Ever find yourself thinking in D&D? Well, Commissioned Comic is pretty good at illustrating just what that might look like. I found myself genuinely intrigued watching the lines between real life and RPGs blend in this web series. I think the reason contemporary geeks might find it particularly appealing is that it envisages the hypothetical hilarity of pitting the contemporary geek – you know what I mean – still slightly socially inept, but not always the clichéd image – massively thick glasses, pale as all hell from a lack of sun, pimpled like we’ve never heard of Clearasil – against real life social “quests” like talking to that hot girl at the bar or confronting a nasty neighbourhood dog. I mean I can’t be the only one who has had day dreams of casting a “knock” spell on a locked door when you can’t find your keys or wished I had a particularly high CHARISMA or DIPLOMACY skill – you know, to get out of sticky situations, or into them if that’s your aim. If you hadn’t guessed yet by the way, I am particularly partial to the Wizard/Mage classes. I haven’t played the classic D&D myself but have always been a huge fan of the many RPGs that D&D gameplay has inspired such the Baldur’s Gate series or Neverwinter Nights.
Back to the focus of our review though – Commissioned Comic, by artist Obsidian, is a nice concept. There are plenty of web comics that focus on gaming or revolve around the antics of classic characters, but this web comic takes a different perspective – that of an artist who is commissioned by different characters to do their portraits (thus the name) and his party of D&D gamers. As mentioned before though, its novelty lies in the mash-up of the realms of reality and imagination. However, though I love the gameplay dynamics, I didn’t find it particularly hilarious. Interesting yes, but not laugh out loud. I can see myself popping back once in a while, but I don’t see myself following religiously.
Apart from the comic series the site also makes available single sketches by the artist – the Art Barf! series. These could be anything really – dungeons settings, combat scenarios, character portraits, classes/races, monsters. They are stylistically quite different from the comic itself. In fact I would be hard pressed to club them all into the same artistic style – they seem to employ quite a diversity of brush strokes (theoretically speaking – I mean they’re created in Photoshop, not on a real aisle), thematic perspectives and color palettes.
The artwork has evolved since the comic started – going for more realistic detail. I suppose if I had been following for a while I may not have noticed, but since I read through a whole lot of the comic for the purposes of this review, it’s quite apparent, even though it’s not drastically different. This isn’t a feature unique to this particular comic. Many web comics evolve artistically as time progresses, while others choose to maintain an element of continuity. I suppose this is really a choice left to the artist. And yes sometimes more defined artwork can make the comic more appealing and attractive. But I would just mention as a thought that artists should be careful with this choice. It might not seem like a major change, but in my opinion the feel of a comic does depend to some extent on its look and artwork. For example – Cyanide & Happiness has a very distinct art style, and it suits their formula.
Checking out the comic and the Art Barf! art work is of course free, but they offer a host of extras for those who want to join the ranks of their premium members, including invites to Convention after parties, exclusive sketches and desktop backgrounds and high-resolution comics. Check out the comic here – Commissioned Comic