Issue #1: “Much Abird About Nothing” (Aug. 29)
Written by: Wendy Xu
Art by: Ryan Maniulit
Review by Ryan Holt
Dream Daddy is making the jump from PC gaming phenomenon to the digital pages of a brand new comic coming from Oni Press. The comic does away with the intro from the game where as a player you are presented with all of your potential love interests at once, and instead looks to have the first five or so issues focus on one suitor at a time.
Frankly, this fresh start is perfect for the comic. The eye candy for the first issue is Craig Chan, a bro like no other. The plot revolves around the two men going to their college reunion, and their dread at reconnecting with people they had thought exited their lives. While younger readers might not directly relate to this, anyone who has gotten a facebook message about a high school or college reunion knows the kind of stress these events can bring on. Luckily, the hijinxs from the game are here too. I won’t spoil it, but both our Dream Daddy’s end up in some rather humorous, and over the top, situations that feel straight out of the game.
One thing I will say that is kind of jarring though, is the protagonist. While I know it is impractical and impossible to capture a player created character once you start committing things to a more linear canon, it does take some of the fun out of narrative. That’s not to say what writer Wendy Xu brings to the table is bad, in fact it is spot-on perfect, it is just there are some expectations players might have envisioned from the game that don’t translate into a rigid and defined medium like comics. The protagonist feels a little one dimensional, but serves as a great template for readers to project themselves onto. I really hope later issues continue to keep the protagonist relate-able without giving him too much personality, as honestly like the game itself, it is all about the Dream Daddies.
Ryan Maniulit delivers great work here too, and knows how to draw an emotional moment that doesn’t look forced or awkward. Aside from a key object being obscured by an oddly placed panel, everything sings, particularly the background work. Heavy use of gradients can sometimes be seen as a cheap trick, but here it absolutely works as a way to convey emotions between two characters in the same panel. It feels very anime, and reminiscent of the game. These backgrounds especially shine when their lighting interacts with characters, giving a surreal feeling to the whole narrative.
While most narrative games that have jumped to comics have failed, so far Dream Daddy has succeeded. It is rare that a visual novel gets translated into a fixed medium such as comics and there is a huge risk in expectations from players and readers alike, as they expect two totally different experiences. Based on one issue, it looks like Dream Daddy has began to lay the groundwork for what is going to be a truly unique experience in comics. Once players stop expecting things they are given with games and start expecting a funny and charming narrative, Dream Daddy is going to win a lot of people over.
Dream Daddy is a digital exclusive. You can find the first issue on ComiXology.