Mar 16, 2008

History of Dragonlance Comics

The history of Dragonlance comics is an interesting collection of stops and starts; success and failures.

DC/Dragonlance comic, first issueIn the mid 80's DC comics had acquired licenses to several TSR settings (including Dragonlance, The Forgotten Realms, and Spelljammer) and released comics based on those properties. For the Dragonlance comics, the stories were told in an anthology format, with about 3-4 issues completing one tale.

One of the bad things in the series at this time was that the stories were bouncing around in time, from just before the War of the Lance, to many, many years later and was slightly confusing, even for someone familiar with the setting and the timeline.

Later in the run, the comic settled on a set of characters and kept the stories at around the same time.

Unfortunately the comic had moved from the content of Ansalon, where all the previous novels and most of the gaming products had been set, to the new content of Taladas. This coincided with the TSR release of the new lands in a few gaming products, but seemed to be as quickly killed off by the company as fast at it arrived.

At the very end of the comic run, it once again returned to an anthology format spread across different eras (as well as different writers and art teams). After 34 issues, the comic ended publication (as did all DC/TSR comics at that time). There was talk of TSR producing the comics in-house, but nothing ever came of that.

Another interesting item to point out is that none of the comics are adaptations of existing novels or short stories, though major characters like Tanis Half-Elven and Raistlin do appear in several of the stories. For a look at all the covers, check out the Dragonlance/DC Comics page at the Dragonlance Nexus.

For "behind the scenes" details about the Dragonlance/DC comics at this time, check out this Comic Book Resources column, the Here Be Dragons entry, and this follow-up column, the TSRetaliation entry.

It would be many years later before the next Dragonlance comic would appear. That comic, Dragonlance: The Fifth Age, would be a one-shot comic available for free at various places (I recall getting my copies at Gen Con one year) to promote the new Dragonlance setting. It was a much an introduction to the setting as an actual story.

In addition the Dragonlance: The Fifth Age comic, WotC released comics for most of it's major game lines, including The Forgottem Realms and Birthright settings.

That would be the last comic seen for many, many years to come...

Over the last few years, there's been a resurgence in Dragonlance comics. It started with the comic adaptation of The Legend of Huma novel. Sadly company issues forced the comic to be canceled after only five issues, even though a sixth issue had been completed. The asset moved to another company who released the last issues and later a Legend of Huma collected hardback of all previous issues. There seems to be no effort to complete this story in the near future.

It's interesting to note that the company started with this novel and not the original trilogy, though that property might not have been available to license at the time.

More recently, there have been adaptations of the original trilogy, Dragons Of Autumn Twilight, Dragons Of Winter Night, and Dragons Of Spring Dawning (to be released as Part 1 and Part 2) as well as upcoming adaptations of the Legends trilogy.

Like any adaptation, these comics have had to omit elements from the original story, but for the most part these products are faithful to the original source material.

Unlike before, it seems as if Dragonlance comics are going strong in this new era. In addition the current series, and planned new series, Dragonlance stories will also be appearing in the new Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons comic anthology coming soon from Devil Due Publishing.

All in all, it's a good time to be a fan!