Guilded Age is a long-running, intricate, and hilarious high fantasy webcomic that surprises you with its depth and cleverness at nearly every turn, and one enormous plot twist you will not, and I repeat not see coming. Billed as “the Saga of the Working Class Adventurer,” Guilded Age tells the story of a small group of ne’er-do-wells questing for cash. When they happen to get together and form a startlingly effective team, their local government decides to put them on salary to solve problems and spread peace, although this is usually achieved by the judicious use of violence. As their work takes on more and more political importance, their team grows, as well as the possibility that the very existence of their entire world is in jeopardy.
The comic uses interesting jumps in the story in the beginning, by telling you short stories from the team’s later missions while telling you the story of how they came together in the first place. As they reach the first climax in the story the comic the storytelling shifts into a direct line, with some side stories, frequent guest art interludes, and perspective shifts to the antagonists. Indeed, the many antagonists of this story are fascinating, with deep motivations and surprising placement. Layered between the crass jokes and jabs at MMO tropes is a nuanced plot with subtle politics and existential themes. The art is appropriately serious or cartoonish when appropriate with rich watercolor washes and tones. There was a changing of the guard in artists, and the change in style is subtle but distinct.
I’m going to wax poetic about this opening page here: Here is a beautifully drawn, colorful page that not only introduces and summarizes most of the principal characters but sets the tone for the entire epic adventure! This is a bar setter for opening pages.
The Authors and Their Other Works
The Guilded Age is created by a team: T Campbell, who writes both comics and crossword puzzles, Phil Kahn, a connoisseur of the internet and webcomics who also writes and draws a comic called Grown Ass Mans, and John Waltrip, known for the Robotech comics he worked on with his twin brother. The first artist was Erica Henderson who has worked in video games, comics, and illustration.