Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Clowes’

Pay Attention: Poem Strip


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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The 2009 translation and republication of Dino Buzzati’s Poem Strip (originally published as Poema a Fumetti in 1969) hasn’t received the attention it merits, I think. The book is interesting on a number of grounds: as I’ve noted earlier, it belongs to the tradition of the proto-graphic novel; Buzzati himself was an important writer and artist, and the book makes a fine appetizer for his larger artistic career; the themes and artistic techniques explored in the book are also intriguingly connected with other cultural developments of the 1960s.


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Wood and Clowes


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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A photo you can stare at for hours.

Daniel Clowes has never made a secret of his Wally Wood fixation. Wood’s life and career, in all its lurid glory and splendid squalor held a particular fascination for Clowes when the younger cartoonist was starting out, a fascination that continues to this day. One example worth calling attention to: compare Gil Ortiz’s amazing photograph of Wood sitting by a typewriter (found here)with the back of the cover Clowes did for Ivan Brunetti’s An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, volume 2. The large panel with the cartoonist sitting on his bed is clearly inspired by the Ortiz photo.

The entire cover, a fine example of Clowes’ recent move into fragmented storytelling, calls out for a Parille-ite close reading. Briefly, the large panel with the cartoonist on the bed is, I think, the central scene. All the major graphic elements for the front cover and the various smaller fragments are taken from stuff the cartoonist sees in his room. The whole page is about the relationship between the limited physical space a cartoonist works in (the squalid room) and the products of his imagination. This relationship shows elements of both discrepancy (the images the cartoonist draws are more romantic than the reality) as well as linkage (the graphic elements of what the cartoonist draws are taken from stuff around him). Especially interesting is the fact that the cartoon Ivan Brunetti is nothing like the actually existing Brunetti: the cartoonist only deals with the editor through the phone and has an unreal (and hyper-exaggerated) image of what the editor is like.

Clowes cover.

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Gil Kane vs. Burne Hogarth


Friday, October 22, 2010

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Neglected Masterpiece?

Last Saturday at APE I mercilessly grilled Dan Clowes on Don Martin, Curt Swan, Wally Wood, and other pressing topics. No summary can do justice to the gravity and seriousness of this discussion. Clowes was wily and wise and took the day. Evidence is here:


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Two Things to Read, Maybe


Thursday, October 21, 2010

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1. Our own Dan Nadel interviewed Dan Clowes at APE last weekend (armed with questions brainstormed by the CC staff), and from all reports, it went very well. During the conversation, Clowes handicapped the greats (Capp vs Fisher, Swan vs Boring, Cracked vs Mad, etc.), described meeting Al Jaffee and Steve Ditko, and analyzed advice once given to him by Robert Crumb. You can read about it all here, and if the a/v version is ever made available, we will let you know.

2. If you are following along with the CCCBC discussion of Neonomicon (and how could you not be?), a rare Alan Moore essay has come to light that may help illuminate some of the thematic material in that series. If you remember issue 2, when shopping at the Whispers in Darkness store, Agent Brears purchases a copy of The Magical Revival by Kenneth Grant, and later describes the author to her partner Lamper:

This Grant guy, he’s this serious magician who’s still alive in England. He knew Aleister Crowley. … Yeah, well, him, Grant, people like that, they’re serious about all the occult stuff. They treat it like it’s real, you know? Like it’s a science. And Grant, he believed Lovecraft’s whole mythology was genuine in some way. … I just want to see how anybody could actually believe in this stuff.

Anyway, in 2002, Moore used the occasion of a then-fairly-recent Kenneth Grant book to write a fairly lengthy essay on the man and his work, “Beyond our Ken”, which touches on such issues as Lovecraft’s influence, both on literature and “modern magic systems,” magic’s interchangeability with art (“the greater part of magical activity lies in simply writing about it”), and the dividing line between belief and reality. All of these topics obviously come to fruit in various ways within Neonomicon, so those readers not entirely turned off by this kind of arcane subject matter may want to download issue 14 of the occult magazine KAOS, which is available here, and read it.

[via, indirectly]

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A Wilson Notebook


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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Clowes's Wilson

As soon as Clowes’s new graphic novel was published I read it one gulp. But I didn’t want to write about it immediately away because it’s a book that deserved careful and slow re-reading. I’ve gone back to it often. Here are a few notes.

Initial impact. It’s hard not to fall into clichéd language of book reviewing: Wilson hit me like a punch in the stomach. Wilson is such a great character. He takes misanthropy to a new height while remaining all too humanly frail. The phrase “painfully funny” gets thrown around but I think Clowes reached a new limit in telling a story that is both hilarious but also sad and harrowing.


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To Be (or Not to Be) Continued


Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Well, one of my initial impetuses for the way [Wilson] was told was that I was reading the collected Peanuts editions […] And to read them in sequence, it felt like a new way to tell a story, in a way. I mean, that wasn’t Charles Schulz’s goal was for you to read them all at once, that you’re supposed to read them every day. But to read them in sequence, it really felt like it was replicating the way that you remember the passage of time in memory. It – you know, you remember just these sort of high moments, emotional highs and lows or certain resonating moments of a given year.

