August 29, 2012
People often dismiss geeks as obsessed, lowly, or immature. Then they take a Klingon bat’leth to the back.
d20monkey is a webcomic by Brian Patterson, running from October 2010 and ongoing, concerning the geeky characters inhabiting a fairly typical Dungeons & Dragons gaming group. Toss in the occasional dip into the extremes of the culture and the odd bit of supernatural fancy and you’ve got a recipe for some relatable yet clearly absurd entertainment.
Honestly considering the average span of time I have to acclimate myself to the entire history of a webcomic in order to properly give it a critical sandblasting (or, if the eGods be merciful, a tender snuggling within the bounds of silken garb), it’s pretty difficulty to accurately describe the content of d20monkey beyond that opening paragraph. There are characters, the full knowledge of whom is not particularly required to comprehend their ongoing hijinks, and there are events both within the game world (which you do not need to be a grand archival scholar of) and the so-called “real” life (which is still probably more entertaining than a trip to Starbucks to laugh at the iPad-toting hipsters). This comic could easily be described as the definition of relatable humour despite its niche content, I could quite easily hand d20monkey’s archive to my barely computer-literate grandmother and guarantee she’d have fun reading it.
If you want realistic drama, it’s there between the contrasting gamers (With ponytailed Brett the deep-grained geek, Charlie the blind womanizer, and Trev the ever-ailing game master who has to organise the preceding pair, among others), if you want fantasy comedy, it’s there in the in-game shenanigans, and if you want pop-culture critique, it’s there as the geek populace within the pages bemoan the state of casting for the most recent Spiderman movie. Seriously, for being solely comprised of stereotypes and geeks (the two categories being not mutually exclusive), this comic is crazy good at appealing to just about anyone.
So with that aside, let’s move on to possibly the easiest part of this reviewing shtick, where I press “First” on the archive and compare what pops up with what comes up from pressing “Last”: The artistic review. I kid, I do actually at the least browse through a few dozen pages throughout the archives to get a decent idea of the artistic progression and general style at any given time, but I digress.
d20monkey has progress pretty damn far. Initially, it’s not all that bad, with clearly-defined characters and a degree of artistic ability that wouldn’t go amiss on the walls of an animation studio (albeit perhaps not the stuff said studio would put in their actual products). Now, after nearly two years of very consistent updates (both by schedule and by process), the comic stands pretty clear with the artistic level of Ctrl Alt Del’s ilk and to some degrees above the likes of Penny Arcade. It’s got depth, detail, and a crafted hand that comes from perseverance and self-reflection, but without having lost any of the cartoon-esque simplicity that defined the characters in the early days. Whilst shading and complex backgrounds have arrived, but Charlie’s head is still as round as an oval (which is to say, fairly so, approaching kinship with a potato perhaps).
So, having left behind my usual target of 500 words to review a featured webcomic, what have I to say about d20monkey in closing this fair snuggling? I believe I shall close with a recent custom of mine, and leave it plain, simple, and succinct.
Go read it, it’s awesome.
And while you’re there, let Lord Patterson know that the Earl of Bedmonton is pleased with his crop.
As always, I’ll be here Thursday with a comic page, Saturday with a Nether Expedition, Monday with another comic page, and same time again Wednesday for another feature, which you can leave suggestions for below. Allons-y!