Tabletop Roleplaying Games are very trendy right now. What could have been a nostalgic blip in Stranger Things has turned into a full-blown cultural moment. Vault Comics isn’t new to the TTRPG trend, having partnered with Vampire the Masquerade for multiple series of related comics and unveiling the DND-feeling Barbaric last year as well. Their newest series under the TTRPG umbrella is Quests Aside, a comedic story set in THE tavern every DND character passes through at some point.
Quests Aside captures the chaos of a fun session in every way. The writing and art pull your attention in a lot of different directions, but the story itself seems very intentional and precise. AndWorld Design is a lettering studio that has been behind a lot of my favorite comics, and, despite everything happening on any given page, makes things easy to follow and sets different types of speech actions apart with clever details. My favorite character, so far, is an orc whose speech bubbles are green with rumpled edges. It’s super cute!
Elena Gogou’s characters are extremely expressive, which expertly sets the mood and helps the jokes land. The world they exist in is incredibly detailed, and it looks like Gogou spent a lot of time on each panel, capturing complicated concepts like ‘Omni-dimensional store room’ and ‘bard battle’ as extravagantly as possible.
This story walks a delicate balance of dropping you into a setting that you feel immediately familiar with but telling a fresh and exciting story. Quests Aside could have easily felt tired or late to the trend, even amongst just Vault stuff, but Brian Schirmer’s writing feels very self-aware as the first issue leans into a lot of the dnd tropes with campy humor and introduces some plot twists that already have me excited for issue 2.