D&D comics history part 17 - Where Shadows Fall (K&C)

   It's in July 2003, 6 months after their last issue of Black & White, that Kenzer & Company will publish their 4th and -sadly- last mini-series, once again set in Greyhawk and sequel to In the Shadow of Dragons, under the name :

Where Shadows Fall


   As indicated on the covers, this will be a 5 issues story, but contrary to the other mini-series, the parts have no title :
#1 (July '03)
#2 (Sep. '03)
#3 (Dec. '03)
#4 (Feb. '04)
#5 (June '04)

   The story is written by the author of the prequel, Jay Donovan and as usual a bunch of artists will work on this :
Carlos Alberto S. Paul : Penciller of parts 1, 2, 4 & 5
Anderson Ricardo : Penciller of part 3
Ricardo Riamonde : Colorist of parts 1 & 2
Salvatore Aiala : Colorist of parts 3* to 5
Matt Haley : Cover pencils of parts 1 to 3, Cover colors of parts 1 & 2
David Hahn : Cover inks of parts 1 & 2
Scott Kester : Cover colors of part 3
Joe & Rob Sharp : Covers of parts 4 & 5
Marcos Schmidt : Lettering of all parts
*credited in part 5 erratum
 Part 1 - Art by Carlos Alberto, colors by Ricardo Riamonde

 Part 3 (left) - Art by A.Ricardo &  Part 5 (right) - Art by C.Alberto (both : colors by S.Aiala)

   We have a really more-than-decent art here. On both pencil & colors we find a series at its maturity. And when we have another penciller in charge of the middle issue, the coloring of S.Aiala do the trick in the transition. The light & shadow effects are very powerful in the first issues while the lines are getting sharper and the colors brighter in the last ones. Marcos Schmidt did a really nice lettering work here (but one nice fumble in last issue... cf pict below) and, doing all parts, gives us a textual coherence all along (which wasn't always the case in the precedent series).

When the great villain suffers of Palilalia... obvious hint of a developed dementia... :P

As well, it seems Jay Donovan took some confidence as he provides a far less boring (yeah, yeah, am a bit harsh here...) and kinda less classic story than he did before. The tone itself is lighter and he managed to get rid of the superfluous chitchat.

   This story takes place in the Phostwood Forest (more details on the 1998 Oerth Journal #8 - p.11 to 17), in the Duchy of Tenh and aside the Bandit Kingdoms, where our 3 heroes (Lucien Cathal, Roarn Stonehearth & Verena Mornbringer) from In the Shadow of Dragons are summoned by Aurric Whitewind to locate and return his daughter, Lumari. This one, in love with a drow named Cerin, and caught in their rendez-vous by her father some months ago ended under a temporal stasis spell to avoid her fleeing with her beloved again. But in order to avoid her to be moved, Cerin ordered his spellcaster (a certain Terannkis) to place a curse upon her. As a result, if she were taken away, all the dead throughout the Phoswoods would rise again within 2 weeks... Cerin having freed his beloved 3 days ago, our heroes (accompanied by the damsel-in-distress' bro, Caddal) have now 12 days left to save the elven people from an undead invasion... while on Cerin's side, his leader, the powerful Abehhan-Vrre is preparing his war against the Phostwood he's lusting for... 
   From the Phostwood to some hideout in the Rift Canyon, passing by the Fellreev Forest (to meet Krysanya the Scryer) and the "hole in the Oerth" town of Luendorn (to meet some old friend), we have here some rescue-the-princess story on a Romeo & Juliet / Troy War background...far more entertaining and funnier than its prequel, Kenzer & Co reached some level here and the quality of the story as well of its art would bear comparison with the upcoming DDP's publications.

World of Oerth - Duchy of Tenh, Fellreev Forest & Bandit Kingdoms area

Note that we are granted of an unique piece of RPG material at the beginning of the 4th issue :

   It's kinda sad to think this will be the last mini-series Kenzer & Co will produce under the D&D license as they were getting very good at it, raising the quality from one to the next... I tend to think that these short publications convinced WOTC to persevere in the comics industry. These may be not the most famous D&D comics but K&C really offered their readers a nice insight of the Greyhawk setting and pretty fun tales to read.



