Dork #11

There probably isn’t a ton of useful things I can say about an all-gag comic book beyond “it’s funny,” so let me just wrap that up in sentence #1: Dork #11 is a funny book. But going a little ways beyond that, it’ll be useful to point out that this comic also has volume on its side; not content to be 32 pages dotted with single-panel jokes or whatnot, the new Dork is positively stuffed with material. These pages look like they ought to be physically heavy from all the japes; many pages have 28 panels on them, four-page strips laid across in tight formation under jolly titles like “Here’s Fun!” or “Fear of a Fun Planet” or “Killed by Fun.” Even the credits and legal indicia are broken out into comics format, and even the cover is split into individual jokes. So it’s a pretty substantial read for your $2.95.

Dork, by the way, is the Slave Labor-published showcase series for writer/artist Evan Dorkin; it’s been around since 1993, published “whenever I get an issue finished.” One thing that becomes clear as soon as you open the book is that Dorkin is a very fine cartoonist; it’s labor-intensive enough to just put so much material on the page, but Dorkin nicely varies his visual style from dense and gritty to clear and airy, depending on what will best serve the joke. It’s a testament to the artist’s ability that he manages to whip up 200 (or so) gags and strips without ever giving the impression that he’s repeating himself in a visual sense (unless it’s a recurring character or strip); everyone and everything in these comics is uniquely situated to whatever joke they happen to be in. Does that really matter for a gag book? I think so; it might not be a requirement, but such visual flourish does go a long way toward keeping things looking fresh in the reader’s mind, and I don’t think you can ever separate jokes in comics like these from their visuals.

And there’s a wide variety of jokes in here: dirty gags, rancid puns, pop culture tomfoolery, autobiographical references, old-fashioned slapstick, and really anything else you can think of. There isn't any one approach to humor favored here. There’s recurring characters like Hank Jenkins, Chronic Masturbator and The Shitty Witch and the Crappy Cat. There’s regular features like Truly Understanding Comics and 101 Practical Uses for James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (long-burning Yule log, sink weight for mod snitches, etc.). There’s even The Best Thomas Pynchon Joke Ever, which actually references something earlier in the comic, since occasionally the jokes work off of one another. If one doesn’t work at all, there’s plenty more to take its place. That’s the power of cumulative effect in a book as packed as this one.

So it's funny. Samples and an interview here. It's a bargain. Go find it.