Welcome back again for another group review of Oni Press’s Dream Daddy series! Issue #4 just hit the racks—this time it’s written by C. Spike Trotman, and we’ve got some more thoughts.
This is our first close-up look at Daisy and Brian in the comics’ universe. What do you think of the comics’ take on Brian?
Melissa Brinks: I loved this issue, and I really enjoyed Brian’s characterization in the game even though he wasn’t my preferred dad. It was great to see more of him here and get a sense of who he is outside of romance. He’s definitely not someone I would hang out with in real life (alas, I too am pretty competitive and I think we’d probably hate one another), but I enjoy reading about him a lot. This comic also gave us the opportunity to see him a little more from his perspective, which was nice!
Kate Tanski: The only thing I really remember about Brian is that he was uber-competitive, and he was also competitive here, so that’s believable, I guess. I was more interested in seeing Joseph also being competitive with Brian, because I don’t remember that from the game, but I remember that Dadsona gets competitive because of Brian, so it was interesting to see that it also happens with other dads. I’m probably psychoanalyzing this too much, but it makes me sad that that’s Brian’s main “mode.”
Alenka Figa: Brian isn’t my favorite dad and I was very uninspired to play through his story because I knew it was heavy on minigames, so I actually only played very recently (because my partner played with me and did all the mini games. Uuuugh golf!!) I was more intrigued by his story than I expected but it just… wasn’t my thing? However, I agree that the highlight here was seeing his devotion to Daisy shine through. In fact, Daisy really felt like the star of the comic to me, moreso than Brian. Amanda is the unexpected hero… or maybe the villain.
Lisa Fernandes: Now Brian was never my favorite—he’s very type a and pushy and competitive and all of that is definitely in this issue—but I could see his charm and devotion to Daisy shining through in both the game and this issue. The parts of him that are teddybear-esque shone through, which made him more appealing.
We have a bunch of Daisy too!! How did you feel about Daisy in this issue?
Melissa: I really liked seeing more of Daisy. She’s such an adorable character, and I liked that we got such a sense of her personality in comparison to her father’s. She makes a lot of sense as a character when you see them together. And like, full disclosure, despite being preeEEeeEEeetty competitive, I definitely see myself in the scene where she’s trying to do something bad and can only think to swap the two books on the shelf and such a small disobedience sends her into hysterics. I feel that, Daisy.
Kate: Daisy may be my second-favorite kid now, other than Amanda. This comic really developed her as a character—her shyness, her nerdiness, the way she’s not afraid to stand up to her dad, the way she wants to not be the smartest kid in the class. She’s great. And it was really nice to see her interact with Amanda, and the twins. Also the twins are themselves, really creepy, so good to know that doesn’t change. I think that’s one of the things I’m enjoying so much about this series in general—it really fleshes out the kids in a way we didn’t get to see in the game.
Alenka: Melissa, same—nd not just because I’m a librarian, I’ve just never been good at misbehaving! As a teen I gave my parents updates on how my homework was going totally unprompted. Daisy is super adorable, and I felt that the more cartoony nature of the art in this issue emphasized how just freaking cute she is. She clearly has a very loving and supportive relationship with her dad, and that makes it hard to stand up to him when she needs to—she’s just not used to it. That was very interesting to see play out.
Lisa: Daisy’s more laid-back attitude is on display here in comparison to Brian’s intensity, though she’s utterly afraid of misbehaving. I loved her normalcy, her average-kid-ness, combined with her straitlacedness. She just wants to do okay versus Brian’s dreams of her becoming a superscientist!
How did you feel about the Brian versus Joseph rivalry that made up the main conflict?
Melissa: I really, really enjoyed it, particularly in the way that we see the fallout of their choices. I’ll be the first to admit that I both love and loathe Joseph, so seeing Brian’s instantaneous apology in comparison to Joseph’s continued attempt to present the situation as better than it was was really gratifying. You can really see the contrast in their characters in that moment—Brian wants the best for his kid, Joseph wants everybody to see that his kids are the best. Maybe somebody has a different view of Joseph’s position there, but I personally found it both consistent with what we know about him from the game and my interpretation of his character beyond that.