D&D comics history part 16 - Black & White (K&C)

   Keeping their publication rhythm, and In the Shadow of Dragons ending in May 2002, Kenzer & Company will release, in July 2002, a new series, once again set in Greyhawk, entitled :

Black & White

   The series will be a six parts one as annouced on the covers :
Part 1/6 : Once a Thief... (July '02)
Part 2/6 : New Friends, Old Enemies (Aug. '02)
Part 3/6 : Woodwych (Sep. '02)
Part 4/6 : Lambs to the Slaughter (Oct. '02)
Part 5/6 : The Return (Nov. '02)
Part 6/6 : Coming Home (Jan. '03)

   Story is from Jeff Limke (See the 2002 Interview by CBR's ) and here again, even if we're in a white & black comic, a bunch of artists will work on this :
Gregg Paulsen : Penciller of part 1 p.1-14, Cover artist of part 1
Nicholas Nix : Penciller of part 1 p.15-22, Inker of part 1, Cover artist of part 2
(As explained in first issue intro, N. Nix will draw the end of the part 1/6 as G. Paulsen is, for some reason, unable to finish his work on it. And as a preview, there are also some sketches by the artists of the following issues at its end - cf below)
Wilson Roberto de Oliveira Jr. : Penciller of part 2
Rodrigo Pereira : Penciller of parts 3 to 6, Cover artist of part 3
Jorge Correa Jr. : Inker of parts 4 to 6, Cover artist of parts 4 & 5
Renato Guedes : Cover artist of part 4*
Adriano Batista : Cover artist of part 5
Thiago "Grafik" Carvalho : Cover artist of part 6
Tom Martin : Cover colorist of part 1
Scott Kester : Cover colorist of parts 2* to 6
Dreamer Design : Lettering & FX of parts 1 to 3
Martin Barnes : Lettering & FX of part 4
Alan Smythee** : Lettering & FX of parts 5 & 6
*credited in following part's erratum
**Alan Smithee is a pseudonym used to disown a product

Part 1/6 - art by G.Paulsen (left) & by N.Nix (right)

Upcoming issues #2 & #3 sketches previewed at the end of part 1/6

Part 2/6 - art by W.R.Oliveira Jr. (left) & Part 3/6 - art by R.Pereira (right)    

   To say the least, that's some unique piece Kenzer & Co offered us here. The black & white rendering is very interesting in many ways. If forces the reader to take time to decipher the drawing in details and gives a special atmosphere to the story. Tho, and especially on the first two parts, it is sometimes difficult to define who's who due to the absence of colors (meaning there that whatever the pose, distance or even angle of view of a character, colors -of hair, outfit, etc- can be a very good marker of recognition). Rodrigo Pereira did a really great job here as his white & black processing is, in my opinion, a level above the other artists'. But well, even if the roughest without a doubt, I still do appreciate Nicholas Six's part. On the writing, Jeff Limke offered us a very entertaining and intriguing narrative even if some plots find some quick and easy denouement... that's maybe the wrong side of mini-series telling a not-so-short story...

   ...about a an half-elven thief named Tinelith, living in Rel Mord (capital city of the Kingdom of Nyrond), who robbed King Lynwerd's messenger. Having cut the wrong purse and now in possession of unwanted magically sealed scrolls among some jewels and coins from the theocracy of the Pale (more info here), she finds herself tracked by the city guards led by a certain Captain Grakin. With the help of Snibb, the gnome wizard and Benni, the half-orc fighter, the group manage to flee the city. On the road they'll be joined by Bernleough, a traveling cleric. The party will have to face many dangers and wander in many places (not always by their own will...) as the city of Woodwych, the hidden elven city of Stalwart in the Celadon Forest, the city of Beetu or even the feared Gnatmarsh. (cf map below). With a background of politics and royal treasons sprinkled with love and friendship affairs, the whole story is not left out of twists and turns.

World of Oerth - Kingdom of Nyrond & City of Rel Mord

   For their 3rd mini-series, Kenzer & Co did great with this uncommon piece. I am just a bit disappointed on the fact we're granted with no RPG material at all... there is just some places description/history here and there within the frames... But well... it is what it is heh. 
   A must-to-read anyway !



D&D comics history part 15 - Tempest's Gate (K&C)

   As In the Shadow of Dragons was well ongoing, Kenzer & Company launched in december 2001 a second Greyhawk comics series entitled :

Tempest's Gate

   This time each issue is called a "book"... well...
Book One : Born of Fire (Dec. '01)
Book Two : Forged in Tears (Jan. '02)
Book Three : Tempered in Fellowship (Feb. '02)
Book Four : Sheathed in Justice (Mar. '02)

