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The 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon is coming back as a comic book

Fear not, Ranger!

title art for Dungeons & Dragons: Saturday Morning Adventures, published by IDW. The frame shows all of the original heroes in their costumes from the 1983-1985 series — cavalier, ranger, thief (top row), barbarian, acrobat, and magician (bottom) Image: IDW
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

This is, perhaps, reaching way back into the past for most people reading this. But for those old heads who were introduced to the Dungeons & Dragons RPG via the CBS cartoon on Saturday mornings — gulp, 40 years ago — the series is returning as a comic book this coming spring.

Pitched as a “lost episode” of the original cartoon, the four-issue miniseries from IDW reunites the gang — Bobby the Barbarian, Presto the Magician, Diana the Acrobat, and all the rest — for another go at their old foe Venger. Sam Maggs, the writer for IDW’s Marvel Action: Captain Marvel, is writing the series, with David M. Booher and George Kambadais on art.

For those who don’t remember Saturday-morning cartoons (or worse, weren’t around yet during their era), Dungeons & Dragons aired from 1983 to 1985, and told the story of a group of teenagers and one grade-schooler stranded in a high fantasy realm after riding a haunted roller-coaster. With the (limited) assistance of the impish and inscrutable Dungeon Master (aren’t they all?), the adventuring party strives to make its way back to our mundane plane of reality.

For players of the basic D&D set at that time (raises hand) — the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was our first exposure to player classes like Ranger (Hank) and Cavalier (the snotty Eric). We didn’t start playing those classes until 1985, when Unearthed Arcana hit Waldenbooks’ shelves at the mall 45 minutes away. Notably, there was no cleric among this group. The group faced down the power-hungry would-be overlord Venger, as well as recurring foes like the hydra Tiamat (voiced by the prolific Frank Welker).

Dungeons & Dragons ran for 27 episodes. In 1984, it was part of a two-hour programming block that included the Saturday Supercade (a collection of shorts based on arcade games like Donkey Kong and Q*Bert, and Pitfall! for the Atari 2600) and a stand-alone half-hour adaptation of Pole Position, Namco’s hit racing game of the time.

In other words, it was a great time to be a sixth-grade video-game geek, and I speak from personal experience. Dungeons & Dragons: Saturday Morning Adventures launches in March 2023, with cover art by Kambadais and Brenda Hickey.

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