Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dork Tower

Every now and again I have to go through my stuff and decide if I want to keep it or not.  Some things I've held onto for years I finally decide to part with, while other things get sold or given away and I spend the next few years trying to get it again.

Usually just so I can hold onto it for a short time and then get rid of it again.

However, there are a few things that I keep in particular boxes that I have such fun with on a regular basis or have such fond memories of that I'll probably still have them until I'm old, wrinkly, and (hopefully) yelling at kids to get off my space-lawn.

One such thing is my collection of the works of John Kovalic, primarily my collection of his comic series Dork Tower.

Dork Tower is the misadventures of a small cast of characters who live in a small town and get their enjoyment through typical nerdy activities.  They love role-playing games, books, movies, video games, board games, miniatures games, and whatever other distractions might happen to come their way.  It's a four-panel comic about life, love, trying to be the best at whatever you're good at, and finding a purpose in life when it can be considerably underwhelming compared to the stuff you see in your distractions.

Also, it's about terrible jokes.

However, as a young single male in a world where the things I like are somehow both huge moneymakers in the world of cinema and playable fiction (read: movies and video games), a lot of my hobbies still leave me feeling separated from culture as a whole.  Finding other people pondering the same things I ponder while acknowledging the ridiculousness of our (speaking of nerds as a collective whole) hobbies is encouraging, even if they're in a fictional form.  It means someone else has the same thoughts I do,

At various points in my life, I too have delved into deep thoughts about life, love, and what it means to be a "nerd."  How far into my nerdiness do I have to go to be a "true nerd?"  Could I be a fan of something without buying a bunch of figures to give a physical, measurable unit of appreciation and excitement?  If I don't wear clothes featuring pop culture or nerdy references on them, am I somehow not as much of a fan as that person who seems to let what they're a fan of become their entire personality?

"Am I really this big a whiner when I feel like I put out a substandard blog post?"

Dork Tower addresses all of these issues, while still making sure to prop up just what is so much fun and great about being a "nerd."  Whether it's how a love for science fiction can encourage people to actually get into the sciences or how board games have evolved to the point where there's one for anybody you can think of, Dork Tower embraces being a nerd with love, not an overwhelming sense of cynicism like many other pieces of cultural minutia.  Even in video games, movies, and books, you so often see the "nerd" still be the character that's difficult to like or enjoy the presence of, that it's easy to forget sometimes just why the things we take interest in are so fascinating.

Now, to be fair, the artwork isn't anything to write home about, but it's consistent and simplistic enough where it doesn't detract from the jokes.  It can sometimes be a bit wordy, but often the overuse of words in a single panel is meant to portray just how overbearing or overblown a character's opinion (or, often, a "news report" by a media outlet) actually can feel sometimes.

I've read author/artist John Kovalic's work going way back in the dark ages (when it was available in single issue comic book form) and here's a catch for you guys, I still have every single issue.  The comic continues to this day on his website and seriously you guys click the link so that you can go view his site and see his neat stuff.  I don't plan on ever getting rid of the issues, either.  They're still fun to just pull out and read sometimes, and often help me put my own nerdiness in perspective.

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