House Logo
Explore categories +

Daniel Clowes (#110 of 5)

Review: Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists

Comments Comments (...)

Review: Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists
Review: Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists

Almost eight years ago now, Yale University Press released a thick, glossy book by Todd Hignite called In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists. It was a collection of interviews with indie cartoonists, among them Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware. The book not only reproduced, in its almost 500 full-color illustrations, examples of the work of the artists being interviewed, but also reproduced the comics they read and loved and studied and borrowed from while developing their own way of drawing and of telling stories.

Last month, the University of Chicago Press released a book by Hillary L. Chute called Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists. While it doesn’t have as many lush, dramatic reproductions of comics new and old as Hignite’s book has, it’s nevertheless a satisfying survey of the artists who have turned and are still actively turning the graphic novel into a new kind of literature—and in so doing are now being stamped with the approval of academia and its elite university presses.

Chute’s book contains 11 interviews and spans the range of the comic medium’s creativity, from the artists whose work is fully fictional (Ware, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, and Adrian Tomine), to work that’s closer to memoir and essay (Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, and Spiegelman), to new forms of political journalism (Joe Sacco and Phoebe Gloeckner), to theory and aesthetics (Scott McCloud). Chute also interviews two women who were at the helm of the most important underground comics magazines of the 1980s: Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who co-edited Weirdo with her husband Robert Crumb, and Françoise Mouly, who co-edited Raw with her husband Art Spiegelman, and who today is the art director of The New Yorker.

Dense and Masterful Visions Seth’s The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists and Daniel Clowes’s The Death-Ray

Comments Comments (...)

Dense and Masterful Visions: Seth’s The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists and Daniel Clowes’s The Death-Ray
Dense and Masterful Visions: Seth’s The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists and Daniel Clowes’s The Death-Ray

Two short graphic novels are coming soon from Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly. One, Seth’s The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists (hereafter The G.N.B. Double C) is in black and white, and a second, Daniel Clowes’s The Death-Ray, is in color, and though each one reads more like a chapter from a longer work, they’re nevertheless complete and dense and masterful.

These days, any comic by Clowes or Seth unmistakably belongs to each man—in the style of their lines, the speech of their characters, and the mood of their fictional worlds. They are two of the best cartoonists around these days, often doing work for The New Yorker and The New York Times. But despite such success, there’s still uneasiness in many underground comics about the status of the medium—about whether comics can grow away from its childish superhero stereotypes, about whether comics can be taken seriously as literature, about whether comics have a future. Both graphic novels deal with these ideas.

Seth’s book is a fictional reminiscence about the history of cartooning in Canada. It’s a counterpart to his 2005 book Wimbledon Green, which was a light-hearted tale about obsessive comics collectors. The G.N.B. Double C is one long, digressive monologue, given by a cartoonist wandering through an empty and quiet branch of the Brotherhood in the city of Dominion, Seth’s fictional Canadian metropolis. The man tours the building and reminisces about Canadian comics and the lives of some of the men who wrote them. The mood and structure reminded me of Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark, or even St. Augustine’s Confessions—which is to say it takes memories and builds them into an elaborate physical space, and nostalgia and wonder are the shoes you have to wear to walk through its corridors.

Looking for Mister Wonderful

Comments Comments (...)

Looking for Mister Wonderful
Looking for Mister Wonderful

Dan Clowes’s comics have ranged from grotesque surrealism (Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron) in the spirit of David Lynch, to sensitive realism (Ghost World, Caricature) in the spirit of J.D. Salinger. Mister Wonderful, part of which was originally serialized in The New York Times Magazine, is on the sensitive realism end of Clowes’s storytelling spectrum.

Mister Wonderful is a novella-length work about a divorced, self-conscious, middle-aged guy named Marshall who’s going on a blind date with a girl named Natalie (also recovering from romantic disaster). They’ve been set up by a pair of mutual friends. Marshall says of his lowered expectations, “All I want is someone to eat breakfast with on Sunday morning, someone to read the parts of the paper I throw away (travel, garden).”

Comics Column #4 Mapmaking and the Hoi Polloi (Dylan Horrocks)

Comments Comments (...)

Comics Column #4: Mapmaking and the Hoi Polloi (Dylan Horrocks)
Comics Column #4: Mapmaking and the Hoi Polloi (Dylan Horrocks)

XXIII. “There is only the past.”

Jordan Mechner, creator of the long-lived Prince of Persia video game franchise, released a graphic novel inspired by his games earlier this year through First Second books. A publisher swiftly becoming known for high-quality literary works, First Second usually releases imported works from beloved European cartoonists like Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar, as well as prestige projects from already-known talents like Eddie Campbell or Jessica Abel—the idea of a video game adaptation coming from their publishing house, even a particularly well-marketed book like Prince of Persia (celebrating a major new game release), seemed something of an anomaly. However, unlike most adaptations of a video game into any other particular media—cinema having notably had trouble with the product so far—this book turned out to be surprisingly well thought-out and often gentle in its storytelling. While hardcore gamers who came to the book out of curiosity may have been disappointed at the minimal level of swashbuckling—or, really, any of the superficial elements inherent to the “platform game” video game mechanics—the book is a rewarding, if disposable, bit of fairy tale confection.