Fantasy has always been a bit of an easy target for parody. In its most stereotypical format, its muscle bound barbarian heroes and docile buxom wenches pretty much beg to be ridiculed. But as with most genre-related comedy, it’s those with a deep love of the things they’re poking fun at that do it best, and this is no exception.
This isn’t the first book in the Dungeon series, translated from the original French, but it’s the first we’ve come across and it’s a wonderful jumping on point. Set in a fictional medieval-style kingdom and using anthropomorphic animals as characters, it follows a young hero (with the rather unfortunate name of Hyacinthe) on his first adventures in the big city, as he fights for justice by night, falls in love with unsuitable women and rubs the wrong people up the wrong way.
Its characterisation is beautiful, using fantasy clichés where necessary but also breaking out of them for dramatic effect. The art complements this beautifully, creating as coherent and solid a world as you could ask for considering it’s peopled by talking animals. It’s clearly a comedic homage to a well-loved genre.
Naturally, this isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste and it would probably help to already have at least a passing interest in fantasy stories – but then, since The Lord of the Rings, who hasn’t? This gentle parody is charming, funny and, in Hyacinthe, has what must surely be one of fantasy comics’ most likable protagonists.
Other titles in the Dungeon series: