Each subsequent time I experience something from Dream Daddy that is good, I find myself realizing just how much I enjoy the characters found within. “Dream Ad-y,” the third comic in the anthology series, beautifully captures the wealth of personality the visual novel contains, and does so in a way that plays off how different they are in entertaining and endearing ways only DreamDaddy can.
The focus of “Dream Ad-y” is split fairly evenly between the socially awkward barista dad Mat, the still objectively best dad Robert, who just had a starring role in the second issue as well, and Amanda, the unnamed protagonist dad’s daughter. Mat, whose coffee shop Coffee Spoon is suffering from a dip in business, is looking to put out an ad on the local channels. Robert, proving himself once again to be the renaissance man of Dream Daddy’s cul-de-sac, offers to be the director, and finds jobs for each of the local dads to make it a neigh borhood project. Joseph, the youth minister is in charge of crafts, Hugo the teacher is in charge of the script, Damien, no longer suspected of being a vampire, is in charge of costuming,Brian, the teddy bear of the group is just happy to be included, then Craig is cast as the eye-candy, much to Robert’s delight, making “Dream Ad-y” one of the first concrete acknowledgements of any of the dad’s sexualities outside of their respective climactic moments in the original game.
As these dads all attempt to collaborate on the direction of the commercial, things get hectic, and eventually fall apart.What makes watching the process devolve entertaining is the way it still manages to capture each individual dad and child’s personality, even in thelighting fast pace it delivers it all. “DreamAd-y” is probably the best representation of how much better Dream Daddy works as an ensemble castthan it does as a one-on-one dating sim. Seeing Robert’s exhaustive broodingdemeanor up against Joseph and Brian’s wholesome natures is what makes theirpersonalities shine. Mat’s withdrawn and anxious self is showcased in how he isoverwhelmed by it all, and everyone’s empathy for that helps to subvert thetropes each character falls into. Like the second issue, this issue omits theromanceDream Daddy sells itself on,and is all the better for it.
It’s worth noting that “Dream Ad-y” portrays the protagonist dad, not as the scruffy ginger seen in the first issue, but rather as a clean-cut man of color, solidifyingthe comic series as a series of side stories that don’t disrupt anyone’s particular canon view of the Dream Daddy,and is able to add bits of diversity with each new comic. I’m excited tosee what other version of the protagonist appear in future issues, and hope there’s no repeating.
Along with the portrayal of the main dad, the art of “Dream Ad-y” is a significant departure from Ryan Maniulit and Jack Gross’ takes of the first two issues, with Jarrett Williams coming in with a more exaggerated, super-deformed art style. It’s expressive, colorful, and captures every character in a caricaturestyle that suits the pacing and tone of the comic, even if the hyper stylized look doesn’t always translate to smaller or less significant panels.
In the year that I’ve been covering Dream Daddy, whether it was as a game oras a comic, I’ve been tough on it for its portrayal of a neighborhood of queer men that seems entirely devoid of that identity and culture. But when it comesto being witty, heartfelt, and full of personality, it has consistently delivered. I haven’t come around on Dream Daddy as a dating sim, but as an fun slice of life, it’s probably won meover.
“Dream Ad-y” leans into Dream Daddy’s wacky characters’ personalities for another issue, elevating the source material beyond its proven weaknesses.