“The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins” is the graphic novel adaptation of the popular “Dungeons and Dragons” podcast of the same name, where a family of brothers and their father play through a campaign.
The adaptation of the podcast, a actual-play tabletop show ran by the family's littlest brother, Griffin McElroy, written by Clint McElroy and Carey Pietsch, is masterfully done.
With a focus on humor and a great story, “Here There Be Gerblins” succeeds in every way.
The hilarious book follows the fantasy adventures and quests of Magnus the fighter, Taako the elf wizard, and Merle the dwarf cleric as they embark on perilous quests and absurd encounters.
It’s important to note that, being based off a “Dungeons and Dragons” campaign, it is a tale of family rolling dice and having fun. The dungeon master often pops up to break the fourth wall, things get out of hand, and the cast will often laugh and have a good time, despite being placed in precarious situations.
Having a good time and focusing on character building is truly what the book focuses on. The overarching story is great, but the characters steal the show. The book delivers the feeling of playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with friends and family perfectly..
The entire novel is whimsical and enjoyable, and it does a great job of not alienating newcomers.
The book expertly crafts the characters and provides exposition well so new fans can easily jump in. There is also a podcast that will give readbers background knowledge of the creators and players to help understand the characters.
Regardless, the adaptation is incredibly well done. The audio-only podcast translates perfectly to a graphic novel.
The art is gorgeous and always top-notch. When Magnus slices through a gerblin, instead of looking grotesque and awful, it looks absurd and funny, perfectly matching the overall tone.
Multiple panels are quotable and great one-shots, such as a gerblin screaming, “I have no pleasures in life,” or anytime dungeon master Griffin pops in to berate or laugh at the cast.
The art conveys action perfectly. “Dungeons and Dragons” campaigns are generally filled with fighting, and the encounters here are stunning.
Magic spells, glowing battle axes, gerblins and more all look perfect. This is all thanks to the somewhat crude art style, which fits the overall tone and lore of the world.
The graphic novel, while wildly hysterical and fun overall, tells an intriguing, thought out story. It isn’t Tolkien levels of fantasy by any means, but it is unique.
“Dungeons and Dragons” sessions can turn into a mess of friends laughing and the campaign going down the drain. Yet, the story is constantly evolving, and Griffin does a phenomenal job of adding new challenges, new creatures, and unique obstacles for the protagonists to tackle.
The overarching plot is obviously important, and once the story begins to unravel, things get crazy and more complex without becoming convoluted.
Take Taako using a charm spell on G’Nash for example. G’Nash is a giant, wretched boss of the gerblins, who another gerblin wants to assassinate. Instead of being a menace, he falls in love with Taako, helps the adventurers, and repeatedly pushes to make tea for the team.
The book is a complete hit and an absolutely fun-filled adventure through a whimsical campaign. Fans of comedy and fantasy have no excuse to miss out on this great adventure.