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Fantasy Subgenres


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Comic Fantasy

What is Comic Fantasy?

Probably the lightest of all fantasy sub-genres, Humorous or Comic Fantasy is fun first, fantasy second. Basically, it just presents a fresh and interesting environment that will generate fresh and interesting humor.

A hallmark of this type is the heavy use of puns and parodies of other works. This can take many forms: making fun of the genre itself is probably the easiest target, because most other fantasy takes itself so very seriously. Another technique is to add ridiculous elements to tropes, such as a magic sword that talks, but only when spoken to politely or some such thing. Giving protagonists an exaggerated flaw that introduces some difficulty in achieving or maintaining the expected hero's bearing can be quite funny, but many times the hero himself plays the “straight man” in these stories, while the other characters are made ridiculous

The action usually takes place in an imaginary world, although medieval settings are ripe for humor as well.

Comic fantasy can be divided into a few even more specific subgenres: parody fantasy where another specific work (usually a popular one) is parodied, humourous fantasy where the point of the tale is to amuse, and dry humour where the humour is not the end goal of the story, but is nevertheless present in a strong degree.

Indeed, some of the more “serious” epic fantasy books incorporate a dry, sarcastic humor that make them quite funny, in a dark sort of way. You might refer to these as “darkly humorous” fantasy. Books that fall in this category would be the Harry Dresden series by Butcher, The First Law (and other works) by Abercrombie, and Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora.


Comedic Fantasy Characteristics

  • Level of Magic

    Magic, if it is present, will probably be exploited more for its comedic potential than for actual results, such as failed incantations or unintended consequences.

  • Level of Characterization

    Most characters are identifiable types: the sultry woman, the sassy girl, the strong and silent knight, the slyly perceptive idiot.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Although the tone and intent of the works are light, there is a level at which they can be considered fairly intellectual and worth some work.

  • Level of Violence

    Usually not much, and not graphic.

Related Fantasy Subgenres




    Any type of fantasy is suited to the comic treatment. If the comic fantasy is a parody, the Epic/Quest Fantasy subgenre tends to be the target. Some of the modern Gritty Fantasy books (for example, Abercrombie's The Blade Itself) tend to be quite humorous in nature and while not specifically a fantasy comedy, they can be funny.

Comedic / Humorous Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

You don't like humor, puns, sometimes sophisticated wordplay. If you like to get lost in action or adventure, you probably won't find that escape here, since it's secondary to the comic opportunities presented.

Best Comedic Fantasy Books/Series in the Genre