Kate: I already mentioned that I think pairing up Brian and Joseph was an interesting narrative decision. I’d be really interested to know how that editorial call came about. And I think that I really learned more about Joseph than I did about Brian. Like, I don’t feel like I know more about Brian than I did before I read the comic. But now I’ve seen Joseph interact with Brian, and the way Joseph can get hyped up and competitive too, and the way that Joseph gets embarrassed about Mary adding vodka to the twin’s orange juice experiment. I always liked Joseph, but he also seemed so distant, so it was nice to get to know him better.
Alenka: Kate, I agree that we get some really interesting insight into Joseph’s character through this pairing! It does make sense; Joseph is all about putting on a very specific kind of show for the outside world, so if another Dad gets in his way, he’ll of course get competitive. Additionally, in the game we don’t see his care for his kids. While he spends most of the issue looking for ways to make them reflect well on him, but when Brian is apologizing to Daisy, the next panel shows Joseph possibly feeling moved, and remembering that maybe he should also love and be there for his kids. Or… not. Who knows, with Joseph.
Lisa: Alenka and Kate, your insights are terrific! I thought it made sense considering what kind of parents they both are to be this intense about something as simple as a science fair.
What did you think about our moral this month?
Melissa: I really enjoyed it. Like I said above, I really like Brian and enjoyed that he got a little more fleshing out, especially because we see more of his and Daisy’s relationship. Brian is the dad I see celebrated least, which I think is in part because his competitiveness is less of a kooky trait like Robert’s cryptid hunting or Craig’s obsession with fitness, and in part because of fatphobia, if I’m being real. Though you do get to see another side of his competitive nature if you complete the romance with him, I like that there’s now this other exploration of why he acts the way he does laid out clearly by him and contrasted against Joseph. Sometimes our love and caring makes us do shitty things, and I think that’s a worthy lesson, one that I hope more people get to see thanks to this comic.
Kate: The artwork in this comic makes it seem like it’s really oriented at young children, and I think that’s why I feel that the “moral,” is really about Daisy challenging her dad, and interacting with other kids her age, and just going with something that’s fun instead of something that’s “the smartest,” is a really important lesson for young overachievers. And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience here.
Alenka: I would like to point out that there’s a secondary and still important moral here: don’t piss off librarians. That aside, there’s an achievement you can get in Dream Daddy that is called something like “mediocre dad” where Amanda feels a bit smothered and needs more independence. It was interesting to see a piece of that journey here with Brian; when she was younger, he could get super excited about anything she wanted to do and really dictate how it would be done, but now she’s smart, capable, and ready to be relatively independent (at least when it comes to science projects). That’s difficult, especially for a guy like Brian who loves to win and be on top—he has to give up control.
Chris and Christie got more personality in this issue than they did in the whole game! Did you like seeing more of them?
Melissa: I love these gremlin children. If I wanted kids, I would want them to be as weird as those two. The way they mess with the guy in the library is fantastic, and I would read a comic just about them. They’re kind of the flip side of Joseph, in a way—he tries to project normalcy over dysfunction, whereas they project dysfunction despite being, all things considered, pretty normal.
Kate: I honestly thought the twins were actually creepy Children of the Corn in the game, so it’s nice to see they’re aware of it and are actually just trolling people. It makes them more real, and I think actually makes the game better. All of these comics in the series have done such a good job in taking the canon of the game… and making it better, especially for the characters and relationships we didn’t get a chance to see very much at all.
Alenka: I LOVED the twins, and loved watching them amp up their creepy routine. It was very funny and unexpected to see them from a kid angle; as Dadsona we just totally fall for their schtick, but around all the other kids they are indeed surprisingly normal! This was a very fun and rewarding perspective switch.
Lisa: The biggest secret of the whole game—Chris and Christie are funny! I loved how… well, normal they were here!
Those of us who were hoping for superscience didn’t get much of that in this issue, but what sciencey stuff we got was kinda fun. What did you all think of that?
Kate: My school never had a science fair growing up, so I have no frame of reference for that whole thing. I wasn’t really sad to see it focused more on the projects and the research and the library. That experience? So real. Also that librarian was a badass and I love him.
