Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Things we like—Daniel Clowes

Hooray for more great blacksmiths, I say!

[[From Writer’s Almanac, April 14th]]

After college, Clowes tried to support himself as a freelance illustrator, but he said, “I felt like I had a set of talents that were of absolutely no use to the world. It was as if I were a great blacksmith or something.” So he started his own series of comic books called Eightball, which mixed elements of old-fashioned comics like Archie with surrealism, detective stories, and autobiography. His big breakthrough was Ghost World (1998) about two teenage girls named Enid and Becky who take great pleasure in hating almost everything about their suburban lives and the popular culture of their generation. It was made into a movie in 2001.

Daniel Clowes said, “[Comics] are in a sense the ultimate domain of the artist who seeks to wield absolute control over his imagery. Novels are the work of one individual but they require visual collaboration on the part of the reader. Film is by its nature a collaborative endeavor. Comics offer the creator a chance to control the specifics of his world in both abstract and literal terms.”

“Somehow,” says colleague Chris Ware, “he's able to blend satire and sympathy, two sensibilities which are generally mutually exclusive.”