The Walking Dead My Reviews: I asked my Twitter followers via a poll (Did you know you can now put 4 options into Twitter polls now?) to decide which webcomic I should review first. I had selected Harpy Gee by Brianne Drouhard and Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G. because they’re both excellent fantasy webcomics with radically different approaches, characters, and styles to subverting the cliches of the typical heroes journey. Since couldn’t work on reviewing them simultaneously nor did I want to pit these two comics in some kind of click bait “versus” article that stifles all criticism, I let my fans (all 5 of them) decide and they choose Harpy Gee. I promised that once the review for Harpy Gee (Shing! Sparkle, Sparkle) that I’d also work on reviewing Cucumber Quest. It took me a while to write this one because of how long it took to read over 600 pages over the holidays but I keep my promises, kid. So here we go!
Cucumber Quest is a fantasy web comic series independently owned and created by artist Gigi D.G. Not much is known about her but she has done work with video games and animation. She started writing, drawing, and self publishing Cucumber Quest on April 3rd, 2011. She did this for two years but on 2012, Gigi D.G. launched a KickStarter campaign to curate Cucumber Quest into a book and it successfully raised $62,953 which was well over the initial $9,750 goal. In 2013, Gigi D.G. launched another Kickstarter to publish Cucumber Quest Book Two and raised $75,290 with the initial goal being $12,000. In 2014, Gigi D.G. launched the Kickstarter to publish Cucumber Quest Book Three and surprise, the campaign raised money ($119,908) well beyond the initial goal ($20,000). As you can tell based on all this information, Cucumber Quest it has grown into one of the most profoundly successful fantasy webcomics in recent history. While there is no crowdfunding campaign for this year, you can still purchase books and prints and freely read every installment of the series from the main website.
The story of Cucumber Quest takes place in the world of Dreamside. Long ago, a malevolent being called The Nightmare Knight threatened the six kingdoms of Dreamside with his formidable power until he was stopped by a legendary hero wielding the legendary Dream Sword. The Nightmare Knight was sealed away but his seven MacGuffins Disaster were scattered across the land. Years later, A noble named Cabbage, who’s stationed in Doughnut Kingdom sends an urgent letter to his family. He tells them that the evil “Queen” Cordelia has taken over Caketown Castle in Doughnut Kingdom with the intent of collecting all the Stones to summon the Nightmare Knight back for “World Domination!” He calls for Cucumber, his young son, to rescue him because he’s the fabled “Legendary Hero”. Cucumber with his mystical power of common sense says he’s not a hero because he’s an inexperienced magician and just about to head off to a private magic school to learn more advanced spells. But since everyone and his mom says so (really), he and his little sister Almond who just so happens to tag along, go off on an adventure. Along the way, a cowardly knight named Prince Carrot and an enthusiastic princess named Nautilus company the duo and together, they set off to take down the seven Disaster Masters, the Nightmare Knight and Cordelia from taking over the world.
The dialogue is quick-paced and fun with a strong emphasis on humor. Heroes are likable while Villains are predictably simple but the interactions between them are far from insignificant as each character has their own backstory, personal motivation, and even complex relationships. Common sense seems to be a trait only possessed by Cucumber (and some women) in the world and uses it to point out/mock typical adventure video game tropes. But more often than not, Gigi D.G. allows these characters to freely indulge in them. While not deal breaking, this kind of lampshade hanging feels more like genre enforcement than genre defying brilliance to me and it pulls me out of the story. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of narrative brilliance in Cucumber Quest as the “anything goes” nature of the comic does make you question video game tropes and the lampshade hanging does move the narrative forward towards shocking character revelations I dare not spoil.
As you can see from the photos on this article, the art style is gorgeous. The deceptively adorable “kid friendly” charm on each page belies the sinister undertones of each villain and adult themes. The use of soft colors shift depending on the local and it helps draw you into the page. Boss fights that take place each chapter like a JRPG are clear highlights of how excellent everything looks. Character designs keep the bunny people distinct from one another as most of the bunny denizens wear clothes that resemble their namesake. Even things like scaling as Nightmare Knight towers over everyone around him and panel layouts that look like something out of an Earthbound game are remarkable to behold.
Overall, Cucumber Quest is an enjoyable romp that’s playful as it is witty. The influence of Kirby, Paper Mario, and other adventure games is undeniable in the pristine artwork and in the somewhat flawed storytelling. It’s quite a feat for a self published webcomic to have reached over 700 pages in the span of four years and to have a huge following bankrolling future books in the series. It’s a testament to the greatness of this webcomic series and why you should read it.