In Scott Adams’ Dilbert, Adams has a tendency to convey his points through the use of wit and dry humor, often using a direct and lighthearted approach. Dilbert takes place in a typical office workplace, and focuses on the everyday encounters of Dilbert and his coworkers. There is often a lack of risqué or inappropriate humor throughout the majority of Dilbert comic strips, suggesting that this particular strip is intended for a more intelligent and mature audience.
In the December 26, 2016 edition of the comic strip, one of Dilbert’s coworkers tells him that they need volunteers to go to Mars in the spaceship that they are building. Dilbert then replies that Ted would make an ideal candidate, as he is dispensable due to his poor engineering abilities. His coworker then tells him that Ted was the one who designed the spaceship that will be transporting them there. To this, Dilbert replies that Karma will catch up with Ted soon. (Adams).
Comic strips which appeal to children are often difficult to relate to in terms of their feasibility, and are presented in an unreal, animated manner. (Cullingford) The elements of fantasy and exaggeration are omitted in Dilbert, and this particular edition of the comic strip lacks much color. The background is a greyish-beige color, and the only notable colors in this strip are seen on the character’s shirts. Upon just looking at this comic strip, one may not find it very appealing if their sense of humor does not align with Adams’. In a sense, the colors (or lack thereof) are an indicator of the type of content that is can be expected in Dilbert. The dialogue that occurs could happen in many everyday situations in the workplace, assuming that such a company was truly designing a spaceship with the intent to travel to Mars. However, this comic strip likely appeals to a more mature adult audience due to its relatability and the dry humor that is often conveyed through the use of dialogue. While the humor is often considered to be lighthearted and dry, the use of wit throughout the series is what makes it interesting to the viewers. (Heitzmann)
Due to the witty and intellectual nature of this comic strip, it is likely that children are not the audience that Adams is trying to appeal to. While many children appreciate juvenile, slapstick humor presented in an animated and unrealistic manner, the limited vocabulary in such comic strips also makes it easier for them to read and relate to. (Jacobs) This cannot be said for many Dilbert strips, as the content and dialogue that can be found in many of Adams’ cartoons often reflect the simplistic nature of the strip. Despite the simplicity of Dilbert, a certain level of vocabulary and the ability to think critically is required to truly appreciate and comprehend these strips.
In the given edition of Dilbert, words like ‘engineer’, ‘karma’, and ‘dispensable’ are likely to be foreign to many younger readers. Furthermore, the humor may be difficult for them to understand due to the bland physical activity that takes place: a simple conversation. The lack of expression on the characters’ faces might also make it difficult to understand the context of the dialogue, and that Dilbert is demonstrating his wit through a passive-aggressive response. Those of us who are stuck in the repetitious routines of 9-5 jobs may become accustomed to the blandness of our circumstances, which makes Adams’ comic strip more relatable. It becomes easy to talk behind the backs of our coworkers as well, and the nature of the job that we are in can reflect the manner in which this is done (eloquent, profane, immature, etc.).