Dork Volume 2: Circling the Drain

I really like Evan Dorkin.

Dorkin is the creator of the endeering enduring characters Milk & Cheese, perhaps the work he’s best known for. But Dorkin’s had a fairly long and varied career, starting out as a cartoonist in the late 80s/early 90s doing short comics and gag strips for a variety of magazines before his one-man anthology comics DORK and MILK & CHEESE (from SLG Publishing) became comic-shop mainstays throughout the nineties and early ‘aughts. He’s been doing a ton of animation work for the past few years, he’ll put out a new issue of his humour stuff every year or two, and he’s currently writing the upcoming BEASTS OF BURDEN mini-series (with Jill Thompson painting) for Dark Horse. There’s a ton of work out there, check it out.

I actually first encountered Dorkin’s work in Marvel’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures comic book series, which he wrote and drew, featuring the further adventures of the two dudes whose two movies I greatly enjoyed. I didn’t really follow “creators” at that point in my comics career, but I thought that series was hilarious and bought every issue. Years later I discovered Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese and Dork through the vagaries of the direct market distribution system, and I loved the hell out of them right off the bat. All the same manic cartooning energy of the Bill & Ted stuff, but blown up into transgressive subjects like The Murder Family, The Devil Puppet, and those two murderous dairy products.

He also created “FUN”.

Dork Volume 1: Who's Laughing Now?

The “FUN” pages (which ran in Dork) consisted of oten-vicious 3 Panel gag strips that made you feel bad for chuckling, packed 7 to a page to create 21 panels of the funniest stuff in comics. I know, I know, it’s the internet now and the whole www is chock-full of transgressive, violent, sexual comics, and some of them are even funny, but Dorkin was doing that stuff back when the internet generation was playing with their Transformers. What I’m saying is, you should pick up Evan Dorkin’s work: It’s great and I’m gonna prove it to you.

I’ve thought for years now that of all of the “traditional” indy comics guys in the biz (or even out of the biz I guess…), Evan Dorkin was maybe the best-positioned to take advantage of that gleaming spire of promise, the internet. He’s got hundreds and hundreds of strips, gag illustrations, short stories, and general hilarious muck-raking mayhem already done. The net is desparate for content and he’s got tons of it… and he’s all mine, so back the fuck off.

Starting today and until we run out, I’m very pleased to announce that comics212.net is going to be running one of Mr. Evan Dorkin’s FUN comic strips every weekday, Monday to Friday, for your viewing pleasure. I was happy to be able to put this together with Evan, because despite the fact he’s an Eisner-award winning humour cartoonist with a ton of comics and animation credits under his belt, he maybe hasn’t gotten his due these past few years. Anything I can do to send more eyeballs his way is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned, and for my part the blog will get updated every day for a year…! Everyone wins, hopefully.

A couple things before we’re done here:

1) I’m doing this entirely with Evan Dorkin’s permission.
2) This is going to run for more-or-less a year, barring incident, and even then this will only equal about 40 pages out of the more than 300 pages of material that you can find in Evan Dorkin’s Dork Volume 1: Who’s Laughing Now?, Dork Volume 2: Circiling The Drain, and Fun with Milk & Cheese trade paperback collections, so this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick them up.
3) For more Evan Dorkin, you can check out Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer’s HOUSE OF FUNEvan Dorkin’s always entertaining and acerbic LiveJournal, and SLG Publishing–Fine Publishers of DORK, MILK & CHEESE, and more.
4) I know I have timeliness issues; I’m saying daily cuz I mean daily but fingers crossed. If you gotta send hate-mail if I miss a day, go right ahead.

So! Thanks to Evan Dorkin for allowing this to happen, for Sarah Dyer for the majority of the strip scans, and to you for reading the site. And now as The Devil Puppet said in Dork #5

fun-000

- Christopher



“What kind of person constantly demands something new and yet always wants the same thing? A child of course.”
- A. O. Scott, New York Times

Perhaps superhero comic books were ahead of the curve afterall…?

- Christopher
Link via Comicsreporter.com


The most hilarious thing I’d seen solicited in months was the “Marvel Bromance” trade paperback.

39950712I remember it being solidly mocked amongst my blogging peers, as is anything Marvel tries to do that is hip, because Marvel is not hip. They are at best occasionally ironically hip. But they seemed to at least understand that, on this trade, because the solicitation text is a winking, knowing, funny piece of writing:

If This Be Bromance–! Marvel’s greatest buddies take the spotlight in this one-of-a-kind collection, and it’s male bonding like you’ve never seen — as Cable and Deadpool swap stories, Wonder Man and the Beast share a plane ride, Spidey and the Human Torch battle back-to-back, Wolverine makes a bet with Nightcrawler, Black Panther and Everett Ross lay their feelings on the line…and the Warriors Three set sail for fun! Plus: Captain America and the Falcon, Iron Man and Jim Rhodes, and more! Be here as Marvel says, “I love you, man!”

