Pre-script fair warning: this is not your typical Amish Jihadist post–whatever that may be (making fun of pagan Christians, I guess). But since it is the week of HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, and since this is my blog (thanks kind people at The Other Journal for allowing me to soil your site with random diatribes), I can do what I want. So there.
Now, sit back and enjoy.
In 1989 I read my first comic book. It was, I believe, Batman 429. It was the final issue of the “Death in the Family” storyline where readers voted to kill Robin (the ‘Jason Todd’ Robin). Thanks to my good friend, Henry Kivett, AKA, ‘Better-at-it’, for loaning me his comic stash during art class as I was immediately hooked. Little did I know, however, that a tidal wave of pure writing excrement would quickly infiltrate the comic book scene in the 90’s leaving me stranded amidst a sea or shoddy artists ‘writing’ even shoddier stories.
[And Rob Liefeld STILL doesn’t draw backgrounds. Really? What, are walls just too difficult for you to draw, Rob?]
As fortune would have it, in 1993, like a bodhisattva from the comic book heavens, I discovered my first Milk & Cheese comic book. In those glorious back and white pages it retold the death of a thousand hippies, yuppies, skins, gutter punks, grunge-chumps, the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. They all deserved it, of course. We all deserve it. If Milk & Cheese has anything in common with Christian theology (deities forbid) it’s that they both think we’re deserving of death. But whereas a Jewish Messiah born out of wedlock to a virgin (talk about gender-bending–what’s his chromosomal alignment anyway?) came to kick evil booty by taking it on the chin, these two dairy products are decidedly all about giving it the old ‘what for’ across the chin.
Same end, different means.
Strange, struggling introduction aside, almost twenty years later I finally scored an interview with the man behind Milk & Cheese: Evan Dorkin.
Dorkin is a writer/artist/creator who has had his hand in everything from writing animated episodes of Space Ghost and Superman to producing some of the hands-down coolest comics in an otherwise disney-fied barren landscape. For this, we should erect a gold monument on his behalf, worship it, then melt it down and drink it. After which the tribe of Levi, with the help of a few dairy products, can immediately descend upon us and kill us all.
It wouldn’t be the worst way to go.
To be fair, Milk & Cheese is not my favorite Dorkin comic; I bestow that honor (of which I’m sure he could care less) to Hectic Planet/Pirate Corps. The fact that Dorkin has left me in limbo for decades now without any new adventures of Halby and Blue wounds me in a manner inexpressible through words. But let me try anyway:
“Die you selfish @$$hole.” (Edited for my two remaining pious readers.)
Now it’s time for
5 Questions, 6 Questions, 7 QUESTIONS with Evan Dorkin. Why 7? Because it’s death to 5!
SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH EVAN DORKIN
1) Going with the obvious first (because I’m sure you’ve never heard this one before): What do Milk & Cheese think of vegans?
Since vegans are people, and people are a mindless scum parade, they hate them.
2) Milk & Cheese beat the holy hell out of everyone, Murder Family solves all its problems with violence (with an accompanying sit-com laugh-track which is pure genius), Myron the Living Voodoo Doll never ends well for anyone, while Beasts of Burden displays a lovely disposition toward the canine world–except for when human beings drown puppies . . . then the crew throw it down in such a way as to make Tarantino blush. (Perhaps that is lovely, too–depending on one’s level of misanthropy.) I have a number of theories as to why many of your characters are so skillfully violent, and I’m sure all of my theories are 100% correct, but, for the poor misinformed masses, perhaps you could discuss what purpose, if any, such violence serves in your writing.
Most of my stories end with violence, if they didn’t already start out in violence and have a bunch of violence in the middle for good measure. I think it’s because as a kid I was really drawn to slapstick and mayhem in my entertainment. I liked Warner Brothers cartoons, monster movies, professional wrestling, Marvel superhero comics, Flash Gordon serials, the 60’s Batman series, the reprints of the Mad 50’s comics, Don Martin cartoons — lots of fists and bodies flying all over the place in those things. There were several compilations of old silent film comedians that they showed on tv which I was really into, they had clips of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, the Keystone Cops, Laurel and Hardy, a ton of over the top action, violence and destruction. I was crazy for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a big mess of a 60’s movie that tried to emulate that sense of big-scale slapstick. Later on I was really into Monty Python and the Goodies which had a lot of crazy stuff going on, and the Peckinpah bit in Python really had an affect on me, I think. That and the Black Knight bit in Holy Grail — I had never seen gratuitous blood and violence linked to comedy like that before, those skits terrified me the first time I saw them and I never shook that feeling of being grossed out and entertained at the same time. I guess I gravitated towards mayhem in entertainment. I’m not as entrenched in that area as I used to be, but I still really like horror comedies and Hong Kong action flicks that are over the top. The John Woo movies that were being shown in NYC in the 90’s had a big effect on me, as well as the more insane martial arts films. The thing is, I hate actual violence, I don’t like boxing, I’m not excited by weaponry or guns, I’m repulsed by actual fighting and cruelty. I hate UFC and actual sports where people beat the shit out of each other while an audience cheers them on. I’d rather see the audience get beat up, if anything. But I find violence on the page or the screen exhilarating and funny, if done right. And with my negative worldview, most of my comics end in entropy or a bad way which usually involves violence of some sort. Even my Simpsons and kids comics often end with people in the hospital. I don’t know if it’s misanthropy, an attempt at catharsis or a mental aberration that propels the violence in many of my stories. I’ll just blame society and my parents and leave it at that.
3) I noticed that the Devil Puppet wears clothes. I’ve always pegged the Devil (and any puppets that horny ontological being animates) as more of a nudist. Is this his way of rebelling against God?
He’s based on a real puppet made in Germany and he wears what appears to be a clothsack with two buttons and a collar. Which appears to be standard dress for a lot of the devil puppets I’ve seen, many of which are part of religious puppet sets. You are obviously reading too much into this in an attempt at comedy.
Phil didn’t make the cut in the new set of strips for Dark Horse Presents, I couldn’t think of a gag for him this time around. He’s even more one-note than most of my one-note characters and there’s only so many dopey neo-nazi/disco jokes I could come up with, apparently. Even at four panels I think I’m outta gas on that premise. And I can’t say I really want to do research into that crap to try and dig up a few more strips.
5) Speaking of returns, Halby, Elsie, Blue, and, of course, Harmony, are my favorite characters in all of comic book history (alongside the unnamed gal in Morrison’s Kill Your Boyfriend). For the love of Zeus, Thor and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, are you ever going to bring them back?
I would like to do more Hectic Planet stories but I have no definite plans to get back to the characters. I’ve been saying that for over fifteen years now so the scores of readers out there hoping for new HP stories should obviously not hold their collective breath.
6) What is Milk & Cheese most likely to burn first: Joel Osteen’s countless books of unbridled narcissism, the creators of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, or Claremont’s mawkish take on mutated teenagers?
I don’t know who Joel Osteen is, I never tried Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Claremont is old news off their radar. So, I’d say they’d burn you first for asking that question.
7) Rate in order of importance: Fugazi, Jill Thompson, Sniffles the Mouse.
Jill, Sniffles, Fugazi. If I didn’t know and work with Jill, Sniffles would be above all. All hail Sniffles the Mouse.
Check out Evan’s website and blog to learn more about his upcoming work. Feel free to bug him until he submits to the idea of writing new Hectic Planet stories. Also, check out his incredible work with Jill Thompson on the Beasts of Burden series. It’s just horrible how good it is. It almost hurts my feelings.
Finally, since Fugazi took third place in question number seven, it only makes sense to end with one of their classics.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.