Dungeons and Dragons, My Beginnings


I am one of those guys.
I grew up in the 70′ s and discovered Dungeons and Dragons, which I played heavily thru the eighties and lost track of it in the nineties.  My first glimpse of it was a blue paper bound and stapled rule book from TSR games  my brother left on his desk. I read it and wondered “what sorcery is this?  It was followed quickly by his copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s handbook. A singular work with incredible art work and a cover that still fuels my imagination today. For me, other role playing games followed , such as TSR’s Boot Hill, Gamma World and Top Secret, but D&D was always king of them all.B2571A08-7479-4348-BAF8-DDA2CA0B5BFB

You have heard all this before.
No one else played the game. In a world where my nerdiness was not cool, or even tolerated it was difficult to find other players.  I created epic adventures that never were played by others. Occasionally I was able to join a game in the city or cobble together  some friends to play for a day here and there. Those were incredible days, planning the adventures for weeks ahead, anticipating game day like a holiday. The game gave my imagination room to roam. The game set in motion so much of my direction as an adult that I never realized until looking back at it now. When I played role playing games I could be in control of a creative world and learned how to work with others, troubleshoot and problem solve in the most creative of ways.

After commanding and shaping so much of my life as a teen, my artistic focus, my travels and love of history, D&D slowly faded away and I lost track of my vast collection of notes, artwork, books and modules. Lost to time.


Until one day.
One day a few years back, right as the D&D 5th edition was getting rolled out. That day my son and I were in our local comic shop and he said the magic words”  dad, I really want to learn to play D&D”……..WHAT!! My brain screamed. What did he just say? We had watched a few d&d podcasts over the years , mostly marveling at the costumes and  listening to the jokes they told while playing,  inwardly I would marvel at the fact the game had survived. I had never really reflected or talked to my son about how important the role playing game had been to me.

Cut to that day in the store –  ever so coolly I replied to him, ” yeah, D&D…that’s still a thing?”
“Yeah,” he said, ,” I’ve watched a ton of podcasts of  game play on line.”
Ahhh….the internet.
They had a four sided kiosk in the store with a ton of D&D and Pathfinder game stuff on it.

We walked out of the store that day with the 5e players handbook and dungeon masters guide and a bunch of dice. Always dice.

The rest as they say, is history. It turns out, nerdiness is quite cool these days.

D&D it turns out is an even bigger imagination builder, community making adventure building powerhouse than ever before.

Shortly thereafter my son dreamed up a company and online community called NerdzGarage. Among other things they have been playing D&D at NerdzGarage for 18 months nearly every Sunday, now live streaming to YouTube and Twitch. There is also a lot of tabletop game play, anime, cosplay, conventions  and video gaming.

I occasionally play, I am constantly painting new mini figs and building terrain and ships and castles. I am along for the ride as NerdzGarage grows, writing about D&D,  collecting and writing about comics and playing tabletop games.

Earlier this month I was in Augusta, GA on business and got the call,  ” we need a storm giant figure for Sunday”

Me: Hey SIRI,  find a comic and games shop near me….

Come on along and  join us.



@nerdzgarage on the twitter, instagram and facebook

— This recollection by Nerdz Garage Head of Acquisitions  and Master Builder,  Derek “Jimmy” Smith




21 January 2017

Storytelling and Illustration

by Derek Smith, Janitor Supervisor at Nerdz Garage

By way of introduction to this new Nerdz Garage Blog about Storytelling and Illustration, I will say that I love all forms of these two things. That being, I am told, too broad of a topic to cover in a somewhat frequent blog posting I will narrow the focus. Let’s dial it in to the printed arena(with the possibility available to stray into the world of anime as it related to printed series).  Ok narrower still, the focus will be on the medium of illustrated narrative stories.



Graphic Novels.

Periodic tales illustrated in color or black and white.

The line blurs even further as we access Anime and other illustrated video content.

Ok? You get the picture?

I would have said, “Things you find in a comic book store”, but that sort of blows up again into once again too large and unwieldy of a subject matter.


