When I met Theo Ajiey at MCM Comic-Con last month and asked him to tell me about his Fantasy World: The Adventures of Ken comic, I was expecting a simple summary, much like what I had heard from other comic creators that day. Instead, Ajiey stood up on his chair and proclaimed in a loud, Fantasy World-esque voice that his tale was set in a “world where every kid dreams of going out into the world and making a name for themselves as an adventurer,” where epic journeys are a way of life. Our hero, Ken, is one of a kind in this world: he wants to be a musician, not an adventurer.
To say Ajiey had my attention is an understatement.
The first two issues of The Adventures of Ken did not disappoint. Much like Ajiey’s over-the-top performance at Comic-Con, the comic (manga, really) is constantly doing something unexpected. Ken is literally shoved onto an adventure by his father and sets off to… well, that’s not really clear, even to Ken, but along the way he meets a group of “Epic Hunters”, elite fighters who hunt down legendary items, like the one Ken just received for his birthday. Ken is happy to simply give them the object, but the Epic Hunters insist on fighting him for it, believing he is trying to trick them.
With as much humour as there is action, The Adventures of Ken lives in a world of parody, and yet manages to still tell its own story. The fourth wall is broken regularly, and Ken’s numerous laments about his situation are made that much more hilarious by the fact that actually, he can fight his way out, he’s just not really interested in doing it. Talk about your reluctant heroes…
In addition to the storyline having a manga feel to it, so does the style of the artwork. Artist Inko manages to find a nice balance of grays to tell this black and white tale, and captures Ken’s exasperation perfectly.
The story is very fast paced, which sometimes works against it. Ajiey clearly wants to push the story forward as much as possible and it works to an extent. Sometimes, though, it feels like he is just rushing to get to the next joke, and we end up missing some key plot points because of it. Still, overall it works.
VERDICT: With his penchant for subverting our expectations and turning tropes on their heads, Ajiey’s Fantasy World: The Adventures of Ken manages to be a funny and entertaining story of a hero who would really rather be playing music in a quiet tavern than out on the road fighting Epic Hunters.
You can find out more about Fantasy World: The Adventures of Ken and read the first issue at http://ajiey.net/fantasy-world/
For updates about Fantasy World and Theo Ajiey’s other projects, check out http://ajitheo.blogspot.co.uk/