   Story has been written by Sean Smith, and as expected, a bunch of different artists worked on this series as well (Basically a team for the first 2 issues and another one for the last 2) :
Mike (Michael) Lilly : Penciller of books 1 & 2, Cover artist of all books
Travis Walton : Inker of books 1 & 2, Cover colorist/inker of all books
Rich Kelly : Inker of book 1
Bob Wiacek : Inker of book 1
Bill (Alfred O.) Williams : Inker of book 1
Mickey Clausen : Colorist of books 1 & 2, Letterer of book 1
Tony Duncan : Letterer of book 2
Rodrigo Pereira : Penciller/ Inker of books 3 & 4
Nelson (Pereira) Mendonça : Inker of books 3 & 4
Salvatore Aiala : Colorist of books 3 & 4
Ricardo Riamonte : Colorist of books 3 & 4
Marcos Schmidt : Letterer of books 3 & 4

 Book Two - Double page (art by M.Lilly)
Book Three - Double page (art by R.Pereira)

   When we have really fine art in every issue, Mike Lilly & Rodrigo Pereira doing great here, I was kinda shocked by the lack of visual coherence (not talking about the styles here) between the end of Book Two and the beginning of Book Three, especially considering we're in the very same scene (cf pict below... for the more obvious discrepancies). This being said, the comic in its whole is very entertaining. We have here far less chitchat and more action than in their previous mini-series. Tho, imo, they could have done a 5 issues story as some scene are kinda shorten and could have easily been more developed (especially at the end where it's a bit (to say the least...) sloppy in a rush to conclude).

And for the quick-change performance, Ladies & Gentlemen...we're welcoming... Aidus !!

   Note here that the assassin in charge of murdering our hero is the famous Zarak from the LJN toys line (who, as Warduke did, travelled from Mystara to Greyhawk a few ago...). FYI, he also appears in The Treasure of Time storybook I reviewed years ago.

Zarak - 1983 LJN basic figure (left - picture from my own collection) & stats from D&D modules (right)

   This time the plot takes place in the area of Bissel, near the frontier with Ket, in some outpost called Tempest's Gate (cf map below). The outpost being attacked by Oghs (some local variety of orcs... cf pict below) lead by Flame, a powerful Fire Sorceress taking orders from the evil necromancer Evard (cf info sheet below), the young lieutenant Aidus soon get the charge of the defense as his captain passes away. Helped by the arrival of the hill-man barbarian Urik and his tribe they manage to repel the attackers. Soon joined by the dwarf Hakignm Strongarm, whose people of Kharak Dhul's mining colony have been decimated by the same fiends a few ago, and helped by the imperial advisor and great Ice Wizard Zed-Kraken and some other allies, the gathered party is sent to track the evil menace. Some will have to look back in their past to overcome present's troubles. As said earlier, if some parts could have been expanded, we have here a story rich of elements as the many kinds of monsters/species as well as a great bunch of interesting characters.

World of Oerth, March of Bissel and probable location of Tempest's Gate (red dot)

Evard info, bio and stats (Dungeon Magazine #107)

   Also note that we are granted with some RPG materials in each issue (tho only a tiny list of Greyhawk references in Book Two) as stats of Aidus (B.3) and his beloved Vail (B.4) as well as the description of Oghs (B.1).

Characters and monster stats

   It's a nice piece Kenzer & Co offered us here even if it lacks some rigor here and there... we have some plots without any clue on the whys and wherefores and some villains mentioned without any appearance... wondering here if it wasn't meant to be a longer series at first that ended shorter for some reason... Still, a fun reading anyway.



D&D comics history part 14 - In the Shadow of Dragons (K&C)

   After a decade of very rare production (10 D&D comics... not talking about this blog's posts here :P), WotC, which acquired TSR a few years ago and also became a subsidiary of Hasbro in 1999, well decided to promote their 3rd edition of D&D, gave the hand to Kenzer & Company to edit their new comics line from 2001. Kenzer & Co was specialized in publishing RPG materials as the Kingdoms of Kalamar (which will be later officially included in D&D 3rd) and the famous comic Knights of the Dinner Table. And so, in march 2001, is released the first issue of :

In the Shadow of Dragons

   The whole story will count 8 issues, called "parts" :
Part 1 : The Last of my Father (Mar. '01)
Part 2 : In the Belly of the Lone Heath (May '01)
Part 3 : Through the Darkness of Anasteo (July '01)
Part 4 : The Lies that Bind (Sep. '01)
Part 5 : Guardian of the Dragonhold (Nov. '01)
Part 6 : An Eclipse of Stolen Blood (Jan. '02)
Part 7 : Wrapped in Betrayal's Kiss (Mar. '02)
Part 8 : Where Strangers Once Stood... (May '02)

