By Joe Daly (Fantagraphics Books)
Cartoonist and animator Joe Daly has come a long way and won a lot of friends with his eccentric, eclectic comics narratives since he broke into the American market with the beguiling and memorable Scrublands in 2006. British born and raised in South Africa, Daly quirkily blends elements as diverse as drug-culture, dead-pan comedy, penetrating soul-searching, the irrepressible ebullience of youth, and wry social commentary in a dreamy primitivist manner reminiscent of the truly great Underground Commix (and, for me at least, captivating touches of Bryan Talbot in his Brainstorm Comics days) and absurdist art and music.
His latest, award-winning, on-going project Dungeon Quest is a delightful combination of nerdy discipline and pharmaceutical excess wherein a group of stoner Dungeons and Dragons disciples actually undertake a fantasy voyage to realms fantastical, dangerous and excessively violent.
Now with volume 2, the prime mystical quest to find and reassemble the incredible Atlantean Resonator Guitar takes Millennium Boy (the smart one), Steven (the capable one), Lash Penis (the steroid-fuelled warrior) and Nerdgirl (who doesn’t talk much) through the spider-haunted Fireburg forest to a hidden Masonic temple filled with fresh weapons, cosmic mysteries and even a few rewards and answers – at least to their secondary sub-quest: finding the gender ambiguous prophet-poet Bromedes and returning his magnificent penis-sheath…
Overcoming hunger, privation, a lack of latrines, ancient puzzles, river trolls, a sea of vegetable detritus and a giant leaf monster whilst taking every possible opportunity to get brain-bustingly wasted, the post-modern Argonauts make great strides in their mission and eventually achieve their secondary goal. Nevertheless, there are still miles to go and much to see, snort or kill before they quest is over…
Happily marrying the sensibilities of post-grunge, teenaged waste-lads as typified by Jay and Silent Bob, Harold and Kumar or the assorted boy loons in films like Without a Paddle or even Dude, Where’s My Car? with the meticulous and finicky obsessions of role-playing gamers and the raw thrill of primal myths, this captivating and wittily indulgent yarn is enchantingly rendered in solid, blocky friendly black and white and garnished with lashings of smart-ass attitude.
Strength: vulgar. Intelligence: witty. Dexterity: compelling. Mana: absolutely. Status: unmissable.
© 2011 Joe Daly. All rights reserved.