Tuesday, August 11, 2009

King of RPGs

About 10 years ago I bought the first issue of a comic book series adaptation of Lovecraft's Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Being a rather sporadic purchaser of comics under the best of circumstances, I failed to follow up with further purchases of the series as new issues came out.

Yesterday, in thinking about the Dreamlands (as one does), I decided to Google around and see if the series was still available or anthologized or whatever. In the course of my e-snooping, I discovered that the guy behind the Kadath comics, Jason Thompson, has a new project under way.

In a sign of the sea change that has occurred in the world of comics in the last decade, Thompson's new project is a manga series. So it goes. What especially caught my eye, however, was the title: King of RPGs.

Naturally, I immediately assumed the "RPGs" in the title referred to what oldsters like me would call CRPGs, but no! Check out Ye Olde Promotionalle Blurbe:

The stirring shonen manga drama of one man's quest to become the Greatest Game Master in the World. A graphic novel series by Jason Thompson and Victor Hao, coming January 19, 2010 from Del Rey Manga.

The preview art features polyhedrals, gaming manuals, and graph paper galore.

Now, I'm not exactly a manga expert, but years of working in book stores and libraries has familiarized me with various titles, genres, and sub-genres, and what's especially interesting is that this would seem to belong to a particular sub-genre of manga traditionally aimed at teenage audiences. Titles in this sub-genre include series like Prince of Tennis and Kitchen Princess, and are distinguished by plot arcs following a central character trying to become "the best around."

There's been a lot of talk on gaming blogs lately about the best way to get younger people into traditional RPGs. This would certainly seem to be one potentially productive avenue. Anyone who's been in a Borders or other major bookstore in the last few years has no doubt seen the Manga section crammed full of young adults silently absorbed in one of the dozens of different titles available. For one of these kids who have maybe heard about RPGs but are not too sure about how they work, I can't think of a better way of reaching them.

Now we just need that long-elusive, affordable gateway product that so many of us came into the hobby with back in the day...
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