   And while it will be written all along by Jay Donovan, a bunch of artists will work on these : 
Hung Vinh Mac : Cover artist of parts 1 to 4
Tyler Walpole : Penciller/Letterer of parts 1,2,4 & 5
John Hahn : Penciller/Inker of part 6
Sam Wang : Ink Assists of part 6
Tommy Castillo : Penciller/Inker of parts 7 & 8, Cover artist of parts 5 to 8 
Andy Brase : Inker of parts 1,2,4 & 5
Jeff Mayer : Inker of part 3 p.1,3-6
Tony Moy : Penciller/Inker of part 3
Abby Moy : Letter of part 3
Chad Fidler : Colorist of part 1 & 2
Mike Estlick : Colorist of part 3
V. Shane Colclough : Colorist of part 4 p.1-21
Tom Martin : Colorist of part 4 p.22-24, Cover colorist of parts 5 to 8
Scott Kester : Colorist of parts 5 to 8

Part 3 (Art by T.Moy)                                        P.5 (Art by T.Walpole)

 P.6 (Art by J.Hahn)                                              P.8 (Art by T.Castillo)

   The art is pretty decent in its whole even if I have to say, knowing what the artist is capable of, I am a bit disappointed by Tyler Walpole's one, especially on the first issues. These ones are somehow laborious to read as for the long and kinda boring dialogues in the bubbles but also for the lack of humor. But little by little, the story is getting entertaining and the tone less serious. As well, on the visual aspect, the work of different artists made the whole getting into a more pleasant and dynamic reading as the story goes on. On another aspect, the lettering is sometimes not helping a runny reading... especially when using some "artistic" tiny fonts as at the beginning of part 6... °-°
   But in the end, for something starting a bit too classic and serious, we got a nice story here. It takes place in the Greyhawk campaign setting as well as the Kenzer & Co's productions that will follow and the Hammer Graphics' Vecna - Hand of the Revenant during the same period (2001-04). Obviously WotC was willing to maximize their promotion of the last version of its setting (Greyhawk will finally die in 2008 - tho some references to it -deities, races, classes- will be part of the 2014's 5th edition of the Player's Handbook...).

   The plot is about 3 great and somehow amazingly powerful blue dragons (Blackwing and his siblings Eclipse & Azzre) harassing the city of Rel Astra (cf map below) in order to reclaim a powerful artifact they call "The Last of My Father". The city, governed by Lord Drax - known as The Invulnerable (cf pict below) - will try to counter-attack but without any success. Willing to surrender and giving the dragons what they are seeking but having no clue of the whereabouts, a party is formed around a mage apprentice, Gifre, who will be sent on the roads to meet the powerful wizard master Ealadhach in Roland. According to Gifre and to what his former master, Landuwek, shared with him, the wizard master is said to have the knowledge and power to defeat dragons. To protect the young and unexperienced apprentice on his trek, Drax will command Evina, his best bodyguard, Lucien Cathal, a celebrated paladin and also Kiernan Ornarus, a convicted rogue to join the group of travellers. The team will be soon beefed up on its way to Roland by the coming of Roarn Stonehearth, a dwarven warrior, Verena Mornbringer, an elvish ranger and Sissel, a blind shapeshifter druid. They will all together cross the wild lands to do their best to avoid the destruction of Rel Astra by the angered wyrms. (More info on the Free Cities of Rel Astra, Roland & Ountsy here and there)

World of Oerth, western Flanaess - City of Rel Astra and its area (including City of Roland)

Lord Drax short description (Ivid the Undying adventure, TSR 1995)

   Note also that, as well as it occured on DC's series and in some IDW's later on, a few RPG material was added in this comic. At the end of part 3 we are granted with Lucien and Roarn's chara-sheets. When we would have waited for the rest of the team ones, sadly and strangely it will be only this. Well, better than nothing I suppose heh...

Lucien & Roarn characters sheets

   With this series and the upcoming ones, Kenzer and Company settled the new D&D comics era with a relative success at that time but surely laying the foundation of a solid renewal other publishers, as DDP and IDW, will lean on in the years to come.

   The series will have, in 2003, a sequel (with no direct link with the scenario here) featuring some of the heroes we met here, entitled Where Shadows Fall. (also written by Jay Donovan but with a different team of artists)




This tiny blog (43 posts) reached the 100,000 pages viewed since its creation in May 2010.
Big thanks to all the people who spent some time wandering in here !!

Top 10 visits by country
U.S.A. (37K)
Russia (10K)
France (8K)
Germany (4K)
Canada (4K)
Spain (2.6K)
U.K. (2.5K)
Brasil (2.3K)
Italia (1.6K)
Poland (1.3K)

Keep on rollin' dice !!



