Pads & Panels is dedicated to providing readers with unique coverage of games and comics through interviews, reviews, news and more, with a focus on a high-quality standard and journalistic approach, and recognition of the fact that while games and comics are both truly artistic endeavors, they’re also supposed to be fun. Everyone involved is in this because we absolutely love it. We love the chance to play so many of these games, read these great books and pretend the rants we go on about them are interesting to others.
Pads & Panels started in 2009, and is the realization of a gaming column started by Bill Jones for AMP Magazine back in 2007 . Jones wrote a story for AMP about his journey to Sony’s Santa Monica studio after being dubbed the “Ultimate God of War” fan. It quickly turned into something more as publishers and developers got on board and the section expanded into a miniature version of what a gaming magazine would cover, complete with interviews, reviews, product coverage and commentary. He recruited a crew of close friends and fellow gaming enthusiasts, starting with Kevin Haverty and followed soon thereafter by Dan Braun, to help keep up with solid monthly coverage and online content, and somewhere in the mix the crew got crackin’ on a comics section as well. The ambitious sections became a little more than the magazine – which at its core has always been focused on music – could handle, and thus Pads & Panels was born in March 2009. Since the site’s inception, Sarah Kumley has joined to cover the casual side of the gaming medium, while Tom Braaksma provides the site with more comics coverage. Chris Park helps with West Coast events and game reviews, rounding out the collaborative effort that makes Pads & Panels successful.
Bill Jones – Creator, El Presidente, Editor-In-Chief, All-Around Swell Guy
Bill Jones gave up what people call “free time” and “social endeavors” a long time ago for this stuff. He has been gaming since his parents bought him a Nintendo Entertainment System and a Sesame Street game for it at an age just old enough that he can remember it, and he has been reading comics since he first discovered X-Men. He made some bad choices in both forms of media (Primal Rage and Maximum Clonage, respectively) that almost drove him away, but he eventually got his act together and saw both the art and fun in media. He has been consuming media of all shapes and sizes ever since, though it sometimes feels like media is consuming him. He has a really supportive girlfriend, who helps him get through all the work and sticks around even though that sometimes means being kicked out of his room during “work time” and assaults on her personal tastes in media.
His writing can often be found in/on AMP Magazine, GraphicNovelReporter.com, Punkbands.com, Punknews.org and a bunch of other sites and publications readers may or may not have ever heard of. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa. During the day, he drives himself crazy covering government news, politics, crime and features for a family-owned suburban newspaper in the Chicago area. He has been writing forever, be it homemade cards, wacky short stories for school or professionally.
Gaming Interests: Anything with a good story, action and/or adventure games, first-person shooters, some sports games, good casual games
Favorites: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, God of War (series), Beyond Good & Evil, Super Mario Bros. 3 and almost anything by Insomniac and Telltale
Comic Interests: Off-beat superhero books, journalistic comics a la Joe Sacco and lighthearted visual humor
Favorites: Palestine by Joe Sacco, Fuzz & Pluck by Ted Stearn, Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and the obligatory Watchmen
Eric Stuckart – Copy Editor, Staff Reviews Writer, Token Bearded Man
Eric got his start writing back in high school for the school newspaper. This wonderful experience prompted him to immediately change his major from journalism to art in college. Upon realizing that he would never be as good of an artist as he was at writing, he ended up coming back. They always do. Spending far too much time listening to music and working on the college paper only furthered his love of writing. Back in 2007, he really got back into video games, and didn’t realize until about ’09 that he loved comics. Now he splits his time between working at a grocery store, gaming, reading, listening to metal, and last but not least, his girlfriend and their cats and pet finch. Sometimes it’s an even time share, sometimes not. He’s obsessed with Mega Man, and music that gives most people headaches. He’s got a knack for not being able to tell a story without losing track about 68 times, but usually it’s a damn interesting story.
Gaming Interests: Platformers, FPS, action-adventure, music rhythm
Favorites: Mega Man (8-bit versions), Metroid (series), Zelda (series)
Comic Interests: Mostly DC, but open-minded as long as the story is there.
