What is Dorkstock?

by Lori Ann Curley

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-winning1 comic book Dork Tower.

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 at the new Dorkstock.com website.

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 Games (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 NPR 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 popular comic book Dork Tower (DT). Because Aaron Williams' comics Nodwick, PS 238, and Full Frontal Nerdity are 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 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.

The second Dorkstock at Rock Con 2003 was coordinated by The Lady Gamer's own Frances Moritz, who went far above and beyond the call of duty by creating a banner utilizing the Dorkstock II logo. Everyone present signed the banner, and of course, John drew a sketch of Igor.

2004 saw the first Dorkstock West at Kubla Con in California, USA. I jumped at the chance to go to California because I have relatives out there, but I do hate to fly. The Dorkstock room was next to the "Junior Gamers Room" a.k.a. the kids' room, and when the kids needed more room, we shared our space. They were so much fun. I envy the energy of children.

Since 2002, Dorkstocks continue to be held at Rock Con in Loves Park, Illinois, USA; at Dragonmeet in London, England, UK; and at Kubla Con in Burlingame, California, USA. Dorkstock IV is scheduled for November 4-6, 2005, at Rock Con. Negotiations are ongoing for a second Dorkstock West to take place in 2006.

1: 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

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