Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review - Dork

by Evan Dorkin
1995 Eisner Winner for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition
2002 Eisner Winner for Best Writer/Artist - Humor

There isn't a good way to describe Dork. Between its format, the subject matter, and Dorkin's own style Dork is an explosion of insanity. It's what you'd get if you stuck a dozen of the strangest comics in a blender and hit frappe. It's the spawn of Lewis Carroll and the entropic death of the universe. In short, it is the very heart of madness. And I think it makes for an interesting comic.

Dork is the comic book that Evan Dorkin assembles his odds and ends in. It's his kitchen junk drawer. If there's something he's done that hasn't been printed in a comic it goes in Dork. If there's an idea he gets at three in the morning and can't fit it in with anything else it goes in Dork. That makes it an anthology but a very irregular one since it leaps around from topic to topic.

The two paperback collections of Dork are not complete issues and aren't even collected in order. For one thing they're missing the Eltingville Club stories which ironically might be the best known of the material in Dork since they were turned into a pilot for Adult Swim. The first volume is generally more coherent since it got the bulk of the longer stories that remained. The second volume on the other hand contains a lot more rapid fire jokes.

An advantage of the format is that if you're not enjoying a story give it a page because things are sure to turn over and become something else completely different. I didn't like the Murder Family stories which were a sitcom about a family of serial killers because I found it be one note but then I turned over the page and found some zany comic strips and forgot all about the part I didn't like. That's how Dork works; it's constantly shifting.

Enjoyment of Dork is going to be dependent on how much you enjoy Evan Dorkin's humor. He tends to the absurd but never steps over the line to completely random. He's got a great sense of wordplay (when Carl Jung goes on a rampage the headline for the next panel reads "28 Collectively Rendered Unconscious"). The closest thing I can compare it to is Monty Python since they both seem to be drawing their humor from the same sources.

Dorkin's art is just fine but it's not going to be a selling point for Dork. He seems far more comfortable telling a joke through words rather than images so the writing carries the stories. The occasions where he does go for a visual joke it works just fine but it's never the focus of the book.

I wound up enjoying Dork quite a bit but not really sure if I would recommend it to anyone. I suppose that anyone who likes quirky, nerdy humor should get a kick out of it but it's so idiosyncratic that I can't be sure. Dork is concentrated, joking madness and if you can enjoy the ride down that rabbit hole then you'll probably like it quite a bit.