Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad
written by Evan Dorkin
It’s difficult to tell if Milk and Cheese is a parody of the gritty, over-the-top violence and hyperbole that defined many 1990s comics, or if it’s a comic that embraces this violence with more riotous aplomb than the comics from which it was catalyzed. No matter what Milk and Cheese is, and no matter how hard it is to assign it a definition or genre, it’s a comic that definitely makes its unique presence known.
Evan Dorkin himself, a man whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at New York Comic Con as he quietly berated the costumed people passing by and railed against NYCC’s lack of focus on actual comics, would likely define his own work as, “Shut up! Who cares?” He’s obviously a man who loves comic books with such an intensity that he hates seeing them mistreated, unappreciated, or otherwise poorly created in any way, and much of this anger comes out in Milk and Cheese.
So, what do Milk and Cheese do? They sit at home and watch bad TV until they’re bored of it, they get drunk, and then they go out and injure people who bother them. This is generally the formula for every strip, give or take a step. As the strip progresses through 23 years, Dorkin’s methods of evisceration become increasingly more graphic: immolation, hammers, axes, broken bottles, kicking babies into the street, and so forth. Profanity develops as more subcultures are attacked and murdered in effigy by Dorkin, and you will likely be offended. In many ways, Milk and Cheese is a kind of proto-Aqua Teen Hunger Force. There are only so many ways you can spell “narcissistic, violent food products.”
Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad collects everything: the complete comic series including color issues, T-shirt and poster designs, trading cards, lunch boxes, and many other odds and ends, along with a one-page afterword by Dorkin, whose self-loathing is only matched for his loathing of everyone else. This is a collection for completists. Just about every auxiliary Milk and Cheese drawing is nearly identical: squinty Milk and Cheese run at the foreground shouting something about booze or violence, holding weapons.
While there is a particular guilty pleasure related to watching these Milk and Cheese physically destroy cartoon depictions of subcultures of which you disapprove, you’ll also run into pages where Milk and Cheese can be seen running a fireplace poker through someone who looks and acts a lot like you. Once you see through the indignation and ridiculousness, and that Dorkin doesn’t really believe everything that his characters do, it’s a solid one-gag comic repeated ad nauseam. It’s this repetition which truly drives the immortal, unending, and unquenchable vitriol of Milk and Cheese. Dorkin’s ability to fill vast landscapes with interesting objects, unique corpses, and thousands of tiny jokes is what makes Milk and Cheese enjoyable to read and observe, truly saving this collection and giving it real value.
Obviously, this is a collection for adult and mature teens. While there is no sexual content (save for one page in which our characters are terrified by the very idea it), graphic violence is this book’s main purpose. Of course, 1990s comic violence, even at its most extreme, does not usually compare to current comic violence in any given Marvel or DC issue, so plan accordingly.
Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad is everything you’ll ever need to know about Milk and Cheese. Read it…before they make you read it.-- Collin David