The first book of Scales and Scoundrels invites you to experience it with a beautifully designed cover that describes perfectly the content that can be found inside; a fun, colourful, and imaginative adventure that also allows itself to be introspective when it needs to. It achieves the feeling of one of the most enjoyable and lovable Dungeons and Dragons campaigns you can find. It presents and paces itself with a unique and entertaining cleverness, by putting the reader into a familiar situation of the genre, like opening the book with a tavern fight, but slowly unfolding everything into a lore and style of its own.
From the first panel in which we see our protagonist, Luvander, we get a glimpse of her personality by a small and confident laugh while gambling. And the more she wanders through the world, meeting exciting new people, discovering all kinds of places, and living extraordinary stories, the more we learn about this character that is at both times mysterious and open-hearted, brought to its maximum by the interactions she has with the rest of the cast, that are equally interesting and human in their motivations. The writing from Girner shines bright both in its world-building, that same as the adventure, goes deeper than it could seem from the starting point, and in its characters, with protagonists that are fun and varied but permitted to be flawed and complicated, without turning them into villains, antagonists that have small moments of humanity without taking away their evilness, and brief but charming side characters like a lonely mermaid, morally ambiguous fish-people or a nice goblin fisherman.
The writing of Girner is only amplified and greatly complemented by the art of Galaad, who does wonders at translating the personality of the characters through their designs; like the outfit of Luvander looking like clothing from a jester and a thief put together, combined with messy and distinctive hair. Also excelling at the design of the world, that instead of satisfying itself with limited space and characters, takes us through a lot of different cultures with their own characteristic look, unexplored places that feel full of life by the never-ending colour palette used all throughout the comic, and rich landscapes that make excellent use of splash pages that demonstrate the density and deep history of every surrounding, and most of all, the infinite possibilities that lie within them.
And the art from both of them blends masterfully with Jeff Powell’s lettering and design, which achieves to never feel out of place when going through the pages, being completely versatile and functioning in every scene, making it an essential part of the adventure.
The work done in this book is one that not only impresses by the superficial aspect of it but also by how it feels intrinsically filled with love and passion to explore everything it wants to show. It makes sure to be as emotional as possible without a single badly executed tonal shift, telling a story about the roots that bind us, and the journey through which we are able to release ourselves from them, and discover who we are and who we want to be beyond that which we thought defined us.