I wanted to write a really scathing, harsh review of Funnybooks With Aron and Paulie (and Their Amazing Friends.) I didn’t want to give anyone the chance to question my journalistic integrity because I wrote a good review of the podcast associated with the site that I’m writing for and hosted by someone I consider a good friend.
Unfortunately, Funnybooks is too good to bash.
As an indication of how good this podcast is, consider this fact: the last time I regularly bought comic books was 2001, but I’ve listened to every Funnybooks episode on the week that it’s come out.
As may be inferred from that anecdote and the title, this podcast is about comic books and comic book related issues. Each show, the hosts get together and discuss the comics that came out that week. These discussions delve pretty deep into the comics at times and the merit of the story, dialogue, art and position in the overall plot and continuity of the book’s respective universe are all analyzed by the hosts. Quite often, these discussions can be a bit contentious and disagreements over how good a particular book is or isn’t can be pretty vehement, though they’ve never been particularly heated. These aren’t a bunch of fanboys sitting around arguing about whether Captain America could beat Batman in a fight (the answer is “yes,” by the way,) but rather a group of guys who love and know comics, sitting around discussing their hobby.
In addition to their regular discussion of current issues of comic books, Funnybooks also occasionally has a special segment called “What If We Were Writing…” In this segment each host describes what direction he would take a given series in if he were writing it. This segment generally arises when the actual writers of a book have disappointed them miserably. It’s always interesting because the hosts generally have different ideas (sometimes radically different ideas) about what makes a book good or bad and what could be done to make it better.
As if all that weren’t enough, Funnybooks regularly has contests. The requirements for these contests vary from simply posting a comment about an episode to helping publicize the podcast to voicing an opinion about a particular topic. The prizes for these contests are usually comics but have also included such goodies as a full collection of the rings given out to promote Blackest Night.
What may be most impressive about Funnybooks, however, is their phenomenal interview series. They aren’t interviewing Joe Schmoe from down on the block about his new issue of Samurai Cat Girls, either. Instead, they interview the current writers of books like Thor, Iron Man and Booster Gold. But what impressed me the most, when they managed an interview with comic book legend Marv Wolfman. Thanks to their interviews, Funnybooks is getting an insight into the industry from important names within the industry.
While Aron is not technically the leader of the group, he does seem to be the guiding and organizing force for the show. He doesn’t always direct the conversation, but he is generally the one who gets the crew back on track when they’ve wandered off onto a tangent. He also ensures that each person gets their turn in discussing whatever topic or comic happens to be on the slate. And, of course, he and Paul are the masterminds behind Ideology of Madness. If you’re reading this, I have to assume that I don’t have to say more about that topic.
Paulie is the other original host and the other anchor of the group. His knowledge of comics, especially of the writers and artists on any particular book is encyclopedic. He’s also a master of segues. Paulie does the most to ensure that the show flows from one point and book to another without the fits and starts that could jumble up the show. Finally, he is the unofficial head interviewer. Paulie manages to find people to interview no matter where he goes. If you’re a comic book writer and you’re making a public appearance anywhere near Paulie, he is going to track you down and ask you questions and play your answers on Funnybooks.
Jonathan was an early addition to the podcast and, ironically enough, came into the podcast because of the podcast. Like so many of us, Jonathan was a lapsed comic book fan. He’d quit reading several years ago but after hearing Funnybooks, decided to give them another try. Of course, the allure of comics quickly sucked him in and he was soon buying everything Marvel put out. Jonathan is a diehard Marvel fan. He disdains all things DC (for which I respect him) and only gives the occasional nod to an independent book. Compared to the other hosts, Jonathan is relatively young and often has a very different viewpoint on continuity, characters and stories, which is great for the discussion that goes on.
Wayne, of Fear the Boot fame, is another of Aron and Paulie’s Amazing Friends. He brings the same enthusiasm to the world of comic books that he has for the world of role playing games, even though he’s been involved with comics for much longer. Again, he brings a fresh and different viewpoint to the conversations and has recently participated a great deal in the interview episodes.
The final Amazing Friend is Tim. Tim only reads a handful of books so, many times, he does not participate in an episode and when he is around, he doesn’t get to talk a lot because his books aren’t always the topic of conversation. He is quite knowledgeable about the books he reads, though and he is able to chime in on other topics from time to time. Although he doesn’t get a lot of airtime, what he does get to say is always informative and interesting.
Funnybooks With Aron and Paulie (and Their Amazing Friends) is one of those shows with an excellent mix of topic based discussion and funny, friendly banter. There is a point to the show so it doesn’t just ramble around aimlessly, but no one is so married to the topic that they can’t joke and have fun. And it is interesting enough that I keep listening even though I don’t read comics and it’s informative enough that I feel like I know everything that’s going on in the comic book world without having to read them.