Jerry Beck finds his rightful place in Welcome to Eltingville, one of Cartoon Network's latest additions to their Adult Swim block.
It didn't hit me until I watched this show -- we've won! The fanboys rule the earth!
The "fanboy" is now part of the popular culture. From Kevin Smith feature films to appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons. They're everywhere! Comics fans (along with sci-fi/fantasy & pop culture fandom) were a "type," a cliché, but are now clearly a part of regular mainstream life, if Evan Dorkin's Welcome To Eltingville is any indication.
I must confess, I'm a "fanboy" -- I go to the comics shop at least once a week, have attended comic book conventions regularly since 1968(!) and have enough action figures to last two lifetimes. Did I enjoy Cartoon Network's new Adult Swim entry, Welcome To Eltingville? Yes, I did.
Will you? I'm sure this show is going to strike people one way or another -- love it or hate it. I loved it.
The character designs and animation are great -- sort of Clerks-lite -- and I mean that as a compliment. The characters and situations are REAL -- I know these guys (and I'm ashamed!).
The show is built around a quartet of pimply faced comic-book-reading, role-game-playing, Star-Trek-watching fanboys, who meet regularly in their parents' basements to play games, watch naked celebrity videos and conspire to petition movie studios to release uncut movies. Did I say I know these people -- I AM these people! (I admit it -- I'm a geek!)
If Beavis & Butthead were an animated reflection of the MTV audience, then Josh, Pete, Jerry and Bill are indeed the Cartoon Network's (or Sci-Fi Channel's) core fanbase.
Most of the show takes place in a local comics shop, Joe's Fantasy World, which looks like a dump situated in a seedy part of town. The guys talk in a language made up of quotes and references to real movies, TV and comic book dialogue. The climax of the first episode is a trivia battle royale over an original Kenner 12 inch Boba Fett Star Wars doll, mint-in-the-box. (If you don't know what that is, or why it's the "holy grail" of toy collecting, this show is NOT for you.) The "trivia-off" sequence is a three and a half minute barrage of pop culture trivia questions, which will tickle those in the know -- and baffle all others.
There are a lot of neat touches too -- a cool opening and closing theme by The Aquabats, fantasy sequences (in the first episode involving Star Trek and Dungeons & Dragons), a main title parody of the Adam West Batman series and end titles spoofing The Monkees.
If you like the episodes of The Simpsons involving "The Comic Book Guy," or if Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back was on your top-ten list last year, Welcome To Eltingville is for you.
It was for me.
Jerry Beck is an animation producer and cartoon historian who is simultaneously developing a show with MTV Animation and writing a book for Harry N. Abrams Publishers. He also has a cool Website at www.cartoonresearch.com.