"There but for the grace of God go I."
"With great power comes great responsibility."
"Gaze into the abyss and the abyss gazes into you."
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
But perhaps the most accurate philosopher and thinker we can quote talking about this comic is Walt Kelly's Pogo when he said, "I have seen the enemy and he is us."
For the past 20 years or so, Evan Dorkin has tried to keep us comic fans honest even if we haven't always seen it. In Dork! and Milk and Cheese, he has jabbed at the fannish mentality but with The Eltingville Club, he has been holding up a mirror to us. Even since the earliest days of online internet fandom on Usenet, The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role-Playing Club has been an brutal reflection of the fanboy mentality. These four boys, each with their own snobbish specialty about some geekery, have been the worst of us. They have been the people we've known who get so high on their own useless knowledge that they look down on everyone who doesn't know or appreciate the minutae of the expanded universe of Star Wars.
These are the people who would wear at shirt that says, "I like my fan girls like I like my coffee. I hate coffee." And they are the ones who wouldn't see this as funny or ironic. It would be the truth for them.
Dorkin's The Eltingville Club #1 should be funny as he skewers fanboys left and right. From lousy comic shops who refuse to carry anything other than Marvel or DC comics to fans who enjoy the act of hating more than anything else, Dorkin viciously attacks the ugliness of fandom. Dorkin has absolutely no sympathy for his characters, only sadness, disappointment and a healthy amount of contempt. They think of themselves as "true fans," the ones upholding the vigorous standards that any real art form requires. Instead, they're the ones building up the walls around their precious love, protecting it from the "fake" fanboys and fangirls. When one of them finally gets a job in a comic shop, for lousy pay and work, it's the culmination of a little life as he's reached the peak of existence, just like that high school quarterback who has no dreams beyond becoming the starter and winning the state championship.
Truthfully, Dorkin is hilarious. If you've spent any serious time in a comic shop or online, The Eltingville Club is people that you know and have ran into. The ways that Dorkin dissects them is just brutal but he pegs them so perfectly. As a humorist, Dorkin has always been about capturing the absurdity of these things that we elevate and praise. He's always been about giving a giant middle finger salute to all this stuff that we accept because we think it is "art." With The Eltingville Club #1 though, there is something else happening. It's like he's become resigned to the way things are. He's been railing against this fannish ugliness for almost two decades and nothing has changed. The Eltingville Club has been around since the earliest days of internet fandom and thre are still trolls lurking around every virtual and real corner.
This issue begins the end of The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role Playing Club. On the last page (spoilers I guess,) Dorkin flashes back to the four young, optimistic boys as they're first forming the club. "C'mon, guys! Do you wanna argue about stupid crap or do you wanna have fun? I mean, isn't this supposed to be about having fun?" Instead, they turned into every other bitter fan who haunts comment sections and Facebook now. They're the ones who make everyone one else feel like they don't belong. That's the way that they've always been since Dorkin first introduced us to them years ago. You think that we would have come farther than this by now but sadly these social misfits are just as real and relevant today as they were back in the Nineties. Now they just spend their time online, spewing their filth under names like "HSolo1977" and "Wolverine4Evah."
Evan Dorkin has tried to keep us honest over the years. He's tried to beat us into kindness and he's tried to show us just how mean and cruel we have been when we can hide behind the power and anonimity of fandom. And we haven't learned a thing as we can see by the stories of how scared and petty that fandom becomes when something tries to intrude on their safe havens and comfort zones. The Eltingville Club started out as a joke, something we could easily laugh at but now it has become a scary reflection of a part of us as these guys arent' just a caricature of an extreme end of fandom but have become an all-too-real reminder that these guys are out there, harassing and making threats to anyone that dares try to improve their beloved and precious fetishes. Congratulations reality. You have now officially turned into what was once a joke.
We need Evan Dorkin. We need someone to tell us just how awful we are.