By Christopher Helton
Munchkin from Steve Jackson Games is sort of like the tabletop gaming equivalent of Lady Sovereign. You either love the game, or you hate it. Starting out as a teasing satire, making fun of a certain type of player in tabletop RPGs, Munchkin has grown into a phenomena all its own.
Now, the phenomena has grown with a new Munchkin comic from Boom! Box, an imprint of Boom! Studios. We've already talked a lot about this new Munchkin comic here at Bleeding Cool. It sold out before it even hit the "newsstands." But the important question would be: is the special Munchkin card the only reason you should pick up this comic?
I say no. I rushed to my friendly local comic store yesterday to pick up a copy of the first issue to find out. I thought that there might be too many in jokes for the tabletop set that would be a barrier to comic fans that aren't familiar with the game. I was wrong. Writers Tom Sidell and Jim Zub crafted funny, engaging pieces that introduce people to the concepts of the game, without being stilted or forced. And, importantly, they poke fun at some of the concepts of tabletop gaming and gamers, without being mean about it.
The comic is an all ages sort of thing, but I read through and laughed and didn't feel that Sidell or Zub were writing down to anyone or trying to "kiddify" their stories. This comic was all ages in a good way, anyone could pick up this book and have a good time. As a matter of fact, I think that this comic will end up being bought by existing gamers to give to their kids, or younger siblings, as a bridge to tabletop gaming because the comic does an excellent job of introducing the tropes of gaming. Most importantly, the comic left me wanting more. I want the next month to pass more quickly so that I can get the next issue in my hands (even though I don't have a potential young gamer to share these with).
Except for John Kovalic (who is the illustrator of most of the Munchkin games), I was not familiar with the artists in this book. I loved the art of Mike Holmes. His style is well-suited to Munchkin, and I hope that he does more in future issues of the book. I hope that Steve Jackson Games asks him to do some cards for the Munchkin game! I don't want to say that the art by Rian Sygh was bad, but I think the energy of Homes' work was a great fit for Munchkin's style. Kovalic's one page strip was a groaning visual pun (and I mean that in a good way) that should appeal to fans of Munchkin and his Dork Tower webcomic. It was a fun way to end the book, and if you can't appreciate a good pun then Munchkin may be a frightening experience for you.
Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.