I remember when Garry Shandling was on the Charlie
Rose Show. Instead of the normal interview they
just turned on the cameras as soon as he walked in and
let them roll for the hour. Charlie did chime in with
a question just to keep Garry from going too off
topic. I found a similar situation with Evan Dorkin.
Once we got talking we just didnít stop until it was
over then we talked some more. He is an extremely
funny and interesting guy who can talk. Mainly we
talked about his new show on Cartoon Network called Welcome
Evan has done humor comics for about 12 years now
and has created some major mainstays in comics such as
Mike & Cheese and Hectic Planet.
More recently he turned his collection of various
strips, which included the original Welcome to
Eltingville strips, into Dork. His writing
partner and a cartoonist in her own right is Sarah
Dyer. Please enjoy my interview.
And anyone who knows Evan Dorkinís middle name,
please email me with it.
Dan Epstein: When was the pilot for Welcome to
Evan Dorkin: We got the final print in November
DE: Youíve been developing it for so long. Why
did it take so long to hit the air?
ED: It takes a while for even a comic book to
come out. When youíre dealing with a large company
itís not just one person saying I feel like making a
comic book. Let me solicit it and see if I could get
it out on time like I used to do when I was younger.
It took a year for the negotiations and the contracts
because the lawyers put in things that help them out
then we want to take things out that donít benefit
us and things like that. Just the fact that we didnít
want to move to Los Angeles took extra time.
Then you work up a pitch bible then a script then
that gets edited then approved. Then you do all the
designs. Iíve never worked on a pilot for anything
before plus Sarah [Dyer] and I did pretty much
everything so I could not be designing the characters
while I was writing them and vice versa. But
apparently this is how it goes; you work on something
for a while. And since it hasnít been ordered as a
show Cartoon Network hasnít been throwing a ton of
people to work on multiple episodes.
DE: How many episodes do you have done?
ED: Just one, the pilot.
DE: Then Cartoon Network will just milk it on Adult
Swim for a while.
ED: I have no idea what theyíre going to do.
Honestly Iím not being fastidious. We only found out
a few weeks ago that they were airing it and we donít
know if there will be any repeat airings. Thatís not
a complaint, we just donít know. Weíve had a very
good working relationship with the network. Itís a
lot easier to work with them than a lot of comic book
DE: A friend of mine writes for Sealab 2021
so he tells me all about them and how laid back they
ED: They write that show? Oh ha ha. Thatís
what people say about Space Ghost [Coast to
Coast] too. Things are really loose with the
Williams Street shows. We were pretty heavily involved
with Space Ghost but we werenít there for the
day to day. The show was never canceled it just
disappeared for a while. It was on hiatus. The
fifteen-minute shows are almost like mini-comics for
cable. I liked working on Space Ghost because
they let us do whatever we wanted. They let us do
whatever we wanted to on Eltingville as well
but with Space Ghost there was a bigger budget
and other things like that its not as slapdash.
DE: Will Eltingville become any less dirty
once it hits television?
ED: Oh definitely, you canít curse on the
Cartoon Network. Eltingville is kind of a pay
cable HBO/Showtime kind of strip. But as far as the
show goes we cleaned it up. But if the sum of the
strip is the cursing then itís not a very good
comic. I canít complain too much if it fails. I
concentrated more on the characters and the sitcom
aspect of the strip, which were always there. They
were little geek tragedies with three acts and
character flaws taking them down.
I think itís an aggressive show. Its not a show
filled with innuendo, I wasnít trying to be the Powerpuff
Girls or South Park. Thatís been done
already. If I canít go completely R rated with the
cursing then thereís no part in being coy and using
bleeps and trying to push the network and tweak the
viewers. Iím just not really interested in that
because curse words are everywhere and I still have
the strips if I want to use the words fuck and cunt. Iím
not going to revolutionize animation. Iím not going
get into huge fights to show characters asses; I donít
find that to be a big creative triumph or to get to say the
word shit. I just wanted this to a mean Honeymooners
kind of show about moron geeks who are utter
Some readers are probably going to pissed off that
there is no cursing and if thatís what they wanted
to see on TV then they could watch The Sopranos
or South Park.
DE: But youíre also not going after only your
comic book audience.
ED: Anybody whoís ever read the strip will
realize that we did work really hard to adapt the
strip and keep the characters the same, its
recognizable. When I was a kid I was really pissed off
at that Captain Americaís costume stunk and none of
the supporting cast was there. The villains werenít
any good; I think Christopher Lee with a cane pointed
it dangerously. His shield looked like crap. Some
people get really worked up over that stuff when theyíre
kids and still get really worked up over it when theyíre
Iím not going to say I donít care about the
people who read the book. But if I only did the show
for them thatís about 20,000 people tops, not
counting readers in Hollywood who buy every comic book
to read for their bosses. If I got every reader of
mine and no one else, it would bomb. We played down
some of the more obscure comic book references. Itís
less about comic books and more about pop culture. The
strip is kind of like that as well.
