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Comics and Culture

[REVIEW] Dream Daddy TPB dials the Adorable up to 11

Dream, Daddy, Simulator, Review, Comics, Oni Press
Dream Daddy TPB – out now from Oni Press with gorgeous Kris Anka covers

Dream Daddy is guaranteed to give you the warm-and-fuzzies

Here it is, folks. The collected edition of the comic book adventures of your favourite dads from the hit game, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator by Game Grumps co-hosts and Dream Daddy co-creators Leighton Gray and Vernon Shaw. Add to that a spread of awesome queer creators you’ve seen on Instagram, Twitter – or in those funny books and animations you’re already obsessed with, including Kris Anka, Drew Green, DJ Kirkland and C. Spike Trotman – Oni Press’s Dream Daddy does not disappoint.

The book collects five single issues of Dream Daddy, each with its own story and unique creative team. While anthology series like this are not my usual fare, each story touched home to me and the overarching thread of the book, while obviously quite whimsical, really touches home on queer experiences of masculinity, relationships and parenthood.

The other remarkable thing that ties each issue together is the lettering, which should come as no surprise from Strip Panel Naked host and PanelxPanel magazine editor Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Considering the range of art styles and scopes of story, the lettering provides a perfect thematic tie throughout the whole book. It also provides a rare and satisfying visual syntax of the kind that leaves your eyes flowing from panel to panel with ease.

Then, of course, there’s the beautiful Kris Anka covers littered throughout the book. If ever there was a person born to draw hot, shirtless, cartoon dads, it would be Anka. And boy, does he deliver.

Dream Daddy: A story-by-story review

Dream Daddy #1: Much Abird About Nothing

Dream Daddy opens with a beautiful and touching story by Wendy Xu, which sets “Kegstand” Craig  and a new dad on the block off to their college reunion. It tackles all the feelings associated with that, as well as the complexities of single parenting, dating as a single parent, and a deconstruction of toxic masculinity as Craig’s past comes face-to-face with his present role as a responsible parent. What tops this is a moment the book leans into from the very first page, but doesn’t give you until the last that makes it all worth it.

Dream Daddy #2: Let the Right Dad In

Issue #2 brings a strange mix of literary and artistic references, ranging from Twilight to German Expressionism as daddy Robert suspects that his new neighbor, Damien might be a vampire. What starts as a weird self-referential and postmodern romp resolves (like most of Dream Daddy) into a heartwarming tale of friendship, love and human connection.

Dream Daddy #3: Dream Ad-y

From the Dream Daddy co-creators comes the story that really encompasses the community of Maple Bay, where most of the town participates to create a TV advertisement for daddy Matt’s café. Cheeky movie references and production chaos in Maple Bay combine to communicate the idea that art is elevated by its imperfections in a way that will make you smile.

Dream Daddy #4: Fair Deal

Issue #4 continues with a plot thread from the game involving daddy Brian’s competitive streak, pitting Brian against Joseph, but this time it’s through their children. Trotman’s story is cheeky and irreverent, delivering children teaching their parents how to be less overbearing by misbehaving and, dare I say it, breaking the rules. The words are perfectly partnered with art from Drew Green, and damn, can that man draw a beefy bearded gentleman like Brian.

Dream Daddy #5: Dungeons & Daddies

The book’s final issue is a triumph, combining two of our favourite things in Dungeons and Dragons and the dads of Maple Bay. The art is beautiful, and it’s not just because of D.J. Kirkland’s rendition of the near-shirtless beefy ginger dad “Bear-barian”, Brian. The story transitions seamlessly from fantasy mayhem, to touching dad moments in the real world and brings them together with some wit and a whole ton of fun.

Conclusion?

Dream Daddy is the perfect combination of romance, escapism and hot dads. Each story brings its own quirky concoction of themes – family, friendship and love included – to leave you teary-eyed, whether laughing or crying, and wanting more.

You can pick up your copy of the Dream Daddy trade paperback directly from Oni PressComixology or your local comic book store.

How did we rate Dream Daddy? 5 Sodas
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