Graphic Novel (guest) Review 196/365: Rise of the Dungeon Master

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #GN365 on Twitter.

Hey, all!  No special theme this week, just some cool books that I’ve been waiting to tell you about!  And today, we have a special guest review by my pal and yours: Jason Nisavic!

Title: Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D & D

Author: David Kushner

Illustrator: Koren Shadmi

Publisher: Nation Books (2017)

Age Rating: 17+

Although I have been deeply interested in games throughout my life, it wasn’t until I reached my 30’s that Dungeons & Dragons finally found its way into my heart. Since there is no believer as earnest as a convert, I’ve been diving deeply not only into the lore of this great game but also its history. David Kushner’s graphic novel is a wonderful, straightforward dive into the origins and evolution of this groundbreaking game.

Over the course of 136 pages, this book accomplishes a dizzying array of things. It tells the story of creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson without glossing over their flaws. It explains the inspirations for and evolution of the game in a way that can connect with any level of nerd. It even explores the wildly impactful social implications of the game; the morally reactionary backlash against the games “satanic influences” in the 1980’s resonated in my own household growing up, so I found it a fascinating thing to be able to understand why my upbringing excluded much of the fantastical pop culture that my friends took for granted.

Although it was quite educational and entertaining, I would say that Rise of the Dungeon Master is a 17+ book. Kushner’s approach to the topic is engaging to someone interested in games, but it flows similarly to a documentary. Younger readers might be turned off by the slow pacing. Beyond that, the casual reference to a famous porn star being an avid D&D player might start uncomfortable conversations from curious children.

Rise of the Dungeon Master is quite an enjoyable read. Show it to your friends and family that want to understand the appeal of the game or to potential new players who aren’t quite sure what they’re getting into!

Looking forward,

Jason

Twitter: @teaching_humans

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Thank you for this review, Jason!  It offers a little background into how we spend a good number of our Sunday nights…

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