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Category >> office fun

Here kitty kitty...
Written by Larry Reid | Filed under office funFantagraphics history 12 Aug 2011 2:15 PM

Julie Doucet's cat carrier

Every time I visit Fantagraphics office I damn near trip over Julie Doucet's cat carrier, which has been at the foot of the back stairs since she resided in the apartment upstairs in 1993. I worked as Fantagraphics beer tech back then - the "Summer of Hate" in Seattle. A blur of rock shows, cartoonist signings, art events, and parties. This was before the grunge movement had been corrupted by corporations and devastated by drugs. Great fun! I wish I could remember it. Occupational hazard, I suppose. I wonder what happened to Julie's cat. (Has anybody looked inside the carrier?)

We get letters
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under office funGilbert Hernandezbehind the scene 7 Jul 2011 2:19 AM

crapy books

From the ol' mailbag.

Dilbert: Let's You and Him Fight!
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under staffoffice funKim ThompsonGary Grothcomic strips 1 Mar 2011 12:25 PM

   

Last week, Amazon.com temporarily reduced the price of our $125 Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons to a ridiculously low $30. Several prominent folks, including our old pal Neil Gaiman, tweeted and/or blogged about it, and at one point on Monday night, the book had risen to #16 on Amazon's sales charts for ALL books, and to #1 in the bargain books category. Somehow, this led to the following actual, real email exchange about the comic strip Dilbert. A week later, the debate rages on. In other words: Just Another Week at Fantagraphics Books.

Kim Thompson wrote:

That Bargain Books section is pretty sweet sometimes. I just bought an $85 DILBERT supercollection for the office for twenty-two bucks. (Yes, I love DILBERT. I know most cartoonists can't get past the art, but it's funny as hell.)

Eric Reynolds wrote:

LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Gary Groth wrote:

Oh my fucking God.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Read [Scott Adams'] blog, which is unencumbered by his godawful art. He's the sharpest comedy writer in comic strips.

Tell me if this one doesn't make you laugh: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1996-03-27/

Eric Reynolds wrote:

Sorry.

Gary Groth wrote:

I hope yer joking. It's too late to look for a new partner.

Jacob Covey wrote:

What's weird is Kim and Eric haven't ever worked in one of those godawful Dilbert cubical jobs to my knowledge.

Gary Groth wrote:

I bet I've worked in more shitty jobs -including "cubicle" jobs- than everyone here. I hate Dilbert and don't think it's funny. It's humor that's calculated to make working in cubicles more palatable.

Kim Thompson wrote:

I think you're all going by a vision of DILBERT of like 20 years ago. (Newsflash, DOONESBURY isn't about a bunch of college students arguing any more either.) It's blossomed into a relentless examination of deception and self-delusion in the workplace and beyond, based on the premise that 90% of actions taken are taken for reasons that are selfish, idiotic, or both, and boiling them down to their most basic absurdities.

Gary Groth wrote:

That's the problem: the strip is essentially gutless, so generic and so absent specificity as to be meaningless. Selfishness, sloth, and idiocy are its constant (easy) targets -vices to which no one can object- and executed in such a cutesy, innocuous way that they prompt a reflexively knowing and self-satisfied smirk.

The strip you linked to perfectly encapsulates the strip's modus operandi of recapitulating the Peter Principle in the most banal way imaginable. It reflects, regurgitates, and therefore flatters the reader's own "insight" on the workplace and panders to his sense of superiority to the bureaucracy he serves (or is served by).

The problem with the Doonesbury analogy is that Doonesbury was good. (Plus, you're ten years off: the college stuff took place 30 years ago.)

Kim Thompson wrote:

It's true that Adams is fundamentally pro-business (in the sense that many military comedies are actually pro-Army) but the idea that he's an agent of Satan intent on narcotizing the cubicle workers is hippy-dippy talk, unless you adhere to the notion that any blowing off of steam (e.g. laughter) just delays the inevitable revolution when workers will throw off their shackles and string up the man.

