Knights of the Dinner Table is a long running comic and gaming magazine that got its start as a small comic strip in Shadis magazine in 1990. It wasn’t long before the comic began publishing as stand alone issues, but remained in Shadis for a few years. It came up again in Dragon Magazine published by TSR through the mid to late 90s. For me this book taps into years of nostalgia, and has a special place for me as one of the two books that got me back into collecting comics. When I got out of high school I didn’t have the money to keep collecting, and fatigue with Marvel’s crossover storms of the late 90s pushed me away. I sold everything I had, uninterested in ever collecting again. It was in a roleplaying shop in Evansville, IN where I discovered Lady Pendragon, and Knights of the Dinner Table, and I was hooked.
KODT started as a book about a group of roleplayers called the Untouchable Trio. They were the epitome of gaming stereotypes, three guys sitting around playing the most ridiculous hack and slash game ever imagined. Eventually the DM’s cousin Sarah joined Bob, Dave, Brian and B.A. at the table to form the Untouchable Trio +1. The issues began as highlights of antics at the table but quickly expanded into their lives away from the game as well. More groups from Muncie were added to the mix, as well as new games. Early on, the comic became a full-on magazine and has expanded into a 64 page book, half of which is devoted to RPGs, movie discussion, book reviews, and all sorts of tabletop geekery. It’s the perfect book for anyone who enjoys both gaming and comics.
If you’re looking for amazing art you won’t find it here. Jolly’s unique style hasn’t changed much since 1990, except to adapt to new technology. Originally the idea was to make it fast and easy to produce panels. Original panels were re-used over and over to allow him to get books to print on time. Now they panels are not often repeated, but Jolly kept the same simple line style of the past which gives the book its charm. The focus is the story, antics, and adventurers of the friends that meet to slay orcs and gazebos every week.
The stories themselves are great. If you have been roleplaying for any length of time you know people just like the characters in KODT. The rules lawyer, power gamer, munchkin, and the hardcore RPer always wanting to stay in character. Of course the kinds of trouble these gamers get in can be completely off the rails, like mailing one of their party members to the headquarters of Hard 8 Enterprises (publisher of the game Hackmaster) so he can scope out the warehouse for an upcoming shopping spree.
In the early 2000’s Kenzer & Co. expanded into the RPG market themselves, actually publishing the games they’ve been writing about for years. The completely off-the-wall and overly detailed Hackmaster 4th Edition was released in ’01. The game is complete with all the ridiculous details featured in the comic since its inception.
If you are a gamer, and enjoy comic books this is not one to pass up. You’ll find more laughs, nostalgia, and geekery in its pages than you’re likely to find in any other book or magazine. Check out the book through your local shop, and even some gaming stores, and older strips can be found in the trades called Bundles of Trouble.