I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I dove headfirst into Ninja Sex Party: The Graphic Novel, Part I: Origins. I’ve been a fan of NSP for some time, so I know Dan Avidan (Danny Sexbang) and Brian Wecht (Ninja Brian) are great storytellers. They can weave a tale and paint a picture in a three-to-five-minute song, but this isn’t that. This isn’t about Danny Sexbang and Ninja Brian. It’s not about dinosaur laser fights or crying before, during, and after sex.
No, Ninja Sex Party’s first graphic novel is about Dan and Brian growing up, following their dreams and aspirations, and eventually colliding to create something spectacular.
So, if you’re an NSP fan who has ever found yourself wondering how on Earth this comedy-musical phenom was conceived, you’ll be hanging on every page of Ninja Sex Party: The Graphic Novel, Part I: Origins.
Basic Concept, Unique Execution
At its core, this graphic novel is an autobiography — Avidan and Wecht wrote the script, along with David Calcano and Lindsey Lee, about their lives before NSP. We follow their upbringings in New Jersey, their various exploits in and outside of music, and their love lives. Sounds pretty basic, right? Nope, that’s not how NSP does things.
The story is told from both sides, quite literally. If you begin on one side, you’ll get Danny’s story. Start from the other, and you follow Brian. The stories converge in the middle, at the moment of their meeting. It’s a very cool, very tactile way to show these two meteors hurtling through their lives only to collide and create a whole new planet on impact.
It’s hard to critique a story-arc that’s quite simply two human beings’ lives. There’s not much the writers could have done to spice up the plot, or attempt to make it gripping to someone who is not already familiar with NSP, but there is a lot here to sink your teeth into. For example, part of Brian’s story is narrated by Rachel, his awesome wife. His background in math and science is also explored, which is honestly fascinating. Since his character — Ninja Brian — doesn’t actually speak in NSP’s world, it was very intriguing to get a glimpse into Brian’s personality, views, and voice.
Dan is a little more accessible to fans, especially if they follow his other primary project — Game Grumps. He tends to bare his soul from time to time on that channel. So, those fans will be familiar with some of Dan’s stories and background, but this graphic novel packages them in a whole new way. Seeing Dan try relentlessly to become a successful musician is extremely emotional. His arc really does show the effort and work he’s put into his career and it’s extremely admirable.
The art in each section is another defining factor here. Juan Riera (illustration, Brian’s side), Lindsay Lee (illustration, Brian’s side), Ittai Manero (colors illustration, Dan’s side), Samuel Blanco (colors), and Alberto Belandria (letters) created two very separate experiences that reflect these two men and their stories. For example, the colors in Dan’s section are bright, vibrant, and varied. Brian’s, section, however, is very black, white, gray, and yellow. To me, this reflects Dan’s exuberance and showmanship, as well as Brian’s practicality, logic, and intelligence.
Balancing Heart and Humor
If you listen to NSP, you know these guys are hysterical. That does come out in full-force in Ninja Sex Party: The Graphic Novel, Part I: Origins. While it is funny as hell, however, this book is not all laughs. These stories deal with heartbreak, family dynamics, failure, and other heavy emotional trials.
The tears come just as easily as the laughs, which is one hell of a feat. This team has created something that is equally authentic and humorous — raw and entertaining. It is as uplifting as it it grounded. That’s pretty impressive, and just as engaging to read.
If there’s one thing that this book will leave you with, it’s hope. For all the times that these men faltered — every time they made a decision that led them somewhere they didn’t expect — it all culminates in their meeting and forming NSP. Every mistake and misstep brought them to each other. Whether you believe in fate or not, that’s a pretty cool way to look at things. Maybe, just maybe, things will work out in the end. Maybe that bad news you just got is one step closer to your own version of Ninja Sex Party. That is an encouraging thought, huh?
So, is this book accessible to readers who are not NSP fans? I wouldn’t expect those readers to find this groundbreaking, though the storytelling and art really are impressive and noteworthy. There’s a lot to appreciate here, but the real impact will be made on NSP fans.
If you love this band, you will adore Ninja Sex Party: The Graphic Novel, Part I: Origins. As a fan myself, I consider this a must-have and personally cannot wait until Part II comes out.
You can pick up this graphic novel on May 5, 2020.