Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #157: Dungeon: Parade, Vol. 1: A Dungeon Too Many by Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, & Manu Larcenet

Dungeon Fortnight's sixth day sees us begin the Parade subseries: the silliest, slightest, and most frivolous stories of the Dungeon.

A Dungeon Too Many collects the first two Parade stories, in a series described by the creators as being "funny stories of Marvin and Herbert." The stories here are not just lighter and more frivolous than their Zenith cousins, they're physically shorter as well: the two Parade volumes are only about two-thirds as long as the other Dungeon books.

So here we have the original French albums Un Donjon de Trop, in which a young entrepreneur sets up a competing Dungeon just over the hill, and Le Sage du Ghetto, in which The Keeper travels to get the advice of a wise man whose bird-people are oppressed by the local ruling dog-people.

Both stories get in more satirical social commentary than is usual for Dungeon -- the series tends to aim at fantasy tropes, or people in general, rather than capitalism and racism -- but it's a welcome change of pace. And the stakes are definitely lower here than in any of the major series; there's some fighting, since this is Dungeon, but no deaths or maimings or shattering personal revelations.

Of course, that's to be expected, since these are explicitly continuity infix stories: they need to leave Herbert and Marvin and the Keeper (and everyone else) exactly the same at the end. Some of the Monstres stories are really part of the main plotline -- they're officially "great adventures of secondary characters," but more accurately "pieces of the overall larger story, some major and some minor, by other artists" -- but Parade is purely frivolous.

And frivolity is just fine: Manu Larcenet generally keeps this art a little broader and wackier than the other main series, and creators Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim keep the action lively and zippy. This would still be a decent place to start reading the Dungeon books, as I suggested the first time I wrote about it (in 2010).

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