With the resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons over the last few years, comics has seen a rise in dungeon-crawling fantasy stories that offer fresh takes on the conventions of role-playing games. First Second has already seen huge success with its graphic novel adaptations of the RPG podcast, The Adventure Zone, and on September 29, the publisher releases Dungeon Critters, offering a kid-friendly take on the genre with a team of animal adventurers. Created by cartoonists Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter, Dungeon Critters is a fantasy tale full of style, wit, and charm, featuring a cast of lovable characters and vibrant, expressive artwork.
The process for Dungeon Critters was extremely collaborative, with both creators writing and drawing the story. “Creating this book together was an extremely rewarding process,” says Natalie Riess, who also created the wonderful Space Battle Lunchtime for Oni Press. “Writing and drawing back and forth, Sara and I were always looking for ways to make each other laugh, cry, or fistpump and yell ‘HELL YEAH!’ (maybe even all three at once!). Critters has a great set of character dynamics for us to play with and I think we made a story that we’re both really proud of and excited to share!”
In the lead-up to the book’s release, the creative team is serializing Dungeon Critters online. The webcomic kicks off on Monday, and The A.V. Club has an exclusive excerpt, spotlighting the humor and personality of this team’s approach. The character acting is particularly excellent, heightening the emotion to quickly establish each character’s distinct disposition. The lettering here plays a big part in the rhythm and tone of the dialogue, and the specificity of the visual elements enriches the narrative.
“Working on this book with Natalie was truly a delight; our strengths mesh really well together, which resulted in a collaboration we’re both very proud of,” says Goetter, a creator deeply familiar with the fantasy genre thanks to her work on her Boozle webcomic. “We’ve been writing these characters in one form or another since 2016 and I think that familiarity really comes through in how the characters bounce off of each other. We both just cannot wait to share this story and these characters with everyone else to enjoy!”