If you’ve ever wondered why audio fiction tends to fall into one of a couple categories, either a single reader just reading from a book, or those old timey radio programs with sound effects and actors but no narrative, it seems like the people behind GraphicAudio were wondering the same thing and decided to do something about it.
GraphicAudio primarily adapts books into a hybrid of radio show and audiobook. The overall result is a cast of actors, solid sound effects, and a narrator describing what can’t be put into dialogue and sound effects. It might sound awkward, but it actually works out pretty well.
Best of all: They do adaptations of DC Comics! Or adaptations of books that are adapted from comic books. That was how I originally discovered them in the first place, having stumbled across them at a Pilot Store.
The format is actually very well suited for action stories of the super hero sort. The narrator is good at what he does, describing things in an exciting manner without seeming hokey while doing it. Having the cast makes it easier to sort out who is who.
The main downside to it all is that they do run a little bit on the expensive side, running roughly $13 or $20 (for the MP3 download or discs respectively) for between 5-8 hours of entertainment (some of the larger stories, like 52 and Infinite Crisis are broken into two. So it’s a little more expensive than a typical audiobook, but you’re paying for good production value. The other thing is that if you do the downloaded version, they inexplicably put each disc onto a single file rather than the chapters that exist on the disc version. I have no idea why they do it, but it’s really quite annoying.
They do a lot more than DC Comics adaptations. They have an unbelievable number of Mark Bolan/Executioner/Stony Man stories (which make sense, because there are an unbelievable number of books out there). They also have a good selection of fantasy, scifi, and westerns. They even have an adaptation of Snakes on a Plane.
With the exception of The Gospel According to Mark (which is presumably aimed at a different audience), they seem to know their geeky audience pretty well. If you’re the type of person that thinks that super heroes are for kids, fantasy stories are silly, and realism is best, GraphicAudio is probably not for you. But if you like some escapist entertainment and like to close your eyes and mentally throw yourself into action and adventure, you should consider giving itit a shot (don’t close your eyes while driving).
To date, I have only really listened to the DC stuff. I will have a separate posts with short reviews of their DC offerings, but broadly speaking I found that the BBC Audio adaptations of Superman and Batman completely fail in comparison. The fact that the GA stories average around 6 to 8 hours allows them to tell a more complete story (BBC goes only 3). And, as I said earlier, the storytelling method actually works specifically well for the action/adventure type stories of superheroes.
I actually do plan to branch out at some point, though working my way through George Martin has indefinitely put everything else off and there is plenty of DC stuff to keep me occupied.
If you go to the GraphicAudio website, you can download free samples to five you an idea of what they are like.
Coming next: Reviews of the DC stuff I have listened to.