Gary Groth wrote:

That's a Dilbert-ish response, which suggests that its flattening perspective is contagious. Pop entertainment doesn't have to be anti-revolutionary in a hippy-dippy Marxist 1970s kinda way in order to be nauseating, status-quo supportive crap. The fact that it's not single handedly holding back a revolution that will never come just makes it more insidious. The rank ad file would remain narcoticized if Dilbert didn't exist, but its existence sure doesn't hurt.

Eric Reynolds wrote:

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Wait, when did Kenneth Smith start sending me emails signed "GG"?

This is the kind of apocalyptic society-is-doomed rant critics will periodically unleash on more or less harmless pop-culture successes which I genuinely can't take seriously enough to respond to. If you're going to go medieval on any work of (to stretch the definition to a breaking point in DILBERT's case, admittedly) art that rests on the foundation that in theory capitalism might be an OK system, then it's a bit like criticizing rock music from the point of view that electric guitars are pure evil.

I did get the DOONESBURY timeline wrong. Time flies!

Gary Groth wrote:

I am not asking for every comic strip to be an Adorno-esque revolutionary screed, but if the whole purpose of the strip is to comment on contemporary economic and commercial life, it's hardly asking too much to invest the work with a degree of conscience or acuity and not serve as a hypocritical feel-good bromide for a mindless status quo that it celebrates and criticizes at the same time.

Mostly, though, it's just lame - as any humor would inevitably be if it's foundation is based on social arrangements being "OK" (or, as I would put it, hunky dory). What a concept!

Anyway, I get it. Pop culture and -especially billion dollar pop culture successes- are harmless and criticizing them on political or moral grounds is going "medieval," because, y'know, they're, like, harmless and don't mean anything and why don't I chill out and sit back and take it easy for God's sake.

I consider it a success whenever I can elicit a dig at Ken Smith.

Kim Thompson wrote:

It's a hypocritical feel-good bromide that postulates that pretty much everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interaction spirals inevitably into entropy? By what standards, compared to SHOAH?

Any humor that is not based on a socialistic view of the world is ipso facto lame?

Any pointed examination of human behavior within a certain context/matrix is invalid unless it fundamentally challenges that context/matrix? (E.g., the HURT LOCKER conundrum.)

It's possible there is a middle ground between apocalyptic doom-laden rants and dismissing-as-utterly-harmless, but this would require living in a non-Manichean world which, as we know from Mister A (or Rorschach), is a craven compromise with the forces of evil.

I think there is plenty of pop culture that is insidious and subtly destructive, and that's worth pointing out (although perhaps not quite so Howard Beale-ishly), but I also think it's possible to overreach and I think it can be morally dubious and qualitatively good at the same time. Sometimes I begin to suspect that ALL good art (or decent entertainment) is actually morally dubious at best.

Eric Reynolds wrote:

This could be the greatest critical roundtable in tcj.com history.

Gary Groth wrote:

• Kim was the first to cite capitalism and is, now, the first to cite socialism. There's a Manichean world view on display here, but not mine.

• Reading Wilde's paradoxical dictum on moral and immoral art literally always leads to trouble.

• There is a long list of morally dubious great art - RiefenstahlPoundCeline, the usual suspects- because their aesthetic virtues trump their moral vices or at least can be appreciated while holding one's nose. Unfortunately, Dilbert has no aesthetic virtues at all; its observations of the human condition are art-free and, not to put too fine a point on it, but we have both been too polite to mention what a visual eyesore it is even among the visually desiccated ranks of today's newspaper strips.

• I wondered why images of Dilbert flitted through my head when I was watching Shoah last week.

• A pointed examination would have to be just that - pointed.

