Dream Daddy #1 is the debut of a new comic adaptation of the popular dating simulator aptly named, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. Available from Oni Press, the first issue features one of the seven date-able dads: Craig Cahn, a fitness-focused hunk who’s asked his old college roommate to attend their college reunion with him. Does the series kick off to a running start?
If you loved the Dream Daddy dating sim like I did, pick up this comic! Wendy Xu absolutely nails the voices of all the characters who show up in this issue, which is crucial for adapting a story or property from one medium to the next. In the game, you customize your character’s appearance and get to choose what they say via dialogue options that let you insert yourself into the New Dad’s role or just have fun and choose whichever responses you feel are fun. Nonetheless, the New Dad character does have an underlying anxiousness and charmingly grounded feeling about him. Xu invokes those traits perfectly, making a character who’s, to a degree, a somewhat blank slate for the player to fill into a character with recognizable quirks and a cohesive voice that carries throughout the issue.
Craig’s also comes through crystal clear, from his chummy exclamations of “Bro!” to his quieter anxieties about his role as a divorced single father. Xu further characterizes Craig with observations from his mother, a character original to the comic who I’m so happy we get to meet! Fleshing out the world of Dream Daddy with characters like Craig’s mom and seeing her interact Craig, the New Dad, and her grandchildren not only makes for an adorable scene, but further endears Craig to the reader as well and emphasizes how important his family is to him. Speaking of family, props to Wendy Xu for also nailing the voice of Ashley, the not-so-secret real star of the Dream Daddy game. She has just the right about of loving snark to make me grin.
Let’s all take a moment to thank Ryan Maniulit who illustrated and colored the issue. Thank you, Ryan Maniulit, for the panel of Craig with naught on but a towel held carelessly, recklessly around his hips. We’re all adults here. I think I can safely say a lot of readers like myself came here to thirst and Maniulit gave us a little bit to drink with that one. All his character renderings are expressive and toe the line between adorable and attractive in a way that makes every page a pleasure to look at. I especially love how he drew the main characters in a couple college flashbacks and let a variety of body types shine throughout the issue. Bonus points are added thanks to a well placed Hatoful Boyfriend reference as well.
Maniulit’s coloring throughout the issue gives the comic a warm, cozy feeling even when the page features cooler blues during nighttime scenes. His expert handling of lighting and shadow placement on the characters has the light snuggle up to the characters in gentle gradations rather than harsh contrasts of bright and dark. The use of purple and pink throughout the issue–whether emanating from fairground lights at twilight or the atmosphere of an intimate moment between bros–grants the pages personality and style even if all the dialogue were removed. It’d be a shame if it was though, because Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou keeps the lettering tight throughout, but uses really expressive fonts and word balloons for exclamations and squawking bird sounds. Even the buzzing of Craig’s phone in one panel is expressed with a sound effect with letters that bounce in a way that draws the eye but doesn’t distract.
Overall, Dream Daddy #1 was an absolute pleasure to read and fans of the property new and old are sure to get their money’s worth with this faithful, joyous adaptation. There is a moment near the end that felt like it didn’t get a ton of lead up, but I’m so happy it happened anyway that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief a little and get my life. I can’t wait to see what the next team of creators has in store for the next issue!