Top positive review
An outstanding introduction to the Dilbert phenomenon
on October 8, 2003
Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip is simply brilliant; Dilbert is the embodiment of the typical white collar working man. Other comic strips may be funny, but Dilbert personally connects with huge numbers of people in ways no other comic strip has ever come close to matching. It's really amazing how a single three-frame daily comic can say so much so well. I feel a particular affinity to both Dilbert and his creator Scott Adams. Adams' first job was a bank teller position, as was mine. I am also quite familiar with the whole cubicle phenomenon, and while my own work experience was never quite as dysfunctional as that of Dilbert, I can relate to and understand very well the types of management decisions, innovatively silly programs and campaigns, and team-building charades that take place in Dilbert's workplace. You don't have to be a cubicle veteran to "get" Dilbert, though, and Adams' humor is so razor-sharp and grounded in common sense that Dilbert's fans should be and are legion in number.
Seven Years of Highly Defective People makes a great introduction to Scott Adams' brilliant comic strip. Not only do you get a sampling of Adams' best creations from the time of the strip's appearance in 1989 to 1996 and the publication of this book, you get a great introduction to the characters who share Dilbert's world. You can see the progression of the The Boss over time and marvel at the appearance and growth of his increasingly pointy hair, watch Dilbert's coworker Alice evolve from a nondescript female character to the triangle-haired attitude-laced pistol she came to be. Wally has always been Wally, but this guy makes any comic strip frame better and funnier just by lending his presence. Then there are the minor and not-so-minor other characters: Ratbert, Catbert, Bob the Dinosaur and family, Dilbert's Mom and never-seen Dad, the world's smartest garbageman, Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light, Asok the intern, Ted the Generic Guy, etc. My favorite character is of course Dogbert, Dilbert's dog who is constantly scheming to take over the world, creating some of the most amazing jobs for himself to aid him in his efforts. Dogbert gets to say all the things that Dilbert (and his author and I and many of us) would like to say but cannot even think about uttering aloud.
Each significant character gets a little bio-type write-up here, and perhaps best of all Adams has included notes for the majority of the comic strips stuffed into these 250+ pages. It's fascinating to see how little things he did almost on a lark ended up becoming so popular that they had to be incorporated into the whole Dilbert universe. Even more fascinating are Adams' references to the many controversies some of his seemingly innocuous comic strip ideas met with. His comments on his own poor cartooning skills are also quite funny and, it would seem, true to an extent. Of course, Dilbert wouldn't be the same if it came out looking like a piece of art or a Disney-type production. Most people either "get" Dilbert or don't "get" him, and I think most individuals can establish their respective place with a look at a small sampling of the comic strips. Those whom Dilbert speaks to as a prophet of truth blazing forth across the heavens would do well to invest in this significant collection; there are a lot of Dilbert books on the market, but I think Seven Years of Highly Defective People is among the best of the bunch and is particularly appealing to those wanting to review or learn about the early years of Dilbert.