Comic Book Review: Munchkin #1
First of all, Munchkin is one of the most fun and friendship ruining board game of all time, and the images and flavor text on its cards are incredibly chuckle-worthy thanks to John Kovalic’s art style. (He gets a one page strip in this comic.) And the game translates pretty well to the short story anthology format. Munchkin #1’s stories are formulaic, but funny. The opening story “What is a Munchkin” uses clashing captions to explain the concept of a “munchkin” for non-roleplayers and Munchkin players. Artist Mike Holmes juxtaposes grotesque monsters and clueless humans/roleplayers in a way which adds to the comedy in this story and the main story “Humans Got No Class.” However, the gags start to grow thin in this story, but it is rescued by a twist ending in the nick of time.
Munchkin #1 works best when it’s poking fun at people taking things too seriously whether it’s a game, quest, character sheet, or even one’s purpose in life. This also makes the comic kind of bulletproof from critics like me. It’s a fun diversion for gamers and/or nerds everywhere, who have dealt with trolls, munchkins, or whatever they’re calling themselves. And artists Holmes and Ryan Sygh have a deft skill of putting characters in ridiculous settings holding ridiculous objects, which is basically the point of Munchkin the game. Sygh also colors his short story “Ready for Anything” giving it a rich purple and orange hue to contrast with the story’s despicable “heroes”.
Even if its ending is slightly on the nose, the Jim Zub-penned/Rian Sygh drawn “Ready for Anything” short story is the best of the bunch. It draws on the universal experience of a newcomer to a game get screwed over by a long time veteran, who happens to be annoying and pedantic. Sygh’s cartooning doesn’t use many lines, but he uses character’s faces (even noses) and the objects around him to milk the story for max physical comedy to go with Zub’s satire. The last page is very abrupt though, but the story is packed with puns, visual gags, and in-jokes galore that will make readers smile or chuckle.
The main story “Humans Got No Class” has lots of wordplay humor and makes fun of RPG classes as well as fantasy fiction tropes, like the wise old mentor and badass female warriors with a colorful hairstyle. However, writer Tom Siddell tries a little too hard to makes things funny by making non sequitur references to social media instead of playing off the relationship between the actually caring quest party and the “classless” human Dave, who could care less about backstory, skill set etc. But Siddell throws in some spicy twists towards the end that redeem the art along with Holmes’ mixture of caricature style art and traditional adventure comic panel arrangements.
Munchkin #1 is the fantasy fiction comic equivalent of a half hour sketch comedy show. Read, laugh at the crazy characters and clever wordplay, and maybe learn something about yourself as a fan and a person. It’s that simple. Don’t overthink it, or you’ll end up like a variety of hapless party members in this comic.