By Evan Dorkin
Taking a not-so-veiled shot at comic fandom seems an odd topic to write an actual comic about. Yet, Evan Dorkin sees no quarrels with doing so in The Eltingville Club. Dorkin introduces us to stereotypical characters we have all seen, and may even be ourselves. For example, we get the sex-craved, skinny geek; the middle-aged, cynical comic shop owner who hates his customer base; the female comic fan who is treated like crap. But under closer inspection, we see that Dorkin is using these characters to send a message to certain people within geek fandom.
The message is delivered through many interactions in a comic book shop, through the eyes of a Bill, a teenage fan boy attaining his dream job that quickly turns into a nightmare. Most of the interactions border on uncomfortable (something one might say for the whole comic). Dorkin diffuses some of this skin-crawling ickiness through classic comic book homage, including a Black Bolt reference that made me audibly laugh.
Dorkin’s art is a tad bit chaotic. The black and whites border on disheveled, which fit this story perfectly. Each page is crammed with panels (with many pages having double digit panels), and each panel is crammed with tiny, finely inked, details. The art starkly opposes the high-gloss and bright colors of mainstream comics, and intentionally so. It’s a perfect fit for the cynical tone of this book.
This book is not for everyone. Although there are some good character beats, it might be a bit too heavy on the dark, cringe worthy “comedy” for some. That being said, this book is great at what it does. Dorkin intentionally directs harsh criticisms, and does so while injecting humor. In the wrong hands, this could be interpreted as a critique of geek culture in general, but Dorkin is sharp and poignant in whom he is actually criticizing. As dark as this comic is, there’s a little lesson to be taken from it and a few laughs to be had.