Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #39 - February 1999
Knights of the Dinner Table
| Kenzer & Co.
| Jolly R. Blackburn, Brian Jelke, Steve Johansson, David Kenzer
|27 + 2 collections
A group of five gaming friends get together every week to game.
Usually they play the standard RPG game, "Hackmaster", but
sometimes they'll play a collectible card game or some other
"Hack" game like "Spacehack". And when this gang gets
together, they're just like most other gamer groups you've ever
known - except much, much funnier. There's B.A., the
long-suffering GM, Bob the excitable but somewhat clueless one, Dave
the also-clueless but not so excitable one, Sara the lone female
and probably the only really sane person there, and Brian the
dedicated and devious uber-gamer. Join in as they attempt, night
after night, to game their cares away, only to find that things
rarely go as planned.
The funniest gamer comic out there; in fact, if you're at all
familiar with gaming, this is the funniest comic being published today,
bar none. Every issue contains at least two or three self-contained
short stories, and every one is a guaranteed laugh. The central
game in KODT, HackMaster, is a basic stand-in for AD&D, and
the occasional foray into the life of HackMaster's creator or the
game shop owner rings just as true as the gamers' lives.
Every issue is non-stop can't-put-it-down hilarious. As an
example, the two pages shown in this review are from a story
where B.A. decides to set up a "SpaceHack" campaign for a
change of pace. But Brian turns the tables when they discover a
holodeck on an abandoned spaceship, as seen to the left.
There's not much to say here, since KODT is not really about the
art. The comparisons to Dilbert are unavoidable, since here's
another strip with static panels and simplistically-drawn
characters which relies on its writing for its humor. Frankly, the art on
KODT is not very interesting - but who cares?
KODT is the Dilbert of the comics world. Like Dilbert, it's the
writing that carries the strip, since the art is unexciting at best.
Dilbert takes the life of an office cubicle dweller and spins it to
absurdity; KODT does the same for typical gamers. For everyone
who has ever gamed, or has ever known gamers, or even knows
about how gaming works, KODT is the best bargain in comics -
$2.95 a month for three or four great, funny stories! For gamers,
it's a must read; and for everyone else it's highly recommended.
Check out the regular KODT strips in Dragon magazine, too!
If you like Knights of the Dinner Table, take a look at:
Four gamers dealing with the real world - or at least, as real as it
gets when you're a college-aged gaming geek. There's Matt, the
well-meaning but neurotic star of the book (and the usual GM),
Igor, the short stocky ultra-geek, Ken, their gaming partner and
straight man, and Carson the Muskrat, who is... well, a muskrat.
Join the adventures of these inveterate gamers as they attend goth
parties, try to impress dates with knowledge of fandom, go to
conventions, and more!
Another funny book about gaming? You bet! Dork Tower takes
gamers and juxtaposes them against other aspects of life, both
fandom and real-world. Usually structured as single-page strips,
but sometimes with stories going on for five or six pages, each
issue is chock full of lots of self-contained stories and jokes. The
pacing is like the best of comic strips, with excellent setups and
great punchlines. Very few of the strips take place at the gaming
table, instead choosing to show our intrepid gamers in other
situations, usually dealing with non-gamer people. Issue 2 (and
future issues) also include comic-panel versions of "Murphy's
Rules", real gaming rules from real games which don't make that
much sense (for instance, a game in which if your armor is too
heavy for you to wear, you can carry it in your backpack until
you gain strength!) Funny, funny stuff!
Great comic-strip-style art from a man who's obviously done a
lot of strip work. Expressive characters done with a minimum of
lines, and distinctive characters whose look matches their
personality. But one of the best things about the art is the confidence
John has in portraying nearly any locale, allowing him to set
strips in places as diverse as a goth party or a mall bookstore.
Simple, direct, and clean - Dork Tower's art is very well done.
Dork Tower is another guaranteed sale to gamers in your store, or
to anyone who knows gamers, or for that matter anyone who
would like to see fandom in general taken down a peg or two.
With its quarterly frequency, it shouldn't strain anyone's
pocketbook (especially not gamers, who are used to buying $20
expansion packs). Certainly the obvious audience for this book is fans
of Knights of the Dinner Table (and vice versa, of course) as well
as University2 and Dilbert, but Dork Tower should also appeal to
readers of The 3 Geeks, and even fans of Oh My Goth! and Scary
Godmother may find some appealing bits in here. Fans may also
want to check into Kovalic's other work, including the collections
of his Wild Life strip and the regular Dork Tower appearances in
If you like Dork Tower, take a look at:
Cold Cut Distribution
220 N Main St. - Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 751-7300