Guestwriter: John Enfield
Writer: Adrian Benatar
Art: Miguel Angel Garcia
“Will you prepare to attack the creature (turn to 162) or attempt to talk with it (turn to 256)?” Back in the day, the best way to scratch your itch for RPG action when your D&D group wasn’t meeting and you wanted an experience a bit more detailed than playing another game of ‘Adventure’ on your Atari 2600, was to crack open an interactive fantasy novel like Steve Jackson’s ‘Sorcery!’ books. Today, the RPG scene is exploding, with an almost bewildering array of options out there. Even interactive fiction is finding new life as e-books. Now, it is taking another leap forward: this time, into comic book format. This may be the most exciting form yet as the graphic novel format allows for dynamic visual storytelling once only found in the RPG video games, which have come a long way from ‘Adventure’, with the storytelling fidelity found in the old interactive fiction novels.
‘Relic of the Dragon’ by Miguel Angel Garcia and Adrian Benatar is a prime example of this new interactive comic book format. Right from the cover, you get the sense of what this book is all about: boisterous action-adventure featuring powerful, fearless characters. The runic font is quite effective at suggesting the story is about Norse-like heroes, yet it is still easy to read. The title and credits pages carry the theme forward with more runic fonts and mood-setting art that clearly communicates that this is a dungeon crawler style story.
The introduction confirms what the preceding art suggests about the story and explains how to play the game/read the book. It does have a rather cryptic line in there about dice and fellow players that serves to muddy the once clearly established game rules. Do you need dice to read this book? If so, what kind of dice and how many? Fellow players? Will there be multiple characters, one for each player/reader to make decisions for? Apparently, we need the help of the gods to find out.
The art style in this book is a bit playful and cartoonish, yet is not so overly stylized that things look unintentionally silly. There is some imagery that is rather goofy but when you see it, it makes sense as being part of a joke in the story and doesn’t seem out of place. For example, you may notice that a character in the story has a more than passing resemblance to Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Some characters have reddish noses, whether from the cold, windy climate, or from too much mead is up to the reader to decide.