Years before The Big Bang Theory brought us four lovable geeks, comic book writer and artist Evan Dorkin lampooned the worst of geek culture with his quartet of pathetic and antisocial geeks.  The Eltingville Club collects Dorkin's comics and strips of this club, plus a new strip wrapping things up and essays.

The Eltingville Club (full name: the Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club) is made up of four high school guys.  Bill Dickey is most interested in comic books and science fiction; he's also the most likely to lash out -- verbally and physically -- at anything he dislikes or anyone who disagrees with him.  Josh Levy is focused on science fiction and television shows; as the overweight member of the group, he suffers through constant fat jokes.  Pete DiNunzio is most interested in horror and is a bit pretentious in his views.  And Jerry Stokes is the group's gamer; he's the quietest and nicest member of the group, and also annoys the others with his frequent impersonation of Twiki from Buck Rogers.
The four guys meet in one of their parents' basement, where they rant and curse about everything they don't like about fandom, make trades, and often wind up with their hands on each others' throats.  They have no social life (in the middle of one meeting someone yells "Hey!  Holy shit!  Guys!  Do you realize our prom was tonight?!")   They have no jobs (and no skills or interests beyond the groups') and get money for their hobbies by yelling at their mothers.  When they go out, it's usually to shoplift whatever they want, or to stuff rare toys out of sight at Toys "R" Us so no one else can get them.  Their "adventures" include engaging in an hour-long trivia contest for a rare action figure, trying to stay awake for a 36-hour Twilight Zone marathon, making costumes for Wizard magazine's contest, going on a zombie walk, enduring an intervention, or getting their ideal job at a comic book store.  Their escapades usually turn into disasters, often ending with riots, trampling, fires, or arrests. And their final meeting happens at Comic Con, of course.

The Eltingville Club illustrates the worst of fandom -- and pretty bad humanity in general.  The memers of the club are misanthropic, selfish, sexist (the only women in their world are in porn or x-rated comic books), angry, and overall pathetic.  They're as likely to turn on each other as the things they hate; near the end someone meeting the group for the first time asks, "So, like, were you guys ever actually friends?" -- and the answer seems to be "no."  But it's amazingly funny to watch this group of horrible geeks self-destructing, whether tossing around constant geek references, battling with comic book replicas, or continually getting busted and yelled at by their parents.  There are some digs at geek culture in general -- the owner of Joe's Fantasy World comic book store makes The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy look handsome, polite, and professional --  but Dorkin's sights are mostly focused on the four Club members.  And after the strips about the Eltingville Club, Dorkin discusses the comic's origin, making the one-episode animated series, and provides another comic -- this time about pretentious geeks.

The Eltingville Club is full of cursing, grossness, and horrible behavior.  It's also laugh-out-loud funny; and, in the world of the Internet, disturbingly accurate.  It's savagely funny.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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