• Postulating (postulating?) day after day and year after year that pretty much everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interaction spirals inevitably into entropy devolves rapidly into a one-dimensional, reductive and even dishonest schtick (because not everyone in the world is a selfish idiot and all personal and professional interactions don't spiral into entropy - or do they? Maybe I'm behind the curve on this one) that's numbing in its repetitiveness and simple-mindedness. Even savage critiques of the way we live -think Face in the Crowd of Elmer Gantry- feature real human beings with whom we can empathize and who refuse to sink into nihilism and entropy. Dilbert isn't pointed, isn't a critique, isn't an examination - it's a relentless of glib, shallow cliches about office politics and managerial ineptitude that a million office drones could probably come up with if they just typed and scribbled long enough.

It has no juice, it has no fire. It's a sedative.

• Funny you should mention Network. A little shrill, sure, but at least it had guts and passion eloquence and a touch of humanity. Dilbert is just a load of crap.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Hey now, I take grave exception to the claim that we've been "too polite" to mention the hideousness of the art, I referred to "his godawful art" days ago, and then to Breathed "drawing better than Scott Adams, but everyone does, including Cathy Guisewite and 90% of the submissions in our slush pile."

I think we're played out on this. I'm not sure I can quite wrap my head around defending DILBERT against the charge of constituting, basically, "feel-good nihilism" although it sounds like a great genre. If Barnes & Noble had a section for "feel-good nihilism" I'd make a beeline for it every time, and not just for the DILBERT books.

Gary Groth wrote:

"Feel good nihilism" has ben a post-modern genre for years and has its own section in B&N. Where've you been?

You're right, you mentioned the hideous art e-mails ago; but in my defense, it cannot be said too much or too often.

Look, I know right at this moment, at 10:59 PM at the end of a grueling Tuesday, you believe that Dilbert is a not only a laff riot, but a shrewd, pointed exercise in sociological observation, but take my word for it just this once - it is a a piece of shit. There are issues facing us that are legitimately open to debate - should we have national health care, should we be landing troops on Libya, is Ditko as good as Kirby? - but this is not one of them.

Dilbert is the antithesis of everything Fantagraphics stands for - believe it, baby.

Kim Thompson wrote:

As in most cases, I am right and you are wrong.

DILBERT is not a sociological observation. It's (for the most part) an ongoing exercise in analyzing how something that is theoretically sensible and logical (corporate business structures built to produce things and make money) is undone by human nature (stupidity, selfishness, cowardice, etc.) to actually consistently do the opposite of what it's intended to achieve. One could argue equally convincingly that it's a paean to capitalism (laid low by its flawed practitioners) or a postmortem/condemnation of it (a system that doesn't take into account its practitioners is inherently doomed).

Leaving aside whether it's well drawn (it isn't) or well written (it is, a series of precise, almost haiku-like mockeries that remove any shred of humanity or individuality for pure conceptual humor), I can see where its adamant refusal to engage the moral or political underpinnings of capitalism or corporate culture might be infuriating for anyone who needs to strain his entertainment through his own sociopolitical colander of correctness. (Also the lack of humanity could be off-putting, I guess, if you're into the whole humanity thing.)

There's also the question as to whether it's funny or not, which is probably impossible to resolve because any sentence that starts off "This is not funny because..." is automatically meaningless.

Good debate! as Sean Hannity would say.

Did I mention I like ARLO AND JANIS too?

Gary Groth wrote:

Yes, once Dilbert is completely divorced from the historic/political/cultural/economic context that it clearly inhabits and exploits and after that pesky "humanity thing" is expunged from the equation and he strip is neatly turned into an abstraction (or "pure conceptual humor" you've really got something there.

Are you sure Scott Adams isn't a pseudonym for "Watson"? The results couldn't be appreciably different.

Kim Thompson wrote:

Er, uh, what?

Gary Groth:

No fair! That was going to be my opening argument against Arlo and Janis.

POLL QUESTION:

Donate to the Fantagraphics Warehouse Permanent Gallery Museum
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under staffoffice fun 8 Dec 2010 9:59 AM

As you may know, we recently relocated our warehouse and shipping operation to a new facility. Our statuesque and erudite Warehouse Manager Nico Vassilakis has asked me to pass along the following message to you — yes, you — the public:

Here's a fun thing to do. We're looking to beautify our new warehouse. And YOU can help. PLEASE DONATE your comic/artwork to the FANTAGRAPHICS WAREHOUSE. Any size, any style, anything goes. Everything accepted. It all goes up on our walls.

