January 15th, 2014

Me 2012


I wasn't feeling well yesterday, so I stayed home from work. I wasn't feeling up to writing or doing anything productive at home either. Normally I play computer games when I'm sick, but Flight Rising was down and I didn't feel like playing that much SolForge, or anything else. So I cast about for something else to do. "What are some of the things I kind of want to do but don't get around to because there's always a higher-priority thing? Aha, I know! I'll read one of those webcomic archives that have been recommended to me but that I never get through."

So I opened my folder of comics bookmarks, and arbitrarily selected the first one I came to: the Goblins webcomic. Some time ago I'd read the first 20 or so strips but got no farther. I started over again from the beginning. It's a fantasy gamer webcomic in the mold of treating D&D rules as not only the characters' reality but one they are conscious of. It also has both monster groups and traditional PC groups as protagonists, making it more like Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic than Order of the Stick. (Yes, "fantasy gamer" is an actual subgenre.)

The first 50 strips or so have a lot of predictable jokes about D&D rules, conventions, and players, but as with YAFGC and OotS, Goblins soon transcends its gag-strip origins. I think it makes a better graphic novel than webcomic series, because many of the pages do not stand well on their own -- no punchline or other sense of closure to them.

The work as a whole is impressive and makes for a powerful story. It interweaves the adventures of several different groups, primarily focused on three: the original group of goblins, one goblin who was split from them, and a dwarf cleric / human warrior pair. Some times it goes a long time between checking in on protagonist groups: terrycloth commented on a character returning again "after being gone for a year or more"; I checked, and it had actually been nearly three years since that group's storyline had been shown.

The author has a good talent for crafting characters of all sorts -- some good, some evil, and many that are just muddling through. Often, two or more sympathetic characters will be pitted against each other, and it just breaks your heart because you don't want either side to get killed. And the reasons that they're in conflict are usually horrifyingly understandable.

I finished reading it this morning, on my phone, because I couldn't wait until I got home. Now my head is all stuffed full of it, which is a very strange feeling for me. Like I can't work on my own stories because my mind is still absorbed by this other person's.

I definitely recommend this if you like fantasy, even if you're not a gamer. The story doesn't require familiarity with gaming to follow, even if some of the jokes do.

And now I'm going to talk about some of the specifics that are haunting me, for those who've also read it. So here be spoilers! Probably there will also be spoilers in the comments.

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