This week’s “Why I Read” webcomic review is by Sarah Driffill, the author of the Birkenhain Journal in our Lore section, also known in the comment section as melaredblu :) If anyone else wants to write up a review for a webcomic they read, just let me know at dan at demonarchives dot com :D
On to the review!
My name is melaredblu and I’m here to shamelessly gush about Cucumber Quest, an RPG-inspired fantasy/adventure with a healthy dose of humor and heart.
Synopsis: A prophecy foretells that a legendary hero must prevent the mysterious Nightmare Knight from taking over the world. Said hero is a meek aspiring wizard named Cucumber. Wait, why does he need to be the hero?
Boy, if he had a dollar for every time someone said “because I said so”…
Cucumber must embark on an epic journey to the far reaches of the world to fight evil and do other hero things. Anything goes, except for common sense, because that would be boring. Thankfully, Cucumber isn’t alone in his quest. He’s joined by his little sister, a cowardly knight, a friendly princess, and anyone else who just happens to get the drop on them. With some hard work, courage, and determination, they will be able to prevent the Nightmare Knight and his Disaster Masters from being set loose on the world and—
—oh. They’re already loose. Huh. Well, there’s always plan B…
How I Found It: I’m kind of ashamed to admit this one. I used to kill time browsing reviews on a virulently negative, nit-picking, author-bashing site known as The Bad Webcomics Wiki. There, I saw Cucumber Quest listed in a forum thread called “The Not Bad Webcomics”. Considering how much they accentuate the negative, it piqued my interest that this comic, which I had never even heard of before, actually managed to garner their praise. I still don’t much care for the Wiki that brought me there, but I’m glad I found the comic either way.
Why I Like It: I’m going to focus on two of my favorite aspects of this comic. First, the art—I don’t think it’s physically possible for the visuals to be cuter. The charming designs, creative locations, and colorful atmosphere really help to draw you into the story. And just look at how the art style and coloring change to fit the mood!
Even simple things like word bubbles and panel layout are done with loads of personality and creativity. You could look at the comic without even reading it and still get a strong sense of the mood, what’s going on, and what the characters are like.
And boy, do the characters have, well, character! They’re quirky and complex with hidden depths, personal goals and motivations, and interesting, often complicated relationships with each other. So, whom do we have in this cast? Well, now. Deep breath and…
We begin with Princess Nautilus, a sweet but hilariously forgetful girl who has a secretly terrifying temper. She’s a travelling companion to Cucumber and his fight-happy sister Almond, with whom he has a close sibling bond despite their conflicting temperaments. Almond has a blustering rivalry with a bratty young witch called Peridot. Peridot is the loyal minion and very best friend of the sardonic, ambitious Queen Cordelia, who has a bumbling, quarrelling trio of sandwich-themed knights under her command holding Princess Parfait prisoner. Princess Parfait is patient, subtly devious, and has a romantic connection with the fearful but honorable Sir Carrot, who travels with Cucumber’s crew, helping them to fulfill the prophecy as he strives to overcome his fears. Even the main villain displays a calm, collected demeanor and surprising depth of emotion while losing none of his intimidating presence. And you know what? This doesn’t even begin to do them justice. The only way to really appreciate it is to read it yourself.
Things I Think Could Be Better: I couldn’t possibly imagine how the comic itself could improve, but the site could use some adjustments. For one thing, I don’t like that the main homepage doesn’t show the latest strip. The archives are also weird. They’re separated by chapter, but all you get beyond that is the page number, making it hard to bookmark where you were if you don’t read it all in one go. They don’t quite keep up with the actual number of pages either, making it hard to go directly to a recent page. I’m a stickler for a good archives and navigation, so this really bugs me, but aside from that, I personally think this comic is close to flawless.
Closing Thoughts: Cucumber Quest has a cute aesthetic that belies its sharp, biting wit. While the webcomic is certainly what I would call G-rated, the writing is intelligent and mature. It’s made for everyone and I believe anyone can enjoy it.