Dorkstock started in 2002 as a mini-convention within Rock Con dedicated to the offerings of
John Kovalic, cartoonist extraordinaire and writer of the award-winning*
comic book Dork
John Kovalic credits Scott Jensen with the idea for Dorkstock, but he can't remember the details. What I found in my search for the history of Dorkstock was that in February of 2002 a member of the Army of Dorkness (AoD), a.k.a. the John Kovalic Fan Club, posted a message about Kubla Con in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA, during which Kovalic would be a guest of honor. The poster, one Kris Herzog (a.k.a. antiwesley), suggested a "Dork Meet," and several AoD members liked the idea. We'd been meeting at various gaming conventions such as Gen Con and Origins for years, usually at the Dork Storm Press Breakfast gatherings (because it's easier to meet for breakfast than any other meal). In an early February 2002 edition of his newsletter "Muskrat Ramblings", Kovalic suggested a "Dorky get-together, either in Beloit or Rockford." In early March, Kovalic posted, "How do people feel about holding Dorkstock 2002 in conjunction with Rock Con this year?" Kovalic talked of the "dorky" offerings at Rock Con: Chez Geek , Chez Dork, Warhamster Rally , Apples to Apples, etc. Rock Con, being near Chicago, Illinois, would be a relatively central USA and easy-to-get-to place. A large contingent of AoD members live in the area. Plus, a Beef-A-Roo is right down the road. How about it? Kovalic even offered to make t-shirts. Needless to say, the AoD jumped at the idea.
I volunteered to coordinate the first Dorkstock, and I surprised myself by being completely ready by Wednesday evening for a convention that didn't start until Saturday morning. I am a very good procrastinator, and my husband feared that I still would be awake at 4:00 Saturday morning preparing for Dorkstock. The first Dorkstock went very well, and pictures and details can be found in the Past Events section of this site.
Dorkstock events are very broad and can be just loosely connected to the work of John Kovalic or any Dork Storm Press artist. Because Kovalic is Art Director for Out of the Box Publishing (OTB), any OTB game is eligible for Dorkstock, not just the games that Kovalic personally worked on such as Whad'Ya Know? (based on the radio program by Michael Feldman) or 10 Days in Africa. Kovalic also has done artwork for many Steve Jackson Games, such as the popular Chez "fill in the blank" series of games, the Munchkin series of games, and especially the Dork Tower Board Game based on Kovalic's comic book. Because Aaron Williams' comics Nodwick , PS 238, and Full Frontal Nerdity were published by Dork Storm Press, Nodwick: The Card Game is included among other Williams works. Greg Hyland, talented cartoonist of Lethargic Lad fame is frequently included in issues of Dork Tower, especially issue #16 which featured Lethargic Lad on the cover; so games such as Ninja Burger and Munchkin Fu are eligible, too.
No Dorkstock is complete without Igor Bars, which were introduced in DT #19: The Junk Food Issue. I transcribed the recipe for the AoD because I didn't want to take my comic book to the grocery store. Eventually, I became the "Igor Bar Goddess" of the AoD, maintaining the Igor Bars website along with the original Dorkstock website.
Since 2002, Dorkstocks continue to be held at Rock Con in Loves Park, Illinois, USA; and also at Dragonmeet in London, England, UK; and at Kubla Con in Burlingame, California, USA.
Written by Lori Ann Curley, April 2005, Updated February 2010
* Dork Tower has won several Origins Awards:
2001 - Best Short Fiction
2002 - Best Professional Gaming Periodical
2003 - Best Professional Gaming Periodical, Best Graphic Short Fiction
Army of Dorkness: a.k.a. The John Kovalic Fan Club
Officially, we are a group of John Kovalic fans who e-mail each other through our Yahoo! Groups site. The "Charter," for lack of a better term, is for this group to discuss "All things dork...", which we take in the broadest sense. While we are all united in our fandom and admiration for the works of one John Kovalic, Cartoonist Extraordinaire, this group has evolved into a close-knit community of friends to discuss anything and everything.
Some of us of have met. We try to gather at gaming conventions such as Gen Con, Dragonmeet , Dorkstock, etc. However, we come together as a community of friends to discuss whatever we need/want to discuss. We announce the birth of children and the deaths of dear friends and family. We celebrate job gains and commiserate job loss. We wish each other happy birthday for those who choose to share and/or celebrate their date of birth. We send positive thoughts and prayers when someone is going through a tough time as when John's father had surgery [in the summer of 2004]. When someone's child/niece/nephew displays dork behavior (such as a little girl wanting to be a character from Dune for Halloween), we are all proud of our influence on the next generation.
We have splinter lists for very specific reasons. If a line of
discussion (usually pertaining to politics, religion, or our opinion of
the latest edition of our favorite game) devolves into a potential
"flame war", then we take the discussion to Mud Bay, a list
specifically designed for flames. Those who wish to discuss topics of a
more adult (a.k.a. potentially sexual) nature, go to the Adult Dork Tower
list. If you're trying to lose weight, you can join Dork Losers.
My husband does not understand the dynamics of this group, either. He belongs to more traditional newsgroups where the members are not as close, civil, or open about themselves. When my father had a quadruple bypass, and when my mother battled cancer, my friends in the Army of Dorkness were there for me, typing their positive thoughts and prayers and anecdotes for how some of them managed through a similar life challenge. When my cats died in 2006 and my parents died in 2007, the AoD was there for me providing love, support, and even Godiva Chocolates.
On occasion, we will discuss the comic. John posts new comics to his website for free. We discuss movies like Star Wars and anything based on a comic book such as the offerings of Marvel Studios. We discuss games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, and Chez "fill in the blank".
But this is a very different group from other e-lists. We are a community that spans several continents, but we are as close as a phone call if necessary. We are inspired not only by the humor of John Kovalic, but by the generosity with which he lives his life. We welcome all kinds into our community, but be warned: we are different, and in a very good way.
Written by Lori Ann Curley, November 2004, Updated February 2010