Alenka: Yes let us all take a moment to respect the librarian! Honestly, I was really glad that it was focused on the kids. Daisy is such a delight, and Amanda’s the only kid who gets a really solid story arc in the game. We’ve talked before about how these comics are expanding Dream Daddy’s world, and digging into the kids’ stories and lives feels really fun and exciting.
Melissa: Are science fairs real? I also never had one. It was a great opportunity for conflict, though, and also a great opportunity for the kids to shine. The kids are totally content with baking soda volcanoes and potato batteries because they’re kids—it’s easy, but it’s also still interesting at that point! Let the kids make their potato batteries, dads.
What did you think of the art style?
Melissa: It was really cute! I thought it suited the story really well—the bubbly figures and faces suited the kind of over-the-top nature of the story, and also gave a lot of personality to the characters.
Kate: It’s very cute. Very Steven Universe for me. It’s probably the comic that I would feel the most at ease giving to younger readers, since there’s no Dadsona or romance, and even the Kris Anka cover isn’t super sexy.
Alenka: I mentioned earlier that I felt the cute-ness of the style worked well for Daisy’s character, but it’s also super interesting to see the twins be cute. It adds a layer to that perspective shift – they are kids, not creepy ghosts. Also Kate, it’s funny that you mention Steven Universe because this comic made me realize that Brian’s dad is a similar character to Sadie’s mom—they’re both single parents who are really intense fans of their kids, and have to learn to dial it back and let their kids learn to be open about what they want and need. The cartoony-ness of the art helped me make that connection. Also, there are some really rad but subtle textures in this one! Daisy’s plaid shirt, Brian’s leaf patterned shirt and shoes—they have this muted texturization to them that doesn’t break up the simpler colors in the rest of the comic, but is very neat.
Lisa: It felt very early 80’s manga to me!
Favorite references or background gags?
Melissa: I loved the twins subtly referencing the cult cut ending!
Kate: As I mentioned, I really loved that librarian. I want him in everything now.
Lisa: Seconding Melissa’s catching the cult ending reference when the twins were trying to cause some library chaos.
Alenka: WACK. MASTER. 3000.
And how about those covers?!
Melissa: I love this cover, although I WAS disappointed by the lack of monsters in this issue. I know neither Brian nor Joseph are technically monster dad, but can’t they all be monster dads, just for me? I also love the boxing cover, especially the twins’ expressions of complete disinterest and Daisy telling them both to knock it off by way of her whistle. It’s extremely cute.
Kate: So, the “pinup” cover is interesting. I’m still thinking about it. Kris Anka is an amazing artist, but this is probably the least homoerotic and/or blatantly objectifying cover of all of them, and while I LOVE the art, and I love the cover… it’s not a pinup. And I hate that it makes me feel like Brian and Joseph aren’t loved or objectified. I’m disappointed, and I feel bad about being disappointed, but I really feel like Oni promised me objectification.
Lisa: They’re gorgeous, aren’t they? My favorite is definitely the monster variant.
Alenka: I think these covers are the most fun by far! They’re both super playful; the ridiculousness of Brian holding a huge beaker of tentacles and Joseph pouring potion onto a Frankenstein is super silly. The boxing cover is really cute, but I think there is a point to be made here that Brian didn’t get a cheesecake cover, and is also the only fat Dad.
The next issue! HOT DAD-ON-DAD ROLEPLAYING ACTION! Are you ready?!
Melissa: I am so ready. I am so, so, so dang ready. I cannot wait to find out what the heck Robert is dressed up as. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they get into. I hope it’s utter chaos!
Kate: SO excited and SO ready! I’ve been waiting for this ever since I got to interview Josh Trujillo, the writer, about it back at Rose City Comic Con back in September. Check that out if you need some spoilers to tide you over.
Lisa: I’m BEYOND excited; this is the issue I’ve been most looking forward to and now that it’s here I’m over the moon! I play D&D and I’d love to see how this gang construct their characters.
Alenka: When Oni dropped the initial previews I was most excited for my Dream Daddy, Robert, and for the D&D issue, so yes, I am very very ready. Robert has to be a rogue, right?! I can’t wait to see them all be hot, adorable nerds!