Showing posts with label Jay Donovan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jay Donovan. Show all posts


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 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)