Last Updates

   It seems Blogger has some issue with comment notification by email.
And indeed I wasn't aware of a comment let 2 weeks ago on the cartoon ads post. I'll make my best to check the comments section from time to time. So all my apologies if you comment a post and don't get answered in the upcoming days...

   For the rest, well, along with the comics history posts I came back to, I did some update in the jigsaw puzzle list (as well as I created subfolders for the puzzles picts on my pinterest for a better sorting). Added a publisher (FSV) I wasn't aware a few ago (and if by any chance you have some picts or info on these german jigsaw puzzles, don't hesitate to contact me... found almost nothing on the web concerning these...) and did some minor updates here and there.

   And btw, I am somehow willing to sell some of (or maybe all...) the jigsaw puzzles I have.
So if you're interested in getting one I own, feel free to mail me for more info.



D&D comics history part 33 - Tyranny of Dragons (WOTC)

   From August 2014 to January 2015, Wizards of the Coast will issue a 10 pages online comic on their website entitled : Tyranny of Dragons

   This story will be part of the Tyranny of Dragons event that occured during this period. Along with the comic, WOTC will release adventures, modules, the Legends of Baldur's Gate comic by IDW and figurines based on this storyline.

Here is the introduction of the event by WOTC :
   "For years, the evil Cult of the Dragon has devoted itself to creating undead dragons in a vain attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy. However, the cultists were misguided. They misunderstood. But now, under new leadership, the cult believes that the prophecy does not speak of undead dragons, but of a dragon empire that’s been extinct for 25,000 years. Tiamat, the queen of evil dragons, has languished in the Nine Hells for millennia. The cult believes that the time of her return is at hand.
   The cult has a new face and a new mission. It seeks to free Tiamat from the Nine Hells and bring her into the Forgotten Realms. To accomplish its goal, the cult needs five ancient dragon masks and the support of evil dragons everywhere. The cult leaders -each one a "dragon whisperer"- have reached out to the evil dragons of the Sword Coast and earned their allegiance.
   Meanwhile, evil dragons in partnership with the cult seek to amass a treasure hoard worthy of their dark queen, not by plundering their own hoards (of course) but by stealing money from cities, caravans, good-aligned dragons, merchant ships, and other sources. Their ravenous hunt for treasure throws the Sword Coast into upheaval. Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Baldur’s Gate - no city is safe from their depredations.
   The situation is dire. However, the Sword Coast is far from defenseless. Powerful factions are ready to rise up and put an end to the tyranny of dragons. Adventurers throughout the Realms must join forces to face Tiamat, destroy the Cult of the Dragon, and prevent the rise of a new dragon empire. The Harpers have since shared their intelligence with the remaining factions. To combat the Cult of the Dragon, Lord Dagult Neverember of Neverwinter proposes that adventurers representing each of the five factions be sent north to investigate - and to report back with haste.
   In their hands, the future lies."

   Tyranny of Dragons is not the only event provided by WOTC. As I am writing these lines, we're under Waterdeep : Dragon Heist one that is following a bunch of past stories as Tomb of Annihilation, Curse of Strahd, Rage of Demons, Elemental Evil or even Storm King's Thunder. When most of them will include a dedicated comic storyline by IDW (cf the ongoing adventures of Minsc and Boo saga), Tyranny of Dragons will be the only one so far to have its own dedicated online comic.

   The story has been written by Chris Perkins, script by Bart Carroll, art by David Baldeon, coloring by Joana Lafuente and lettering by Neil Uyetake.

   Mainly, this comic strip is a tour of the main places of the Forgotten Realms where the event takes place. Set as an introduction, we're following a bunch of different factions' heroes joining (at least for some time...) in a trip from Icewind Dale to Neverwinter, Tuern and Waterdeep where the cultists, under the command of a certain Rath Modar, are looking after the Dragon Masks, powerful artifacts that, when assembled into a crown, would allow Tiamat, the chromatic five-headed Queen of the Evil Dragons, to be summoned from the Well of Dragons. You can find more info about the masks in the free online Rise of Tiamat supplement (page 4).

ToD First page

  Each page is a condensed part of this story that could have had its own dedicated chapter issued if it were been developped. In a few pages, WOTC gave its readers/players a strong and heavy background of its event, something between a teaser and a summary. The art is pretty decent and, while plots and actions stand in a very few frames, the whole is still very understandable and coherent.

   For a better insight here is a pdf of my own of the whole story in a reduced size. (tho, the WotC links being still active, I'd gladly recommend you to get the pages there in their full resolution...)



