Believer writer Ken Parille performs “close reading” on 10 of Daniel Clowes’ comics/graphic novels, including his seminal Ghost World, in this prose book of comics criticism.
A central figure in the emergence of the graphic novel, Daniel Clowes has set the standard for literary cartooning. The Daniel Clowes Reader, a landmark critical compilation, introduces new readers to the cartoonist’s award-winning comics and provides those familiar with Clowes new ways of appreciating his visual and literary achievement. The Reader organizes ten Clowes narratives into three thematic sections and supplies each story with an introduction and annotations that will open up its complexities. The collection also includes more than a dozen highly accessible critical essays that examine, from several perspectives, Clowes’s comics and place his body of work within numerous biographical, artistic, and cultural contexts, such the 1980s and ’90s indie DIY movement, Generation X philosophy, and the traditions of superhero, humor, and alternative comics.
Few, if any, cartoonists have Clowes’s range: the collection includes a graphic novel, slice-of-life short stories, comic rants, cultural criticism, a superhero tale, and several newspaper-style comic strips about artists and their audiences. It includes Ghost World, Clowes’s breakthrough graphic novel about female friendship; “Blue Italian Shit” and “Like a Weed, Joe,” short stories about male coming-of-age; and never-before-reprinted pieces like “Justin M. Damiano” and the influential prose manifesto “Modern Cartoonist,” both of which explore Clowes’s interest in the history of cartooning and art criticism. Rounding out the volume are interviews in which Clowes talks at length about his life, career, creative process, and the collection’s stories.