We recently talked to the warped minds behind the hit Welcome to Night Vale podcast here at Newsarama. We soon found ourselves commented by the just-as-demented minds behind the pulptastic podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour– which some readers might have encountered in comic book form in last year’s acclaimed anthology, or be familiar with creators Ben Acker and Ben Blacker for their work on such Marvel comics as Thunderbolts, Wolverine: Season One and last year’s Deadpool Annual.
It seems at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the worlds of Welcome to Night Vale and The Thrilling Adventure Hour will become as one, with all the horror and wonder that implies…and the creators want to make sure comics fans check their show out. Thrilling Adventure co-creator Ben Acker spoke with us about what led him to join forces with the Night Vale crew, comics he’s currently enjoying,a nd much more.
Newsarama: Ben, what can you tell us about this new SDCC live show?
Ben Acker: What do you already know? I can tell you that we're crossing Thrilling Adventure Hour with Welcome to Night Vale. I can tell you that it will make you feel the feels you feel when you audiologically attend these two podcasts. There's funny and strange and silly and not at all silly and music and the old space west future and current desert town present.
The crossover is a new and improved version of the ECCC crossover. You know how writers can't stop rewriting? Well we TAH guys and the WTNV guys are writers. So although the show up in Seattle was really fun for us, for the cast and for the audience, we've rewritten it so that it will be even more fun for this cast, this audience and, well, us again.
Nrama: For those who did not experience the ECCC crossover (like, um, this writer), how does this storyline work?
Acker: How do you mean? It is linear in some ways and not in others. I promise you that you will see rising action and then a climax and then denoument. Not to get too spoilery.
Nrama: …I hate you. How did this crossover come about, and what's y'all's collaboration with the Night Vale boys like?
Acker: The crossover came about from how TAH and WTNV belong to a mutual admiration society. The idea to each play in or near or with each other's sandboxes was too tempting not to do. Our collaboration has been exactly as fun as you think it would be. It like when the Harlem Globetrotters visited Gilligan's Island (which was discussed as a touchstone), only we take turns being the Globetrotters and the Gilliganian Island.
Nrama: What's different about doing your show for the Comic-Con crowd, and in that live format?
Acker: The energy of a Comic-Con is unique. You can feel it in the air. It's the excitement of being in the one place at the one time where you can see and hear and experience this unique spectacle surrounded by hundreds of people who are pulsating with the same fandom you are. I recommend.
Nrama: You've been doing very well in comics with the Thrilling Adventure Hour anthology from Archaia/BOOM! – which was just nominated for an Eisner for best anthology, congratulations – and scripting the likes of Deadpool, Wolverine and the Thunderbolts. How is working in a visual medium like comics different from an everything-but-visual medium like podcasting?
Acker: First of all, thank you for your kind assessment. The Eisner nomination is very flattering indeed. Working in a visual medium is different in minute ways, such as the need to outline the story from the arc to the issues to the pages to the panels before you start to write the writing that people understand to be writing - the talking and the sound effects that we're used to.
It's similar in a way we didn't expect - when we write our show, we rely on the actors and music to tell our stories. In comics, that's the artist's job. So it feels like another side of the same coin, or the same side of a similar coin. That's the expression, right?
Nrama: Do you find many classic comics, both within and outside of the superhero genre, provide fodder for the adventures chronicled in your show, and if so, can you name some of them?
Acker: Well sure. The most direct link is the Stan Lee Spider-Man comics they reprinted in Marvel Tales when we were kids. Spider-Man would inevitably be in an impossible situation and only the thought of Aunt May or Mary Jane would give him the strength to get out of it. We play with that in Captain Laserbeam all the time, which owes a lot to the classic non-comic book Adam West Batman TV show.
Ben Blacker and I loved Roger Stern's Captain America run growing up and Ace American came from there as well as older Captain America comics. We've played with Tales from the Crypt stuff in Beyond Belief. No surprise that there's Fantastic Four and Hulk at the root of Algonquin Four. There are others, I'm sure.
Nrama: What current comics/creators are you currently digging?
Acker: We are enjoying the work of the usual suspects: Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Jen Van Meter, Jason Aaron, Scott Snyder, Warren Ellis, BKV, the Bendis, Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Joshua Williamson, Joshua Fialkov, all your big Joshuas. Not to mention Faith Erin Hicks, G Willow Wilson, Brian Clevinger, Jeph Jacques, Noelle Stevenson, Brennan Lee Mulligan. How many do we get? Those were just writers.
Nrama: What all is coming up for you in comics? Might there be more TAH comics, hope, hope?
Acker: We can't wait to tell you this sort of news when and if and when there is this sort of news to tell. We are in exciting talks about exciting things.
Nrama: Give our people the hardest of hard sells on this show -- and might we have a version of this online at some point?
Acker: Forgive this hard sell.
If you don't go see The Great Thrilling Adventure Hour/Welcome to Night Vale Crossover Event, you are making the sort of mistake that you and the generations that come after will regret with a deep feeling of emptiness that you carry with you for always. Food won't taste as good. Every fun thing you do, you will measure against the fun you didn't have by not going to TGTAH/WTNVCE. You will never be truly capable of love.
IF, HOWEVER, YOU DO ATTEND...
You will be witness to pure joy. You will have a reservoir of bliss from which you will be able to draw for the remainder of your days. Cecil's voice, unfettered by transmission in person, can lift you off the ground. And it will. You owe it to yourself to feel wonder again.
And here’s the info Acker sent us about the show…
Purchase show tickets NOW while you still can: bit.ly/1qrbo4w
Saturday, July 26 at 8PM at the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego
The show features the WorkJuice Players including Marc Evan Jackson, Mark Gagliardi, Craig Cackowski & Hal Lublin, the voice of Night Vale Radio Cecil Baldwin, music from Andy Paley & Jonathan Dinerstein, special guests Molly Quinn (Castle) & Janet Varney (Legend of Korra) & more - co-written by Ben Blacker and Ben Acker, Jeffrey Cranor & Joseph Fink.