D&D comics history part 32 - Cutter (IDW)

   In 2013, along with the reprints of classic DC comics, IDW will only release one original story, set in the Forgotten Realms :


   This 5 issues comic will be compiled into HC in november 2013 and in TPB a year later. Single issues will all have an alternate cover (characters' sketch ones for the most).

   It's been written by Robert Anthony and Geno Salvatore, art by David Baldeon, colors by David Garcia Cruz and letters by Neil Uyetake.

   The plot takes place just before Night of the Hunter, 28th book in the Legend of Drizzt story arc. It relates the inheritance of a magical sword from a Drow renegade, Tos'un Armgo, to either one of his half-drow siblings, Teirflin and Doum'weille, who will have to fight for its ownership. Tos'un, who fled Menzoberranzan during the failed siege of Mithril Hall (year 1358 DR) is then living for a century under the stars among the elves of the Moonwood and married with their leader, Sinnafain. In this tragical family drama, the main object of the tale is obviously the sword Khazid'hea, the "Cutter", a sentient and malevolent blade that will be a reccurent element of the Legend of Drizzt saga. First appeared in Starless Night, 8th installment of the series, it was then owned by Dantrag, elder son of Matron Yvonne Baenre and weapon master of the same house. By chance, even it DDP never released the full Starless Night comic, we have some visual of it in the first only published issue. Its design was then pretty different from what we have in Cutter. Here's are the page from DDP's comic and a cover art by D. Baldeon for a comparison :

Khazid'hea designed as... scimitar (!) in DDP's Starless Night and longsword in IDW's Cutter

   Through its history, the longsword will have many owners including Drizzt, Catti-brie, Delly Curtie and even orcs before ending in the hands of Tos'un. It is said the sword can cut through flesh, bone, steel, and even rock. And, aside with the telepathic path the sword creates with its owner, it also has the ability to shape-adapt its pommel and hilt to him and has no other purpose but to find its greater wielder, whatever it could cost to actual one. Tho, the blade part of the blood-thirsty sword itself is not supposed to change. (there DDP Starless Night's scimitar design creates a total non-sense as after Drizzt acquired it, he will give it to Catti-brie as he prefers using scimitars... QED heh)

   Taken alone, without any knowledge of Drizzt saga, the story can be misunderstood and somehow incoherent to the reader. But in the whole it makes sense. The art and coloring are pretty decent. We have here very dynamic scenes of battles.

    Here again, IDW proposed us a nice piece. Maybe not the best compared to the rest of their publishing but still, a fine and well drawn side story. The only one thing I could personally regret is that there is no module edition for any of the issues as well as no RPG material at all as bonuses... but well... it is what it is heh.

Also note that this story will be compiled in IDW's Forgotten Realms Omnibus along with Neverwinter Tales and Forgotten Realms.

Bonus : R.A. & Geno Salvatore's interview by Bart Carroll (04/10/2013)
What is the “Cutter” that gives this comic book series its title?
Bob : “Cutter” is the nickname of the sentient long sword, Khazid’hea, which has appeared in several of my older Drizzt novels.
Geno : Khazid’hea first appears in Starless Night, and has changed hands several times through the Drizzt novels. It was last seen in the hands of Tos’un Armgo, a drow renegade.

Can we expect to see any familiar faces (from your novels or from lore) in this series?
Bob : Oh yes, of course! Tos’un, the lead character and his elven wife were both around for the Hunter’s Blades series, and we learned about their two children through the books and short stories, as well. Also, this series will lead us back to many other familiar characters in the novels going forward.

How did this comic book come about?
Bob : Geno and I had such a good time writing Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales that I wanted to do another one. Given the scope of The Sundering, the great world event that’s shaking the Forgotten Realms, there are many side-stories to tell. For this one, I thought a comic series was the perfect medium.
Geno : The story itself feels like a natural one to tell—Tos’un’s story in the novels was an interesting one, and he was left in an open-ended place. So we decided to explore what has happened to him and his family.

How does the process of writing a comic book differ from a novel?
Bob : You have to be very efficient with language, of course, and make sure that you’re on the exact same page as the artist, who is, in many ways, relating more of the story than you, the writer, are. I’m a visual writer, but with this format, I’m forced to really pare back my usual manner of letting the characters describe the scene before them.
Geno : Space is at a premium in a graphic novel. There are only so many pages in an issue. So, in order to tell the full story, you really have to use that space efficiently. There simply isn’t enough space on the page for anything not essential to the story. Of course, I’m not sure that’s really different from novel writing—anything not moving the story forward can and should be cut from a novel, as well—but writing a graphic novel really forces you to consider what is and what is not essential.

