Welcome to the Dahl House: Alienation, Incarceration, and Inebriation in the new American Rome
by Ken Dahl Author
Ken Dahl's 1997-2007 comics are collected in this graphic novel anthology! Includes stories of airport security, the demeaning experience of being arrested, having to sell off his earthly possessions at a yard sale to pay the slumlord, the creative process of trying to write comics about "important" subjects, and much more. Additionally, we are treated to helpful guides to putting bananas in your cereal, peeing in the shower, and swinging at night. 2006 Ignatz Winner! 2007 Center for Cartoon Studies Resident! Winner of 2008 Expozine Alternative Press Award's "Best English Comic"!
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Comments & Reviews
"Somehow there isn’t a bad comic in this collection, and considering the range of time covered in here (at least a decade), that’s astounding. ... I don’t understand why some people get famous and others as obviously talented as Ken aren’t universally known. I’m guessing that with this and Monsters both widely available now that is going to change quickly, if it hasn’t already. And it’s a measly $6 for 122 pages? I’ve seen minis that are more expensive. Buy it already!"
"Very expressive work and he shows a range of styles throughout this book."
"n a world gone mad, the flow of every day life is left to rot and decay. Corrupt police officers roam the streets enforcing the tyranical decrees of “The Man”. Watch where you step, because you’ll be thrown in jail for free thought! No, this isn’t a dystopian sci-fi novel, this is every day American life as illustrated, and commentated by Ken Dahl, in his comic collection Welcome To The Dahl House.
Spanning his various characters and ideas, Ken Dahl paints edgy and strange modern day tales about the ass-backwardsness of American life. Old Punks, Super Hero Dogs, and the strange wierdo Gordon, narrate their way through tales of arrest, sex, and death. From an art standpoint I really love the cooky cartoon feel, mixed with a nice smooth artistic style. In terms of story there are some laughs and some shocks, but I became a bit tired with the repetive “our-country-is-ruined-and-here-is-all-the-corruption” rant. It only became uncomfortable as I constantly felt like Mr. Dahl was sitting the fence between groovin’ Hippie Sign Holding Protester, and Ranting Anarchist Bomber Militant. Over all though, I give it my three thumbs up (The third thumb is from all the radiation the Government dumped in my yard as a child, those bastards)."
See an interview with Gabby from Small Press Expo!
" ...As to the art in this volume, “Dahl House” displays impressive range and talent. Alternating between detailed, gritty illustrations and simplistic Sunday paper style art, Dahl manages to extend his commentary on “alienation, incarceration, and inebriation in the new American Rome” to many foray. The fine line work is able to capture the subtility and extent of Dahl’s condemnation of disaffected American culture, while the broad strokes of his other pieces decry a loss of innocence. To see Beetle Baily’s Sarge transformed into a vicious figurehead of the American army is a profoundly unsettling transformation of a classic cartoon."
"Sometimes I dont understand why some things get insanely popular and other things remain only popular with a half dozen dedicated followers. To me, Dahls comics have it all---skillfull drawing, sharp writing and PASSION. Somehow, 3 page comics by dahl seem as good as anything else---closer to the emotional pull of a great PROSE novel then an overly ambitious GRAPHIC novel. I believe comics can do great things by emulating the scope and ambition of prose epics...but we shouldnt forget that the casual feel of a inky three page comic in a weird zine is its own hallowed art form and dahls comics in that form and pretty hard to beat."
"What a start to a collection of comics: An old punk walks into Hot Topic and knifes the store worker. Talk about misery. This book is full of the horror of lost youth. The social statement is put up on the tee and jacked straight down the fairway. It’s one thing for an old punker to look back and laugh; it’s another to force him to look back and cry. If there was an old folks home for punk rockers, this would be the coffee table book found in the waiting area. I felt that, in reading this, what we call a mid-life crisis, is coming at an alarmingly younger age. My favorite panel is when a thirty-one-year-old decides to take up skateboarding. The next panel claims that it did not last long: We see a guy with a kneecap the size of a balloon and a caption that says “no insurance.” I also like the story at the end where a young couple at a garage sale are looking at the same skateboard and exclaiming that it should be on a wall in a museum. I’ve been there, let me tell you. If ever there was a book that made you laugh while reading and puts you into a dark cloud of despair when you finish, this is that book. Well done, Mr. Dahl!"
