Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Dork Tower #22: A Review

This is one of my favorite books and yet I struggled for a bit as to how to describe this book, much less review it. Thankfully, this issue saved me the trouble, as one of the back-up strips in the anthology that is Dork Tower did it for me. In a sample strip of another Indie Comic called “The 3 Geeks”, one geek tries to explain to his comic-reading brethren…

“It’s about this group of gamers… well… yeah, dorks who play games. It’s whimsical! Light-hearted! It pokes fun, in a gentle way, at the quirkiness of a particular group of hobbyists! It’s really quite clever! And it’s got other neat stuff! Lethargic Lad! Wildlife! Something called Nodwick that looks good and PS 238! And more!”

Of course the other two geeks react by asking “No superheroes? And they call this a comic book!” and noting “(The artwork) doth resemble the rudimentary renderings of the comic strip Ziggy. I do not know if I can take it seriously.”

(Take it seriously? It’s a funny book, man! You can’t take any of this seriously!)

Still, this does sum up the basic gist of the book, the anthology status of said book and the attitude I fear most comic readers will have looking at it. Well, it is their loss as this is the most kind-hearted and consistently funny of the many comics based upon poking fun of those who take their hobbies too seriously. More than that, it is also the most accessible, lacking a rigid focus upon one genre (Knights of the Dinner Table) or “if you haven’t played it, you won’t get it” in-jokes (like the atrocious PVP).

There is an on-going plot to the book, though you wouldn’t know it from this issue. Things are taking a break from the rather complicated love triangle involving Matt (the gamemaster and King Dork of our characters), his ex-girlfriend Kayleigh (the prototypical girlfriend from hell, who mocks all of Matt’s hobbies and friends) and Gilly (a perky Goth geek grrrl and Matt’s obvious soulmate).

Instead, we get a focus on Carson; the abused innocent of the group and an anthropomorphic muskrat who has as much relation to the common rodent as Snoopy does the average dog. The plot is an even mix of humor and pathos, with scenes such as how a real talking animal might react to a convention of Furries. (If you don’t know what Furries are… ask your mother.) And Carson’s speech about fitting in and feeling out of place and alone is as stirring as any you are likely to find on the comic shelf this week.

And if this weren’t enough, there are many single-page Dork Tower strips about (among other things) “The Two Towers” movie, the history of gaming and the selective perfect memory of some hobbyists. Throw in sample strips for superhero parodies “Lethargic Lad” and “PS238” (about a school for young superheroes) as well as the aforementioned “The 3 Geeks” (which focuses on comic readers rather than gamers) and fantasy humor strip “Nodwick”, and you have a great value for $2.99.

Still not convinced? You can sample most of these strips for free on-line at , , and And if you still won’t read this book after that… well, I’ll feed you to gazebo!

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