Page 45 Review by Stephen
"It just isn't fair..."
With the rise to internet prominence of the over-obsessed with their over-entitlement, this scathing satire of malicious male fandom is more relevant than ever, horrifically so.
It is emphatically not an attack on comicbook readers in general or enthusiastic sci-fi and superhero fans specifically. It's not an assault on the awkward or the reticent, the cosplayer or the collector.
It is one long, lacerating diatribe aimed squarely and ever so fairly at those who are nasty. Who are callous and cruel towards their fellow fans, and send professionals hate mail and death threats for killing off characters which are fictional; the thumb-sucking men-children who send worse to comics journalists because they are women.
It's an exposé of those who forget in their self-involvement that this is supposed to be fun.
Absolutely horrific and delivered with no punch-pulling by the creator of the equally comedic and combustible MILK & CHEESE, it comes in the form of the whining, bitching, in-fighting, self-destructive pack of maladjusted brats who proudly pronounce themselves to be... The Eltingville Comicbook Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror And Role-Playing Club! (Membership closed.)
In one hundred and twenty pages not one of them displays a single act of kindness, even to each other.
Nobody wins, everybody loses as teenagers Josh, Jerry, Bill and Pete argue about everything, insult each other below the belt, compete for rare Star Wars action figures, stash others away at Toys R Us in secret locations so that innocent, wide-eyed children don't get a look in, implode during a caffeine-crazed 32-hour Twilight Zone marathon (I love how the pages shatter as their frazzled sanity erupts into acts of violence), and steal with self-justification and assumed impunity just to get their fix. One even rips open multiple loaves of bread in a supermarket-search for that elusive, rare trading card which, umm, creator Evan Dorkin confesses to - along with much more in the back!
Their crazed, red-eyed rage is drawn with such visceral power - it's as though they're on the verge of bursting blood vessels - that I can only imagine the process to be sublimely cathartic. The closest contender for such similar meltdowns is Roberta Gregory's Bitchy Bitch in her beloved, much-missed NAUGHTY BITS.
Eventually they take their one-upmanship shambles to the streets for an organised zombie crawl. But blasphemy strikes in the form of more modern, fast-moving-zombie fans, trampling over our True Believers' nit-picking standards and indeed our Stan-Lee-loving losers. But believe it or not, the worst is yet to come as one amongst them finally gets his dream job, and it's fiercely well observed.
"Holy shit. I made it. I have died and gone to Heaven."
Welcome to Comic Shop Hell.
Kicking the doors straight in with a virtuoso parody of Jack Kirby's classic rainy-night splash-page, "This Man
This Monster" (MMW: FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 6), Dorkin delivers "This Fan
This Monster". It may make your skin crawl, but some of us do love to scratch!
Bill, ostracised by the rest of the group is hired by Joe as his side-kick stooge at Joe's 'Fantasy World: Comics - Games - Cards' and every exchange between the monomaniacal misanthropist and his new acolyte comes with a cringe-inducing superhero reference: they cannot communicate without nerd-boasts.
It's that specific sort of run-down, cluttered comic shop which is superheroes and sci-fi merchandise only. You've heard about it, you've maybe endured it, and all its malpractices are blurted out by its owner to his new employee as retailer wisdom, foresight and insight:
"No cheques, no credit cards, no special orders, no arguments, no problems."
No kindness, no accommodation, no integrity, no diversity, no hope of growth. Yet still he has customers, albeit young, spotty and every one of them male whom he belittles and berates.
"We don't carry manga. We carry comics."
Ignorance voiced with pride:
"Pfft! Alternative comics. Y'know what alternative comics are an alternative to? Makin' money. Hahaha!"
So, this is Bill's big chance. Surely he won't cock it up or let it go to his head? You wait until the other club members turn up.
Speaking of "Alternative Comics", don't think the most elitist, hateful, self-righteous and self-serving fans of those don't get a roasting. The Northwest Comix Collective was seven-page flipside in which four hypocritical alt/indie wannabes with delusions of adequacy struggle to create, disseminate and get their foot in the professional door. They have just as much a sense of perspective as their Eltingville counterparts and don't take rejection at all well.
"All we've gotten for our troubles is a catalogue and that fucking two-page letter from Evan Dorkin where he says our comics "need work"."
Yes, it's a personal, two-page letter from a top-tier, deadline-driven creator in response to unsolicited material and a form letter.
"God! Who the fuck is he to say anything? Christ, he did fucking PREDATOR books - he wouldn't know a good comic if we sent it to him."
"Pretentious asshole. It's not like we asked him for his opinion."
"Actually, we did. It's in our form letter."
"Yeah, but we asked for comments, not unwarranted criticism!"
"Why is Dorkin even on our mailing list? None of us like his shit!"
And so it very much goes. What are the chances that at least one of these dismissive dim-wits secretly adores superhero comics?
None of this material has ever been reprinted, even in the DORK collection, and it's come from all over the place.