You’ve both written comics before, of course—but have you become more comfortable with the medium?
Bob : I certainly am. What’s very intriguing to me is that all I’m really doing is channeling the way I “see” a story a bit differently than when I’m writing it in a novel, and honestly, the comics are starting to seem equally (if not more) natural to me.
Geno : One of the first things I published starting out was a graphic novel short (co-authored with my father), which was featured as part of a graphic novel based on his DemonWars world. Returning to graphic novels for Neverwinter Tales and now for Cutter feels very natural to me. I very much enjoy and feel very comfortable with visual media.

Have you enjoyed working with artist David Baldeon?
Bob : Oh, absolutely! Every time the next pages show up, I open the e-mail and gasp with awe. David can tell a story as well as anyone, and beautifully.
Geno : David’s work is amazing.

Will this series have a lasting impact on the landscape of Dungeons & Dragons - and the Forgotten Realms specifically?
Bob : Yes, because Cutter is leading us to something bigger and darker. My novel due next March refers to this series directly and importantly.


D&D comics history part 31 - Abraxis Wren of Eberron (IDW)

   In early 2012, IDW published the first story with Abraxis Wren, an Eberron inquisitive (detective) created in 2007 to be the main protagonist of the novel Night of the Long Shadows by Paul Crilley. The author will give his hero another novel in 2010 : Taint of the Black Brigade.

   IDW on their hands, will issue 2 stories of Abraxis. First one is part of Infestation 2. Second one is edited as Dungeons & Dragons - Annual 2012 : Eberron. And both will be compiled -dun ask me why.... o_O- among with Eye of the Wolf, an Eberron comic pusblished by DDP (and already compiled itself in DDP's The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons) in a 2015 TPB entitled :

Abraxis Wren of Eberron

Omnibus TPB Cover

   So, Infestation 2... concept comic compilation around a common thema covering different universes. In 2011, IDW released Infestation, a Zombie invasion that occured in different worlds. We will have then zombie stories in Tranformers, G.I. Joe, Start Trek, Ghostbusters and Pocket God. Each world has its dedicated chapter and there is no featuring (I mean no real crossover) between them except in the Infestation chapters set in CVO : Covert Vampiric Operations universe (intro and conclusion ones). This time, with Infestation 2, we're not in zombies anymore but all heroes will have to deal with a H.P. Lovecraft's Horror... It's huge, it mostly have tentacles... yeah the Great Ancient is not far away... "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" :D

 Infestation 1 & 2 HC covers

   In the second volume, the Elder God of Lovecraft will invade CVO, 30 Days of Night, G.I. Joe, TMNT, The Transformers, Team Up (IDW's) and of course Dungeons & Dragons that is taking 2 chapters within the total 16. (Btw, the Team Up chapter winks a 2013 Infestation 3 on a newspaper article but IDW will never issue it. There are some preludes to Infestation and epilogues as Infestation : Outbreak but that stops there.

   Infestation 2 : Dungeons & Dragons will be originally released as 2 comics. First issue has A,B & RI covers when second one has only A & RI ones. And each issue has an Infestation 2 checklist on its back-cover.

 RI cover versions & back-cover (issue #1)

   One could only get these 2 as every story is just based on a global concept and not really crossing over any other universe/tale. But ! One would be missing that :

Yeah... I know... amazing heh XD
   Truly am only pointing that in a collector's point of view... You'd be lacking this very one page in your D&D collection if you only acquire the single D&D issues instead of the hardcover omnibus...  well... getting Infestation 2 #1 (CVO) in addtion to D&D's works too tho... anyway, just saying heh.

   Infestation 2 - Dungeons & Dragons is written by Abraxis' "father" Paul Crilley, art by Valerio Schiti, colors by Scarletgothica and lettering by Chirs Mowry.

   V. Schiti did an amazing work on this, reminding me of Tim Selley's art on The Rigor of the Game. The rendering is spectacular and fits totally the steampunk ambiance of Eberron. On the story, well, we're meeting Abraxis Wren and his dwarven accolyte Torin. These two are clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and I would even say by the Guy Ritchie movies ones.

