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on October 18, 1997
I did not want to like this book. I had recently started to join the school of thought that criticizes the "Dilbert" comic strip. The argument goes like this: cartoonist Scott Adams, is making lots of money pointing out the absurdity, the ridiculousness, of much of corporate America. In addition to being on best-seller lists on a regular basis, copies of his strips can be found in many office cubicles. Proof, fans say, of just how apt and accurate his strip is. But now that he has the attention of corporate America, what does he do with that power? He just writes more silly books. Why doesn't he try to change things? He can make a difference but he apparently prefers going for the jokes. As Bob Dole would say, "Where's the outrage?" Well, that was the argument. And I confess it made some sense to me. "Dilbert" seemed funny at first but after a while, like Dave Barry's columns, grew stale. So I started this new book - with a title longer than the list of jibes Adams makes against management - with a grudge against it. But by page 10 I was chuckling. By page 30 I was laughing out loud. And by page 50 I'd decided that I was more interested in enjoying this book than contemplating any deeper meanings or implications behind the strip's popularity. And enjoy it I did. I'd forgotten about some of the minor characters Adams created, such as the employee who has mastered the ability to attach himself to the backs of others. Or the time Dilbert was scheduled to make a speech and his colleagues showed up carrying pillows in preparation. And the time that Dilbert is walking behind a lady when a book falls out. "You dropped this little book titled 'Attractive women's secret guide to avoiding Dilbert'," he said. "Wait a minute! I knew there had to be some kind of conspiracy," he protests while she calls in, with a special phone, "Mayday! Mayday!" Most of the cartoons in this book were included in earlier books but this time he comments on the individual panels, observing where he messed up and what his intentions were. He also announces which of his strips were the most popular. He also explains the meaning behind certain characters and their occupations. "I decided to make Catbert the Director of Human Resources at Dilbert's company. It's the perfect fit. Like (human resource) directors cats don't care if you live or die. And they enjoy playing with you before downsizing you." Adams also writes such self-deprecating remarks as, "I'm not smart enough to be a scientist, so I make my money by mocking them." He also explains an attempt at audience feedback. He created the character Liz so that Dilbert could experience having a girlfriend. "Many readers asked me to allow Dilbert to lose his innocence with Liz, so to speak," he said. So Adams asked fans if they wanted that to occur. "The women who wrote were almost unanimous in their desire for Dilbert to get lucky. But the men were split evenly. Half wanted Dilbert to do the deed and half said, in effect, 'I don't think Dilbert should get lucky until I do.'" If you need to relax and laugh, this book is perfect. Just be careful sharing the book with others at work: half the reason it is so funny is because it is so true in capturing personalities and management practices. And that is as scary as it is amusing.
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on October 7, 1997
This was a great book that approaches Dilbert in a way that is new and exciting. Rather than just having another collection of Dilbert comic strips (which would not be that bad in and of itself), Scott Adams goes into what he was thinking when he wrote certain comic strips. It adds life to the characters to know where they came from, whether they were meant to be main characters, and who inspired their creation. (I'm not sure that I would want to be the inspiration behind some of the characters in Dilbert). Also knowing what kind of things went on in Scott Adams' head when writing some of these strips is hilarious. It makes reading Dilbert (even the ones that I have read before) that much funnier. I have recommended this book to many friends, and I would recommend it to anyone else as well.
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