Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Break Bargain Box Bonanza

Hey, kids! Comics!

So, it's Spring Break in my little corner of higher ed, and that means time to play. While I was out and about enjoying the first of my free days, I stopped by one of the comic shops in my area and found some goodies in the bargain box (what used to be called the quarter bin and is now functionally the dollar bin). Here's the haul:

Graphic Novels!

I'll get to those comics in detail as the week progresses, but I wanted to start with something from the bargain "graphic novel" box. (I think the term was actually used to designate "comics with perfect binding.") I grabbed this collection for cheap:

I had remembered running across a comic strip set in a D&D game; the characters in the strip interacted at the gaming table and as their characters within the game adventure as well, bouncing from reality to roleplay and back. I thought it was amusing and at least somewhat clever, so I picked up this TPB of Knights of the Dinner Table.

I don't know what strip I was thinking of, but this is definitely not it.

I'm not including any scans of the content because, frankly, I like you too much and this hurt to read. It's not just that the interior art is amateurish or even bad (although it kinda is both); it's not even that there's really no graphic storytelling going on (although the images are rarely used to carry any of the narrative or emotion); it's not at all that the depiction of the tabletop roleplaying game experience is inaccurate (it's pretty good, as a matter of fact). It's that all the characters are so throughly unlikeable - by turns mean, petty, and foolish - that wading through this collection of strips made me feel like I was gaming with odious, unpleasant people that I did not like. Furthering the foulness, the conceit of the strip rests heavily on the game master vs. players trope, a dynamic that flies in the face of the collaborative spirit my gaming cronies and I bring to the table.

I must be in the minority here: apparently, Kenzer & Company, the producers of the strip and books, are going great guns, generating card, board, and tabletop games (including an RPG based on the imaginary game from the strip) as well. Business seems to be thriving. Good on 'em, but I can't understand why. If this sample collection is any indication, I wouldn't want to spend any more time in this world than I had to.

Bonus pick-me-up: this is still a thing!

Yes,  Transcontinental Interglobe of Beauceville, Quebec is still printing newsprint copies of Comic Shop News for Cliff and Ward out of Marietta, Georgia and delivering them to comics shops. The best buy in comics (free!) is still available. Check out their first issue from 1987.

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