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Dr. Id, Psychologist of the Supernatural

Written by Adam McGovern and illustrated by Paolo Leandri
Indie Ink Studios
32-page comic book, $2.95

This shouldn't work. Comics shops are awash in high-concept titles that play off of the history and tropes of the funnybook industry, but only a few develop enough of a personality to survive on their own -- think Wolff and Byrd—Counsellors of the Macabre, Flaming Carrot and a handful of others. It's a difficult trick to pull off precisely because there's no specific audience clamoring for this sort of thing. Creators going down this route must come up with a concept simultaneously familiar to readers yet novel enough to make them pick it up expecting a laugh. You also need to convince retailers that they haven't seen this before; the market nearly drowned in titles with such concepts during the black-and-white boom of the late 1980s, and surviving comics-shop owners tend to have long memories about such matters.

 

This panel and below sequence: Who needs Viagra to cure sexual dysfunction when you've got Dr. Id? ©2006 Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri

 

It's entirely possible that McGovern and Leandri may beat the odds with retailers. The book itself certainly pulls off the hat trick: Pretending to be a collection of reprints from a Wondrous Comics title from the Swingin' Seventies, Dr. Id combines that decade's psychobabble and willingness to take things like mood rings and "pyramid power" seriously with the mystical and weird sorts of adventures Marvel was publishing around the time Roy Thomas was editor-in-chief. Clearly based on the Doctor Strange model, Dr. Id is an after-midnight psychologist who uses astral projection and Jungian methodology to cure things like sexual impotence, Oedipal guilt and drug abuse, all conveniently the fault of Ditko-esque supernatural hobgoblins and evil villains with a tendency to say things like, "Defeat me if you dare cross my Doorway of Despair, Doctor!"

 

 

McGovern's writing walks the fine line between earnestness and parody needed for books like this, but it's Leandri's art, a slick cross between Jack Kirby and Michael Allred, that really seals the deal. Dr. Id looks and reads like a solid example of the sort of comics that it affectionately mocks, and at 32 pages, it's short enough not to overplay the joke. I can't imagine this thing supporting a regular series, but as an object unto itself, it's an entertaining little diversion.

 

This essay appeared on the then-website of The Comics Journal sometime between 2006 and 2008.

 

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