As both a player and a game master for fantasy roleplaying games (Dungeons and Dragons, mostly), I have some idea of what a murder hobo is. If you’re not familiar with the term, the idea simple: monsters are evil, and anyone who kills them is good. The murder hobo, then, is a hero who has no home and lives purely to kill and get better at killing. Although most game systems discourage this kind of lifestyle for an adventurer, it doesn’t change the fundamental truth — no matter how we justify it, we’re still killing in our game without much regard to who we’re killing.

PIXIE DUST, written by Russell Nohelty and drawn by Nicolas Touris, is a fun poke at the actions of heroes in fantasy settings. The story is about a monster hunter forced to question the origin of her XP. The result is a somewhat comically serious tale that I’d recommend to anyone interested in fantasy questing or a good, solid fable.

An Interview with Russell Nohelty of MONSTERS AND OTHER SCARY SHIT: A MONSTER ANTHOLOGY on His Kickstarter

An Undead Pixie Seeks Out Revenge

PIXIE DUST follows Akta of the Woods, a monster-slaying pixie long in the service of King Odgeir. Although she is a fierce warrior, strong of heart and body, her access to pixie dust is what makes her exceptional. The magic powder lets her teleport during combat, making her practically unstoppable. King Odgeir is envious of this power — something Akta knows — and she is upfront in telling him that as long as she draws breath, he won’t have it.


Akta demonstrates her fighting prowess. Image courtesy of Wannabe Press.

So, he kills her.

After he tricks her into consuming poison, Akta barely makes it out of the castle before dying. She wakes up in Hell and fights her way to Velaska, ruler of the underworld. In her throne room, Akta begs the queen to let her return to the living and enact revenge on Odgeir. Velaska agrees, and Akta wakes up in her body. Too bad it’s already spent a week decomposing.

Akta wakes up in Hell. Image courtesy of Wannabe Press.

The plot is light and straightforward, but it also doesn’t pull any punches. Akta becomes undead, a monster — the very thing she earned her keep killing. This sets up a very standard redemption arc for our hero. She finds herself kin to the creatures she killed without a second thought. Ultimately, she learns monsters aren’t so much evil as they are misunderstood.

The CALL OF DUTY Zombies: Is That Another Easter Egg?

What makes the story magical is that Nohelty doesn’t limit the focus to just Akta alone. Throughout the story, we see troll kings come to grips with their legacy and rival pixies agree to reluctant alliances. The story even touches us with the grace of a mother’s love and the simple devotion of a troll. In its 112 pages, there’s a richness to this fable, and despite being short, I walked away feeling full.

The Characters Change and Grow to Meet Their Goals

And that leads me to where PIXIE DUST truly crits its performance check: the characters. PIXIE DUST shows that you don’t need length to tell convincing character arcs. All you need is a clarity of vision for your character’s goals and motivations in life.

PURGATORY Review: Waiting Room of the Dead

It would be easy to cast Akta in the role of a typical fantasy archetype (ranger, I’d guess), especially given the length of the story. Yet Nohelty gives so much more to Akta, by merely showing her resolve as a hero. No matter if she’s living or dead, we see Akta adapt and overcome the situations in which she finds herself. She believes in the good of what she’s doing and follows that goal to the end. This is true, even if she needs to rethink her entire concept of good and evil. It’s this quality that makes her a hero — not her stat block or build. Maybe Akta starts as a murder hobo — but her story doesn’t end that way.

Akta fights, despite the poison in her body. Image courtesy of Wannabe Press.

Cartoony Art Enhances the Story — It Does Not Distract

Where Russell Nohelty excels at creating a compelling story, Nicolas Touris gives us equally compelling art.

Touris shines at depicting the actions and emotions of the characters. When a character needs to be compassionate, his or her entire posture softens to appear considerate and gentle. Similarly, when a character needs to be brutal the art becomes angular, and their rage is easy to see. Savagery and compassion coexist in his art, just like in the real world. To the reader, this serves to emphasize the humanity of all of the characters, regardless of their fantasy race.

In a lighter moment, Akta drags a feared monster’s head through town. Image courtesy of Wannabe Press.

Touris also does a good job at setting the somewhat whimsical tone of the story. Though dealing with heavy themes — intolerance, death, Hell, and dismemberment — its cartoony lines and colors make this story less bitter. Yes, there is plenty of blood spilled in panels. Yet, because it’s all a cartoon, it doesn’t distract from the flow of the story itself.

A more brutal moment in the comic, Akta decapitates her foe. Image courtesy of Wannabe Press.

All in all, this was a beautiful story with a beautiful style. I never doubted the motivations of the characters, thanks to their strong and emotional body and facial language.


Final Thoughts on PIXIE DUST

PIXIE DUST is the work of Russel Nohelty and Nicolas Touris, published by Wannabe Press and currently funding on Kickstarter.

If you have already backed PIXIE DUST, feel self-assured that this is not a waste of your money. It’s a fun story that has heart — even if that heart beats in the rotting chest of a less-than-perfect pixie ranger.

If, however, you are on the fence about backing PIXE DUST, know that it has this reviewer’s approval. You can finish this bite-sized story in less than an hour. Once that time is over, however, you’ll spend some time thinking about it after. There are genuine moments of gut-wrenching pain — and that’s impressive, given its length. It’s a complete story, one that you can either read for entertainment or take to task to become a hero yourself.

Why Aren’t You Reading SEVEN TO ETERNITY?

The Kickstarter campaign concludes on November 3rd, 2017, so as of the publication of this article, you still have some time to back this wonderful project!

PIXIE DUST is an action-packed redemption story for a monster hunter forced to become a monster herself. Though the story is short, characters act with unyielding resolve, making this read super enjoyable. The art is cartoony, keeping the story light enough for the thematic gems within to shine. All in all, give PIXIE DUST a read -- you won’t regret it!
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