Jakobus Nieuwodt, better known as Jacobi Kid, friend and cohort of the Barbaric Gentleman best known for his seminal satirical work Fifty Shades of Adolf, has recently come out with a comic book (I hesitate to call it a graphic novel for reasons that will be revealed below) called Dingue!, which serves as a satire of the superhero medium in general and the recent Social Justice Warrior turn that Marvel Comics has been on recently in particular. While there are some funny lines and interesting ideas here, as a comic book fan myself I also found that this book was something of a step down from Fifty Shades, the majority of problems being things that I attributed to Jakobus presumably being a novice to sequential art. Nonetheless I saw some flashes of brilliance that give me hope for future editions of Dingue.
The title is the French word for “Crazy”, and does not refer to a specific superhero (in fact, the superhero that is the most popular franchise at Hero Comics, Incorporated is named Apricot Kid). However, “dingue” is very relevant to the state of things at the company.
It’s apparently pronounced “Dahngeh” but the pronunciation guide says “dahn gau” which is incidentally Mandarin for “Cake”…which might actually be a better superhero name than “Apricot Kid”.
Anyway, the first problem I had with this is that I felt the art for the comic was definitely subpar. I didn’t care for the style of art in general, and not helping matters was the fact that there were thick and notable outlines around the figures. Whether that was a deliberate stylistic choice or just an editing error, I didn’t care for it.
The editing of the comic panels is also kind of confusing for a new reader in that it’s hard to tell where one page ends and another begins. Eventually I realized that the comic never has more than 3 panels across per page, so I was capable of interpreting it. Still, professionally made comics are more intuitively readable than this, and should be kept in mind for Kobi’s second go-round in comics.
The actual plot of the comic starts with the creation of a new line of superhero comics (hiring an artist immediately after asking her what her opinion of Donald Trump is, without regard for any actual talent or experience in comic books). Said new writer runs the comic into the ground by taking characters from other companies without any regard for such frivolities as “copyright law” and (I quote) “using the word ‘lesbian’ 10 times per page”.
Pages like this are the highlight of the book’s writing, wittily and highly effectively mocking the recent downturn that Marvel (And to a much lesser extent DC) has been going through recently. Hell, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine that Jakobi had the infamous America Chavez in mind when writing about the new line of comic books—this is after all, the same character who literally has her status as an “empowered Latina lesbian” mentioned about every 5 pages.
The state of the comic book industry as depicted in this comic (and, y’know, in real life as well) leads Murray, the head of Hero Comics, to lament that “the 90s were better and you know it!”
(For those not aware, the 1990s were, until the current era of joyless social justice scolding, considered the absolute lowest point in superhero comics, due to gimmicky premises, bad artwork, and most infamously an industry-wide fascination with being “Extreme”, “Dark”, and “Edgy”.)
The fact that I agree with this statement, that I would much rather read any given comic from the era that produced this violation of common sense over anything on the market now, just illustrates how dismal the state of the industry is.
The incompetent writer depicted manages to secure her position by telling her boss that “if you pull the book off the shelves, I’ll tell everybody that you raped me at the comic book convention”, and of course claims of sexual impropriety are not unusual amongst the producers of popular culture—while this is undoubtedly a reference to those odious women that have used allegations of rape/death threat/assorted other violence to make themselves wealthy and famous (Emma Sulkowicz, Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, etc.), the fact is that there have been legitimate sexual assaults and other sexual abuses committed upon women by “nerd heroes” and “woke male feminists” such as Joss Whedon, Devon Faraci, Hugo Schwyzer, and most recently Harvey Weinstein. And frankly, I feel that NOT really going into great detail on this topic was a major missed opportunity for the comic.
Instead, we see things like a guy running around smacking people with a wrench and Murray getting raped in a bathroom, which is where the plot begins to go off the rails. Indeed, a lot of the problems I had with it is that a lot of Dingue seemed to just be shocking for the sake of being shocking, rather than being a legitimate satire of the comic book industry. The fact that the writing declines about halfway through, combined with a plot that increasingly makes little sense, and the already subpar artwork, meant that I had a difficult time reading this, unfortunate because I do genuinely like Jakobi’s work.
Dingue was definitely a step down, but there were a few good sparks that could have been expanded upon to make the comic better. The seeds of greatness are there, they just need to be cultivated.
Dingue can be read here