But it did get some… coverage… in the larger not-just-wonks blogosphere as well, as MTV’s Splash Page ran a pretty straight-up piece on it.

Alas, it appears that the Bromance is over.

Just moments ago I got a press-release about a very familiar sounding project, with a more conventional title and solicitation text with all of the winks and knowing edited right-the-fuck-out.

The Buddies of Marvel Take Center Stage in Marvel Super Hero Team-Up
The best buds of the Marvel Universe come together in the explosive Marvel Super Hero Team-Up collection featuring an all new cover by Jorge Molina as featured on MTV!  An all-star list of creators including the likes of Stan Lee and Chris Claremont deliver the mighty men of Marvel uniting to battle evil, save the day and…win some bets?! Captain America, Iron Man, Jim Rhodes, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Cable, Nightcrawler and more get the spotlight as their friendships are put to the test!
Marvel urges retailers to check their orders on Marvel Super Hero Team-Up, as the collection generates mainstream press and significant buzz.  Which guys get along best in the Marvel U?  How do super heroes really hang out when not fighting crime?  Check out all the answers in the testosterone-filled Marvel Super Hero Team-Up!
MARVEL SUPER HERO TEAM-UP TPB (JUN090651)

The Buddies of Marvel Take Center Stage in Marvel Super Hero Team-Up

The best buds of the Marvel Universe come together in the explosive Marvel Super Hero Team-Up collection featuring an all new cover by Jorge Molina as featured on MTV!  An all-star list of creators including the likes of Stan Lee and Chris Claremont deliver the mighty men of Marvel uniting to battle evil, save the day and…win some bets?! Captain America, Iron Man, Jim Rhodes, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Cable, Nightcrawler and more get the spotlight as their friendships are put to the test!

Marvel urges retailers to check their orders on Marvel Super Hero Team-Up, as the collection generates mainstream press and significant buzz.  Which guys get along best in the Marvel U?  How do super heroes really hang out when not fighting crime?  Check out all the answers in the testosterone-filled Marvel Super Hero Team-Up!

MARVEL SUPER HERO TEAM-UP TPB (JUN090651) [solicit info removed]

A quick check reveals that yes, in fact “JUN090651″ is the item formerly known as “Marvel Bromance”. Apparently the word… and concept… of Bromance was just a little to hip for the room and we get a “team-up” collection. We also get all the kitsch taken out of the solicit, and the phrase “testosterone-filled” added in. Maybe that was the copy-writer’s revenge for having to dull-down the original solicit?

Here’s the thing that I find the most intriguing about all of this though, the press release I received doesn’t mention anywhere that this thing used to be Marvel Bromance. I mean, they’re mentioning that the book got coverage “on MTV”, but the reason it got any coverage at all is because it was called Marvel Bromance. Seriously. Here’s the quote from MTV:

Given MTV’s history with covering great moments in “Bromance” history, Marvel wanted to give Splash Page readers the first look at the never-before-seen Jorge Molina cover to “Marvel Bromance.”

Marvel tried something different, got some decent press coverage for it, and then… totally balked and tried to pretend it never happened. They did implore retailers to “check their orders” on the book though, without mentioning that they never ordered a book with this title, or why it got all of the “buzz” that they’re touting. It’s almost like Marvel panicked or something.

I hesitate to draw any conclusions from this, I mean publishers change the titles and descriptions of already-solicited books that have received good media coverage all the time. This  could just be Standard Operating Procedure, right? But the more I look at these decisions, the more I feel like the whole thing feels a little bit… queer?

- Christopher


Look, it’s Underdog and the creepiest child in comics. Go check out the full, terrifying story at Mister Kitty’s Stupid Comics.

- Chris


So, here’s Wizardworld Chicago The Chicago Comic-Con’s promotion for this year’s show, taking the top spot every day this week in comics/nerdculture news-site ICv2′s daily newsletter:

CHICAGO COMIC-CON 2009!
600+ Guests including Twilight Saga Actors, former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei “THE PITBULL” Arlovski, scores of Star Wars guests, wrestling legends and some of the HOTTEST actresses including Michelle Rodriguez, Emma Caulfield, Orli Shoshan and Rhona Mitra.  Get a premier weekend pass or VIP Package and get into the show 1 hour early each day.  Advance tickets start at $25, more at the door.  Get your tickets now at [redacted].
A Paid Advertisement from Wizard Entertainment

Did… did you notice the lack of comics? At the Comic-Con? I mean it’s Wizard, I think enough has been said about Wizard’s relationship to comics to put them into the ground by now (and yet…), but still. They went through all that trouble to rename the convention and everything add “Comic-Con” back in, and their promotion seems to be downplaying, or ignoring completely, comic books. In favour of “hottest”ness. It’s a little strange?

Or maybe not, if you look at San Diego.

