the show 69 episodes later, I wanted to go back and give it a second look. The show went from a enjoyably funny Dungeons & Dragons podcast to something altogether different, and I think there’s a lot to talk about here.
Serial storytelling is a thing always in motion. TV shows change show-runners. Comics change creative teams. Target audiences drift. Even when the artists stay consistent, real-world events swirl around them. Tastes are fickle. Long-running concepts have to be adaptable. The Doctor regenerates. Batman shifts from swinging sixties Caped-Crusaider to Frank Miller’s gritty vigilante and back again. Podcasts are no less susceptible to these changes. But I never expected four goofballs sitting around a microphone and joking about role playing to make me cry.
The Adventure Zone’s first campaign was a train that constantly picked up speed. The McElroys are comedians at heart. The podcast started as a goof, and it was entirely in their oeuvre. It was a lot of fun, but one of the characters was named Taako, and his quest was to invent the taco. This was a big part of the early episodes. But something happened along the way. Often, when something becomes popular, it is considered the downfall of the enterprise. It gets too big, expands beyond the original concept, or the creators get overwhelmed or carried away. But that isn’t what happened to “The Adventure Zone.”
Fans loved the podcast. They made fanart, they wrote letters, they tweeted, and crated animatics from the audio. And in showing how much they loved these silly adventures, the McElroys worked harder. They gave their creation depth and emotional resonance that it didn’t have for them, because they knew that it was there for the fans of the show. It’s a bit of a trite statement to say that a media property is ‘for the fans,’ but it’s rare that something is so beautifully communicated between creators and an audience.
The Adventure Zone didn’t abandon the goofy aesthetic so much as it became more sincere in it. Seeing the reaction fans had to the show, the McElroys put in the work. Production got better. Griffin produced an intricate plot that slotted in seamlessly to the pre-made adventure they started out with. He also composed entire soundtracks, and sculpted lush sound environments. The players carefully weighed their decisions, because, they realized, the characters were no longer just theirs. The Adventure Zone became something better than its beginnings because the creators and the audience respected one another in a way that’s rare in our media sphere. The results are remarkable, and worth listening to even if you’ve never opened iTunes or rolled up a character sheet.
The Adventure Zone recently finished it’s first campaign, “Balance,” with episode 69. If you haven’t listened to it, I recommend going back and starting from the beginning. It’s a long road, but the transformation along the way is truly special. Art isn’t created in a vacuum, and sometimes, it sneaks up on you from the most unlikely of places. Just like three goofy heroes who wind up saving the world.

Thanks for reading this article. If you enjoyed it, please share it. You can also support me on Patreon for fiction, podcasts, and other goodies!

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Podcast: Balticon 51: Podcasting on the Cheap

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Hello Listeners!

Memorial Day weekend I visited Balticon! Here’s one of the panels I was on, “Podcasting on the Cheap!”

Click HERE to listen!

This panel was moderated by Nutty Nuctchas , and was made up of Myself , Mike Luoma and Jay Smith

If you’re looking to start your own podcast, here’s a great discussion on how to get started without breaking the bank!

Thanks for listening to this podcast! If you enjoyed it, please share it, or rate and review us on your favorite podcatcher! You can also support me on Patreon for early access to episodes and other goodies!

Podcast: Balticon 50: Podcasting For the Listener

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Here is another panel podcast from BalticonHeather Welliver, Nuchtchas, Mark Kilfoil, and Hugh talk podcasts with the audience in mind, list some of our favorites, and answer questions.

Click HERE to listen!

This podcast originally appeared at Nimlas.org on June 30, 2016.

Thanks for listening!  If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it, or leave a review on iTunes or another podcatching service.  You can also support me on Patreon!

Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Fantasticast

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The Fantasticast
Stephen Lacey and Andrew Leyland
https://fantasticflameon.wordpress.com/
11722235_980705178658790_1244561183689926273_o
One of the advantages of digital comics is that issues that were once collectors items are easily available for modern readers.  Wether through reprinted omnibuses, black and white ‘essential editions,’ DVD editions, or online stores, there are more ways to read comics than ever before.  Which in turn means that issues that might have been lost to time can be reexamined, enjoyed, and picked apart.  Which is just what the Fantasticast does.
A team-up of two veteran comics podcasters, Steve Lacey of “Twenty Minute Long Box,” and Andrew Leyland of “Hey Kids, Comics!” The Fantasticast sets out to summarize, celebrate, and take the piss out of every issue and appearance of “The Fantastic Four,” in order.  With well over six-hundred issues and innumerable guest appearances, this is no small task.  After 100-and-something episodes, they’ve just gone from their original appearance in 1961 to the early seventies.
I’ve been listening along issue-by-issue using the Marvel Unlimited app, and it is great fun.  Andrew and Steve have a great rapport, and it is interesting to hear the perspective of British fans to so American a medium as silver-age Marvel comics.  The show is a lot of fun, and balances humor, reverence for the subject matter, and intelligent perspective quite well.  Their synopses are entertaining and complete, and listeners don’t need a long box handy to follow along.
The Fantasticast is certainly a by-fans-for-fans presentation, and I don’t know if it would hold much interest for listeners who aren’t interested in the origins of the Marvel universe, or the Fantastic Four in particular, but it is well done and worth a listen for the comics geek who wants a bit of light perspective along with their heroism.

