When I was a kid, all I was interested in was 2000AD. In thine eyes, Tharg was the deity that dutifully created and crafted my weekly haven of guts, gore and helmet wearing grimacing future cops. Because of my intrinsic love of all things punk rock, I was familiar with the flagrant sexuality of one Tank Girl, but if I was being honest (and I am…), I didn’t really understand the underlying message. When I was 15, someone gifted me their dog-eared stack of Deadline Magazine. I think there was about 30 issues in that pile, and it effectively changed my entire view on comics as a medium. The cover image I am stuck remembering most was Tank Girl wearing a Teenage Fanclub shirt, which I found on tankgirl.info along with a host of other Deadline covers. It’s a shame there isn’t a comprehensive list of all the strips included with those glossy covers, because although I remember the best stuff, some potential nuggets may have slipped through my net of “not quite getting it just yet”.
Through Deadline, I found a whole heap of strips that would go on to be amongst my favourites, that were perhaps popular enough to pierce my sphere of consciousness, sooner or later. For example, I probably would have come to find The Flaming Carrot in time (possibly after the dogshit movie known as Mystery Men came out) and I could have conceivably arrived at Love & Rockets eventually (but who knows when?). The thing that really grabbed my freakishly hair balls was, of course, Evan Dorkin’s Milk And Cheese.
Milk And Cheese is a pant-wettingly violent and unflinchingly nutty view into the mind of Evan Dorkin. Starting life as a doodle on a napkin after a ska show at CBGBs (Dorkin is apparently a massive ska enthusiast), Milk and Cheese were wildly successful, launching Dorkin into that weird bit of space where obscure artists and writers go when they are not quite in the mainstream, but pretty damn close. If I had to choose a favourite project of Dorkin’s, it would almost definitely be Milk And Cheese. That shouldn’t discount his incredible Dork line, or his ska-band centric Hectic Planet series (known originally as Pirate Corp$, the trade paperbacks changed the name), or his Eltingville stuff, or even his work on the frankly underrated Bill And Ted’s Most Excellent Adventures (I say ‘underrated’, it was nominated for an Eisner award).
I get the impression from an interview that I watched earlier in the year on Youtube that he isn’t too happy with his place in the industry, and that he is really angry that Beasts of Burden didn’t sell better. In case you aren’t aware, Beasts of Burden was a four part miniseries based around a group of animals who deal with the supernatural. Written by Dorkin with art provided by Jill Thompson (who did all the best artwork on The Sandman, and wrote some damn great ones too, even though I am not massive on Sandman at all), Beasts of Burden really is a beautiful book that will grab you, shake you and make you re-read it until the pages are all smudgey and brown. It’s lovely, gory, sweet, violent, and adult all at the same time. It won two Eisner awards too.
Beyond that, Evan has had a few brushes with Adult Swim. He wrote for Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, which was one of the foundation blocks that helped build Adult Swim (I think) and has been in talks over two shows for the channel. The first, Welcome To Eltingville (based on his own Eisner award winning comic series), a pilot was made and eventually shown but the show wasn’t picked up for whatever reasons. I’ve seen the pilot (it is available for watching on Youtube and as a bonus feature in the DVD set, Adult Swim in a Box), and it doesn’t quite gel with me. The art is great, but I think the animation maybe looks a little… primitive. Which is a horrible thing to say. But, fuck it, it’s my opinion. The second show was Tyrone’s Inferno, which regarded an obnoxious demon forced to live on Earth where he plots his revenge and lives in a trailer park. It sounds sort of similar to Slave Labor Graphics co-hort Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim (which was awesome, and aired on Nickelodeon. And contained art and scripts by another SLG alum, Roman Dirge, creator of Lenore). Dorkin admits it was his own neurosis that ended Tyrone’s Inferno before it even got to the pilot stage, after he lamented the potential success or lack thereof that might have come of it while attempting to make some minor changes to the show bible (PATRONISING TIME: A show bible for those who don’t know, is a comprehensive outline of characters and plots written by a show’s creator in order to not have to micro-manage every animation cell or script meeting or bathroom break). The internet won’t even show me any concept art for the show or anything. So fuck the internet. And fuck you.
Coming out in a few weeks, is the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy crossover which I am pretty damn psyched about, I can tell you. Also Dorkin is working with Simpsons Comics, having contributed a strip to the new Treehouse of Horror, and regularly updates his blog. Which is an LJ. And I’m saying nothing derogatory about that at all. So Evan Dorkin, between you, Jamie Hewlett, and Jamie Hernandez, you completely changed my life. Mad respect for you, and never stop doing what you do best. Even if you do come off as kind of an asshole in interviews.
My Milk and Cheese tattoo is forthcoming, and I will probably post it on here when it actually happens.