Misunderstanding Comics

Writer Tim Heiderich and Chico co-writer and artist Mike Rosen’s send-up of Scott McCloud’s 1993 Understanding Comics is a parody that serves as the comic industry’s checklist—big boobs, reboots for noobs, and keeping the volume at 11—and the creators do a great job of skewering the checklist with sly references to specific titles, events and general fandom. The juxtaposition between the “lessons” within the narrator’s speech balloons and the images and art create much of the humor. “The 3 Stages of a Web Comic,” a guide to drawing manga animal sidekicks, and a mock-up of a Kickstarter page—the means by which Misunderstanding Comics was funded—are all wickedly spot-on. However, too often, the parody takes a back seat to straightforward—albeit legitimate—criticisms. This kills the humor and makes serious critiques seem shallow and one-sided when confined to punch lines. By the end, the tone has bounced from parody to jaded cynicism so many times it feels as if Doomsday just drove your brain into the cement. Though it’s uneven at times, comic book fans will relate to the creators’ struggles to love an industry that, at times, seems to hate its fans.