Upon finishing Dungeon Fun I declared out loud to myself, “That was a treat.” It was like having a great cookie after a satisfying meal and I can’t stress enough that every meal should end with a great cookie at the end of it. The all-ages genre is one of my favorites. I know that’s kind of strange coming from an adult male, but it is. The reason it’s one of my favorites is because it’s incredibly difficult to get right. A true all-ages story should be able to appeal to a wide audience and while there will always be gaps, there should never be canyons. Dungeon Fun has cracks at best. A child could read this and enjoy it, an adult, a retired mother of four, and a teenager after a difficult day of finding their place in the world. It’s a story that is so well crafted that it’s damn near impossible not to love. The story has what I call a double opening. Now there are variations of this and one of which I’m not a fan of, but thankfully Dungeon Fun doesn’t use this one. What I’m referring to you can find in dozens of comics this month alone. It’s when the story begins without you for about five pages and the narrative says “Five Minutes Ago” and the story begins again and eventually connects to that same point. Now, the double opening in Dungeon Fun is similar, but rather than following the same character with both openings it begins with two. Also instead of just having their stories line up, eventually the second story catches up and passes the first section. Hopefully this all makes sense, but really the point I’m trying to make is that it’s a fantastic opening and breaks the traditional mold.
We begin by meeting a Knight as he’s about to cross a bridge leading to a castle. He addresses the bridge troll at the front of the bridge and begins to deliver his heroic speech when the troll cuts him off. He corrects the knight telling him his name is Jeff and not “bridge troll.” Their dialogue continues and it becomes clear that writer Colin Bell has revamped the traditional characterization of bridge trolls and created something more in line with internet trolls. It’s brilliant and hilarious. The knight unfortunately doesn’t understand the concept of being “trolled” and so he takes everything they say seriously, especially when he sets off their “metal detector.” They take his sword and throw it into the empty moat below and the knight freaks out.
In our second opening we head down below into the land of Deepmoat. Rather than following the sword down though we find a red-headed little girl that’s been thrown below and landed safely in a pile of mud. She’s adopted by the troll family Mud and raised as their daughter. Things continue to fall into the moat and eventually the young girl named Fun is orphaned. Now grown up she practices the art of mud sculpting. She’s made a mud man named Muddy StickArms who is instantly killed by the falling sword. Fun takes the sword to giant of a man creature named Bronan to yet again complain about the trolls throwing things into the moat. Bronan asks if she filled a complaint as she was instructed last time, but Fun didn’t; thankfully for her Bronan filled one out on her behalf, but clearly shit is still falling on their heads. Fun asks to see Mister Elliseye and wouldn’t you know it, he’s prophesied this day. I mean not really he just wrote it in his book as they were talking, but he wants Fun to take the sword and either free Deepmoat or tell off the bridge trolls. Either way, Fun’s life is going to change because of the sword, but what about the knight?
Oh the writing… the storytelling! It’s great when you can see where a story is going, but only just barely. I couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen in the next issue, but due to the wonderful and skilled writing of Bell I have a glimmer. I know things that are involved in the story and that’s great. I have theories, but nothing concrete to build them on. That is some fine writing/storytelling. The humor and wit of the issue is also wonderful. I laughed several times, but there was also an underlining heart to the story. That’s definitely something all-age stories should have: humor and heart. The characters were unique and distinct and made for a great story overall.
The writing is great and sometimes that’s all people think about when talking about the story, but the art is a huge part of that. Artist Neil Slorance brings this story to life and adds a ton to the characters personalities. From the cover (and our preview) you can see the cartoonish style that’s almost a combination of Adventure Time and Cyanide and Happiness. I’m sure the style has a name, but I couldn’t find it. Its lacks detail intentionally to give it a specific look and it works for this story. The rounded heads of every character makes it kid friendly, but then also humorous to adults. Yes there are details left out like the eyes, but again it adds to the personality of the story and that’s incredible. Slorance’s storytelling is fantastic and he is the perfect partnership for Bell.
This book made my week. I wish it was a graphic novel so I could just read all of it now I’m that desperate for more of the story. It’s also the first truly great all-ages story I’ve read all year. Nothing else honestly comes to mind at the moment, but I’m sure there’s something else on par with it… or not. This book is out in the U.K., but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it. You can buy it digitally and I think you should. If you’re looking for humor, adventure and a story that literally anyone can read and enjoy then pick up Dungeon Fun… now go buy it!
Score: 6/5 (not a typo)
Writer: Colin Bell Artist: Neil Slorance Publisher: Dogooder Comics Price: $6.45 US (print) and $1.61 US (digital) (based on rough U.K. conversion) Website