By Dustin Cabeal
I’m not going to lie; I have a lot of envy and jealousy for this book. I originally passed on it because I was unfamiliar with the podcast that it was based on and have been burned by podcast adapted comics too many times to try again. As fate would have it though it arrived in the mail for me to read and I figured, what the hell… let’s give this a go.
I’m envious because at times it reminded me of doing the CBMFP. A time in my life that I hold in high regard and wish to this day that we were still able to keep going with that show, perhaps with a slightly different format. I’m jealous because these fuckers talk exactly like I do in real life and so it gives me the impression that I could have done it too. Which is stupid as fuck, but when is jealousy smart? There is something special here with The Adventure Zone. It’s not perfect, and it still incorporates aspects of the role-playing game into it, but it’s the smartest execution of a podcast adaptation that I’ve seen.
It’s pretty clear to me that the McElroy family is either playing D&D or something extremely close to it. It doesn’t particularly matter to the story, but you’ll see clever changes to avoid oh say lawsuits or Wizards of the Coast coming after them for all their money because WotC is a big corporation that loves their damn money. The story is all there’s, and while I’ve never listened to the podcast (and probably won’t because I have this graphic novel version instead), I could hear the banter and joy of McElroy’s as they played and crafted the story.
As for the story, it’s a simple adventure story as our three main characters are sent on a quest that continues to grow in its complexity and difficulty. They face it with humor and sometimes outrageously funny moments. It’s become almost a norm not to play the game 100% seriously, I have viewed and heard many a podcast that do that, but what makes it work here is the fact that they are serious with their attempts, it’s just that the attempts are goofy and over the top. Like charming a final boss instead of killing him. There’s a great escalation of the story which leads to a fulfilling ending that is, of course, open to being continued in further volumes.
The only aspect that I wasn’t big on was the inclusion of the DM. I don’t have a better solution for how to present it, but it was the only aspect that didn’t work for me. At times it was hardly used, and other times the little corner gutter image was used a lot. It’s probably going to boil down to personal preference on that one, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, and while I have ideas for how to do it differently, it’s a moot point for this review and an already finished product.
The art was spectacular. It needed to be to bring out the personalities in an amazing way. Again, knowing that this was based on a podcast, the art made it easy to picture the audio. It’s weird, and that probably doesn’t make any sense, but I got the strong impression that I could listen to the podcast along with the story. I know that I can’t, and you shouldn’t try because the story has been altered to the format. That is a huge feat though, and something Carey Pietsch should be very proud of accomplishing. The artwork brings all the humor to life with the facial expressions. The expressions play a huge role in the success of the story and the development of the characters personalities.
Anyone with a nerd related podcast would love to see their crazy ideas illustrated like The Adventure Zone. It’s probably one of the coolest and greatest things to happen to the crew behind this book and I can’t and won’t deny that they do a hell of a job. I went in jaded and not wanting to read this book, after all, I had previously skipped on it. I’m glad it showed up though, it won me over in a way I didn’t expect. I’ll be looking forward to the next volume and hoping that the podcast continues to supply more stories like this one.
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins
First Second Books