One of my biggest criticisms of The New York Comic-Con is that, in its early years, it showed enormous potential to be the sort of comics & publishing-oriented show that this industry needs and deserves. It’s not like it hasn’t been more-or-less sold out every year, particularly the early years that were all about New York Publishing (including and especially comics!). Yet every year the show becomes more and more about movies, toys, and tie-ins. They’re pushing the show closer and closer to the San Diego model and it makes for a weaker show each year. What is the San Diego model btw? Simple: A gateway to nerds. Comic Con International: San Diego is selling floor-space (and advertising space and mind-space) sure, but what they’re really selling is access to mouthy nerds with blogs, tastemakers, half-comprised of the people that make up their audiences and the people that will incite the rest of the country to be their audiences. Comic-Con is all about access, and who’s willing to pay the most for it.

Let’s get this out of the way: I love comics. I think comics are awesome. And I think comics as an industry and a medium needs big events like NYCC and SDCC and hundreds of other regional comics shows: they act as ambassadors for the medium. And so the question for the organizers of these events should be “does any of what we’re doing serve comics as a medium? or an industry? or is it just about the value of the access to mouthy nerds with blogs?”

Now I’m not an idiot, I know the preceeding sentence is naive as fuck. Seriously, Microsoft shows up with a suitcase of cash and they should ask them “but how does what you’re doing serve comics?” Of course not. But there’s that idealism of mine: why not? Something like SDCC but just for the entertainment industry? It doesn’t exist. The movie studios, the video game producers, the TV Shows and toys and Bud Bundy and all that, they’re coming to the comic book show. SDCC has got all the power, because nothing else like that event exists anywhere (Gareb Shamus tried and clearly failed; Reed is travelling the same road Shamus took). Imagine if SDCC really did take the ideological position of “how does what you do help comics?” with their exhibitors, and charged them accordingly? What if they used ideology as the wedge to expand the show into the parks, into the stadium, into the giant parking lot that’s as big as half the convention centre? Here I Drew A Map. Imagine the best possible things happened! Wouldn’t that be great? Why not work towards the best?

Pipe dream, sure. But I like having comics at a comic-con, and if it’s a zero-sum game with attendence: 150,000 people each year, and more and more of the people attending have little-to-no interest in anything other than their specific blinkered fandom (which tends to exclude comics), that means less money for the folks doing and selling and bringing comics to the show. Which tends to mean less comics at the show.

As an aside, the 10,000 TWILIGHT fans at the con really were a problem for the show, but a lot of the reasons that got floated came from a sexist, xenophobic, bullshit fanboy place. I actually feel bad even writing this, but truly, legitimately, 6,000 people at the show JUST for Twilight means 6,000 people that weren’t spending money at the show means 6,000 people that might’ve wanted to go that had an interest in dropping a few bucks at the various vendors? Shut out. Twilight is just the biggest, most concentrated fandom in years–maybe ever, so it puts the problem of Hollywood “stuff” into the clearest relief against the traditional convention crowd. I don’t begrudge anyone taking a road-trip and having a great time for the weekend; I hope the fans had fun. But with a very tight, closed economy at the show (due to space limitations) and little-to-no crossover with the rest of the event, what did having those fans and that event bring to the show? To comics? Why was Comic-Con the best place for that event to happen? And if it wasn’t the best place, and space is at a premium at Comic-Con, then why was it held there?

Two last things:

1. Anime Cons. The big buzz in anime conventions right now is that prices have gone up, and the recessionary economy means that attendees have less pocket-money. Anime Expo, typically one of biggest shows of the year, was reportedly a very poor sales show for most-if-not-all exhibitors. No one had any money. They did have costumes, they did come to hang out with their friends, and they did spend a not-inconsiderable ammount of money on a 3-day pass. They just didn’t have any left-over, afterwards. This wasn’t isolated either, not trying to pick an AX, this is the buzz from most anime shows I’ve been hearing. When a show becomes primarily a place to participate in fandom, a closed circuit, it tends to decline… rapidly. Sci-Fi cons are the biggest examples of this. If your convention is a place to break-out your Klingon costume, hang out in a hotel for three days and go to room-parties, then your convention is not long for this world. Or rather, it’ll be around forever, it’ll just shrink and be sad. No one wants that. Imagine 20 years from now, 40 year old dudes breaking out their Naruto costumes and drinking schnapps out of a bottle in their Holiday Inn 2 dbl bds room with 10 other similarly dressed people. That’s the difference between a vibrant, thriving medium, industry, and fandom, and one that has started to eat itself.

2. PAX: The Penny-Arcade Expo. From nothing to the second-biggest nerd-culture convention (for the public) in just under 5 years. Anyone who follows convention planning/news/whatever is in awe of what they’ve accomplished, and they’ve done it in a smart, controlled way–with an iron fist. First rule of exhibting at PAX? PAX IS A VIDEOGAME SHOW. If what you “do” isn’t directly about video games? You can’t exhibit. Period. 5 years, second-biggest nerd-culture event in North America, accomplished by sticking to their guns. Cooooooool.

Alright. That’s 1200 words of nonsense. Time to go.

- Christopher