As one of the many readers who learned about it on this site, I was skeptical at first, reading through all the references on many trope pages, but at some point I found myself following the links to OOTS pages, and I eventually read it all in a one-night Archive Binge
(IIRC it was 791 pages long at the time), and I check for new pages almost on a daily basis, while re-reading scenes and arcs often enough as well.
Yes, it's really that good, though, like everything else, it's not going to please everybody.
Within the first two story arcs, you see the comic evolve from gag-a-day shenanigans, through a conventional RPG-derived comic and into what is essentially a Heroic Fantasy
graphic novel (seriously, it's in print, including some prequels and other goodies), and a good one, despite bits of intentional Schizo Tech
and lots of very intentional Lampshade Hanging
, Affectionate Parody
and even downright Deconstruction of basically every genre and work it references.
The infrastructure of the webcomic fits its tone and story to a tee - tons and tons of pop culture references, a generally irreverent tone that goes from taking itself serious to Self Deprecating Humor
seamlessly, and often instantly and without warning
, as the story demands, and a simple-looking, highly utilitarian art style that is clearly designed to make it easier to maintain consistency and depict closeups and panoramas of large stretches of space with equal ease.
Its other important advantage is the ease with which it conveys information: from a few simple lines and established conventions, you can tell whether a character is young, adult, old or ancient, what species, what gender (except when it's intentionally kept in doubt
), and what mood they're in. There are technical artifices as well, especially in the later strips, but they tend to be understated in favour of the story and gags.
Definitely worth a read, by the time it's finished, the Order of the Stick saga will probably be comparable to the works of the great masters of fantasy and story-telling in general, though it's still very much its own thing, set apart from them by its generally irreverent tone.