Archive Binge: Darths and Droids
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Darths and Droids may exist in a state of peak nerdiness as a webcomic about Star Wars and table-top roleplaying games. It revolves around a group of teens and children playing a game. All of the action that we see takes place within that game with interactions between the players appearing as disembodied voices. While we follow the story of the characters that the players take on we are also hearing their own lives unfolding. So far that is a narrative operating on two levels, but wait, there is one more.
The comic is illustrated using screenshots from the Star Wars films, starting with the prequel trilogy and running through the original trilogy to the present. It is probably safe to assume that anyone reading this comic is familiar with those particular stories. What makes Darths and Droids interesting is that it is telling a completely different story. Certain key elements carry over from Star Wars but develop for completely different reasons. Bit part characters acquire massive significance. Jar Jar Binks is a genius. Like the beat poets creating poetry from cut up newspapers or William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, parts are taken and put together in completely revolutionary ways.
This comic is not the first to follow this format, the DM of the Rings preceded it, using screenshots of the Lord of the Rings films to create a narrative about a gaming group on a typical hack and slash adventure. But where DM of the Rings focussed on humour related to the gaming hobby Darths and Droids more or less ignores that conceit once the story gets going, relying on inter-character relationships and the differences from the source material to produce the humour. Even if the comic was completely humourless it would be worth reading for the story alone, both the sweet romance that begins to burgeon between two of the players off-screen and the complex web of events that makes up the in-game story. Darths and Droids takes the rambling space opera setting of Star Wars and compacts it into a tight, character driven story with real emotional punch.
As with most things, this comic will work better for you if you are already immersed in table-top roleplaying and Star Wars, there are still offhand references that will make you laugh more if you have a depth of knowledge about both the hobby and the saga.
It would be strange to compliment the artistic direction and style of this comic, but respect where it is due to the team who carefully select exactly the right still image from the film for each panel. Facial expressions are always perfectly synchronised with the dialogue and the action flows wonderfully from panel to panel.
If you are still craving more Star Wars before the new films arrive, this may scratch that itch and if you just want a clever story you could find far worse.
Darths and Droids can be found online at: http://www.darthsanddroids.net/