Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pulp Magnet: Red Panda

Entering its seventh season, The Red Panda has been featured in over seventy audio adventures at Decoder Ring Theatre. Just like the old time radio shows that gave us The Shadow, Gregg Taylor and his stalwart band of actors from the Decoder Ring Theatre troupe have taken the brave new world of podcasting by storm in order to create a second golden age of truly original radio-style adventure, suspense, thrills and chills. A global phenomenon, The Red Panda's already award-winning on-air adventures have surpassed over a million downloads and he is branching out into a series of pulp novels that are steadily growing in popularity and winning awards –for example Tales of the Red Panda: The Android Assassins won Best Book and Best Cover Art in the 2011 Pulp Ark Awards.

The Red Panda is a masked-man of mystery stalking the city streets of 1930's Toronto dispensing two-fisted justice to all the two-bit hoodlums, cunning underworld kingpins and insidious super-villains who dare to cross his path. Armed with eerie hypnotic powers and a distinctive red domino mask, the Red Panda is accompanied by his faithful driver and crime-fighting apprentice Kit Baxter – the Flying Squirrel. Together the Terrific Twosome of Toronto solve what might otherwise have been perfect crimes or impossible mysteries, foil the evil schemes of dastardly megalomaniacs, and carry on the fight for Truth, Justice and all that is good in this world. They are superheroes in the style of the best of the golden age comics, radio shows and pulps. Much like The Green Hornet, the Sandman (DC's Wesley Dodds) or the Phantom Detective, the Red Panda is a millionaire playboy in a mask, with a bunch of advanced gadgets and nifty gizmos, who pits his superior detective skills and wits against adversaries that run the gamut from a sultry and superfast jewel thief known as the Jackrabbit, to maniacal criminal masterminds like the Golden Claw, to mad scientists such as Professor Zombie.

Each week the never-ending battle against crime and corruption continues with a brand new pulp adventure. The Red Panda's on-air escapades are an engaging combination of mystery, suspense and screwball comedy with a healthy dose of action and adventure thrown in for good measure. The snappy, rapid-fire dialogue rolls along at high speed and the banter between The Red Panda and his partner The Flying Squirrel flows seamlessly like William Powell and Myrna Loy at their best -- Dashiell Hammett himself would very likely approve.

Wisecracking and affectionate, happy and well adjusted, the Red Panda isn't the typical brooding billionaire with issues that has become something of a standard background for crime-fighters who have an underground lair and carry around lots of cool super-scientific gadgets. Kit Baxter – The Flying Squirrel – is a fearless and skilled martial artist who can kick butt and hold her own in a fight and at times she seems to be the real brains of the team. The relationship between the Red Panda and Kit Baxter is constantly developing and deepening and the underlying sexual tension is reminiscent of Remington Steel, Moonlighting or the early run of the X-files at times – but more fun and playful.

The Red Panda has a sense of humor. It's not all blood and fisticuffs, maniacal laughs and morbid monologues. The mysteries are well thought out and full of clues and red herrings both, the adventures are interesting and even when the plot line isn't necessarily groundbreaking it is all done with a fresh twist, a knowing smile and a conspiratorial wink.

The Red Panda is just good old fashioned fun.

The audio adventures of the Red Panda (as well as Black Jack Justice, a hardboiled P.I. Whose old-school mysteries alternate with the Red Panda's pulp-adventures) can be enjoyed for free at the Decoder Ring Theatre web-site. All seven seasons and 73+ episodes are yours for the listening or downloading at no cost. However, if there is to be an eighth season or any more episodes, the good folks at Decoder Ring Theatre depend on the support of their listeners. By all means go, download a few episodes, listen to them and see what you think. If this stuff rocks your world, then consider making a donation so that they can keep doing this one of a kind pulp-style audio-adventure series going.

But the Red Panda isn't confined to the internet. There are three action packed pulp-novels: The Mind Master, The Crime Cabal, and The Android Assassins that are all available as eBooks via Smashwords or in-print from Amazon. The Decoder Ring Theatre website also offers a free 5-chapter preview of each of the three books for just tweeting about them.

The Mind Master is about a super-villain who just might have mysterious mental abilities to rival the Red Panda's own hypnotic powers. In the course of investigating a series of attacks upon the rich and famous of Toronto it becomes disturbingly clear that someone or something might actually be hunting the Red Panda and his trusty side-kick the Flying Squirrel.

The Crime Cabal features a multi-villain team-up in an effort to overwhelm the Red Panda who has proven to be too much for any of these previously defeated bad-guys on their own. By joining forces these scoundrels and evil-doers hope to do away with their arch-nemesis once and for all, and this time they just might have the firepower and man-power to get the job done...or do they?

In the midst of the Depression, can even the Red Panda save his beloved Toronto from plunging into chaos and utter ruin at the cruel hands of some unscrupulous behind-the-scenes manipulator and their campaign of sabotage? And as if that weren't bad enough, an old foe returns with a newfangled plan for vengeance. But can the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel sort out the red herrings and false leads in time to stop this villains' malevolent scheme to destroy everything that the Terrific Twosome have fought so hard to protect?

1 comment:

  1. The Red Panda-Android Assassins was also the PULP ARK Book of the Year this year and Thomas Perkins, cover artist for that book, won Best Cover of the year as well! Great article!


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