Ten Reasons I Love The Cartoon Strip Dilbert
It’s possible I’ve read seventy or more percent of all the Dilbert strips ever created by Scott Adams. I’ve read “Dilbert 2.0” from cover to cover; in addition, I’ve read innumerable Dilbert strips in newspapers and other book collections. Over the years I’ve read Dilbert cartoons to the young son of a family friend, by myself, or with friends. I’ve enclosed Dilbert strips in letters and sent them to locations in the United States and United Kingdom. I easily remember the friends—and even the husband of a good friend—who also enjoy Dilbert. There are likely dozens of reasons—some more easily discernable than others—why I hold this cartoon in such high regard. For the sake of brevity, however, I’ll limit this list to the top ten reasons.
The first is the fact the main character is named Dilbert and not a more predictable and common name such as Steve or Tony or Jeff. As described in another article--a link to "Say My Name: How To Create Compelling, Realistic Character Names" is provided below--
- Say My Name: How To Create Realistic, Yet Memorable Names For Your Characters
A well-chosen character name can improve any story or novel. These easy suggestions should help you start creating compelling, realistic character names.
I recognize the importance of giving your characters compelling, suitable names. In this instance I believe Scott Adams has chosen the names of all his characters, especially Dilbert, wisely. After all, Dilbert is odd enough to be memorable without being unpronounceable and overly cumbersome.
The fact that Dogbert, Dilbert’s canine, isn’t as adoring of his owner as dogs are supposed to be is another reason I enjoy this comic strip. Indeed, he can be downright discouraging. His potentially “evil” or, at the very least, unethical interludes add much humor to the strip. Furthermore, it’s hard not to be amused when he charges Dilbert upwards of ten dollars to pet him.
Dilbert’s lackluster love life is another aspect of this comic I cherish. From speaking too bluntly to attractive females—such as accusing them of wanting the moon because they seek a successful man with a winning personality—to not knowing how to handle them at all, the potential for laughs is great every time he looks for love.
The use of popular motivational language such as “empowerment” and “paradigm” and “synergy” rarely fails to amuse me. I especially love the strip in which the man leading the business meeting is incapable of defining the term “paradigm” after he uses it. Dilbert’s boss is a master at using trendy expressions he doesn’t understand; unsurprisingly, I’m typically amused when Dilbert takes advantage his boss’s ignorance.
A fifth reason I enjoy Dilbert is because he’s such an unapologetic nerd. His nerd status inspires him to believe he has becoming one with his computer and contributes to behaviors such as sewing himself to his couch (a skill he learned, incidentally, from his mother). He even tells Dogbert, “Someday, the people who know how to use computers will rule over those who don’t.” His confidence is swiftly crushed by Dogbert reply, yet he deftly savors his fleeting moment of significance.
The philosophical interludes in this cartoon are delightful. A relevant strip which comes to mind begins with Dilbert asking Dogbert, “Do you ever wonder about the meaning of life?” Dogbert, for what it’s worth, used to until he looked it up in the dictionary. The strip concludes with Dilbert wondering if Dogbert tried the thesaurus since the dictionary was unhelpful. I appreciate these strips partly because many other strips suggest that what Dilbert and his coworkers accomplish is potentially meaningless.
Speaking of Dilbert’s coworkers, the strip wouldn’t be the same without them. Wally isn’t without an innovative idea or two—including wearing his underwear to work in order to get fired because he wants the company’s attractive severance package. Alice can be temperamental, and I find her explosions full of diverting details. Alice’s “fist of death” which she uses to confront the company sadist is one example of how humorous her exasperation can be.
Yet another reason I read Dilbert is you never know what minor characters might appear. Such characters range from Elves with magical powers to a bearded George Lucas who tells an unimpressed Dogbert about his first film. Dilbert’s sessions with a female therapist also add variety to this strip. Lastly, the parade of new employees—including one who has a suction-cup mouth so he can attach himself to other employees—adds to the zaniness of Dilbert’s universe.
The ninth reason I like Dilbert is the fact you never know what might happen at a business meeting. Potential scenarios include the entire staff snoozing during Dilbert’s presentation to Dilbert’s clothing being chewed off by his competitors’ lawyers after he rejected their bid to buy the company. These scenarios are amusing because they are potentially unrealistic. Nonetheless, I believe part of the genius of Dilbert is the potential plausibility of what happens in and outside the office.
Finally, I find Dilbert delightful for the same reason I enjoy reading Zits, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and so forth: The cartoon’s ability to entertain me for moments or hours at a time. Reading one Dilbert strip may inspire me to laugh out loud, whereas reading numerous consecutive strips rarely fails to brighten my entire day. As I’ve noted in a previous article about the benefits of laughter, I generally appreciate anything which inspires me to laugh. I fervently hope this article has motivated you to consider adding the reading of comic strips, whether Dilbert or another strip, to your life.