He spoke to Digital Spy about Dark Horse Comics' Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad hardcover, which collects over two decades worth of work, and what it feels like to look back on his old strips.
Where did the idea for Milk and Cheese come from?
"It basically came from alcohol, which is pretty fitting, since they're drunks. I first drew them on a restaurant napkin while waiting for food after getting drunk at a ska show at CBGB's. I was sitting around with friends and doodling a bunch of stupid crap. This was in 1987, back before NYC mayors declared war on fun.
"Anyway, Kurt said if I ever did a comic with them he'd run it in Greed. I drew a comic with them, he ran it, one thing led to another, and the rest is obscure history. Milk and Cheese was just a napkin doodle that ended up sticking around for a few decades."
How does it feel to look back on your old work twenty years down the line?
"It's been a very weird experience to sift through all the old material for the book collection. I drew the first Milk and Cheese strip 23 years ago, when I was 23 years old. I'm not the same person I was back then, I don't write and draw the same way I used to, New York City isn't the same as it was then, the comics industry isn't anything like it was back then.
"The early strips are incredibly crude in every sense of the word, and some of them are hard for me to look at. It was sort of like looking through old high school yearbook pictures, with ugly art and lettering taking the place of ugly clothes and hairstyles. A lot of the old strips are such a product of the '90s that I hope people can still find them funny and interesting.
"I have no idea how new readers will see the material, I have no idea if any older readers of Milk and Cheese will find it terribly dated, or worse, unfunny. I realise that like a lot of collections out there of work that wasn't designed to be collected, it might be a tough slog if anyone tries to read it all in one big burst.
"It's comics but it works much like a comic strip, and the strip is definitely repetitive in approach and attack - it's something the characters make fun of themselves.
"I'm kind of ambivalent about it in some ways, as I am with all my work. Looking over everything, there's a lot of iffy work, some terrible work, as well as a lot of work that I'm still fond of. And I think the material from the last ten years or so - which almost no one has really seen - is pretty strong. I try not to be too hard on Milk and Cheese; they're like my little drunken hate children, and I love them even if I'm aware of all their faults.
"I worked hard on everything in here and have to say I'm very happy to see it all collected in a handsome edition. it was also a very nostalgic project to put together, going through old issues of Deadline, and a lot of fanzines, putting together the supplemental pin-up and merchandise art section, it brought back a lot of memories.
"It triggered some middle-age malaise but it was also a nice trip back into the past when I was younger and making comics was in some ways more fun than it is now. At least for me."
"I'm sure it'll happen. I don't know. If someone asks me to do a new strip, I do a new strip, that's kind of how it's worked for the last decade or so. As long as someone wants a strip every once in a while, I guess I'll do one. When I'm 80, if I make it to 80, I might not be interested in drawing alcoholic dairy products setting kids on fire and breaking heads.
"But who knows? I'm immature. And they're like old vaudeville performers who get dragged out every once in a while to go through their routines for the folks who still remember them fondly."
Do you think you have anything in common with Milk and Cheese?
"Well, I hate a lot of stuff. Although not everything they hate, because they hate everything, except for the things they don't hate, which changes often, because they're drunks, and hypocrites, and liars.
"Their personalities are outsized versions of myself and a former roommate back in the day, when we were running around to shows and getting sloshed and acting like idiots, so, yeah, I have some things in common with them. Not a lot, obviously. Like them I love and hate comics. But I don't drink like a lunatic or throw television sets out of the window at people."
When can we expect the Milk and Cheese/Beasts of Burden crossover?
"I don't think I can get drunk enough or get enough people drunk enough to get that approved and produced. I've been trying to get a Milk and Cheese/DC Comics crossover going, but for some reason DC isn't into the idea of Milk and Cheese killing all their characters."
What else are you working on at the moment?
"[Dorkin's wife and fellow cartoonist Sarah Dyer] and I recently finished up some animation development work, I'm working on some solo comics, some things for Bongo's Simpsons line, and Jill Thompson and I are hoping to do some more Beasts of Burden stories sometime next year. We have a new short story running in Dark Horse Presents #6 and another one should run soon after that.
"I'm also talking to Dark Horse about collecting more of my old stuff down the line, and maybe finishing up and collecting the Eltingville Club stories for a book. Fingers crossed."
Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad will be released by Dark Horse Comics on November 23.