LARP! To Geek or Not to Geek
If you have ever felt like you didn’t belong or as if you were being pulled in two different directions you can relate to the new graphic novel by Dan Jolley, the writer of Dying Light, and Shawn DeLoache, “LARP!” High school student and lifelong nerd Pete Ford just moved from from California to South Haven, Connecticut where he becomes entangled in the struggle between fitting in and being true to himself. Thanks to puberty giving way to growth spurts and acne clearing, Pete no longer resembles that of his old stereotypical chess geek self.
On his first day of school Pete is welcomed by the “cool” kids of South Haven High School. Shortly after being shown to his first class he meets Horst and Laura, two like-minded geeks who invite him to experience the geek culture of South Haven. They introduce him to the South Haven Role-Playing Club, a warehouse designated for geeks to cosplay and partake in Live Action Role-Playing events. After his tennis tryouts Pete discovers that the “cool” kids that welcomed him earlier that week criticize and bully Horst and Laura for being outspoken geeks. That is where Pete begins his struggle to find the balance between fitting gin and being himself.
When I was in high school I played football, soccer and volleyball but I was also a well-known geek and because of it I felt alienated by my teammates. I would reference a game I was playing or a show I was watching and my teammates would write me off and ridicule me because they didn’t understand what I was talking about. “LARP!” captures the essence of what geeks and nerds feel like as they go through similar situations where they are faced with the problem of trying to be like everyone else or do what they do best.
I fell in love with the story as a whole, the character development was refreshing, the theme was heartfelt and could be understood throughout generations. The characters were intelligently created to cover a few of the various types of people that cosplay and “geek out” as well as the stereotypical antagonists, jocks, that every good comic book needs to progress the story-line and give the protagonist some strife. I also enjoyed the development we see in Pete’s dad, Eugene, the comic book store owner and within Pete himself. We see this novel’s theme come to fruition not just through the eyes of Pete but slightly through his dad and Horst towards the end of the book.
I appreciated the inclusion of Horst’s backstory as it was from a distinct perspective of dealing with being different. In a separate sense Horst had been doing what Pete had done through the entire story. What is it? You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out. I choose not to spoil anything.
The illustrations of “LARP!,” done by Marlin Shoop, in my opinion are very well done. The black and white of each panel allowed it to remain simple without having that noir 1920’s feel. Personally I would have loved to see colors added into the panels as we saw on the cover to assist in this vivid storytelling of cosplaying geeks. The panel to panel reading shift was fluid and read like an episode as many successful comics do.
I would like to give a major appreciation to Jolley, DeLoache, and Shoop for the inclusion of geek symbols and references from long forgotten shows taken before their time and beloved superheroes/ superhero-esque panel fillers. The term “the devil is in the details,” is the precise statement I would use to describe this novel and all of its nuances
If you enjoyed reading “LARP!” volume one or you are now enticed to read volume one, you can go to www.darkhorse.com, search LARP and it will be the first thing to pop-up.
“LARP!: The Big Con (volume two) comes out on August 3, 2016.
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