PUBLISHED ON NEXTPLANETOVER.COM in APRIL '99
By Nick Krewen
When dairy products go bad, people usually turf them out of the fridge.
When EVAN DORKIN's dairy products go bad, they go on a violent rampage.
The world of cult favorites Milk And Cheese is a brutal one. Our Vitamin A, D, and calcium-fortified archetypes yell loudly and carry big sticks, mainly to bash anyone who stands in their way...for the sheer sake of bashing them.
"Milk And Cheese is an ode to selfishness and modern pop culture madness, absorption and hypocrisy," explains Dorkin, 34, who initially doodled Mr. Fromage on a napkin one night following a ska concert and when he was, as he so poetically raptures, "three sheets to the wind."
Brevity is part of the Milk And Cheese appeal.
"I can't tell a story," admits Dorkin, who attended NYU for film and television.
"Once they have an adventure, the strip's over. That's why I only do one every couple of years now: I don't ever want them to have a story. The closest I'll come is that they'll get in a car and drive for a couple of panels."
Milk And Cheese -- and the clever idea of having culture attacking culture -- isn't Dorkin's only stroke of genius.
There's the futuristic Pirate Corp$ (now morphed into Hectic Planet), The Murder Family (a serial), Fisher Price Theater (who knew Holden Caulfield had a wooden personality?), and his own series of Dork! Comic Books.
Dorkin and his co-writer, editor and pelvic associate SARAH "Action Girl" DYER have also invaded television, scripting several episodes of the irreverently hilarious Space Ghost Coast To Coast, the cult superhero and reluctant talk show television host currently serving purgatory on The Cartoon Network. There's also been some animated Batman Beyond episodes, Superman and Supergirl.
What's the best thing about television compared to the comics industry, you ask? Why the money, dinners and swag, of course.
"It pays better and more people see it," Dorkin explains. "The dinners are amazing! I think the best meal I ever had when a comic book editor took me to dinner was a sandwich, or Chinese food. Not knocking that --retailers have taken me to better dinners than anybody in comics. But in TV we get taken to some nice Japanese and French restaurants."
"I got a nice Space Ghost sweatshirt. I got a watch. We get good crap from TV. Sometimes I feel I could just work for the crap and the dinners."
Huh? Creatively? You mean the money, dinners and swag just aren't enough?
"TV writing is a different discipline because you know there are certain boundaries and a different time limit on the type of writing you can do," he replies .
"I know I'm never going to write about Superman on heroin or Space Ghost getting drunk."
"I find comics more rewarding as far as the creative end," Dorkin admits. "Actually, I find them both equally rewarding. I'm not going to lie. The money's nice in television, and it's really great to know that a million people might watch your next Space Ghost episode or millions more might see your Batman episode.
"The odd thing is, although millions of people might see your work, no one knows who you are. Comics as that fan mechanism going, where you could sell 15 copies of a book and get written up enough times to make people think you're doing really well."
Control!!!! What about control????
"But I find comics more rewarding because of the control I have over the finished product. My own stuff I have complete control over. Generally in comics, unless you do something completely stupid, or you have an editor you must butt heads with, you can get a lot of your script across with the mainstream companies.
"In our positions, Sarah and I are not heavy hitters. We don't make tons of money. But anybody who hires us kind of knows what they're getting. When somebody calls us up, they should expect a certain kind of script. We can do adventure, and I've done romantic stuff in Hectic Planet, and melodrama, but generally most people call me up because they want something loud and obnoxious to happen in a comic book.
"I try to stay away from that in some ways, but that's why I'm glad we got the Superman shows. It kind of shows we can do other stuff."
It's even more impressive to learn that Dorkin, who is currently working on -- in no particular order -- Dorks' 7 & 8, a DC Bat Mite adventure called World's Funnest that will involve 18 high-profile artists, an 11-page strip for an Action Girl co-ed special that centers around Punch Goldberg, a Superman's Adventure sequel to the Supergirl, plus more TV stuff for The Cartoon Network and Space Ghost -- finds most of his work a pain.
No, really. His right hand hurts.
"When I was working in a comics store years ago, a glass door display shattered and a big chunk of glass went through my hand," Dorkin explains. "I got real stubborn about it and I wouldn't go to a doctor for a week. The thing opened up really badly, and I woke up the next day literally covered in blood. I never got it fixed and it has bothered me to this day.
"It's been ten years, and it gets realy bad if I'm typing for a while. If I type it cramps up. And if I draw, then it really cramps up.
"That's my excuse for drawing crappy. I don't know why I drew crappy before...it must have been an aneurysm or something."
Or a stroke of talent and good fortune. Which brings us to the question of Milk And Cheese, The Murder Family and the potential for criticism for excessive violence.
"I guess a lot of my work has violence, but my characters have always tended to be immature and childish and non-adult, even if they are adults," Dorkin says.
"There's always been some massive breakdown in communication or in etiquette or civilization, and all hell breaks loose. All my scripts tend to move towards collapse. But I'm hoping by the time I'm 60 I can start writing about mature adults."
Okay, Dorkin 1, Critics 0.
We should also look at the stabilizing force in Mr. Dorkin's life, Ms. Dyer, whom originally interviewed him for a Florida punk 'zine called No Idea.
"She really has been an inspiration," says Dorkin, who aside from his good taste in women also enjoys bowling and the occasional ska band.
"She's been a very influential person on me. I use her as a sounding board. She also brings a sense of structure to a lot of our scripts. I have a lot of problems with structure. And the fact that we both come up with ideas made it ridiculous that we didn't work together on certain things.
"Sarah's brought another perspective on literature and music. We have a lot in common, but we share a lot of things like any other couple. It's a nice trade-off. She hasn't shot me in the head yet for being annoying. It's a good thing."
Alas, all print interviews must come to an end, so we'll leave Evan Dorkin to clear up the biggest misconception that people have about him: that he hates comics.
"I'm pro-comics, man!" he cries. "Some people think i'm anti-comics, or anti-superhero. If you look at what I've done, I'm not anti-superhero and I'm not anti-comic. I think you can be critical about something and still love it.
"I love the medium. It's the industry I hate. The industry's run ass-backwards. Distribution is screwed up. Retail's a disaster. The retailers aren't getting books to people. To be honest, the future of this industry might be getting some of those damn books back into grocery stores."
Want more? Check out Evan and Sarah at www.houseoffun.com.
THANKS: BETH RIMMELS
©1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink
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