Some people find their kicks in slapstick and gross-out comedy. But I prefer my laughs to be sarcastic and office-related. And when the two come together, it’s gold. Which brings me, via the movie Office Space, to Dilbert.
This long-running cartoon strip, created by Scott Adams, is the only reason I ever turn to the business section of a newspaper. It skews and pillories the corporate environment to perfection, although I secretly one day hope to be The Boss, who’s made an art form out of downtreading his staff.
The central character of the strip is corporate engineer Dilbert, whose name is not one that often features on lists of most popular baby monikers. So my challenge for today was to find out where it came from.
And a Google search led me straight to Scott’s blog, and the following answer…
“I developed Dilbert as a doodle during my corporate years. He had no name, but my coworkers thought he needed one. So I had a “Name the Nerd” contest on my cubicle whiteboard. My boss at the time, Mike Goodwin, wrote down “Dilbert,” and I closed the contest. We had a winner. After I submitted Dilbert for syndication, Mike sheepishly told me he realised why Dilbert seemed such a good name for a comic. He was looking through his dad’s old military artifacts and realised he had seen a Dilbert comic before. Since WWII, a comic called Dilbert had been used by military pilots in the context of telling them what not to do. A “Dilbert” was synonymous with a pilot who was being an idiot. It was too late for me to turn back at that point. I kept the name Dilbert, and I never heard from the family of the original artist. Obviously they are aware of my version of Dilbert. I appreciate that they evidently decided to not make it an issue.”
And I appreciate it too.
BTW Scott also uses his blog to answer another FAQ: Why does Dilbert’s tie always curl upwards? Apparently it’s because “He’s glad to see you.”
Now let’s enjoy one of my favourite strips from the series.