One of the best parts of classic roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons were the advertisements for them in comics in the 1980s. Writer Cullen Bunn is looking to replicate those with Deepest Catacombs, a fantasy adventure comic drawn by dozens of artists told through one-page ads for an RPG that never existed.
When I was a kid I absolutely loved the D&D ads that ran in my favorite comics. These were one-page comic strips that introduced a band of heroes—Grimslade, Valerius, Saren, and Indel—who were adventuring into a dungeon in search of treasure. They met up with werewolves and goblins and green slime and dragons. The story continued from strip to strip, and I was always eager to see what would come next. Sometimes, I was more excited about the ads than the actual comics!
Each installment of Deepest Catacombs will be drawn by a different artist, from long-established pros to up-and-coming talent. When read together, they’ll present a complete tale, but each page will read like an ad for the Deepest Catacombs role-playing game. The pages will be posted on Bunn’s Patreon page for all to enjoy.
But this is more than an exercise in nostalgia. Yes, it was my love of the game I played so much in my youth that inspired the project, but gaming has changed a lot over the years. And so has storytelling. The comics are written as advertisements, which presented a delightful challenge, and they feature plenty of action and traps and bizarre monsters, but I also wanted the characters to be fun and engaging. They have a deep backstory that will be revealed over time. I wanted the readers to care about them.
Deepest Catacombs centers on heroes like Randall the would-be knight, Kezira the mage, Annalynn the far-ranger, Fingerbones the goblin thief, and Chops, Kezira’s pig familiar. The first two installments and the “cover” image and character designs were provided by A.C. Zamudio and Nick Zamudio. The first wave of the project will run 24 pages, however Bunn is already planning the next one.
While the story itself will be released for free on Bunn’s Patreon page, additional material like behind-the-scenes character and creature designs, scripts, and RPG content for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, will be available for patrons only.
I want everyone to be able to read these stories. I also know that a lot of process junkies will enjoy seeing the background materials. If you’re a gamer, you’ll have the chance to play these characters, to use these monsters in your campaigns, to walk the halls of the dastardly dungeons you see in the comics!
Bunn is working with Anton Kromoff of Old Magic Gaming to release these stories. The two have worked together before. Kromoff is doing design work for Deepest Catacombs, creating the logo, setting up page templates, and lettering the stories. He’s also working with Bunn and some other creators to develop gaming content set in the world of Deepest Catacombs, so I guess it will become a game after all.
The first installments of Deepest Catacombs will debut the week of August 9th, 2020 on Bunn’s Patreon.