Ah, the comic book store. For me and many like me, it’s an indelible part of the comics-reading experience. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few good stores that I regularly shop at.
Back in middle school, before I was a comic book reader, I used to regularly play Magic: The Gathering with my friends at a place called Numbskulls, run by a genial dude in his twenties that didn’t mind if we ate greasy Chinese takeout in the store so long as we didn’t get anything on the latest issue of The Punisher. Then in college I discovered The Comic Book Store (yep, that’s what it’s called), which was walking distance away from campus, making for easy access to passionate debates with the owner over the merit of Before Watchmen. Now I have to drive ten-to-fifteen minutes to my nearest comic book store, a small business operated by a father and son that don’t seem to have much invested interest in comics beyond a financial standpoint, but are nice guys nonetheless that always say hi to me when I walk in. If The Eltingville Club #1 is any indication, though, writer/artist Evan Dorkin’s experience with comic book stores have not been quite as pleasant. Is it good?
The Eltingville Club #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
The Eltingville Club #1 follows young Bill Dickey through his first day at work in “Joe’s Fantasy World,” a local comic book shop, run by a disgusting, foul-mouthed slob of an owner that makes the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons look amiable. Nonetheless, Bill is thrilled to be paid for the privilege of bagging and boarding unsold and overpriced comics. Unfortunately for everyone involved, things get even worse when Joe leaves the store and puts Bill in charge.
That’s pretty much all the story there is. I mean, yeah, more stuff happens, but I stopped caring pretty early on, and I suspect that most readers will, too. Unless, of course, you enjoy dialogue like this:
“I catch you stealin’, as Godzilla as my witness, I will kill you faster than cell animation.”
“Of course you didn’t, you gutless Wonder Twin! Shape of a wimp, form of a pussy!”
Pretty much every panel is like that. A reference here, an obscenity there… it gets old really fast.
I’m not very familiar with Evan Dorkin’s work. I understand that he’s rather well-respected in some circles, and he’s even won three Eisners. But it’s hard to see why with The Eltingville Club, save perhaps for the fact that his art style is reminiscent of the underground comix scene, which is a great way to draw quick Crumb comparisons.
Dorkin aims for biting satire, but it’s not smart or insightful. It’s just mean spirited. None of the characters are remotely likable, and I couldn’t care less about what happens to them. And for those that may think I’m not in on the joke, yes, I did realize that towards the end, Dorkin was riffing on The Amazing Spider-Man #33, a.k.a “The Final Chapter.” But that doesn’t make it funny.
Is It Good?
No. It’s as bad as that time that time something something Gambit something something (crude sexual act) something something (genitalia related obscenity).