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The Daily Read: 3/25

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While the famous role playing game Dungeons & Dragons does not have a single unique setting, its clichés and conventions have formed the ‘generic fantasy world’ where elves live in the forests, orcs are meant to be slain and dungeons exist solely to be looted by brave adventurers. Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic  (YAFGC) by Rich Morris flips this world on its head through humanizing the monsters and focusing on the relationships between the characters. It’s also funny, updates daily and features great art with the occasional bit of nudity.

YAFGC begins with the budding relationship of Bob the beholder and Gren the goblin. He’s a multi-eyed spherical aberration and she’s a plucky humanoid living in the massive caverns. Both of their families disapprove and disown them. However, as the comic progresses, Morris introduces us to a large cast of characters, each with their own stories to tell. Glon, the half orc tries to find a balance between his human and orcish heritage. Lewie the Lich schemes for power, all to the amusement of the other dungeon denizens. Princess Dewcup, the wood elf decides to take up the cause of evil after developing a crush on Arachne the drow femme fatale. This is only a small sampling of the plot. YAFGC began in 2006 and already has over 660 strips in its archives.

The pencil sketch style of YAFGC works well because Morris’ skill can be seen despite the apparent quickness with which he draws each comic. Each character is well proportioned and, more interestingly, the various humanoid races have a distinct appearance from base human physiology. Goblins, for example, have a very different facial structure than orcs so it is easy to tell them apart, despite the lack of coloring. Contrast this with the typical ‘human with funny ears’ syndrome that many fantasy and sci-fi races have. Morris is obviously well versed in anatomy, especially the female form, as there are many comics with topless women walking around. I leave it to the reader to decide if this is harmless fun or tasteless cheesecake.

What separates YAFGC from every other fantasy gamer comic is its light hearted yet sincere tone. There is nary a joke based on armor class, experience points or anything else based on the game’s rules. You don’t need to be a veteran of any fantasy game to appreciate the comic. Furthermore, there is little of the faux medieval anachronisms that plague so many other fantasy works. While the characters undertake many adventures, there is no heavy handed exposition or foreshadowing in the form of prophecies, heroic destinies or two-dimensional villains that want to destroy the world. More importantly, the so called ‘evil’ creatures of the caverns can be just as good or evil as the ‘good’ ones living above. The goblins and orcs care about their families just as much as the humans do. The three-headed Chimera (pictured above right) seems more in place in a classic Disney film than as a monstrous foe. Compared to the standard ‘Tolkien with the serial numbers filed off’ approach of contemporary fantasy, YAFGC is a relief.

 

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