Dungeons & Dragons Returns to Comics

Hi! My name’s Matt Forbeck, and I’m a full-time author and game designer, among other things. The fine people at Tor.com asked me if I’d be interested in blogging about games here, and I happily accepted the opportunity.

For those who don’t know me—a large percentage of the world, I’m afraid—I’ve been a full-time writer and game designer for over 20 years. I spent most of that time as a freelancer, although I spent four years as the president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, the publisher of award-winning games like Deadlands and Brave New World, and not quite two years as the director of the adventure games division of Human Head Studios (developers of Prey and Rune).

Over the past several years, I’ve moved more into writing computer games, designing toys, and writing novels. I like games of all sorts, so you can expect a mix of news and analysis covering video games, computer games, tabletop games, puzzles, ARGs, and more. If you have suggestions or tips, feel free to let me know. Meanwhile, games are all about fun, so let’s have some!

Dungeons & Dragons—the first roleplaying game ever made—has had a long, mixed relation with comic books over the years. Some of the first D&D ads I ever saw were single-page graphic stories in the back of mainstream comics from Marvel and DC. There’s a substantial crossover between the kind of people who play D&D and those who read comics, so it seems like a D&D comic would be a natural.

After all, TSR (which published D&D back in the day) created the first Marvel Superheroes RPG. The company even produced its own line of gaming comics for a while, which included not only D&D but Buck Rogers1 and a number of other titles.

1The woman who owned and ran TSR in those days, Lorraine Williams, was one of the heirs to the Buck Rogers franchise fortune. Her grandfather had published the original comic strip.

DC Comics produced a few different D&D related series back in the late ’80s, including Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Spelljammer. In the past decade, Kenzer & Company and Devil’s Due have each published some D&D miniseries too, but it’s been a quiet few years for fans of such books.

This month that all changed when IDW—one of the top five comic book publishers in the U.S.2—brought out its first Dungeons & Dragons comic, written by John Rogers (the co-creator and showrunner of TNT’s Leverage and the creator of the latest version of DC Comics’ Blue Beetle) and drawn by Andrea Di Vito (an Italian artist known for his work for CrossGen and Marvel).3

2IDW has had huge hits with other licensed comics, including GI Joe and Transformers, which are owned by gaming giant Hasbro. Which also owns Wizards of the Coast, which publishes D&D.

3Disclaimers: I’ve known John and followed his work for years. I’ve worked with IDW in the past and present and probably future and like the folks there a lot. I don’t know Andrea at all, but his art rocks.

I’ve read it, and it’s a fantastic book, just the thing you should love if you enjoy D&D and great adventure with brilliant art and razor-sharp writing. John’s actually written some D&D material for Wizards of the Coast, which publishes D&D these days, and his geek credentials as a gamer are well burnished.

If you hunt around, you might be able to find a copy of the #0 issue, which shipped back in August and sold for only $1. It’s a great way to sample the book and see if you’ll enjoy it as much as you should. If you do, get in on the full series’ ground floor with this month’s issue #1.

IDW has more D&D offerings in the works too. Look for a series set in the recently revamped Dark Sun setting in January. This one’s written by Alex Irvine (Science fiction author and writer of Daredevil: Noir and Iron Man: The Rapture) with art by Peter Bergting (a spectacular Swedish artist who’s working in games, comics, and fiction).4

4Disclaimer: Alex is a pal of mine, and I worked with Peter on the Mutant Chronicles RPG way back in the early ‘90s.

Later in 2011, look for Forgotten Realms: The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales. This one’s written by R. A. Salvatore (who created Drizzt) and his son Geno. This should be out in time to help cross-promote the upcoming Neverwinter MMO based on the hit Neverwinter Nights series of computer games also based on D&D.5

See? It all comes together.

5I’ve known Bob Salvatore for many years too, and I know many people at Neverwinter’s developer Cryptic Studios, including studio head Jack Emmert, who used to write for me at Pinnacle Entertainment as a freelancer.

Have these gotten ridiculous yet? Sorry. Gaming isn’t all that large of an industry!

Matt Forbeck is the author of thirteen tie-in novels, most of them having to do with Dungeons & Dragons or Blood Bowl. Just this month, Angry Robot published his first original novel—Amortals—and his second—Vegas Knights—is due out this spring.


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