Writer: Grant Stoye
Illustrator: Alaire Racicot
WHAT IS IT?
A rag-tag adventurer gang making their way across the countryside cracking skulls, solving mysteries, and protecting villagers – with a twist.
Think Dungeons & Dragons meets Shazam!, with a bit more profanity but just as much heart. Want to learn more? Read the interview we did with Grant Stoye last month.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
(*Major spoilers for issue #1!)
D’arik and his merry band of wanderers Uhok, Tareen, Grachen and Ylwin travel around this fantastical land solving crimes, defeating were-men, getting paid, and bickering. Often.
This isn’t just your average fantasy comic, though. Turns out D’arik has the ability to travel between realms – and he’s actually Derek, a dad of two whose escapist yearnings are enabled by a mysterious magical ring. Mere minutes pass in his world while he’s away on his quests, but he can’t seem to catch a break in either realm. So it goes.
Stoye’s writing balances good wry humor with earnest engagement. The characters crack jokes and give each other guff, but we’re reading a story that’s designed to immerse and entertain without debasing its concept.
You don’t have to love TTRPGs to enjoy Sidequest, and that’s a major point in this book’s favor. Alaire Racicot’s character designs and Stoye’s scripting keep the book accessible for any comics fan interested in a fantasy foray, and there’s just enough lore to deepen the book’s mysteries without overwhelming us at the start.
Five main characters are a lot to introduce and flesh out over two issues, especially considering the larger conceit of Derek bridging two worlds and the tensions that come with each. Page space is limited, and Stoye knows how to evoke specific character traits without resorting to expository dialogue to make a point about Grachen’s nerdiness, or Uhok’s tender heart.
Racicot is good at choosing character details that make each party member feel integrated into the fantastical backdrop. Some of that is down to Racicot’s grasp of cartooning, and some of it is down to Racicot’s sheer creativity.
Similarly, overloading each party member with different outfits, hairstyles, markings, and gear would clutter the page, and we only have so much space and time to get through the story. Racicot keeps things simple but visually engaging, and Bonnani works hard to pick out each scrap of cloth and armor detail to add some flair.
The gags aren’t just in Stoye’s dialogue. Racicot is precise with background details and continuity – the horse has a silly hat, and in issue #2 we see it go flying when the giant decides to attack. It makes a legitimately upsetting moment humorous if we want it to, but it’s subtle enough that we can miss it if we want more emotional tension.
Bonnani’s palette is warm and varied without feeling scattershot or cluttered, and light sources are given a glow-y treatment that doesn’t feel overly slick or digitized. There’s also some clever work done to accent Racicot’s action lines in issue #2 when the giant attacks: the cloud line follows the rumble effect across the lower part of the sky in cheery yellow.
Toben Racicot’s lettering is crisp and precise in a way that complements Alaire Racicot’s art style and Bonnani’s colors. Digital art can be unforgiving, especially when we don’t have a lot of grit and texture on a page. Sidequest demands a smoother, even style, and lettering can feel pasted on if there’s not enough attention paid to the craft.
Sound effects are fun and punchy, and Derek’s icy retort in issue #2 is given some balloon details that strike a humorous and evocative note.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The story moves along at a good clip, so if you’re looking for slow immersion and gradual lore-building, Sidequest may not seem like the right fit for you. However, you’ll find that what’s built is satisfying, and Stoye, Racicot, and the team put in good work to get us where we need to go.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you’re a D&D fan and feel like there aren’t enough TTRPG comics out there, add Sidequest to your rotation. If you’re interested in a fresh take on fantasy as a genre in this medium, Sidequest is the comic for you.
Finally, if you like character-driven, evocative, and fun stories about human failings and our collective escapist yearnings, look no further. Sidequest delivers tight humor and authentic care in equal measure, and you don't have to be an avid fantasy fan to enjoy this comic.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Die by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans
The O.Z. by David Pepose & Ruben Rojas
Where No One Grows by Zorika Gaeta
If you like the art:
Dryad by Kurtis Wiebe & Justin Osterling
20 Fists by Frankee White & Kat Baumann
Slightly Exaggerated by Curtis Clow & Pius Bak
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Grant Stoye (@grantandstuff) – Writer
Stoye’s worked in various pro writing gigs, from high school sports to radio, before he got into making comics
Once named his D&D character’s warhammer Dongcrusher (seriously!)
Alaire Racicot (@shiningcapella) – Artist
Dream Team: Racicot works regularly with her husband, Toben Racicot (Sidequest’s letterer!) on Crown & Anchor and other projects
Racicot's also worked with Stoye, too! (God Says Hi)
Martina Bonnani (@Kaili270192) - Colorist
Bonnani regularly shares artwork and digital illustrations on Twitter, make sure to check it out!
Outlander: Bonnani hails from Lombardy, Italy.
Toben Racicot (@TobenRacicot) – Letterer
Multi-talented: Racicot also writes comics and regularly collaborates with his wife, Alaire Racicot.
Racicot’s currently studying RPGs and Worldbuilding at university, to boot!
HOW DO I BUY IT?
TBD, but Sidequest #3 will be hitting Kickstarter in May, so stay tuned!
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Sidequest characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Grant Stoye or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED