If I were to ask you to name a current popular comic strip, what would you answer with? My guess is that most, if not all of you would answer Dilbert by Scott Adams. After all, it’s been in syndication for over 20 years, not to mention an animated TV series, countless calendars and a host of business books. Dilbert is easy to read, it’s not loaded with complicated artwork and it’s brilliant. In 2008, Andrews McMeel Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert published . A 576 page, 10 x 13, oversized, slipcase hardcover, commemorating this award winning comic strip; $85.00 US.
I first came across Dilbert in the Detroit News in the early 90’s, when I was in college. I found it to be funny right off the bat even though some of the office humor was above me. It wasn’t until I got a real job and started to live in Dilbert’s world hat I got most of the jokes. I’ve worked in a small start-up of 15 eager young professionals to a 1000 person corporation complete with reports to 5 different bosses. Adams has everything down to a T. In the late 1990’s I got The Dilbert Principle and I’m fairly certain that my Dad got it for me as some sort of right of passage. I’m glad he did, because it turned out to be more true to life then any Bill Gates, Tom Hopkins or Harvey McKay “How To Succeed” book. From then on I was hooked and I can plainly remember turning to the Sunday Funnies before I read the headline of the Sports Page. Now a day, I read it online, but nothing beats it on real paper.
Dilbert 2.0 is, in many ways, an autobiography. Adams writes and extensive introduction, starting with his youth when he first picked up a pen and paper and even showcasing this art. He delves into is influences including Charles Schultz and Peanuts, MAD Magazine and mentions Al Capp. He even has a scan of his application for the Famous Artist Course for Talented Young People. He was highly praised, but was ultimately rejected due to his young age – 11. All the way through is early life and into college and non-cartooning professional career, Adams never gave up, but he did struggle. After more rejection, he received a surprise letter from Jack Cassady, a cartoonist, whom he sought out advice from a year before. That bit of encouragement pushed him to further is hobby and what turned out to be his true calling in life. Adams plowed ahead and sent in cartoons to just about every outlet. One of the more interesting cartoon inclusions are Adams’ early tryout pieces for The New Yorker and Playboy magazine. They got rejected, but one day United Media came calling and offered Adams a six month contract. All of his early Dilbert/Dogbert comic strips are included in the introduction along with running commentary that continues throughout the entire book.
Besides the extensive Introduction, Dilbert 2.0 is broken up into four parts: The Early Years: 1989-1993, The Boom Years 1994-1997, The Dot-Com Bubble 1998-2000, and The Modern Era 2001-2008. All of the daily black and white strips are here (usually four to a page) as well as the color Sundays (usually two to a page); therefore no gutter loss whatsoever, but there is a bit of extra space between panels, especially when it comes to the Sunday strips. The pages are high glossy and the colors are clean. The commentary adds depth, insight and of course some self-deprecating humor that is well appreciated. It’s similar to a director revisiting his movie frame by frame that can be found on a DVD. You can tell by some reflections that this is the first time he has seen many strips since he first drew them. Another nice added bonus are a side by side comparison of the many censored strips, like the Dead Porpoise stuck in a Lawyer strip found on page 495. But there’s more to Dilbert then just the office humor. You also get to revisit the first appearances and evolution of some of the more memorable characters like Wally, Alice, Carol, Catbert, and Ratbert and some of the more obscure like Hammerhead Bob or Dilbert’s long forgotten girlfriend, Lois. In revisiting these characters you’ll wonder where movies (Office Space) or TV shows like The Office or Mad Men would be with out Dilbert or if they would have been made at all! It should be pointed out that this is not a complete Dilbert, but rather strips handpicked by Adams, himself. With such a rich history, I personally can’t tell what exactly is missing, but to make up for that, topping off the collection is the Dilbert 2.0 DVD which includes every official strip found in the book (.gif images only) and strips through April 2008.
Above and beyond making a mockery of the office procedure, incredibly dumb people and mundane life that we all encounter on a daily basis, Dilbert is always outright hilarious. Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert is light hearted and doesn’t need to be read in one sitting (nor could you!). Don’t just leave this encased on your shelf; keep it open or easily accessible for some quick humor to brighten your day. In closing, in this age of oversized comic book and comic strip hardcover publishing, Dilbert 2.0 is a wonderful addition to you collected library.
For more comments on this book and the latest Collected Edition news on a two volume hardcover set of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soilder’s Of Victory and an email regarding the contents for the recent Essential Sub-Mariner Volume 1, listen to the Podcast.
Collected Comics Library Podcast #235
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