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The Critical Role Sketchbook That Traveled Around the World
Critical RoleCritical Role

The Critical Role Sketchbook That Traveled Around the World

Critical Role is Geek & Sundry’s live Dungeons & Dragons show, featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.

Before Episode 23 of Critical Role kicked off, Liam O’Brien opened a package on the livestream to reveal a very special gift from the phenomenal artist community. Inside the box was a sketchbook that has traveled the world since 2016, going from artist to artist who left their heartfelt illustrations inside for the cast, who were all blown away.

This incredible project was helmed by Critical Role fan Jason deBit, who handled getting the package from one artist to another for two years before it landed in the cast’s hands.

Jason has been a fan of the show since 2015, he says. “The first episode I watched was the fight against K’Varn, and I promptly caught up to the live shows after that. I did my first fan art piece when they were in Whitestone, and I believe it was of Vax fighting Percy’s old teacher, Anders.”

He found fellow artists and Critical Role fans online, and together they formed a weekly art jam organized through a direct message conversation on Twitter. One fateful conversation, Jason suggested sending a sketchbook to all of the artists in the chat, and the project was born.

“I want to stress that the initial idea might have been mine, but the group as a whole determined how it would go,” he says. “It was a completely collaborative effort. That is one of the things I love the most about this community that has been formed around the show and the people playing the game.”

The project started with the artists from the weekly jam, and grew to include a few additional Critter artists. The group didn’t want to leave anyone out, but the sketchbook had limited physical space.

“We forget now that just a couple of years ago, the Critter community was substantially smaller than it is today,” says Jason. “If I had tried to do this today it would have been impossible to have just one sketchbook because of the sheer volume of people who would want to participate.”

The sketchbook traveled around the world on a jaw-dropping itinerary, starting in Australia:

  • Australia
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Scotland
  • England
  • Ireland
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • USA

Artist Ares Taveras loved being a part of the project, which he admits was hard to keep secret. “Seeing the evolution of this wonderful book was a constant carrot in my eyes,” he says. “I was on the tail end of the book, not getting in until early 2018, but with each piece my desire to be inside the cover of that book grew. It was an amazing experience beginning to end with a few scary hiccups along the way.”

One hiccup led to the sketchbook disappearing for a short while somewhere in South America, due to a mailing address mishap.

“The artist continued to check their old address with no luck, and we had kind of lost hope, discussing a possible second sketchbook to try it again,” Jason recalls. “Four long months later, it showed up and we were back on track!”

Brandi York, another participating artist, was thrilled to see her Vex’ahlia portrait on the stream when the sketchbook was revealed.

“I would have to say it was a roller coaster, both in being asked so long ago to be involved, watching the progress as it made its way around the globe,” she says. “It was incredible to see it get presented. I actually freaked out my dog with my reaction!”

Jason said it was simply his love of Critical Role that inspired him not only to create the project with his fellow artists, but to make sure it kept going on its journey around the world.

“I included a letter with the sketchbook that Liam didn’t read on stream that simply stated this book is a love letter to the cast, crew, and characters of Critical Role,” says Jason. “The fans, whether you started day one of the show, watching them suffer through sound problems, or started last week and are desperately trying to catch up so you don’t get riddled with spoilers, love these nerdy ass voice actors and the community that has sprung up around them. For most of us, it is a bright spot in their lives that fills them with joy, and what better way to show that than creating something.”

Take a look at the #CRSketchbook hashtag to learn more about the artists who participated in this sensational endeavor, and stay tuned to the Critical Role website for a full gallery of the sketches coming soon.

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Featured Photo: Jessica Osborne

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