Dilbert - or - How Come When We Have A Perfectly Well-Established Cultural Icon Someone Has To Come Along And Point Out A Predecessor?
Ahh, Dilbert, yes, I love that character.
The goofball, the horrible screwup, the perfect example of the guy you don't want to be.
And his sidekick Spoiler. Funny. I'm telling you, I'd laugh till my eyes bled if I was on their ship. I mean, until someone overshot the deck or something.
What? You don't know what I'm talking about? Dilbert and Spoiler?
C'mon, you've heard it, right? "What a Dilbert". Classic phrase. You never heard your grampa say it? My mom's cousins who were in the Navy used to hear it all the time.
Maybe we're talking about two different Dilbert comic characters.
You're obviously not familiar with the Navy Flyer named Dilbert. Dilbert Groundloop. And his cousin Spoiler, the mechanic.
The cartoon character originally named "Dilbert Groundloop" was conceived by Capt. Austin Doyle, USN and Lt. Cdr. Robert Osborn, USNR in the weeks after Pearl Harbour, with Osborn being the artist. The name was quickly shortened to just "Dilbert" and in a series of one panel sketches on flyers and in training pamphlets, Dilbert quickly became a sort of anti-hero as the classic head-up-and-locked pilot just looking for an accident.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Scott Adams's comic with the pointy-haired boss and the coffee-swiggin oaf and the evil cat confidant, and so on. Even if Adams himself is a paranoid anti-science instigator blog turd. But I digress.
If you want to know more about the original Dilbert, just start here.
Or Google Robert Osborn Navy and you'll find a wealth of info.
I ran across the original Dilbert when I was looking through this book:War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases Since the Civil War by Paul Dickson.
For now, I need to go grab another cup of coffee. The control tower will be fine without me for a few minutes, right?