Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Elena Gogou
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Quests Aside takes a comedic and surprisingly dramatic look at the day-to-day lives of the staff at the tavern in which every tabletop fantasy role-playing game begins.
Dungeons & Dragons and Cheers walk into a bar…
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Barrow, the owner of the titular Quests Aside, is an ex-adventurer who has hung up his weapon to settle down and run a tavern. He and his staff cater to the various travelers passing through on their quests, and Barrow feels that he’s built a home and a family for himself. He's protective of his business and his staff, so when a rival tavern owner attempts to buy him out, he refuses, but said rival doesn't want to take no for an answer. The king, a former companion of Barrow’s, also wants to convert the building into a barracks, and has given Barrow and the crew only thirty days to vacate the property.
And as if that weren’t enough, each staff member has their own personal issues, grievances, vendettas, alliances, and secrets. Sounds like an adventure to me!
Brian Schirmer manages the difficult balance of humor and drama excellently, at a pace neither hurried nor laborious. The humor is genuinely funny, with no cruel, crude, or insensitive jokes and the threads of drama behind the laughs bring a strong sense of purpose to the driving narrative.
The artwork by Elena Gogou is light on detail, which gives it a charming, playful quality.
Quests Aside has a cozy atmosphere thanks to Rebecca Nalty’s warm and earthy color palette, which fits the setting nicely.
AndWorld Design clearly had fun with the lettering in this book. There’s foul language censored by swords, shields and bones, brightly colored sound effects like “Chair!” and “Shield!” and even a heart-shaped word balloon with bubbly text.
The numerous comic book and fantasy references sprinkled throughout these debut issues are fun little extras for those who catch them.
Quests Aside deftly dodges the pitfall of being a fantasy book with an all-white cast, and nobody is scantily clad, which probably shouldn't be notable, but here we are.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
If you’re not a fan of fantasy settings, this one certainly isn’t for you.
While the artwork's simplicity lends itself to a comedic tale, it isn't particularly exciting to look at yet, either.
The king's reason for wanting to oust Quests Aside doesn't quite add up, particularly given that he's an old friend of Barrow's. Hopefully this is setup for some kind of deception later in the series, but at the moment it reads as contrived.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Straight comedy is rarely tackled in comic book form when compared to action or slice-of-life. So much of what makes a joke work is in the telling, but Quests Aside takes advantage of being presented in a static visual medium and delivers sight and situational gags that land wonderfully. Thanks to its gentle humor and down-to-earth setting, Quests Aside is a warm, fuzzy blanket for fantasy fans.
It’s not all smiles and laughter though, and adding to the already impressive feat of succeeding as a niche genre comedy, there’s a little bit of drama subtly woven into each character’s story to keep the overarching plot going. Those moments are certainly there, but they hide coyly in the background of each scene, never overpowering the light-hearted tone, but hinting at possible trouble ahead.
By being its own original series, Quests Aside stands apart from the recent trend of fantasy comics based on podcasts, themselves based on well-established role-playing games. If swords and sorcery are your jam, and you want something amusing in a lighter vein, Quests Aside’s doors are open and waiting.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves
Falcon & Winter Soldier by Derek Landy and Federico Vicentini
Hawkeye: Freefall by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt
If you like the art:
The Crescent by M.F. White and Elena Gogou
Dragon Age: Deception by Brandon Thomas, Emilio Lopez and Khary Randolph
Dragon Age: Blue Wraith by Nunzio DeFilippis,Christina Weir and Fernando Heinz Furukawa
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Brian Schirmer (https://twitter.com/BrianSchirmer) - Writer
Based in San Francisco
Previously wrote erstwhile fantasy mystery series, Fairlady
WB Writers Workshop 2020 semifinalist
Elena Gogou (https://twitter.com/elengog) - Artist
Self titled “Greek Potato”
Making her American comics debut as artist and co-creator on Quests Aside
Rebecca Nalty (https://twitter.com/rebnalty) - Colorist
Based in Dublin, Ireland
Previously colored many books, including Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures and GLOW
Posts cute fanart on Twitter!
Andworld Design (https://twitter.com/andworlddesign) - Letterer
Not actually one person, but a studio.
Founded by https://twitter.com/deronbennett
Based in New Jersey
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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