—Dan Clowes, interviewed for NPR’s Talk of the Nation

I wonder if Clowes is right that Charles Schulz did not intend for his strips to be read all at once. When Schulz first began Peanuts, of course, the idea that the entire strip would eventually be collected in its entirety would have been beyond imagining, but at a certain point in his career, it must have become obvious that the vast bulk of his strips would, in fact, be collected into books. That must have influenced the way he created them on some level, right? Even if he was primarily concerned with the strips as standalone, daily reads (and he presumably was), it could not have escaped his notice that they would eventually be read together, and that after their initial publication, that would be more or less the only way they would be read. One of my co-bloggers (or our readers) might know more definitively what Schulz thought of all this, if he ever said anything about it publicly. (more…)

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When You Least Expect It


Thursday, June 3, 2010

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Santoro strikes.

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Wilson Blah Blah


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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They aren't very likable.

Since everyone else is really digging in and delivering the goods this fund-raising week, I should probably pitch in with a post or two of my own. Unfortunately, I just moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and ten years’ hoarding worth of books and comics have spent the last three weeks packed away in cardboard boxes (as is our scanner, so no images). All comics except for Wilson, that is—left out for my wife to have something to read during the move—so that’s the topic I will write about, half-assed though the resulting piece might be.

Please feel free to poke holes in the following:

Numero UNO: Since when did everyone decide that “likable” characters were important? Because nine-tenths of all Wilson reviews (from comic-book enthusiasts, that is—interestingly enough, “mainstream” critics largely seemed able to take this aspect much more easily in stride) make a big deal of how the book’s flawed because the protagonist is an asshole. At first I just chalked that up to ignorant posturing, but now even the estimable and usually astute R. Fiore is getting into the act, and taking the philistine position. Something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is. (more…)

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New Issue of The Believer


Friday, May 7, 2010

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The new issue of The Believer is out and is chock-full of comics goodness. First up, the fifth installment of Alvin Buenaventura’s “Comics” column. Some great work by Jonathan Bennett, Lilli Carré, Tom Gauld, and others. And Charles Burns ruins eggs for all time.

“Spiritual Dad,” a story by Jesse Moynihan and Dash Shaw, is tucked in the back of the issue. They’ve printed it vertically on a long section of folded paper, so it reads kind of like a scroll.

Gabrielle Bell’s done a strip (in glorious color!) that adapts a poem by Russian writer Sasha Chernyi about springtime and seasonal affective disorder in gnomes.

And finally, my interview with Dan Clowes, which covers a lot of his comics work—including his new book, Wilson, which really is phenomenally good—and his film projects, including the sad demise of his Raiders of the Lost Ark script. Burns, The Believer‘s resident cover artist, asked Clowes’s permission to make him look horrible for the cover image. It worked. His face frightened my kid. Somehow it manages simultanteously to be quintessential Burns and Clowes.

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (4/28/10 – Mr. Wilson & the Children Who Hate Nazis)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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FOOTBALL RIOT AT SMURF VILLAGE – not an uncommon sight, I hasten to add. Those lovable (and almost certainly delicious) blue creatures may be best remembered in the U.S. as a mega-merchandising juggernaut accompanied by a five million-episode television cartoon, but those old ’60s/’70s albums by creator Peyo and co-writer Yvan Delporte (editor-in-chief of originating magazine Spirou for some of that period) were lean, tight little comics, marked by a rather jaundiced view of societal stability. The Smurfs are always fighting, be it from Flanders/Wallonia-inspired linguistic differences (Smurf of One and Smurf a Dozen of the Other, seen above), catastrophic and possible inherent flaws of the democratic system (King Smurf) or an old fashioned insect-borne rage contagion (The Black Smurf, or sometimes The Purple Smurf if your region cares to head off a particular allegorical construction); if this is supposed to be some kind of anarcho-socialist utopia, its maintenance costs are transparent indeed!

Don’t mind me, I’m just counting the weeks until the (apparently) late August debut of the new English-language North American line from NBM/Papercutz, albeit (apparently) to be published at the same smallish 6.5″ x 9″ dimensions as NBM’s Dungeon paperbacks. Still: vintage Franco-Belgian stuff for $5.99 (unless you want the same-sized $10.99 hardbacks) sounds like an okay enough side-effect of the continuing march of movie franchise continuations, here a live-action/CGI whatsit from the director of Beverly Hills Chihuahua and two of the screenwriters of Shrek 2, coming soon, 2011. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as Johan, so you know they’re going all way back into the 1950s Belgian kiddie komiks, by which I really mean the 1976 animated movie The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, co-directed by Peyo himself, having worked in animation during WWII with several future principals of the mighty Marcinelle school of Belgian comics art. Teenage Peyo wasn’t immediately accepted into Spirou with Franquin and Morris and such, which makes it a little ironic that the Smurfs’ international assault left Peyo’s clean but rather dispassionate iteration of the period’s style its sole lingering image in a lot of places, the U.S. not the least of them.

Comics and movies, folks. What else do we have?


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