Caleb Orecchio with thoughts on Dash Shaw’s Doctor Strange comic, and other news


I’ve been thinking about Dash Shaw’s Doctor Strange story in Strange Tales #1 (2009) (above), and how it contrasts to Ed Piskor’s new X-Men comic—X-Men: Grand Design is 100% sincere X-Men superhero comics, as oppose to Shaw’s tongue-in-cheek, yet sincere in its own way, superhero comic. Piskor’s X-Men is a “real” comic about the X-Men, and may affect the canon. Dash Shaw’s superhero comic was to editors and Marvel readers alike, a non-canon, non-consequential story by an artist they’ve never heard of. “Does he work for DC?”

Almost everyone in that first volume of Strange Tales made short Marvel comics that were obviously by an “indie” cartoonist. Almost every story was “humorous,” the kind of humorous that can make a fanboy/fangirl confused and mad that an outside source is tampering with his/her livelihood.

Shaw’s Doctor Strange was very funny and silly, it’s like if Wes Anderson wrote a superhero script. This utterly ignores any characterization Doctor Strange might have, which is why, as an alt comics reader, I like the comic. This is exactly the opposite to the kind of comic that pleases Marvel/mainstream fans.

What Shaw does that is completely and utterly sincere is a homage to Doctor Strange’s creator, Steve Ditko, by having our hero fight his nemesis in “the dream dimension.” Two pages of really colorful and pretty Ditko-esque combat fills our eyes to a high-point on the pleasure meter. I think about these pages often. Then Shaw brings us back to his fun, silly world of superhero parody where Doctor Strange must now stay awake by drinking coffee, resisting a contagious yawn. There is a comical knowingness there.

There is the consciousness of the cartoonist when reading this work that does not exist (or exist in such hostility to the status quo) with a “straight” superhero/mainstream work. Which again, is why an alternative reader would enjoy Doctor Strange by Dash Shaw, one may even say, “that’s my favorite non-Ditko Doctor Strange comic!” While a modern Marvel fan may argue that it is unrealistic that Doctor Strange would make his own soup.


if you don’t know, now you know


Suzy and Cecil – 1-8-2018 – by Gabriella Tito

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Caleb Orecchio

Caleb Orecchio

Caleb Orecchio is a cartoonist living in Dayton, OH. His strip, 'Joanie and Jordie', appears every weekday on the Comics Workbook Daily News. He hosts the weekly Dayton Comics Club with fellow cartoonist/designer, Jason Hart.
Caleb Orecchio

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One response to “01/08/2018”

  1. I think about the dream dimension sequence in this comic so much since I read it in 2011, ha.

    So this question goes to the longbox expert part of your brain: How would you describe the kind of sense of humor that artists have been able to use in the Marvel and DC comics?

    Something I loved about this Strange Tales series was that for once I could connect with a slew of characters through humor. The willingness of these stories to laugh at themselves. Do you find anything like that in the canonical work? Is it always pigeon-holed into meta type humor like Deadpool?

    Also, big ups to Gabriella on this comic, this morning. It’s been dreary today in PIttsburgh and this is the perfect comic for this gray and biting cold.

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