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Melting Potcast

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The Melting Potcast
A F Grapin and Erin Kazmark
TheMeltingPotcast.com
I listen to a lot of writing and fiction podcasts.  Most of them try and cultivate a specific audience.  The Drabblecast is narrowly focused on weird fiction.  Ditch Diggers is specifically about the business side of writing professionally.  Specificity is good, usually.  But I really enjoy podcasts that go a bit broader.  My own podcast, The Way of the Buffalo, is founded on the new, rather than specific genre or even medium.  But I can’t think of a podcast that attempts to reach a broader audience that The Melting Potcast.
Billed as ‘a little bit of everything for everyone everywhere,’ they present flash audio fiction based on prompts, longer short stories not constrained by topic, and author interviews, amongst other content.  For the sake of full disclosure, I have had one of my own stories appear on the show.
Hosts Erin and A. F. inject humor and passion into their presentations, and the quality is top-knotch.  They are accompanied by regular and guest readers.  The prompts so far have been clever and interesting, creating a surprising variety of stories that hit on a variety of genre and emotional beats.  They’re still fairly new, but their passion for fiction, hard work, and supportive community all shine through.  This is definitely a podcast to watch, because it’s only going to get better as it keeps going.  Find The Metling Potcast in iTunes, or the podcatcher of your choice.
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Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Voice of Free Planet X

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HLP-The Voice of Free Planet X

Produced and hosted by Jared Axelrod

jaredaxelrod.com

Freeplanetx

Over the course of over one-hundred and seventy-five episodes, Jared Axelrod has hosted a variety of projects on his podcast, The Voice of Free Planet X.  It began as a presentation of his short fiction.  It has also served as a platform for his sci-fi puppetry project, “Aliens You WIll Meet.”  It featured the serialized steampunk adventure “Fables of the Flying City,” which is where I jumped on board.  But the latest, recently begun project revives the original title, and is an outstanding podcast production.

Ostensibly published by GPR (Galactic Public Radio) The Voice of Free Planet X is This American Life for a fantasy world, a Radio Lab of the impossible.  Jared interviews stranded aliens and out-of-the-casket vampires.  He talks to AI musicians and post-apocalyptic road warriors.

It is a clever response to the post-Serial podcast landscape, and the production values are top-notch.  It takes a discerning ear to determine the show was made in a home studio with actors, and not on the board of a WBEZ mobile truck.  But the real strength lays in Axelrod’s writing, and the performances of his interview subjects.  He’s managed to take spec-fic cliches, such as vampires as metaphors for sexual deviancy, and breathe new, and interesting, human life into them.  The format does an end run around suspension of disbelief, but the voice, if you will, is what sells it.  These interviews aren’t pulse-pounding adventure stories.  They are the best sort of feature story for people that never existed.  And like the best of this flavor of fiction, it bleeds into the way we see the real world.  Because you never know when that youtuber will turn out to be an incarcerated computer intelligence.

Hugh Likes Podcasts: Coxwood History Fun Cast

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Coxwood History Fun Cast
Written and Produced by K. T. Bryski
https://coxwoodhistoryfunpark.wordpress.com/
chfplogotentacle-mitchell
Those that don’t learn from history, are doomed.
This is the motto, nay, the mission statement of The Coxwood History Fun Cast, a full-cast audio horror comedy set in the world’s most evil living history museum.  If you liked “Welcome To Night Vale,” but wish it had more hoop skirts and opium dens, this is the podcast for you.
The story centers on the park’s social media rep, Katherine Sinclair.  Ms. Sinclair has it tough.  Her office is a broom closet, her boss is demonically possessed, and the interpreters all make fun of her.  But when disaster strikes, from witches to bloodthirsty groundhog armies, to, worst of all, fundraising, it’s up to her to save the day.  And get a quick podcast recording done as well.
While Coxwood’s production isn’t quite as polished as “Nightvale,” it has just as much humor, wit, and heart.  The oddball characters and farcical situations are brought to life by excellent voice acting, particularly P. C. Herring as one of the opium girls.  The characters have a perfect mix of strangeness and likability that makes this podcast a treat.  Writer and producer K. T. Bryski, (who also voices Katherine,) really knows her stuff, and pours her love of historical interpretation and podcasting into the work.  I especially enjoyed the character of Old Mabel, whose youth and sanity were taken by her own full-cast podcast.  And also moonshine.
The Coxwood History Fun Cast just completed its first season, and at the moment their is no word on a second, but I hope that we get another chance to visit the park, see the ballroom, complete with giant pulsing ball of evil energy, and have tea and authentic 19th century biscuits with the unspeakable horror.  No raisins please, they’re the food of the devil.
You can find the RSS feed HERE, or join the Facebook fan page.

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