Here is some little background of Abraxis found on the web :

   Abraxis Wren was born and raised in Sharn. His father spent his later years obsessing over the creation of the "perfect" appartment in the Skyway neighborhood of the City of Towers. Wren's father was incredibly wealthy, and, after he drank himself into an early grave, Wren inherited a vast fortune, that provides him with a lifestyle that grants him a personal freedom that few ever know. During the Last War, Wren fought for Breland, when he was not in the service of House Medani - those few times that the two had different interests. Wren does not speak about the War much, but those who do hear him speak of it can get the idea that he saw some serious combat.
   Wren was once married. His ex-wife Lyra d'Medani agreed to several dangerous missions, while she was pregnant. The last of them resulted in her capture and the loss of their unborn child, due to an infection resulting from her injuries. After the War was over, she was released. When Wren found out that she had lost the baby, he walked away from her and House Medani. The House understood the reason for his leaving and did not officially kick him out of the house.
   Wren returned to Sharn, where he used the skills that House Medani had taught him as a Master Inquisitive. He claims to be the best inquisitive in all of Sharn. There are few who can honestly disagree, even if they may do so only begrudgingly. He has taken on an assistant, an older dwarf by the name of Torin.

   Abraxis Wren : A half-elf aristocrat and playboy. When he's not partying with the upper class or exploring the red light districts of Sharn, Wren can be found uncovering the latest mysteries as a self proclaimed inquisitive. He is a well travelled individual, spending time in all five nations accompanied with his best friend Torin. Unlike the majority of Half-Elves whom are a race of their own Wren's father was an Elf and his Mother Human. Wren is a magic user and carries a wand though he also wields a set of modified hand crossbows he created himself.
   Torin : A member at Morgrave university, a typical book worm and faithful husband, this dwarf is the opposite of Wren but is somehow his closest and oldest friend. Wren's playboy and impulsive attitude often drags Torin into the company of women and courtesans which has led to his wife despising Wren. Torin's skills are best suited to an academic lifestyle though he still wields a blade.

   After having closed a case in some Hercule-Poirot-doesn't-give-a-fuck-anymore scene and starting to investigate on a missing person, the comic duo (well... a half-elf and a dwarf heh...) will be misleaded in their reasoning and will end creating a monstrous shitstorm in their city of Sharn and then would have to find a solution to fix their disastrous and apocalyptic mess. Action, humor, self-derision, steampunk, fantasy, when a Sherlock meets a Cthulhu on a well drawn comic... a must-to-have imo. Once again IDW greatly planned their D&D adventure in the comics world for the joy of their readers.

   One could have thought it would end here but IDW wasn t done yet with Abraxis and Torin.
The same year they issued a thin TPB (that has 2 RI -Valerio Schiti sketches- variant covers) :

Dungeons & Dragons Annual 2012 : Eberron

   If once more, the story is written by Paul Crilley, this time art is done by Paco Diaz (for first and third chapters) and Atilio Rojo (for second one), coloring by Jesus Aburtov and Graphikslava, and lettering by Shawn Lee.

   It now seems obvious P. Crilley loves detective stories (aside the fact his main character is an inquisitive I mean...) as the reader finds himself in some known atmosphere, plunged into collective memory's references. With this story, it's more than obvious that the author got inspired by Agatha Cristie's Murder on the Orient Express. The whole story is taking place in a luxury class lighting train, the Breland Express where a murder (at first...) will be commited.

   In the first pages we are noticed this adventure takes place a few after the Infestation 2 events as Wren is complaining, drunk at the restaurant car.

   P. Crilley is playing with detective stories codes as he will introduce a character who is somewhat reminiscent of another Agatha Cristie's classic character : Miss Jane Marple. Here named Asta Telandra, this grumpy armchair detective designates herself as an amateur sleuth who solved over hundreds of case and, as we could expect, some competition will begin between her and Abraxis.

Chapter I page (art by Diaz)                                     Margareth Rutherford as Miss Marple      

    Despite the obvious inspirations of the author, we're not into some retelling of a famous story but rather in some nice and entertaining original political (yeah... there is some of that too) and crime story. The art is pretty decent and in the whole respect the work Valerio Schiti did in Infestation 2, tho we can notice Wren Abraxis is here found more robust and less dumb looking than he was then. The part drawn by artist Rojo shows a more light and shadow style but as slighty as it is not creating a visual gap between chapters, gratefully for the readers.

Dead men tell no tales... (art by Rojo) 

   In addition to the story, the annual 2012 offers the reader the seven first pages of the Abraxis novel Taint of the black Brigade by Paul Crolley, bonus that is not included in the Abraxis Wren of Eberron omnibus.

   We can be glad IDW gave us some nice comics to discover Eberron world. The few DDP issued before wasn't particulary depicting this steampunk D&D universe as one could have expected. Here we have both entertaining stories, charismatic characters and a nice and understandable insight of this setting born in 2002. Definitely a success !