Geeks & Goblins: A History

The artist’s perspective by Jonathan Romp

Geeks & Goblins was originally conceptualized around 2006 while I was working at a call center in Kansas City. It had no title and was created as a little joke about some house rule suggestions I had found while reading through the Dungeon Master’s Guide for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. The rule had explained a triple “natural 20” and what it could mean against a monster. That inspired this piece of work.

At the time It was done as a joke playing on a situation that might have actually occurred in a game of D&D and what the outcome might have been after killing off the DM’s big bad monster for the session. I would later go on to try and draw it again, but this would not be until about 2011. At which point it was given a title of Labyrinths & Losers, the idea was to keep with the similar first initial like the game upon which the comic was based.

This time around I would try to draw out the story and write a bit more of it. Including a bit different reaction that might occur to the DM before the outcome of having his big bad killed. I would sit on this for another 3 years before attempting to revive it again. The reason I did not make anymore than what I had already done is because writing and drawing it was a bit taxing and I ran out of ideas quickly which is why there were only a few of them. The style of the comic was done as an attempt to show how the characters being played were low level and had yet to really be fleshed out by the players resulting in them being little more than the equipment they were wearing and the classes they had chosen.

In 2013 I would begin to try to revive this again after fiddling around with a new art app I had on my iPad. I would also begin to beg my friends in an attempt to find a writer. Remembering that Jeremy was a fellow player of D&D I approached him about the comic, and just about the same time would begin to develop the style that the comic would be drawn in, in an attempt to break a slump I was having regarding my art. We threw around ideas for a new title thinking that the title I had it working under originally was too derogatory to the players we came up with Geeks & Goblins after a short brainstorming session. As I was developing a new style and he was giving me info on the personalities of the new characters for the comics I would take and redraw the original 3 pages of the comic as a sort of proof to myself that I could, in fact, draw the characters consistently and in motion.

And thus was born the current incarnation of the comic’s look and feel. It wouldn’t be until the end of March 2014 that I would get something tangible began on the comic with Page 1 being finished and a little one shot done at the request of a friend of mine, about a joke he wrote about Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift. That image can be found on the Facebook page I started in an attempt to get things rolling and thanks to Jeremy and our webmaster, Jeremiah, things are starting to take flight.

The writer’s perspective by Jeremy Hawkins

Even at a very young age I loved books. I learned to read when I was quite young and would spend hours on end reading. When I was in first grade, Choose your Own Adventure books had become quite popular. It was around this age that I first started expressing an interest in writing. I remember wanting to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure books when I grew up. Some of my first story ideas were sci-fi in nature, as Star Wars had always been my favorite movies.

My interest in roleplaying started when I was still too young to truly appreciate it. I had older cousins that played D&D as well as TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes and West End Games’ Star Wars RPG. I remember playing these games with my cousins on the rare occasions my parents would allow it. Back then it was more about putting myself into these fictional universes than about the roleplaying. Shortly afterward, the belief that D&D was a game of devil-worship invaded my parents’ minds and roleplaying games were banned from my home before I was truly able to enjoy them.

I would get into RPG video games like Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy. Books with fantasy themes would become some of my favorites. After reading the Nintendo books by the author F.X. Nine, I start writing my own sequel to the first Legend of Zelda game. My parents got an old typewriter eventually, and my friends and I would write fan-fiction (before the internet was full of it). This was all just something we did for fun though, and the idea of being a writer was just a game for me.

As I got older, I would make new friends in addition to my existing ones. It seemed a common theme was all wanted to play D&D. I fought the evils of RPGs until eventually I would find my gateway game. HeroQuest was a board game produced by Games Workshop in the UK and brought to the US by Parker Brothers when I was a teenager. My friends that wanted to learn D&D quickly found how great this simple board game was, and how great it was to create your own adventures. We all took turns running games for each other. The bug had bit us hard. Eventually one of my friends would acquire a copy of the highly coveted Marvel RPG I had played so many years before. We would spend hours creating characters for Marvel or drawing maps for HeroQuest.

I began to see the creativity flow from me in a way I had never experienced before. I was given an assignment by my high school English teacher to describe something in a few paragraphs. What I turned in was a vivid multi-paged story of an elven town being attacked by a five headed black dragon and a vicious black knight named Mordrid. The positive feedback I got from my teacher convinced me that I had talent to write. Her kind words, simple as they were, would drive me to become a writer. That five page story would become the beginning chapter in the novel I began to write.

It was at this same time that I was beginning to write my fantasy novel that my close friend, Jonathan Morris, would suggest we start writing a comic book together. Jonathan was an amazing artist and wanted to work on a comic about his Marvel RPG character, Pain. We had big plans that were mostly big talk with no substance. (We also had plans on running bar in Key West, Florida and several other schemes.) The whole time though I continued to write chapters for my novel.

It was during this time my mother was killed in a car accident. With my love of fantasy growing and the person who convinced me that D&D was evil missing from my life, I finally gave in to peer pressure to try it. Originally I had very stringent restrictions on what I would allow in games, but that quickly slipped away. D&D became my favorite game.

My novel became more D&D-like and less like HeroQuest. Along with the novel my friends and I would write and star in our own home movies. I would spend every day in the school library writing. My novel would eventually reach over 100 pages before my save file became corrupted and lost forever. I was devastated.

The final blow to my writing happened when my artist friend Jonathan Morris passed away in a car accident. There would be no comic book. Years later I would look for an artist to revive Jon’s character to no avail. As I got older, writing would be reserved for DMing due to time limits.

It was when Jonathan Romp posted on FaceBook that he was looking for a writer that I decided it was time to write again. By now I had lots of world-building ideas as well as character concepts and fun gaming stories to tell. I had been reading web comics for years and felt that my ability to write fantasy and comics was ready for the challenge.