I had never even heard of The Adventure Zone when my wife picked up this graphic novel from the library. I just saw what appeared to be a decent-sized graphic novel that had a roleplaying theme and thought, “Haven’t reviewed anything like that before.”
But this book is far stranger that I expected. For one thing, it’s based on a podcast. The Adventure Zone, which started a decade ago, gets something like 6 million downloads a month, yet this was the first I’d heard of it.
What’s more unusual is that the podcast, which features three brothers and their father (the McElroys) roleplaying in a fantasy setting, is unscripted and improvised… basically just an actual roleplaying session, predating Critical Role.
But while Critical Role has professional voice actors and high production values, The Adventure Zone is, well, just four guys playing and not taking themselves seriously at all. This feels much more like how one of your roleplaying sessions might go, assuming you were all feeling a bit goofy, right down to leaving the room to grab some chips before the game even starts.
And here, they try to take those sessions and adapt it into a graphic novel. No small feat, that.
Obviously, I need to compare this to Knights of the Dinner Table. While KODT takes place in the “real” world, either at the game table and other locations, The Adventure Zone takes place within its fantasy world. The GM pops up in the corner of the panels from time to time, but the scene never cuts to the real world or any of the players…