I have always been mesmerized by a good story.  A story with pictures. Now there is something I can get behind. So here we are, blog number one.

Blog is a blunt term, not very sexy.  I think a better term for this narrative commentary might be Nerdz Illustrated #1.

Yeah. OKAY, Here we go…

As far as I am concerned we are living in the golden age of the illustrated medium of Comics, Manga and Anime.  I can go to a regular bookstore, a specialty “comic shop” and of course on The Web to find any number of incredibly crafted examples of great art and story craft.   These are not the days gone by where reading “a comic book” was only for children, and most of the story lines were, well, not very deep. The available choices were limited and reflected or typified the culture of the day.

No, today the freedom of creators to produce publish and circulate what they feel is important seems to be at a pinnacle in history.  Any type, any genre any flavor from stick figures to flowing abstract illustrations combined with storylines that are anywhere from one offs to series with no end in sight, Action Comics, featuring Superman, is nearing 1000 in one series alone. He is a constant. There are so many more, not to be so narrow as just one classic.   The list is endless from new content at the frontier —- space cowboys, spies, future universes and so on.

The access to this content is unprecedented. It is a great time to be a reader, a fan, a connoisseur, a collector and just to be alive.

That is how we at Nerdz see it.

What We are reading at Nerdz Garage right now:

A couple of selections at the top of our list:



Story: Jeff Lemire

Art / Cover: Dustin Nguyen

Published: March 4, 2015-



In the present day, I am fascinated by the Descender series from Image Comics by Lemire and Nguyen. I picked my first Descender book up at Awesome Con this past summer in Washington DC.  It was a random pick from a booth off the main traffic lane on the Con Floor. The cover art jumped out at me, Issue number one of the comic series.

It was not until I was on my flight home after the Con that I was able to dig into this title.  The art style drew me right in as did the story of an android, last of its kind(?), its race having been oppressed to near extermination out of another populations (humanity) fear. The story kicked off and by the end of this first issue, it left me wanting to believe in the good side of humanity and fearing the dark side of it as I reflected on the title of the series, Descender.

The story is powerful and brings to bear many ideas and concepts pertinent to our world today. This alone makes it a valuable comic.  The story set in a future where space has been conquered by humanity and the corporations seem to be kings is always a good place to start a fine sci-fi yarn.

Personally, I prefer to read and handle individual issues as they are released, or as I find them in back issues boxes. However, in this case, as soon as I returned home from the Con I ran straight away to my Local and pulled the available Trade Paperback compilations of Descender off the shelf as soon as I found they had none in back issues. I had to read all of it, right away.

I am not sure how this title escaped me for so long since its first publication in March of 2015, but I am on it now and better for it. And trust me, I have gobbled up thes rest of the series right up to the current edition,  Descender #20! Great stuff!

We give this one Nerdz Love, 5x (out of 5x).

This of course led me, as new finds often do, right down the rabbit hole to another title by Mr. Lemire who teamed up with Scott Snyder for, A.D. AFTER DEATH, BOOK 1.


Story: Scott Snyder

Art / Cover: Jeff Lemire

Published: November 23, 2016



This periodical book comes in a larger than average “prestige” format, magazine size, with a heavy cloth like paper cover. This alone draws me in. When I pulled this from the shelf of my local and opened it, I was instantly mesmerized by both the incredible artwork and the weaving of the story. Crazy good.  There is an eerie sketchbook quality to this piece that really works to its advantage and draws you in.  Art that makes me think and delve deeper into my own thoughts, more than normal, is a sure fire five-star hit.

On the image comics website, the lead for this book is “WHAT IF WE FOUND A CURE FOR DEATH?”


My only misgiving about this masterwork is that it is a limited run of three issues. All good things must end. I guess. I am very much looking forward to what these artists next have in store for us.

Read this Book!!! Nerdz Love 5x+ (out of 5x)(the + indicates an elevated level of Nerdz Love)..

That is all for now. Let us know what you think and by all means, share your comments and let us know what you are reading these days. We will be back soon talking more about Manga, Comics, our “local” and more!  Thanks for checking us out.


Derek and the gang at Nerdz Garage