In Praise of the Order of the Stick

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I haven’t been shy in the past about my excessive ardor for the webcomic The Order of the Stick. I bring it up again now (my ardor that is) because for the first time I’m in possession of a couple of hard-copy editions of the comic.

Quick summary: The Order of the Stick is a webcomic about a band of D&D characters. Lately they’ve been spending a lot of time trying to thwart an evil lich named Xykon, though that summary doesn’t really do justice to the profusion of subplots in OOTS. A lot of the fun of the strip comes from the fact that the characters are intermittently aware that they are in fact D&D characters, and they do a lot of bitching about irregularities and loopholes in the rules.

More of the fun of the strip comes from the way the characters are drawn, as stick figures — it’s amazing the expressiveness creator Rich Burlew gets out of those little guys, considering that they don’t have noses. At times he even imbues them with a weird epic majesty that you wouldn’t think would be possible — see for example here, here, and here. Oh, and here.

When I first stumbled on OOTS (and its truly excellent companion strip, The Battle for Gobwin Knob, which is great in a completely different way that would take a separate post to explain) I thought it was just good green-blooded nerdy fun — running gags about role-playing games. But Burlew has gifted his characters with actual psychologies and family histories and such that evoke the full range of emotions, not just sophomoric amusement (though that in itself would have been enough).

You appreciate that all the more when you get them in hard copy. They print up amazingly well — the colors are rich and vivid. And there’s quite a lot of new material in the books; some of them, like Start of Darkness, are all-new stuff that hasn’t run on the Internet. Anyway, I don’t have a horse in the race, but you might think about buying them. Personally I live for the days when OOTS (and TBFGK) updates, so having a whole book of them in front of me is kind of like having an infinite amount of chocolate.