Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Comic Book
Writers: Wendy Xu, Lee C.A., Vernon Shaw, Leighton Gray, C. Spike Trotman & Josh Trujillo
Artists: Ryan Maniulit, Jack Gross, Jarrett Williams, Drew Green & D.J. Kirkland
Colorists: Ryan Maniulit, Jack Gross, Jeremy Lawson, Reed Black & Matt Herms
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Artist: Kris Anka
Publisher: Oni Press
Much like its source material, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Comic Book offers readers several unique stories to explore. The five-issue mini-series features writing and art by a number of talented creators, all of whom bring their own particular twist to the franchise, which began as a dating simulator game published by Game Grumps.
In fact, readers can even decide which version of the collected trade they want to purchase: the soft cover, featuring art by Kris Anka that shows the dads at a backyard barbecue, or the hard cover, featuring art by Kris Anka that shows the dads at a beach barbecue. Both encapsulate each dad’s unique personality and the stories within are fun for anyone, even if they haven’t played the game. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou letters every issue in the collection, which creates stability across titles even as the writing and art change significantly from story to story. Otsmane-Elhaou deftly handles each script, elevating dialogue and descriptions really wonderfully.
As an early player of Dream Daddy, the comics are just as fun and funky. Each creator has a clear angle and they get the chance to explore that in the trade, which collects creator commentary in the back matter. In particular, Wendy Xu’s approach to writing a romance between Player Dad (the OC you create in the game) and Craig feels like it would fit right into the game itself and her excitement for the story shines through in the script. Ryan Maniulit’s art is a perfect fit; he executes the romantic atmosphere beautifully without losing any of the truly goofy elements of the relationship.
Likewise, Lee C.A.’s story feels like natural off-shoots of the game, with Robert vampire-hunting Damien (who, as it turns out, is not actually a vampire). Jack Gross’ art style and coloring paired with C.A.’s script adds a Buffy feel to the “supernatural” story, which is really fun.
Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray, who created and wrote the original Dream Daddy game, do an admirable job of scripting a story about the whole gang coming together to film a commercial for super-shy Mat’s music-themed coffee shop. Jarrett Williams’ art is as chaotic as the story, with Jeremy Lawson’s colors pulling the whole thing together.
C. Spike Trotman’s script follows Brian and Joseph as they aggressively compete with each other through their children’s science fair, with Drew Green’s bubbly art heightening the comedy of the obnoxious fight. That particular comic focuses more on the kids than the dads, which is a nice change of pace — players meet the kids in the original Dream Daddy game, but it’s cool to see some of them get their own narrative, especially since the other comics in this series focus almost solely on the dads and on Amanda, Player Dad’s teenage daughter. Reed Black does a great job with the colors in this issue, sticking to palettes that match the game and work well with Green’s art style.
Finally, Josh Trujillo’s story invites readers to witness the dads play a round of Dungeons and Dragons, led by Dungeon Master Hugo, whose story in the game revolves around books, bar trivia and wrestling. D.J. Kirkland perfectly illustrates the dads as their DnD counterparts; Matt Herms’ colors complete the atmospheric and fantastical story, drawing distinction between the real world and the game in a fluid way.
Overall, this collection is engaging and enchanting. As mentioned above, there seems to be something for everyone, regardless how familiar they are with the source material. The entire point of Dream Daddy is to allow players to choose their own path and the comic continues in that tradition by offering so many takes on the characters and their relationships. Furthermore, the collected issue itself is just gorgeous. The hard cover edition, which is reviewed here, has adorable, chibi-like versions of each dad decorating the inside cover, which were all drawn by Green. Kate Z. Stone’s design work throughout invokes the same aesthetics as the original game, which really ties everything together.
If you want a fun, original read that invites you to explore characters through the lens of several creators, check out Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Comic Book. The trade hits stores Tuesday, May 14 and it’s definitely a BUY.
Disclosure: The Beat is owned by Polarity, which also owns Oni Press.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Montana with her partner and cats.