I have never really been sold on the idea of OEL (Original English Language) Manga. Manga is a Japanese word that represents the comic books created in Japan, Manwha is Korean comics, and just plain old comics represents comics made here in America.
The recent string of American comics’ creators marketing their works as “manga” always seemed weird to me and a quick thumb through of some OEL manga never really impressed me so I never picked any up…until now.
King of RPGs is the new OEL manga series written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The plot centers on Shesh Maccabee, a hard-core World of Warfare player who becomes so psychopathic that he causes other players to pass out and creates a huge medical emergency after a 7-day straight internet café WoW (get the joke now!?) campaign. Shesh then has to go through intensive psychiatric therapy to “cure” him of this horrible disease.
The story starts with Shesh and his best friend Mike on their first day at the University of California at Escondido, where after orientation they go with a new acquaintance, a English major Jen, to the campus’ game room. There they participate in a table-top game of Mages & Monsters with Game Master Theodore Dudek, and there Shesh becomes increasingly bored of this “stupid” table top game as he only plays online RPGs (not any more of course). Then it happens! Shesh has a mental break and becomes fully immersed in the RPG character and goes berserk. Not the fanatical WoW berserk but MPD berserk! This starts a series of events that get increasingly bizarre and troublesome as they unfold.
This is only the first volume in a new series but I will tell you straight out…I am sold!!
This book was so funny! Even with manga, or traditional American comics, I usually never laugh out loud; I just smirk or give a quick chuckle. I was constantly laughing out loud while reading this book! I always thought of myself as a functional nerd, I have nerdy hobbies but I am not what you would typify as a nerd. While reading King of RPGs I found out that I am quite possibly the biggest nerd on the planet! There are so many hidden jokes throughout that only a true nerd could have written them and only a true nerd would understand them.
The story shows just how invested the author was in creating this world, the amount of knowledge used and a wry twist of humor to go with it just makes this world that much more believable. You know people like the characters in this book, you may be one of the characters in this book, and whether you hate these characters (there is a person just for you in the series) or aspire to be these characters, the pure wit and perfect execution will have you fully enjoying this book.
The art style is just as it sounds, American illustrators using “manga-style” designs. However, they are surprising effective in this series. Because of all the game, manga, and anime jokes, they simply cry out for a drawing style that properly represents that. OEL manga may typically just be manga-style drawings with a very non-manga story (creating the type of awkwardness that scared me away) but King of RPGs is meant to be drawn like this, it NEEDS to be drawn like this.
The series is rated 16+ and while I don’t think it really deserves it, it definitely benefits from the lack of constraints a lower rating would have. Some moments get surprising violent for no reason other than because it can and the designs for the characters fit so perfectly that you of course have to have the ridiculously hot “bad-girl” that just makes this real and f^%#ing hilarious!
I could probably ramble forever on how much I loved this book, but I will spare you by simply saying “It’s $10 MSRP! Just buy it and see for yourself!” I know I will be buying each new volume as they come out! A+
P.S. I always feel as if I’m the only person who knows who the hell Travis Bickle is! Thank you King of RPGs for proving me wrong and making me laugh!
Visit the official King of RPGs website, Suvudu, and Comixology
for more comic book/manga fun!