Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review - Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy! by Scott Adams

Short review: Dilbert goes to work and finds it to be a surreal place filled with insane bosses and equally insane coworkers.


When you go to work
Your boss demands insane things
Like coworker heads

Full review: This is a compilation of Dilbert strips. For those who don't know, Dilbert is a long-suffering engineer who must deal with the idiocy of the work environment, personified by his clueless pointy haired boss who is continually trying to make the workplace a more nightmarish and Kafkaesque place with his various instructions and "improvements", while also dealing with his megalomaniacal dog Dogbert at home (and sometimes at work as well).

The comic strips in this volume begin in earnest the brutal satire of the modern office workplace, and employers who don't understand what their employees actually do. Dilbert sends up how bosses make silly decisions to assert their authority, how people deal with incompetent, lazy, or seemingly insane coworkers in the office, and other elements that make the workplace an almost surreal place. In the book, the workplace centered humor takes an increasingly greater portion of the strips, as the comic matures from its beginnings as the travails of a nerdy engineer with his wisecracking dog - a sort of Garfield like beginning - to the office satire that it is today.

Despite this increasing focus on work oriented humor, much of this book also deals with Dilbert at home, and the oddities of the life of a poorly socialized nerdy engineer with a dog that wants to rule the world. Alongside the travails of Dilbert as he navigates the insanity of the modern office workplace, we see the travails of Dilbert as he navigates the modern world away from the workplace, and most of Dilbert's difficulties stem from being a square peg that the world around him insists should be rammed in a square hole.

Despite the pressures on Dilbert to conform, he remains resistant, whether due to his own obliviousness, or just his inability to become a beer-swilling sports-loving, "real" man, and fit in where society around him thinks he should. And this, I think, is a large part of Dilbert's success: when you strip away the workplace humor, the satire, and the general insanity of talking animals, you are left with a nerdy guy who thinks it is okay to be a nerdy guy, despite all of the problems this causes him. This book is really good, but then again, almost all Dilbert is really good.

Previous book in the series: Shave the Whales
Subsequent book in the series:  It's Obvious You Won't Survive by Your Wits Alone

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  1. @Julia Rachel Barrett: I have yet to read a collection of Dilbert strips that I didn't like.