Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dragonmirth Reborn

One of my favorite parts of reading Dragon Magazine "back in the day" was all the comics. There were full length features like Finieous FingersWormy, Snarf Quest, What's New and so on, but there also was a section called Dragonmirth that featured shorter comic strips. Nothing more than one to three panel gag comics based on D&D these pages were by no means less humorous than the full length-color series in the same issues. Indeed, prolific gaming cartoonists like Aaron Williams (Nodwick) and John Kovalic (Dork Tower) got their starts doing short Dragonmirth comics. As a life-long cartoonist myself, Dragonmirth was very appealing to me for that reason. I often dreamed to get a minor strip in Dragon as a foot in the door, but I never got the nerve to actually submit something. Only years later when Paizo was about to have the rug pulled out from under them and have the Dragon/Dungeon licenses taken away by Wizards, did I actually pitch something to the magazines. I'm sort of glad it didn't get accepted since Wizards promptly squashed comics in their online version.

Fast forward to this summer. In its ever backpedalling effort to win back fans, Dragon has brought Dragonmirth back from the dead. Now we have a new host of weekly comics that are being tried out, from professional artists and amateurs alike. I will admit, I'm a little sore that I didn't hear about the return of Dragonmirth sooner, there wasn't any open call for comic strips that I'm aware of nor can I find any special mention about submissions now the column is up and running. In my own expert judgement and given the nature of the internet vs. print versions of Dragon, most of these comics will fail, but a few may last a while we shall see! And who knows, maybe ol' Mortellan will finally get a chance to shine in Dragon one day (although I'd much rather be in print).

Below is some links to the new comics they've put out thus far. Feel free to comment about them.

Epic Campain (by Aaron Williams) Aaron has been doing this for a long time and his distinctive style of art style seen in Nodwic continues here.
The Keep on 16th and Valencia (by Jason Thompson) This one has a manga-anime flair, as explained in the artist's bio.
Alignments (by O and Dern) This one has promise.
Claypipe and Tinder (by Micah Farritor) I really like the art style of this guy. This one could've come from the old mags with its B&W look.
The Critical Hit (by Laubenstein and Taylor) This one has great art, but the writing and typography is terrible. It was was so bad, I even tried my hand at improving it (sorry fellas).


JasonZavoda said...

I always prefered the comic strips to the little stand alone panels. You do need to give this new Dragonmirth a try and see what comes of it.

Grol said...

I've worked in the comic business for 26 years, so I've seen em come and go. I agree with your general comments on all of these except that I thought the best one was your revised edition of 'The Critical Hit'. And there the funniest part was your decision to retain the line about St. Cuthbert. Whether the artist's will be able to keep up the level of their work is often the biggest problem. I've previously stated my long time admiration for your work, and a reasonable portion of that comes from your consistency of quality in writing and art. Jason is right. If this mode of presenting your work interests you, I suspect you would be very well received. The only possible conflict may come from rights lawyers who have previously ignored your use of intellectual property (names of gods, etc), that may want to control all presentation of that material. But if that isn't an issue, its hard for me to imagine there wouldn't be considerable interest, especially since you can demonstrate the ability to produce reliably over time.

mortellan said...

JZ: I'm trying just that by promoting them here which is more pub in the blogosphere than I can find anywhere else.

Grol: You are too kind. If I pitch anything to Wizards it won't be my Greyhawk stuff. It's too niche even for Greyhawk fans sometimes. My old concept for Paizo was a D&D comic that deals with all aspects of character death and afterlife. I'm not sure that's a concept that 4e gamers would be familiar with however. I kid! ;)

Grol said...

Actually a more general D&D comic about death and character afterlife sounds very intriging. I've never seen a comic take it on in a humourous way, and based upon your previous work I would have high hopes. To bastardize the phrase from one of those "other" comics; "with great talent, comes great responsibility". (I'm trying to make you feel obligated to give it a shot, just so I can enjoy the results!)

Victor Von Dave said...

Seriously, you need to pitch to WOTC. Other than Epic Campain(and your rewrite) I don't think any of the others are funny (the art is good though).

The afterlife idea sounds cool. You could call it 'petitioners' or something. It would be funny to have a guy who's always being resurrected - so he just pops in from panel to panel.

mortellan said...

My idea was called "Negative 10". It's a rule concept lost on modern D&D though.