The Adventure Zone took three comedian brothers, their radio professional dad, and stuck them into a long-running fantasy role-playing podcast. It became one of the most impactful, popular Dungeons & Dragons actual play stories of all time. Thanks to the artistic talents of Carey Pietsch, the adventures of Clint McElroy and his unruly sons (Justin and Travis) under the guidance of Dungeon Master Griffin (Clint’s least unruly son) were turned into New York Times best-selling graphic novels. Now, the third adventure — The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal — is taking the party to the world of illegal street races, forbidden romances, and botanical magic. And SYFY WIRE gets to debut an exclusive exceprt introducing two of the arc’s best characters: Hurley and The Raven.
These two — one a lieutenant that loves battle wagons, the other a corrupted super-powerful thief — became one of the story’s fan-favorite arcs. And now’s the time to jump on board this battle wagon. Speaking to SYFY WIRE, one of the book’s co-authors—and the player behind human Fighter and rushing-in-extraordinaire Magnus Burnsides—Travis McElroy explained what both newcomers and diehard TAZ addicts can expect from the graphic novel adaptation.
“There are seven chapters, seven arcs, within the entire Balance series,” McElroy said. “The first one was a straight up-and-down high fantasy Dungeons & Dragons adventure. The second one was a train murder-mystery. Very Agatha Christie, very Murder on the Orient Express. This one is where we really get into the bigger world, which has one of my favorite — if not my favorite — story arcs: a Death Race, Fast & Furious, Mad Max: Fury Road battle wagon extravaganza.”
Now fans can see, for the first time, artist Carey Pietsch’s take on two of these racers.
Take a look at the combat that introduces Hurley and The Raven to The Adventure Zone:
As much as Hurley and The Raven AKA Sloane won over listeners, the treatment of these characters did inspire criticism from the fanbase. But one of the benefits of adaptation is applying these lessons to the storytelling. McElroy confirmed that the Hurley/Sloane storyline got a bit of a tweak in order to avoid the pitfalls of the original run.
“This book benefits the most from the hindsight of having completed the whole series, knowing where we’re going with these characters. Knowing some of the missteps we made,” McElroy said. “When we first came around to two of the most iconic characters from Petals to the Metal [Hurley and The Raven], we fell into the lazy and bad trope of Bury Your Gays — which, at the time, I had no idea was even a thing.”
“Now, with the kind of hindsight from having lived through that and learned about it once, we were able to go back through and fix it,” the co-author continued. When asked specifically if the end of Hurley and The Raven’s Petals to the Metal story would change to be more in line with the characters’ fate much later in the Balance series, McElroy was clear, “I’m not gonna dance around: Yes!”
This adaptive flexibility has been a component in each of the The Adventure Zone graphic novels so far, but this change will likely be the most meaningful for fans. It’s not every day that fans get to see their creators update a canon and actually make the story BETTER — but with each book, The Adventure Zone re-attempts to be its best self.
The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal, available to pre-order now, hits bookstores on July 14. Those looking to get ahead of the pack can find samplers available at this weekend's C2E2, at First Second booth #619.