Dr. Id, Psychologist of the Supernatural
Writer: Adam McGovern
Artist/Cover artist: Paolo Leandri
Publisher: Indie Ink Studios
Price: $2 US (ashcan)/$2.95 US (comic)
This mini-comic showed up in mailbox not long ago, but it turns out it’s not a mini-comic, but a preview ashcan of a standard-sized comic due for release later this fall. A superficial glance led me to believe that this was another amateur effort, full of energy and love for the medium but low on skill. But a closer look revealed the opposite. Dr. Id is an odd marriage of satire, offering sendups of Silver Age comics storytelling and touchy-feely pseudo-psychology of the 21st century. That two-pronged appeal is the property’s greatest strength, giving it two chances to connect with readers.
The world is a strange, crazy place, but the strangest, craziest corners of the planet are unseen, as they are the mindscapes of the troubled. Only one man knows of the dangers that lurk therein, of the villains who hide in the breafast nooks of the subconscious. Only one man can heal the psychologically afflicted while hurting their surreal tormentors. That man is Dr. Id. And the doctor is in… your mind! [cue eerie music]
Italian artist Paolo Leandri’s style for the book is clearly inspired by Silver Age Marvel comics, and in particular, by the period work of artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Leandri offers up a solid amalgam of the legendary masters’ styles. The design for the title character is highly reminiscent of one of the villains from Kirby’s Eternals: Kro, albeit decked out in sharper, Matrix-esque garb. It straddles the fence between the mundane and the bizarre perfectly. The script also offers an array of oddball villains that allows the artist to come up with some designs worthy of inclusion in the various worlds Kirby created, from the monster comics of the 1950s to the Fourth World to Kamandi’s post-apocalyptic landscape.
Just as the visuals are Kirby- and Ditko-inspired, so are the stories. There’s a surreal quality at play that’s much more in line with those artists than with Silver Age Marvel uber-writing Stan Lee. Writer Adam McGovern faced the difficult task of transforming an abstract profession into something full of action and visual energy, and the concepts he’s developed for these stories certainly achieve that goal.
After reading the first couple of stories in this book, I feared that Dr. Id would prove to be a one-trick pony, as he uses the same methodology to save the day. Fortunately, other elements and avenues of action — all just as twisted and surreal — emerge as other short stories are told. One element in the book I found confusing was the creators’ choice to credit the book to pseudonyms. I realize they’re trying to reinforce the notion that these short stories are all reprints from non-existent comics from yesteryear, but using their own names certainly wouldn’t have disspelled the campy illusion.
Dr. Id is a fun book, especially for fans of the medium’s past storytelling and storytellers. This was a satisfying read in and of itself, and I wish the creators luck in their pursuit of a wider audience. But this book also feels as though it works mainly in small doses. I can’t imagine that an ongoing Id title wouldn’t prove to be repetitive. The psychological puns were entertaining in this issue, but in the long run, I would expect they would hold a limited appeal. 7/10
Dr. Id is slated for release in direct-market comic shops Oct. 25. For more information on Dr. Id, visit www.doctoridcomic.com.