Before Ren & Stimpy, before Beavis & Butthead, there were dairy products gone BAD!
Travel back with me, my friends, to the end of the decade of decadence called the 1980s. America was experiencing a fantastic amount of abundance, and of course was squandering every penny of it. I was a fledgling teenager, who was beginning to see the world around me for what it was. While I was not quite old enough to articulate my own sense of angst, a friend of mine handed me a copy of Evan Dorkin’s Pirate Corp$!. It was full of great humor, excellent art, and fast action, but the real treat was at the end of the issue, with the hidden gem known as Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad!
My first exposure to Milk & Cheese was the story where they go to the mall. Talk about the source of all things wrong with the late 80s/early 90s! Milk & Cheese go in and completely destroy every store-front in the place, and I knew I had found something in sequential art form that spoke to my simmering sense of dissatisfaction with the world.
For those of you who are uninitiated, Milk & Cheese is the product of Evan Dorkin, the writer of the recent series Beasts of Burden, and also a little show you might remember called Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Dorkin published these in a magazine called Greed in the late 80s, then later they were collected into a few issues published by Slave Labor Graphics. The premise is simple. Milk & Cheese are anthropomorphic dairy products that drink a lot and cause all kinds of random acts of violence.
And no one is safe. From babies to old people, from liberals to conservatives, from mailmen to police officers, from hippies to comic book fans, if you are found annoying to Milk & Cheese, you’re likely to get bludgeoned by them. Most of the 2-to-3 page stories are the same: the titular characters decide to go on an adventure. Once on the adventure, they come across something or someone they really hate. Not only do they find satisfaction in decrying the injustices of the world, they beat the crap of the injustices as well.
Way before the hilarious episode of Family Guy where everyone throws up after drinking ipecac, there is one particular scene where Milk gets so sick after drinking just about everything under the sun. He starts vomiting everywhere, and eventually starts puking out the window and on any passers-by. I was laughing so hard I almost vomited myself.
This hardcover contains every Milk & Cheese page that Dorkin has done. Every hilarious panel includes Dorkin’s excellent artwork. One of the things that really drew me to that first issue of Pirate Corp$! was Dorkin’s fantastic line work. Dorkin strikes a balance between cartooning and detailed cross-hatching. He’s also a really good letterer as well. While most of Milk & Cheese is in black and white, there are some later works that are in full color, which is great. I do prefer the straight up B & W version, though, as it really highlights how good of an inker Dorkin is.
However, Milk & Cheese is not for the fainthearted. If you offend easily, this may not be your thing. If you are relatively cynical, can laugh at the absurdity of life, or are just a lowdown bastard, then you’ll want to put Milk & Cheese on your Christmas wish list. You’ll never look at that carton of spoiled milk or that moldy chunk of cheese in your fridge quite the same way.