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Scales & Scoundrels Volume 1


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SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL -- If Scales & Scoundrels' alliterative two-word title with an ampersand reminds you of a particular tabletop role-playing game, that's more than likely intentional. Indeed, writer Sebastian Girner and artist Galaad's fantasy series opens with a scene familiar from hundreds of Westerns, wherein a fight breaks out in a bar after one player accuses another of cheating at cards...only here the particular card game is called "Dragon's Hoard," and it sounds like it has more in common with Dungeons & Dragons than poker.
Despite the healthy degree of self-awareness, Scales & Scoundrels isn't arch or cynical, and its characters are engaging ones, each with enough of a personal story to draw a reader in and either transcend the cookie-cutter nature of their character types or reveal potential to do so in future installments (this first trade collects the first five issues of the ongoing series; the second volume should be out as soon as this summer).
Where the book is particularly notable is in its visuals, which seem to draw inspiration for design and storytelling equally from European comics and manga, although it reads like an American comic. Those designs are pretty significant too, because the main characters don't necessarily look like the sort you would have found in illustrations accompanying a D&D handbook a generation ago, and there's both a fair amount of imaginative world-building and some quite striking creature designs. All in all, the first volume of Scales & Scoundrels rolls a natural 20.

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