About 15 years ago, I ‘discovered’ radio serials from the 1940’s and 50’s. Instead of music, I would spend time listening to CD compilations of old Batman, The Shadow and Superman episodes – I swear, they’re more entertaining than TV. So imagine my excitement when I discovered a resurgence of the lost art – through podcasts!
Decoder Ring Theatre is a Canadian labour of love, created by Gregg Taylor. He and his stable of voice actors create really entertaining audio dramas that pay homage to the golden age of radio. By far their biggest title is the ongoing Red Panda series. It’s been running since 2005, and follows the adventures of mystery man The Red Panda and his trusty sidekick The Flying Squirrel.
In the tradition of the great mystery men of radio, pulp fiction and the golden age of comics comes The Red Panda, famed protector of 1930s Toronto! Hiding his true identity as on of the city’s wealthiest men behind a bright red domino mask, The Red Panda dispenses two-fisted pulp justice with strength, courage and eerie hypnotic powers. Joined in his quest by that Famed Fighting Female The Flying Squirrel, this Terrific Twosome holds high the lamp of justice in a dark time! – Decoder Ring Theatre
The Red Panda is like Batman, but not emotionally damaged. Gregg Taylor writes each episode, and gives voice to the Red Panda as well (his voice is PERFECT for the role). The episodes are exciting, entertaining and even suspenseful at times. Binge listening from the beginning is definitely worth it; there are a couple story lines that actually had me sitting in my car in various parking lots, wanting to hear the end of an episode before getting out of the car.
Being ‘on the air’ for 11 years means Decoder Ring Theatre has built quite the fan base. Which means, they have been able to expand into other mediums. Yup – The Red Panda is also a series of books!
Gregg Taylor writes the books as well, and they are brilliant. Am I gushing? I don’t even care – they are worth it. They flesh out the world he has created, and even introduce new characters that appear in the podcast later. These books are not podcast retellings, but brand new stories. And in 2013, The Red Panda also became a comic book series. You can purchase past issues through Comixology.
So search for Decoder Ring Theatre on iTunes, The Red Panda on Amazon and Comixology and enjoy – trust me, you won’t regret it.