Mail stuff directly to:

FANTAGRAPHICS WAREHOUSE
Attn: Permanent Gallery Museum
79 South Horton
Suite 170 (the gate)
Seattle, WA 98134



Let Your Fanta Flag Fly
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under office fun 3 Nov 2010 11:02 AM

This handmade cover letter we recently received with a submission from Japan wowed everyone in the office: 

  

Rejection is a Bitch
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under office funmisc 8 Sep 2010 7:37 PM

From the files, Item #1,075,763,294. Over the years, we've tried virtually every approach to "rejection" letters that I can think of: supreme diplomacy, false hope, honest criticism, scorched earth rejection, and everything in between. So I'm not sure which kind prompted this reply from an aspiring cartoonist*, but it makes me laugh every time I see it (it's been hanging on a basement wall for years):

* full name edited to protect us more than him.   

The Price of Peanuts
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under office fun 17 Jun 2010 1:07 PM

Waffle Wednesday
Written by Jacq Cohen | Filed under staffoffice fun 10 Feb 2010 12:09 PM

Waffle Wednesday

Well, today was the first of many Waffle Wednesdays here in the Fantagraphics office. We had two kinds of waffles: regular Belgian waffles and gluten free waffles (for our wheat-free designer).

Steph & Adam

Steph, our new office manager, brought in a myriad of fruits and three different kinds of syrup! Even our very own Kim Thompson brought two types of orange juices, no pulp and some pulp.

Bugs Bunny waffle iron

I used Emeril Lagassse's recipe of waffles, because it was the first one to pop up in my Google search.

Tony; Adam & Jenny

In the coming weeks I plan to spice things up by adding special ingredients. My friend Dominika suggested fried chicken and waffles. We'll see how ambitious Steph and I get.

Steph & Jacq

Also, next week's post will be better documented in photos.

waffle porn

Please feel free to send over your recipe suggestions.

Leaning Tower of Groth
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under staffoffice funGary Groth 19 Jan 2010 4:50 PM

Leaning Tower of Groth

Marketing Meeting, FBI HQ, 1.19.10

Intern Escapades
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under staffoffice fun 15 Jul 2009 11:33 AM

Written by Jessica Lona, Gavin L., and Brittany Kusa.

Brittany Kusa and Gavin L.

After a long hard day of drinking tea in the underground Fantagraphics comics library, tapping away at our keyboards transcribing conversations between famous cartoonists, we interns needed to unwind. How better to do this than by drinking booze and testing our knowledge of geeky things?

We (Brittany, Gavin, Jessica, and our fearless leader, Kristy) tromped downtown to a lovely little pub to attend the Geeks Who Drink trivia night. It was tough to settle on a team name, not for lack of ideas, but because there are so many juicy possible namesakes in the Eros catalog. After hemming and hawing between such titles as "Yuppies, Rednecks, and Lesbian Bitches from Mars" and "The Milk Mamas," we decided to go with "Anal Intruders from Uranus."

mascot trivia challenge

Our college educations paid for themselves in helping to identify cross-dressing Australians, heavy metal xylophone music, cereal mascots and Indiana Jones' favorite hiding place. Although, how we ever confused Little Miss Sunshine with Trucker Fags in Denial is still a mystery.

The Anal Intruders from Uranus wound up in 4th place. But, geekily enough, Kristy left with inspiration for a story based on the names of the 1st and 2nd place teams, Werewolf Quinceañera and Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. Tell me who the real winner is there.

zombie Wendy

Which EROS title should we name our team after next?

• Hentaipalooza
• Housewives at Play
• Venus with a Hot Crotch

Pictured: Brittany Kusa and Gavin L.

Zombie-modded Wendy by Jessica Lona