Meet Bill, Josh, Pete, and Jerry. They’re the members of The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing club, experts in their respective fields of geekdom, and some of the most awful and repugnant characters I have read about in fiction in some time. Seriously, they’re personifications of some of fandom’s worst traits blown up to ridiculous proportions. The pettiness. The unfriendly bickering. The unchecked rage at the most minor of offenses. All of these and more are on display in this collection of short stories from over two decades by creator Evan Dorkin. Read on in horror as Bill and Josh engage in a hours-long triva-off for the privilege of buying a $250 mint-in-case 12-inch Boba Fett action figure. Cringe as Josh opens dozens of Wonder Bread bags in a supermarket in hopes of finding the one “Batman Forever” trading card he doesn’t have. Gaze in stunned disbelief at how arson at a Toys ‘R Us turns out to be the least crazy part of the group’s multi-day “Twilight Zone” marathon. The back cover proclaims this to be “fandom at its fan-dumbest” and that’s some of the truest copy I’ve ever read!
Repugnant as these characters are, “The Eltingville Club” is still a fun and funny read. Dorkin has some amazing cartooning skills and they’re put to great use in showing the extent of his characters’ crazed passions. We’re also not asked in any way to sympathize with these characters, merely look on at how their awful behavior makes life terrible for themselves and any poor fool who decides to get caught in their orbit. The situations the characters find themselves in, as well as the overall tone, are pitched to be so far over the top that they come off as more ridiculous than anything else. However, the internet has shown us that there are people in real life who do act just like the Eltingville crew, which is more than a little depressing to consider after having read this. Dorkin does offer redemption of a sorts for one of his cast in the final story, but the majority of this volume is a hard dose of concentrated nerd rage that isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all. I enjoyed it on that level. Anyone who would rather not look for humor in fandom’s deepest, darkest, most unwashed regions, or requires their stories to have likeable protagonists should consider themselves warned.