Comic Book Review: LARP! Volume 1
LARP! Volume 1 has been a title I have looked forward to for some time as a LARPer. It’s not every day that you will find a book that is for this audience specifically. Now the Glee meets Game of Thrones description is a bit discouraging, but you pick this up because it is something that represents LARPing, and whether you like it or not you want to show that this is an audience that should be catered to.
There are just things that a LARPer would rather see from something publicized about this sport. For anyone that picks up LARP! you already know what you’re getting before you open the first page. The story is simple enough at the start, and takes some time to pull you in. It is actually when you get to the LARPing that you take interest in LARP!. That is where you find the appeal when the real life activities of our main character Pete Ford are not as such. You relate with him that he likes writing, comics, and other nerd things, though the high school angle creates a barrier being to heavily focused on being cool vs not being cool. So when the focus turns to LARPing, that is where you feel more invested. In any LARP game you will have people who use their real life skills to aid in the progression of the game. For Pete that means applying his writing skills to help storyboard. That is a perspective worth exploring when it is vital to keeping any LARP exciting and fresh. Not to mention you want to see the creativity that comes with thinking outside the box to show the inclusiveness people look for to feel a part of that world.
What you can aprpeciate is that Pete is one of those characters who never heard of LARPing before and comes into it with an open mind and wonder. That we don’t get enough of from capturing of LARP in various mediums. It would also have been nice to have a main character who was already experienced in LARPing, but for what you get this is the best you could ask for. The big thing that you take from LARP! and having a main character like Pete is coming to take pride in your passions. Not exactly for the reasons in this book, but because it’s just the right thing to do. You do it for yourself and you do it for those around you who want to see the real you. LARPing thrives because it’s a community. When it stops feeling like a community things fall apart. That much this book delivers and more.
Now where LARP! could have been better is that it came off like other adaptations of this sport/hobby. It didn’t poke fun at LARPing, though played into most of the cliche. Lets take Horst for example, he’s someone passionate about LARPing. Yet he’s also someone who takes it as far as to speak like he’s from that period they play in everyday life. The chances of really running into someone like that as a LARPer is very thin. A more mature approach to this series possibly would have worked better when most LARPers are either close to graduating high school, in college, or living adult lives. The high school twist to the story that made it feel like Glee adds an unnecessary layer to the story where at a point it feels like a distraction from what you really want to read, which is the LARP side to the book. Struggling to fit in and having to hide those nerdy or geeky things you do is relatable, though there are more relatable things in the LARP community that people will say is marked higher than caring what someone in high school thinks of what you do.
The artwork for LARP! is solid work. The pencil work adds a lot of energy to a story that has a consistency fast pace as we are keeping up with both halves of Pete’s life. Marlin Shoop’s style is lively with the way he shows expression through characters. Natural expressions that bring out the grounded nature of this story. You only do wish that there could have been some color to a book like LARP!. This is a whole new world your opening doors to and sometimes just the penciling can’t do justice to the creative things you see in this book from the South Haven Action Roleplaying Club. The distinguishing way they dress Steampunk, how they use their weapons, and the unique style that they fight and count points of damage.
LARP! Volume 1 is an okay start for one centered around LARPing. Going into volume 2 a big thing that should be is more LARPing. It’s as simple as that. There will apparently be a story with the cool kids from the school, and that is all you would have to fear at this moment because your expectation would be that going on from here the focus would just be on Pete and SHARC.