What started as a doodle has turned Scott Adams into a superstar of the cartoon world. Dilbert debuted on the comics page in 1989, while Adams was in the tech department at Pacific Bell. Adams continued to work at Pacific Bell until he was voluntarily downsized in 1995.
Amazon.com: To what do you credit Dilbert's longevity and popularity (the most widely read comic on the Internet and appearing in more than 2,000 newspapers)?
Scott Adams: Before Dilbert, there had never been a popular voice for the typical disgruntled white- collar employee. And it turns out that everyone with an office job is disgruntled at least some of the time. In a way, Dilbert predicted the current wave of reality entertainment. I'd love to say my writing is what makes Dilbert work, but it probably has more to do with the recognizable workplace situations and the fact that people see themselves in the strip. Dilbert works best when the characters give voice to what employees in the real world are thinking.
Amazon.com: The Kindle edition of Dilbert 2.0 is split into 4 volumes, organized by business era. Are there signature characters or themes that mark the essence of each era?
Scott Adams: In the early ears, volume one, Dilbert wasn't strictly about the workplace. Dilbert had a job, but the comic was more often based around his home. The next volume involves strips written during the downsizing of the early nineties, at about the same time Dilbert became a workplace strip. Next came the hardest era for any cartoonist -- the dotcom years. During the go-go days of the Internet, when employees felt well-paid and hopeful, it was hard to find humor. Humor prefers dysfunction. We now know that the dotcom era was hugely dysfunctional, but it wasn't obvious to most people who were in it. Then came the modern era, when hope and compensation took a hit, and once again it became easy to do my job.
Amazon.com: How did you narrow down your selections from more than 7,000 potential strips to the nearly 2,000 included in Dilbert 2.0?
Scott Adams: It wasn't easy! I tried to find the strips that were the funniest while also having some meaning, or a funny story attached. But it felt like I was a mother with triplets and someone told me I could only keep one of them.
Amazon.com: What were the greatest challenges and opportunities associated with translating Dilbert 2.0 for the Kindle Fire?
Scott Adams: It's a fascinating process. When you change the physical delivery system for a comic, you can also change the pacing. There's a tradeoff between what looks best and what reads most fluidly. I think we found the right balance.
Amazon.com: What are you most excited about for the Dilbert of the future?
Scott Adams: I'm hoping a Dilbert movie comes together soon. We're working on it, but movies are never a sure thing. A lot of elements have to fall in place. And we'll be doing a lot with Dilbert.com and with mobile phone distribution. It's an exciting time to be a cartoonist.