It's said that the cover of a comic book is very important, as it catches a potential reader's eye and may entice them into buying the book.  Knights of the Dinner Table celebrated its first two decades of publication with Knights of the Dinner Table: 20 Years of Covers, a coffee table book that features all the covers of the comic -- plus additional material.

Knights of the Dinner Table follows the misadventures of the Knights of the Dinner Table -- B.A., Bob, Dave, Sarah, and Brian -- a role-playing group in Muncie, Indiana who mainly play Hackmaster, a thinly-veiled version of Dungeons & Dragons.  Over the years the comic has expanded its scope, introducing other gaming groups (most often the Black Hands), the employees of Hard Eight Enterprises (who produce Hackmaster), the annual GaryCon conventions, and more.  Throughout the years and changes, the focus of the comic has always been gaming -- and that focus is reflected in the book's covers.

The early covers focused mainly on the Knights, either showing all of them together or the four players with gamemaster B.A. appearing in the background somehow.  Over time the other characters and groups made their way to the covers: the Black Hands would be tormenting the Knights, individual characters would get the focus, the annual GaryCon shows would pop up, there was a tribute to Gary Gygax, etc.  Knowing that many of the readers were gamers and/or geeks, the characters would appear in parodies of movies, TV series, other comic books, and even original D&D sourcebooks.  And there were many guest artists, providing different (and, frankly, sometimes better) artwork than inside the comic book.

In addition to the covers, KODT: 20 Years of Covers also has an introduction by the series' creator Jolly Bkackburn.  There are also summaries of all the stories in every issue, plus the occasional panel or artwork from the issues, which elevates this collection from just artwork to a pretty good guide to the stories appearing in every single issue featured in this collection.

Unfortunately, the production of KODT: 20 Years of Covers was part of the disastrous KODT Live Action Series Kickstarter campaign.  The online store Noble Knight Games generously provided copies of the book to those Kickstarter backers who never got their book; unfortunately, they sent out all the copies they had (and I got the last one!).  Fortunately, Kenzer & Company has made KODT: 20 Years of Covers available as a downloadable PDF ; and the hope remains that more physical copies of the book will eventually be produced.

I've been a fan of Knights of the Dinner Table since 1998, and Knights of the Dinner Table: 20 Years of Covers is a terrific collection of the series' amusing and pretty original covers (which almost never have anything to do with the issue's stories).  This book may not be for everyone, but it's terrific for fans of the series, gamers, and geeks in general.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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