I’ve only had one encounter with Evan Dorkin’s The Eltingville Club and that was one of his short stories in the pages of Dark Horse Comics Presents. I don’t know how many previous stories there have been and I’m not going to look it up because I imagine a lot of people will be in the same boat as me with this issue either having little to no exposure previously. The story follows four stereotypical nerds. We’re talking about the type of nerds that give nerdom/fandom a bad name. The story intentionally makes these characters annoying and unbearable at times. Why is that? Why would anyone write a story in which their main characters are not only the worse of the worse stereotypes, but then also make them unbearable people at the same time? The goal of the story is commentary. Commentary on comic fans, on nerds and on the culture that has grown around nerdom in general; it doesn’t stop there though as it also makes a statement about the culture that’s sprung up since comics and nerd culture has become more mainstream. The true fans versus everyone else that enjoys the same hobby and you better believe that Dorkin touches base on the “fake” nerd girl debate that never seems to go away.
There is something dangerous about this book. I don’t know if everyone that will read it will understand that Dorkin is ribbing the fanbase that’s reading it. While I’d hope that most people would understand that it’s satire, others might dislike it because they don’t get that characters and miss the fact that they talk exactly like them, while the others may in fact agree with every absurd thing said in this story.
We begin by following one of the “friends” as he starts his first day at the local… and only, comic book shop in town. The owner Joe seemingly lives there as he opens the door in his underwear and a wife beater. Joe is sadly a pretty spot on example of a comic shop owner. I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few good owners in California, but sadly I’ve meet more than a few Joe’s in my lifetime. Our member of the Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Role-Playing Club is named Bill and he’s had a falling out of sorts with his friends. They don’t know about his job and he’s basically waiting to spring it on them when they enter the shop as he knows they eventually will.
Sadly I think that most male comic readers will associate with the people of this tale on some level; be it the customers or the members of the Eltinville Club themselves. For me I’m sure I can count myself among the many that have met these four in real life and hell some might even say that I remind them of one of the members based on my constant dickery towards the “big two” comic companies. Yes I’ll admit that I am not always the positive everything is awesome nerd, but while I may be jaded on superhero comics I am far from jaded on comics as a medium. The question is, will you be as honest with yourself after reading this comic?
Dorkin’s art doesn’t need me ranting about it. His style is at a point where you’re either going to love it or hate it. In the same way that the dialogue makes the characters very believable, the art has the same effect. Dorkin captures nerds of all shapes and sizes and most importantly he recreates one of the more common comic shop store designs… cluttered and messy. One of the best scenes in the issue is also ripe with commentary about the comic industry as Bill day dreams about female cosplayers waiting on him because get this… he works at a comic shop, but that’s not the commentary it’s the way that Dorkin has illustrated the women. All of them have busting chests and ridiculous stances that reveal their ass and boobs at the same time. That’s right; this issue never lets up on the commentary be it a creator or fan.
While this is a great issue I don’t know if I would every read it again. It’s definitely worth reading and I would actually encourage people to read it bearing in mind that it’s satire and not meant to be taken seriously. Sadly the people who should read it the most… probably won’t and if they do the point will likely be missed on them. One thing is clear though, Evan Dorkin is bold.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Evan Dorkin Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/23/14