The one good sign is that Sarahís dad has a copy
of the tape and he started showing it around to people
who donít understand most of the jokes. But they
still liked it because they understood most of the
characters. They understood what they goals were. When
I was kid and watched Monty Python or SCTV, I
wouldnít get all the references. Youíre watching a
British comedy and there is a culture difference. When
youíre watching Mystery Science Theatre you
donít get every reference. I wanted to throw some
jokes in there where you donít have know science
fiction or comics movies or pop culture to get them. I
found that over the years that people who donít even
like comic books that much like Eltingville
still respond to the mania and obsessiveness of the
At this point I donít even know who will watch
this thing. I told my mother to not even watch it. She would find it utterly boring because she
wonít care about trivia contests over Boba Fett
figures or four kids beating the hell out of each
other over Dungeons and Dragons. Sheís sick
DE: She didnít like it when you did it.
ED: Right, how the mother screams into the
basement on the show is how my mom and everyone elseís
mom was in my geek circle. This thing was commissioned
by adults who arenít as big geeks as I am. So they
know what they got on their hands. I just hope that
people donít expect that full R-rated comic book
stuff. I love when people write and ask me why I didnít
go to HBO with this. Like I could. Iím not selling
any of this stuff I donít have an agent and I donít
have a manager. Sarah and I donít use
representation, because weíre not chasing anything.
Iím happy doing comics. If someone calls and asks me
to work on Space Ghost or Superman or a
pilot. Iíll do it, but Iím not hustling for
animation work or licensing my characters. Iím
shocked as shit that Eltingville is going on the air.
DE: The money must be nice.
ED: To be quite honest, the amount of work weíve
done on this thing and the amount of money we were
paid, I could have done a monthly book for Marvel or
DC and probably made more. But thatís not the point.
I did this because ever since I was a kid, Iíve
loved animation and I always wanted to make a cartoon
and never got to. When I went to New York University
for animation I set up too large a project and never
got to finish. When I was a teenager I got out of
comics and really got into animation. I went to film
school and that got beat out of me. I didnít like
most people in film school, their goals and especially
the fact that I would have to work with some of these
people if I ever got a career going didnít appeal to
me. I like the idea of working at home and I got
interested in comic books again especially since
interesting stuff like Love & Rockets and Neat
Stuff was coming out. But I ended up falling back into
animation like Space Ghost and Superman
all because of my small press work.
DE: So you got into comics to do comics.
ED: Yeah. Definitely.
DE: That doesnít always seem to be the mentality
ED: Well there are plenty of people in comics
to do comics. Its just that people arenít talking
about them in Wizard or the Buyerís Guide
or on the big websites. A guy like Dan Clowes hits big
with a movie that does really pretty well and now heís
got an Oscar nomination but he still gets an issue of Eightball
out and the last issue was really good. There have
always been people who use comics as stepping-stones,
one way or another. There have always been people who
are have been pretty bald-faced about wanting comics
to be their stepping stones to film and TV some of
them come with tail between their legs backs to comics
and the realistic ones keep their mouths shut and
still their books because they love them and they
realize that Hollywood could chew you up and spit you
We havenít had a call to do any animation work in
a long time and we may never get that call ever again.
That sucks but thatís fine because Iím working on
four or five comic projects right now. Iím keeping
busy. I like doing the animation because it pays
really really well and I like having an audience for
my work, but the funny thing is you donít get any
response from doing the animation. Except for people
who already know your work from comics. You donít
know whether people like anything or didnít. Iíve
gotten 200+ letters on an issue of Dork and I
get maybe three letters from any animation Iíve done
because youíre a cog in somebody else machine.
Eltingville was a good situation because one of
the reasons we agreed to do it was because we had a
really good working relationship with the people at
the Cartoon Network. They have a really good
sensibility. They like the kinds of comics, the kind
that doesnít sell very well. They told us that they
donít have a ton of money but they could give us a
lot of control. Working on the show was a lot like
working on the strip, any limitations that I had I put
on myself, if I was to go back and do it again I would
ramp up some of the material. I think I was a little
too aware of the PG rating which became a PG-14 rating
anyway, which I wish I knew at the time. I would
definitely rewrite this thing. I would make it even
crazier and more aggressive. But you donít know
until you do it.
DE: How much did you pay for your Boba Fett action
ED: I didnít pay anything for mine. I didnít
even really want one until after I did the show. Then
I wanted it as a stupid totem. At San Diego one year a
guy offered to trade it to me for a quick drawing. Itís
in a closet somewhere right now under a bunch of junk.
I had it out while I was doing the pilot but put it
back when I was done. I used to be a big Star Wars fan
when I was a kid; I actually really hate it now.
DE: It sucks now.
ED: Iíve hated it since the third movie. I
still havenít seen the prequel. Iím still into a
lot of garbage culture but Star Wars and Star
Trek is something I canít stand.
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