Punchy brings you a review of Oni Press's King Doug, along with sixteen pages of preview art! Click the title to read!
The Return Of King Doug begins in truly epic fashion. In the mystical land of Valdonia, a war is waging between the brave Centaurs and the evil Dark Queen. But the side of good have an advantage, the Chosen One, Doug Peterson, a human boy armed with the Heart of Agnon, a magic pendant which holds the balance of power. It's Joseph Campbell 101, Doug has answered the Heroes' call, and is going to meet his destiny as a hero.... except he doesn't.
He runs, the chosen one runs away, back to the real world, leaving Valdonia in the lurch and convinced he's gone crazy.
Flashforward 25 years and the adult Doug is not exactly King material. He's a failure at pretty much everything, his marriage, being a father, getting a steady job, he pretty much sucks at everything. So when he and his son Oscar return to Valdonia... things don't go too well.
The Return Of King Doug is a pretty hilarious spin on the Fantasy story, throughout the book Doug encounters several mainstays of the genre, Centaurs, Elves (called Tumtums here), Fairies, Cyclopses and Oracles. But each is given a comedic spin, which really works. I won't spoil it, but this book is at times laugh out loud funny in how it skewers the tropes and contrasts them with what we'd expect. At times it reminded me of Jeff Smith's Bone, and there can be no higher praise for a Fantasy Comic than that.
But none of that humour would matter if the book didn't have real emotion and heart behind, otherwise it would be just as mean-spirited and hollow as the Shrek sequels. The story is basically a voyage of discovery for Doug, as he learns to finish what he started and fill the whole his chickening out 25 years ago left in his life. He starts of bumbling and stupid, but he grows, and you root for him. Even his Tumtum companion, Feldspar who at first is annoying in his sincerity becomes a character you get attached to.
The artwork by Wook-Jin Clark is a perfect match for the tone of the book. It is Disney enough to match the fantasy elements, but can also stretch to the more adult humour. The book is in black and white, and although I am a big proponent of B&W books, I do feel that maybe this would be better served as a colour book, as a bright fantasy world deserves colour.
Overall, The Return of King Doug is great fun, it's funny, has heart, and should appeal to anyone who loves fantasy literature. It's no surprise it's already been greenlit for a movie starring Ben Stiller, but that's sure to be sanitized, get in on the ground floor, Fantasy, with bongs and drunken elves intact.
The Return Of King Doug
Written by Greg Erb and Jason Oremland
Artwork by Wook-Jin Clark