I don’t know if Dave is all that obscure. According to the Tribune Media Services, the strip’s syndicate, it had 100+ clients, which made it squeak by in the 90’s as a financial success. To me Dave doesn’t seem obscure at all, because I read and enjoyed it every day in the Orlando Sentinel for years. So if Dave doesn’t quite make it as obscure, let’s settle for under-appreciated, shall we?
In 1992, when Dave debuted, Dilbert was really starting to hit its stride as a cultural phenomenon, and whether creator David Miller meant the strip as an alternative to Dilbert or not, I don’t doubt that TMS marketed it with that idea in mind.
The character Dave was a little less dorky than Dilbert, a lot less techie, more one of those office-drone types. Dave had more of a life outside of work and a steady girlfriend. The strip didn’t dwell all that much on character development or plot — Dave was treated as basically an everyman and commented on the life of white collar 20-somethings. It all sounds rather bland, I suppose, but David Miller had a great sense of humor and the strip was frequently very witty. There was also an odd mix of realism and surrealism that kept the reader just a little off-kilter, not knowing each day the sort of strip Miller might have in store.
Dave began on September 14 1992, and was retired a little short of seven years later, on April 18 1999. Contemporary put out one book collection of strips in 1994.