So hi again — Christmas proved to be marvelously uncomplicated, with me leaving the house only to have dim sum with various friends, then returning to work on some home recording projects and nurse a series of glasses of expensive tequila, so I’m in a pretty expansive mood, believe me. My attempt to get through an exciting action scene in my dungeon crawlers novel proved less successful however, so I’m going back to working on the adventures of the thick-headed Valerius, the bootilicious Saren, the follicly-challenged Grimslade and the klutzy, luckless Indel.
When last we left the heroic quartet, they’d been confronted by a ghastly vision — the image of their old mentor Gavin, who was apparently some kind of freakin’ wizard, and got himself in trouble, forcing him to call on his old flunkies for help. The next installment opens as the adventurers set out from Gavin’s inn to rescue their friend and mentor, Grindal.
I’m noticing that whoever wrote this really likes names that begin with “G” by the way, which is likely to cause confusion. After all, Ralph Bakshi got so confused by two villains (Sauron and Saruman) with “S” names that he renamed one “Aruman” in shameless contravention of Tolkien’s tales. Mind you, the actors kept forgetting and calling him “Saruman,” but no matter.
While Bill Willingham’s art continues to improve and really looks too damned good for a crappy advertising campaign like this, the editing leaves something to be desired, for in the second panel Grimslade says “Weve walked a long way,” proving that wizards don’t need to mess about with namby-pamby shit like punctuation.
Ever the master of the obvious, Valerius then says “Yes. The moon will be up soon,” and Saren purses her pouty, dark-red lips and says “There is somthing (sic) strange about these woods.” No one ever claimed that spelling was a D&D adventurer’s strong suit, but hell — this is for kids dammit — at least try to use correct spelling.
Indel of course remains the world’s most inept rogue, and carelessly utters, “Nah! It’s just your imagina… ulp!” This last comes when an arrow embeds itself in a tree about an inch from his face. Frankly I really wonder why they continue to associate with Indel, but they’ve already left the inn and it’s too late to turn back.
The arrow shooter is another cute blonde woman in a green Robin Hood outfit, accompanied by a bald druid-looking mofo, who shouts “Who dares tresspass (sic) in the woods of Oakthorn?!” Hell, the spelling in this installment is going from bad to worse.
Saren handles the situation, telling Oakthorn that they didn’t mean to disturb anyone, but this isn’t enough for the druid and his blonde companion, for Oakthorn intones “Enough! They must… not leave… the forest!” as he and the woman transform into wolves.
Okay, shit just got real. The wolves leap at our heroes while Indel, ever the comic relief asks, “Uh… Couldn’t we talk about this first?!”
The rampant combination of question marks and exclamation points in this installments makes one mourn the passing of the interrobang, which might have made the letterer’s job much simpler.
So ends another installment, with our heroes fighting for their lives after another of Indel’s pathetic failures. We pick up a few weeks later in media res, with the lithe Saren ducking away from a leaping werewolf while saying “A simple spell will paralyse (sic) this one !!”
Okay, hold on a minute. Are all spells “simple” in this adventure? And even though this was written before spellcheckers, “paralyze” is not that hard a word to spell. And once more, our heroes fight monsters and don’t kill them.
The lack of killing continues in the next panel as Indel finally tries to do something useful, like stab Oakthorn. But even this endeavor ends in failure, for the druid turns himself into a raven and escapes. Indel just can’t seem to catch a break.
So on they press. Unable to catch the fleeing bird, our heros (sic) continue their quest… Through the black swamp of Lobella!
This whole spelling thing is getting silly. During this period, TSR was so busy trying to prove to the world that their game didn’t make kids kill themselves or worship Satan that they forgot to promote good, basic literacy. Sheesh, guys… Use a freakin’ dictionary or something.
…Ever closer to their final goal!
Now Grimslade points toward distant green blobs and says “Behold! The Mountains of Ash!”
Will Grindal be on the other side? the caption excitedly asks. Well, if past events are any indication, there are likely to be more monsters that run away or can easily be defeated by a simple spell. And also, some guy whose name begins with “G” even if it isn’t Grindal.
Well no, not really, since TSR apparently gave up on the whole enterprise, leaving the bold adventuring band suspended in limbo along with Pinsom, Jasmine, Wormy, Fineous Fingers and all the other comic strips that were started, then abandoned by the Game Wizards.
Well, anyway — the adventurers must be having problems in the mountains of ash, for the caption tells us that they’re caught in a sudden avalanche. Grimslade now takes on the panoply of Captain Obvious and says, “Evil forces are at work here!”
Valerius isn’t happy, for he’s carrying their female companion, and neither of them are dressed for the weather. “Saren has been hurt!” he says. “We must act quickly!!”
Grimslade is no slouch. “This magic scroll may provide us with an escape!” he cries. “DIMENSION DOOR!!” And with a Woooosh! sound effect, the spell carries our heroes…
…To an ancient castle! Could the end of the quest lie here?
Nope. We’ll never know. One wonders whether anyone ever tried to find out what happened after the strip ended, but as far as I know, Valerius, Indel, Grimslade and an unconscious Saren are still stuck in that damned castle and probably will be for all eternity.
Yet another ignominious end after a promising start. At least a decade or so later when TSR licensed Dungeons and Dragons to DC comics, the stories had beginnings, middles and ends. As for this little band of delvers and their destined-for-greatness artist, the road had come to an abrupt end.
And so my friends we come to the end of another installment. Maybe I’ll deal with another obscure D&D-related product or phenomenon next week, but in the meantime stay cool, have a happy new year, and keep fighting for what’s right.