Welcome To Eltingville

Bring Me The Head of Boba Fett
Airdate: Sunday, March 3, 2002
Cartoon Network, 11 p.m. Eastern (check local listings)

We have seen the enemy, and he is us.

Fortunately for our self-awareness, Cartoon Network and creator Evan Dorkin have seen fit to hold up a mirror to our worst behavior as fanboys. We only wish the picture were more distorted, but at least it's funny. Painfully funny in places.

As it is, you know the guys in the Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club. Their names would have been changed to protect the innocent, except none of us are.

Without warning, the pilot opens on our heroes armored and ready to face an evil skeleton lord. The problem is that even in their fantasies, they're pretty much shlubs. Though they tend to blame Josh (Secretary of Science Fiction) for their failures, not a one of them can win a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

After resolving their fantasy conflict, the crew holds a brief meeting which quickly devolves into another loud fight. Finally, Secretary of Comic Books and President of The Eltingville Club Bill's mom throws them out of the house. And though this pretty much establishes the pattern of all Eltingville Club adventures (only the reasons for the fights change, with occasional alternate locales), Dorkin has an endless supply of jabs to take at fandom, and each one feels different. Or maybe that's because they're all so truthful.

Unlike The Simpson's Comic Book Guy, though, these hits are well-researched. Dorking took the time to get it right. The laughs may be occasionally cheap, but the trivia answers are correct. Just as in their first comic strip appearance, two of the members face each other in a "trivia-off," which will shame viewers who answer before the characters do.

And under the meanness, there's still some affection. This is, after all, the hand that feeds the artist. As much as the club members themselves deserve ridicule, the show offers quick nods to the comics industry: a blue Spider-Man bust half-glimpsed (blue because Marvel wouldn't approve the likeness), a nightmarish shot of Josh's head done like a painting from Mad, Madman action figures and t-shirts, and of course the presence of the holy grail of collecting: the original Kenner 12" Boba Fett action figure from 1980, "...complete with wookie scalps." Thank heavens George Lucas thinks this is funny.

There's even graffiti touting "Ironjaw was here." (Ironjaw being either a barbarian character from Atlas Comics or a Lev Gleason villain from the '40's, or maybe…just maybe…I need to get out and see the sun once in while…or allow my wife to medicate me…)

Actually, Ironjaw shows up near the end of the pilot, revealed to be another comics fan whose braces make him particularly droolly. Voiced by Dorkin himself, he's just another in the crowd of fans living in Eltingville, a town we hope Cartoon Network visits again.

In an interview this week on Comics2Film, Dorkin indicated he has plenty of ideas should this pilot go to series, and thankfully, many more than have appeared in the comics. For those who have followed his work for a while (particularly in the pages of his semi-eponymous Dork!), the only drawback to the show is that we know a lot of the jokes. Thankfully, some have been updated, and new ones thrown in, many that zip by quickly. Like his comic work, the show will reward those who take it in a couple of times, just to try and catch everything that's going on in the backgrounds.

We'll even allow for three viewings. But four and you might as well volunteer to be the Secretary of Animation.

UPDATED: Click here for information on letting Cartoon Network know you want more Eltingville! Thanks to Evan Dorkin for letting US know.

Derek McCaw

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