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Daria DVD collection episodes guide

2012 January 27

Here’s another little spare-time project I’ve produced for my own amusement, and now offer to the world under the heading of “free stuff.” It’s a list of episodes from the MTV series Daria, sorted by season and which disc they appear on in “The Complete Animated Series” DVD compilation:

Click this link to download as a print-ready PDF

Image links to a print-resolution PDF (though this PNG file might still give you printing quality similar to that of the actual DVD case packaging)

And with the main content appropriately posted up at the beginning, for a change, I’ll now proceed into the usual progressively more ramble-y notes and commentaries.

By way of a bare-floor explanation, Daria was an animated series shown on MTV from 1997 to 2002. A couple of years ago, MTV thoughtfully released the whole thing in a nice, compact DVD collection; this review at the long-running fan site “Sick, Sad World” is about as thorough an evaluation as you could want but I’m pretty much in agreement: “this is probably as good as it’s going to get.” It’s quite good enough for me, really, except, there are something like several dozen episodes spread across eight DVDs, with some seasons split between three discs, and no guide whatsoever to what’s where.

So, naturally, I decided to just make my own. Using as reference the episode listings from “Sick, Sad World,” which site is again a remarkably durable, and indispensable, resource.

As regards the design…

This was an interesting design challenge. Functionally, my only object was a list of the episodes (and the two “movies,” also included) sorted by which disc they appear on. (I did give some thought to a more-detailed guide, with at least a brief line about each episode’s content, but I decided to just get this done first, and maybe some day.)

In terms of style, I wanted it to look nice, as well as “fit” with everything else, and it’s that last part which was the biggest challenge. Because from a graphic design standpoint, there really wasn’t that much to go on. The show itself never included much in the way of a typography system or decorations which would really lend themselves to document design. There were a couple of books published, years ago, along with some other merchandise, but I’ve never owned any of it. So I pretty much just had the DVD case insert, itself, to work with.

Which was, while allowing for some issues of personal taste, of limited help. There was a kind of black bars, boxes, fields of solid blue system, generally. I was able to extend that easily enough. Typographically, however, there was really just the Daria logotype, and then everything else was in a kind of squiggly handwriting font. Which I probably could identify, or substitute, but I didn’t really want to; I’m just not sold on the concept.

I ended up keeping it for “The Complete Animated Series” for consistency, and then making my own type choices for everything else. Myriad offered flexibility, as well as a slightly casual feeling which seemed to respect the cartoon-world visual style of the show. Then I switched things up by using the serif typeface Transitional 511 for the disc numbers, just for the sake of quirkiness, basically.

In terms of layout, nothing really complex, here; I could have approached the parallel division of episodes (by season and disc number) various ways but just went for understated. Nothing else in the DVD packaging is remotely “over-designed,” and if you actually have the DVD set (which is the point of this guide) then in context it should be perfectly easy to follow.

Color was also an interesting puzzle. The whole DVD set makes use of fields of flat blue, and yellow is kind of a secondary color, as is gray. The gray just seemed “blllah,” and while I was fine with the blue and yellow, by themselves they posed another problem. Splashing the whole thing in the school colors of Daria’s fictional Lawndale High just felt wrong, given that the show is really premised on its main character being the antithesis of a rah-rah-school type. Ironic, maybe, but still wrong.

So after some trial and error, I settled on balancing things out with a few other colors, which I drew from the wardrobes of Daria and her best-pal-co-outcast Jane. (And you could make some further claim about the design representing the pair’s presence out on the margins of conformist high school society, but I really just thought this looked better.)

All in all, I feel pretty good about the result. I think it matches the rest of the DVD packaging reasonably well, it looks pleasing and fun in a sort of oddball way, and it also looks, somehow, very very “90s.” At least, to me (and as it’s my project, in this case my subjective judgment carries the day).

One other note, though not really about design, I actually think the best element of this project may be the little line of trademark copy, which I just lifted directly from the DVD package. Including its multiple hilarious mis-spellings, my favorite being “Baria.” Followed by a little sarcastic comment, which is I think just delightfully perfect for a Daria-related project.

As regards the show…

Yeah, Daria. Man, what a flashback.

The character Daria first appeared in a minor role on Beavis and Butt-head, then through some inexplicable quirk of chance and inspiration got her own very different series, also on MTV. Of all places.

I can’t claim that I was ever a really super-dedicated fan, but the show definitely made an impression on me. I presume that most of the show’s fans related to its themes, to some extent. But I think I personally came fairly close to actually being Daria Morgendorfer (though I’m probably not alone in that either), aside from being male, somewhat more involved in extracurricular activities and maybe a bit more socially isolated (if that’s possible).

Of course I was in college when Daria debuted on the air, though I think that might actually have been the ideal age to appreciate the show; arguably it was a lot easier to laugh at what a sadistic Hell is the typical American high school once one is safely off at college and no longer living the nightmare, personally.

I’ve no idea how much the show is already a product “of its time,” from the perspective of a younger generation, though for me it still resonates to a remarkable degree. I’ve got, I don’t know, eight episodes or so mostly from the first season on a VHS cassette, which I’ve watched and laughed at over the years. But sitting down and watching most of the series, evening after evening over the course of a couple of weeks, was rather more of an experience than I’d bargained for.

Granted that life was a little more stressful than usual, around that time. And granted that I’m fairly easily affected by fiction (more recently I’ve been watching another 1990s cult-favorite, Millennium, and that’s about as intense as I can sit through and still sleep at night with reasonable regularity). But, however individual a reaction it may have been, revisiting Daria in volume in my early 30s was just weird.

It’s just so different, I suppose, from almost anything I watch or read these days, being essentially teenage drama soaking in awkwardness and angst. And, at the same time, this was of course all too familiar from the perspective of numerous usually-dormant memories. And beyond that, credit the show’s writers as I really just like the show’s two protagonists and sympathize with them, and genuinely feel bad when they’re put through some ordeal or other.

Which is often, especially later in the show’s run; it turned out that I had seen a little more of the series than I thought, but most of season three and onward was new to me, with the exception of the two “movies” which I saw somewhere, at some point. (Since graduating and moving out on my own, I’ve never had cable TV.) I was pleasantly surprised with how well the show seemed to hold up, even into the later seasons. Probably the most fascinating “discovery” was the final regular-season episode, “Boxing Daria,” which is probably also the most 0vert example of the show having a real dark side beyond just black-humor laughs.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it… I’ll very likely always love this show, though looking back on it now I do get a genuine feeling of relief that high school finally ended for Daria… and for me. So glad that’s over with.

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