Welcome to the Dahlhouse: Alienation, Incarceration, and Inebriation in the New American Rome, Ken Dahl. (Microcosm Press) $7
Welcome to the Dahlhouse is about half bad, self-deprecating stories about not being able to fit in with society and the difficulties of the ‘zine scene, and half personal anecdotes that are thought provoking and sometimes a bit bewildering. There’s also a lot of angry punk rock, super-neoliberal, anti-American ranting: run-of-the-mill solutionless cynicism that makes for weak comics.
Despite that I read the whole book and enjoyed the majority of it because the panels are all legible and interesting. There are many well-planned and varied line weights with weird, super-expressive facial expressions, as well as interesting
angles and a whole bunch of textures—a lot of the elements that made Ren and Stimpy so memorable. Legible and interesting. It’s a simple enough rubric for making a successful visual story but it is too rarely followed and it’s success too seldom praised among the latest generation of comics artists.
Some of Dahl’s comics are better drawn, some of the stories are more interesting than others. As a skateboarder of many years his skateboarding comic is the best interpretation of the sport I’ve ever seen. His story of a fat, old man posting an advertisement on Craigslist while drinking a glass of wine is excellent and I wish Dahl would put his beautiful caricature on a shirt. Overall it’s a solid little book of comic work.