Thursday, August 5, 2010

From the Pages of Dungeons & Dragons #0—D&D Q&A

Q&A with D&D writer John Rogers and
artist Andrea Di Vito

John Rogers
Tell us a bit more about our initial cast of characters. Who are they and what do they want?
Fell’s Five is a ragtag group of troubleshooters and adventurers led by accidental hero Adric Fell. Adric’s a veteran of the last war (there’s always a “last war” in fantasy fiction), and has found that his only marketable job skill is pulling off the vaguely impossible while other people try to kill him. He’d claim he was just trying to run a little mercenary company, but there is some fundamental anger at the injustice of a dark world. Fell’s Five always get paid, but they usually throw a little rough justice into the mix along the way.
Everyone else’s back stories actually evolve into stories for the comic, so I don’t want to go into too much detail. Khal Khalundurrin, the dwarven paladin of Moradin, is on the road not just for justice, but for love. Varis, the elven ranger, has some very unusual attitudes that make it difficult for him to live in the forest with other elves. Tisha Swornheart, our tiefling warlock, has made a very bad bargain for a very good reason—she’s going to find her missing sister, no matter what. And Bree Three-Hands seems to be a typical halfling rogue, but she’s got a second agenda that goes much, much deeper than picking locks for a party of adventurers.

Can you give us a rundown of what we can expect in the series?
Fun. I think one of the main problems with fantasy comics stems from them being very serious, almost reverential, when it comes to their source material. But D&D is a game you play to have fun with your friends. Expect this title to have lots of door-kicking, monster-slaying, and quips while running from Giant Things with Teeth.

Will readers familiar with the roleplaying game see a lot of it reflected in the comics?
Absolutely. There’s a reason that, when approached with the job, I took the “core” universe book. I wanted to take the most archetypical characters I could design and make them fun. You’ll see full stats for all the characters and their villains, and although I don’t want to be locked into slavish detail, most players will recognize the spells that are being slung and the feats being used.

Did you ever play D&D yourself? If so, what was your favorite character?
I played for years, kind of had a hiatus when I was working in New York, and then dove right back in when I moved to Geek Central, Los Angeles. I’m not going to play “tell me about your character,” but Khal Khalundurrin was a fine dwarven ranger, and I decided to use the name.

What is it about D&D appeals to you and why do you think it has remained in pop culture for so long?
End of day, we relate to the world in stories. You know, there was a great letter Scott Joplin wrote back in the first half of the 20th century, about how records would destroy music. (Yeah, I know, stay with me). His argument was that at the time, there were thousands, maybe millions of amateur musicians, because live playing was the only way to hear music. Every street had some sort of amateur band that would play at night. He thought records would destroy that.
I think D&D is the storytelling equivalent of those amateur musicians. People want to tell stories, and they’re not necessarily getting all they need from television and movies. I think a lot of people who want to interact with each other in a creative way, through storytelling, find D&D and make it their art of choice.

Much of the popularity of D&D extends from players creating their own characters and building upon them. How does that aspect play into creating these comics and how do you offset the lack of interactivity?
D&D really came into its own as the Tolkien-reading crowd embraced it. By which I mean reading fiction and then injecting your favorite elements of that fiction into the D&D game is a long-standing tradition. Besides enjoying the story and characters, I hope D&D players will be lifting these comics wholesale as one-offs and scenarios for their own campaigns. For the D&D crowd, I hope it’ll be “come for the game, stay for the banter and sword fighting.”

The idea of the comics certainly appeals to many D&D fans, but what about those not familiar with the games? What aspects of the comic will draw their interest?
Great art and fun dialogue... you can’t go wrong with that. Look, Joss Whedon did something amazing with Firefly—he got science-fiction fans to care by using tropes from old westerns. I think if you can tell a fun story about rough-edged characters doing interesting things, the setting’s irrelevant. For them, it’s “come for the banter and sword fighting, stay for the game.”

Andrea Di Vito
Tell us a bit more about our initial cast of characters. How did you go about designing their look?
I tried to have their look reflect their persona a little. Most of all I tried to give visual hints about what kind of people they are. Most important of all I tried to give them a “real” adventurer’s look, all their clothes and armor are used, dented, scratched. These guys are in a very dangerous line of work and I thought they must not care too much about their looks, all that matters is to get the job done, either for money or glory!

Did you ever play D&D yourself? If so, do you have a favorite character?
I have been playing D&D on and off for the last 25 years, and I still do! I don’t have a favorite character, but I really enjoy weaving stories with my friends. If I had to choose though, nothing beats a Dwarf!

What is it about D&D appeals to you and why do you think it has remained in pop culture for so long?
The reasons are many, I think. Mainly, it’s the social side of the game that hooks people. You give someone the chance to be a hero, or somebody entirely different from who they are, and they get the chance to express themselves without bounds. It’s almost intoxicating at first, all of a sudden you are allowed to do anything with your imagination. And the best part is that you get to do it playing along with your friends. Also D&D is very fundamental, you just need dice and paper to play, all the rest is up to you and the Dungeon Master!

The idea of the comics certainly appeals to many D&D fans, but what about those not familiar with the games? What aspects of the comic will draw their interest?
Fantasy genre has seen increased attention during these last years, and I believe many people are thirsty for a good fantasy comic. And if you say fantasy it does not get much better than the D&D world. It’s all about adventure, humour, suspense, and struggle. It is about what makes life (fantasy or not) interesting!


  1. I just read Issue #0 and now I am excited to see what happens in Issue #1! Good start guys. Favourite part "Ha! YES! Gods-Damned Halfling Luck." "My... Ruby..." lol

  2. Really good job.
    Oeming and Devito's work on Thor had finally shown what an awesome property Marvel had with Thor. The fantasy element was in full swing and made a lasting impression.

    Not since the days of Walt Simonson had Thor and Asgard came to life so vividly.

    And then Marvel relaunched the title and lost me.

    I am indeed looking forward to #1 in November!