Favorites: Batman, Watchmen, Sandman, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
Kevin Haverty – Co-Creator, Staff Reviews Writer, (Honorary) Director of Foreign Affairs
Kevin Haverty was born the dominant Haverty after absorbing his twin in the womb and absorbing his own mother outside of her womb. He was raised on a steady diet of Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Sega Genesis (w/ 32X), punk music, comic books and sarcasm. His prized po
ssession is owning the windbreaker suit that Sinbad wore for his stand up comedy special “Afros & Bellbottoms” which Kevin wears every March 10th to honor the anniversary of the erroneous death report of the comedian/actor/Star Search Champion/Chevy Chase Show guest. His lifelong dream is to become a member of seminal cover band Sometime Next Tuesday. Oh, and once he saw a blimp.
Gaming Interests: A little bit of everything except for flight sims.
Favorites: Law of the West, Gunstar Heroes, and all the SCUMM games.
Comic Interests: I usually tend to gravitate towards something with a sense of humor but I haven’t read a genre I didn’t like.
Favorites: Preacher, Sam and Max, Scott Pilgrim, Bone, Dork!
Sarah Kumley – Casual and “Girlie” Reviews Writer, Board Gamer, Niche-filler
Sarah never really wanted to be a writer. In fact, she still doesn’t. But she has taken quite a liking to the Nintendo DS and stealing it from Bill, so she got stuck writing some reviews. Ugh! Homework. But it’s not that bad. She gets to play fun games for free and contribute to board game reviews. She sort of became the quintessential “casual” gamer without even knowing it after s
he fell in love with Animal Crossing on Gamecube, and therefore fills a niche on a site otherwise dominated by “hardcore” gamers and boys. Eww! She also used to be pretty good at Duck Hunt.
Gaming Interests: Casual games that are more fun than challenging, Nintendo DS
Favorites: Animal Crossing (GC), Cooking Mama franchise, Sorry!
Chris Park – Reviews Contributor, West Coast Flavor, Connoisseur of Japanese and South Korean Culture
Chris has been playing games since Pong and Atari 2600, stopped usi
ng the Konami code in Contra, and is into all things video games and tech. Aside from working, he writes at his own site, wakesidevision.com, and listens to more Korean and Japanese music than American, even though he writes for Punkbands.com. Being a PlayStation-only gamer, he sometimes misses some games here and there, but enjoys reading about all the stuff he misses. With whatever time he has left, he watches Japanese and Korean movies and Korean variety shows.
Gaming Interests – Fighting, FPS, whatever takes 8 to 10 hours to complete
Favorites – Metal Gear Solid, Tekken , Super Dodgeball
Comic Interests – Brian Wood, Adrian Tomine, Derek Kirk Kim, Stan Sakai, Samura Hiroaki, Harold Sakuishi
Tom Braaksma – Staff Comics Reviews Writer, Ad Sales
Tom Braaksma graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Media Communications in 2005. He has been involved in different a
reas and aspects of media since 2003 – from dubbing and production for an afterschool show, engineering a radio program and most recently selling advertising space for a local newspaper. These jobs witness Tom’s love for all forms of media, as he will do anything to stay in this field. In addition to these jobs, Tom has snuck in some freelance work shooting photos and writing for the local paper (concert reviews, restaurant reviews and coverage of skateboarding and BMX events.)
Tom has had a love for almost all things media, whether it is print, video games, music or movies for as long as he can remember. His love for games started with the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and he has owned one of the major consoles released each generation. He is currently enjoying his PlayStation 3. He also indulges in skateboarding, biking, gra
phic design, photography and, of course, the fine cuisine that he cooks.
