Written and Drawn by Evan Dorkin.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
There but for the grace of God………
The 1990’s were a time of mixed blessings for the comic book enthusiast. On one hand it was a time when (as Winston Churchill so eloquently stated) you never had it so bloody good. Comics were selling like hot cakes, with the top titles shipping more than 1 million copies and the good will from the major publishing houses trickling down to smaller independent studios. It was like a dream come true. The flip side of this seeming fan boy utopia was that every boom must come an eventual bust. The land of plenty soon turned into a world of bloated excess; die cut covers, ridiculously proportioned character artwork (with pouches), comics speculation and the fact that there were a million billion titles each month soon led to a backlash that nearly bankrupted one company and led to the utter demise of several others. The dream was dead- a victim of its own avarice- and no one saw it coming.
No-one that is but Evan Dorkin who had spent the early part of the decade flirting with the mainstream ( most notably on Marvel’s *ahem* excellent Bill and Ted title) at the same time he was skewering them in his small press titles Milk & Cheese and Dork. The latter of these was home to The Eltingville Science Fiction Fantasy and Role Playing Game Club, a strip that was part author avatar and part whipping boy; telling the story the titular club and its 4 members as they make they make the long painful journey from fresh faced fan boy enthusiasts to washed up smart mark wreckage.
For anyone who has never experienced Dorkins work before, it is in a word, dense. Every panel is just absolutely crammed with detail: the kind that requires a second and third read through to get all the gags, both verbal and artistic. The Eltingville Club (like the majority of Dorkin’s work) is a study in contrasts, and he spends a great deal of time showing his anorak while at the same time mocking himself.
While on the surface Dorkin’s work seems laced with cynicism (and not a small amount of malice to boot), the true message of The Eltingville Club is almost a romantic one: one of love and hope. Love of comics and the accoutrements that surround them, and the hope that one day fans (and creators) will stop living down to the feeble expectations that the mainstream -I’m looking at YOU Republic Of Telly- has for them. Like so much of the very best humour this is funny because it’s true. The section dealing with the ‘fake geek girl ‘ issue is by turns hilarious and utterly soul destroying.
This is unfortunately the bitter end of the Eltingville club. The better part of the last twenty years has been spent trying to put the Club to sleep ( including a failed pilot for Cartoon network) and anyone who jumps on board at this point will only get to see the death throes; the hilarious and sad death throes. Any readers who were around during the boom time will feel a little piece of themselves die too. But they’ll still laugh.
4 out of 5 nerds (with the caveat that for some fans this is DANGEROUSLY close to the bone. If you have trouble with laughing at your own foibles you may wish to steer clear.)
Milk and Cheese
Bill and Teds Excellent Comic Book Adventures