"Right out of the gate this release turned me on with the "Old Punx vs." series which is pretty hilarious and self explanatory. Following ‘Old Punx vs." is a scathing commentary on the post 9/11 mentality in the US, told graphically through an experience Mr. Dahl had on a flight on Sept. 11, 2002. This book is worth the six bucks just for this particular comic. Other comics that really caught my attention were: "The Origin of ARMY GUY" featuring Sarge, of Beetle Baily fame, trying to coerce a kid into joining up. "Paul" is a great insight into Ken Dahl’s friendship with a kid that had an unusual family situation and the boy’s innocent sexual experimentation in the shower. "How To Get Arrested: An impromptu skillshare by Gordon Smalls", is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek look at the shit law enforcement puts you through when you’re arrested. This comic is also another reason to pick up WELCOME TO THE DAHL HOUSE. The artwork is terrific, the writing is slick, intelligent, and hilarious and Dahl’s experiences and ideas are totally relatable. Ace work from Ken Dahl."
"I’m definitely into it...The artwork is overall solid, the read is good, and while not everything entertained me thoroughly it was fun and that’s what matters."
Now THIS is a mini comic. Jesus Christ. Minicomic collections from Microcosm have largely been some seriously angsty, self-absorbed downer stuff, and Ken Dahl is exactly what I needed to reinstate my love for the genre.
Not that Ken Dahl is without deep thoughts, he only expresses them with a little more whimsy and creative juice than your cliched, heavily-inked bleakness. Dahl gets his points across with a light and humorous touch and snappy dialogue that ends up being much more incisive than many of peers.
For instance, a rant against army recruitment is a romp featuring Sarge from Beetle Bailey. A Kafka-like trip through the prison system is done through the eyes of hilariously dry alter ego Gordon Smalls. And my favorite piece, a critique on zining and “the zine scene”, stars a starry-eyed fresh zinester and an Underdog-like character trying to set him straight.
From that latter strip’s jaded Underdog: “The real strength of today’s zine lies in its ability to make its creator seem iconoclastic, rebellious and profound… all without actually saying anything divergent, insightful, unpopular or unique!”
Ken Dahl dodges those pitfalls with a fun sense of irony, an avoidance of narcissistic tendencies, and a style that is both cartoony and cutting.
This is great great stuff. And it reminds me of my favourite cartoonist Joe Ollmann (wagpress.net) :D
This book is making the rounds with all the cool kids in town. Ok. They're not that cool, but they swear if they could just get their big break juggling fire or belly dancing or liberating food from dumpsters, they would totally plunk down the cash for this fellow and give another copy a well-deserved home.
I'm having to redefine existentialism after reading this biblical offering.
This book made my boobs bigger! and i learned something TOO!
This is AWESOME! Buy it or you will regret it for the rest of your life, I AM SERIOUS!
The character Gordon Smalls is exceptional. His self effacing narrative is so brutally honest one becomes sympathetic to his reckless actions. Wether he is explaining the dynamics around peeing in the shower, swinging into the night sky, or being arrested, Dahl has this reader mesmerized with the depth of his persona. In a scene outside his ex girlfriend’s window, Gordon Smalls is confronted and in his reaction, he slumps into someone who clearly has lived a novel with this person. This is one among many great moments in Dahl’s work. It is Dahl’s honesty both in the text and the art that makes this book stay with me long past reluctantly turning the last page.
Dahl draws and writes with a whimsical chain-of-though style that is somehow simultaneously incredibly meticulous and charmingly fluid. The persona he describes in his books may be angsty, frustrated, and lonely, but in actuality, Dahl is a levelheaded comic creator who knows exactly what he wants and precisely how to achieve that.
"The collected 1997-2007 comics of Ken Dahl includes all of his minis, short stories, anthology works and unpublished work including such titles as Taken For a Ride, Gordon Smalls Goes to Jail, No! and Blind Fart! "
"If there's anything connecting the various short comics in an array of styles as generally presented in this small book -- the kind that feels like a gift from heaven in its ability to gather scattered, lost work -- it's the surprising amount of tenderness that comes through its pages ... This is a fine little book, and I'd love to read more."
"Wow. Never has agitprop been so laugh out loud funny. When not ranting through his own damn self, Dahl busts out Gordon Smalls, a sort of Buddy Bradley who went to seed. The two-part "How To Steal The Food You Deserve" / "How To Get Arrested" set of skillshares from Smalls had me laughing aloud on the bus, looking like a damn fool."
"Besides being a swell guy, Gabby Schulz (aka Ken Dahl) is one of the great unsung talents in American comics. If I could sing at all, I would sing his talent right now in some sort of terrifying streaming audio that would pop in suddenly while you were browsing some other tab and make you frantically click back here to shut it down. So we’re all glad I don’t sing, because it would just distract from me telling you to buy and read Ken’s comics. Welcome to the Dahl House collects various short pieces from hither and yon into one nice, tidy, and oh-so-reasonably priced package that amounts to a delightful, beautifully-drawn screed against American “civilization” in the Oughts."