Gaming Interests; Platform, FPS, sports, puzzle, survival, NES
Favorites; Mario, Zelda, Wii Sports, Halo
Comic Interests: Frank Quietly and Grant Morrison, classics, non-traditional storylines
Favorites: All-Star Superman, Walking Dead, New X-Men, Batman Hush
Archie is actually a video game incarnate. The product of a bizarre government test in the early 1980s, he promptly escaped their facility into the Chicago underground. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a reviewer for hire. If you have a game that no one else can review, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire… the A-E.
Graduating from the Illinois Institute of Art in 2008 with bachelor’s degree in Game Art Design, Archie is a freelance graphic designer when he’s not trying to save the princess and World 4-1. As well as being a die-hard gamer, his is also the co-creator of an independent comic company and can also be heard co-hosting the Games Comics & Puppy Dogs podcast at mightyinkcomics.com. Outside the realm of comic and gaming chicanery, he loves reading science-fiction and all things H.P. Lovecraft.
Gaming interests: Action and Adventure, FPS, RPG, Racing, Fighting
Favorites: Metal Gear Solid (series), Panzer Dragoon, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy (series), Ratchet and Clank, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Comic Interests: Most things Marvel, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, Robert Kirkman, Indy books
Favorites: Ultimate Spider Man, Invincible, Superman/Batman, Hopeless Savages
Aaron Ray is a left-handed man from Michigan. He is a southpaw from a state shaped like a mitten. There is a joke there somewhere…and now it’s gone. In high school he was a “hardcore” gamer and comic book nerd. He frowned upon “teh casuals” and spent copious amounts of money on his various hobbies. In 2008, Aaron moved to Chicago to “be funny” and “draw pictures.” Not living with your parents makes it hard to be hardcore, as eating food is more important than Norman Osborn’s evil plans. Thus, Aaron has fallen into the realm of casual while keeping his hardcore sensibility. He currently lives with his jawsome girlfriend, Heidi, and his pet rat, Goose. He is still left handed.
Gaming Interests: 8-16 bit platformers, JRPGs, the ridiculously Japanese, anything creative, innovative or fun.
Favorites: Pokémon (series), Little Samson, Mario 64, anything Team ICO, Smash Bros., the Super Monkey Ball: Banana Biltz Frisbee Golf mini-game, Lord of Gun
Comic Interests: Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Jason Aaron, Paul Dini, Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughn. Indies, zines and manga, too.
Favorites: Y: The Last Man, Grant Morison’s Animal Man, Dragonball, Calvin and Hobbes, Nextwave: Agents of HATE, Scott McCloud’s various comics about comics.
Rocketed to another world while still an infant, Matt was raised by a kindly couple that met an unfortunate end in an alley after leaving a midnight showing of Zorro. Instead of dedicating his life to fighting crime, he’s decided to review games & comics for Pads & Panels!
Most of Matt’s early comics reading was garnered from free issues of Uncanny X-men given away with Pizza Hut Kid’s Meals. On the gaming side of things, Matt gravitated mostly towards Nintendo systems initially. Then, one fateful day, his eyes were opened when he played Final Fantasy VII, and things were never the same again. When not reviewing, Matt can be found checking out local rock bands and burlesque shows, writing the superhero comic Arsinal, and co-hosting the GCPD podcast over at www.mightyinkcomics.com
Gaming interests: Action, Adventure, Puzzle, RPG
Favorites: Ratchet & Clank (series), Katamari Damacy, Mario’s Picross 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo
Comic Interests: Some Superhero Fare, Indie books, Vertigo
Favorites: Scott Pilgrim, Preacher, Fables, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Blackest Night (series), Afrodisiac
Kevin’s brother, Mike (aka Gimp) has also contributed to the site. Former writers include Joe Anderson, John Gustafson, C.R. Stemple, Jason King and Dan Braun.
All comics and games are reviewed on a five-star scale that includes half stars.
Rating: One of best we’ve ever played or read.
Rating: A great game or book with a significant problem or two.
Rating: Several major problems but some redeeming qualities.
Rating: Among the worst we’ve played or read.
All articles published by Pads & Panels are copyright and property of Pads & Panels.