The Complete Eightball 1-18 by Daniel Clowes – The Brooklyn Rail

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daniel clowes
The eight ball completes 1-18
(Fantagraphics, 2022)

Daniel Clowes (pronounced like wow) is one of the most important cartoonists of the moment. In the 1990s, his wildly creative and darkly funny Eight ball The comics were a must read. Although some may know Clowes mainly from the movies adapted from the comics. ghost world (2001) and Art School Confidential (2006), in the 1990s those of us who knew read Clowes. Fantagraphics Books, whom Clowes recently called “the best comic book publisher of all time” (New York Times, May 5, 2015), has been a source of great comics and graphic novels for decades, and I’ve long relied on them for great reads the same way I used to rely on independent labels like Sub Pop, SST, Touch and Go (and so on), for good music. Launching this September The complete eight ball it’s a more affordable, but no less beautiful, paperback version of the now-out-of-print two-volume hardcover slipcase edition (2015). A flurry of press coverage surrounding the release of the hardcover edition was ecstatic about the care that went into producing a historical artifact that’s packed with vibrant art, Clowes extras, and a price tag higher than many expect. of us could have paid in the 1990s.

In a recent interview (weekly editorsFebruary 1, 2016), Clowes describes revisiting Eight ball so many years later as “confronting this alien being, this artist who is me but doesn’t feel like me anymore… you can become a completely different person in twenty years.” rereading Eight ball so many years later, I experienced a repeated revelation that I am, in fact, a very different person and reader than I was in the 1990s. I don’t have much nostalgia for my life back then, although I miss the thrill of putting those steep stairs on East 7th Street to See Hear to find out what new magazines, comics and music were on offer. I don’t miss the rarity of male guardians in the New York comic shops I went to, particularly the taunts I received when I ignored their suggestions and headed for the titles I wanted. Eight ball was on my list, as was Peter Bagge’s Hatred and, perhaps more predictably, that of the Hernandez brothers love and rockets and Neil Gaiman The Sandman. I remember a clueless clerk going through my purchases and suggesting that he was probably buying Eight ball for a boyfriend As if. And this to a woman whose cat is named after a Pepe Moreno character. Rebel and that he had once regularly given up food to buy the latest 2000 AD.

One aspect of Eight ball What kept me coming back for more was the irresistible strangeness of the very dark, serialized mystery “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” that appeared on Eight ballThe first ten numbers of . It’s pretty much the story of a man, Clay Loudermilk, who sees a scheming woman in a movie, tries to find her, and finally comes to a bad end. The black and white panels resonated with me, connecting in that moment with my own personal soundscape and the visual world of independent music, film, books and art. I’ve never had as deep an understanding of art as some of my friends, but to quote that overused line, I know what I like when I see it. I liked “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” so much that I still have two pieces signed by Clowes, and I’m not usually a person who owns art. When Clowes mentioned in a recent interview (nerd) the influence on his work of the “crazy and surreal cinema of [Luis] Bunuel” and Sam Fuller crash runner Y the naked kiss, something finally clicked, and the power of those black-and-white panels suddenly made sense. I love it when something I knew subliminally comes out like that! I was lucky enough to have friends from film school who dragged me to screenings of anything, and while Fuller and Buñuel’s films were confused with those of Richard Kern and Nick Zedd, the prevalence of lurid black-and-white imagery was central to my visual experience of Clowes’s work. Unlike the superhero and antihero comics and manga also being offered at the time, Clowes featured variety, humor, and an oddity that he understood.

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Clowes has also mentioned that crazy magazine was an influence on his work, and that he wanted to produce comics that were anthologies, not just a single story. But he also wanted to do all the work himself. This is another reason why Eight ball it worked/works so well: it’s a bit like a buffet of oddities, all done by one person. Some people love the social commentary in shorts like “On Sports” (baseball bats as dicks, etc.) and “Ugly Girls,” or Lloyd Llewellyn’s bitterly caustic voice in “I Hate You Deeply” (with dialogue brilliant that in the end time often looks a lot like the people he knew) and, of course, the serialized story of the rise and fall of young comic book genius Dan Pussey. Some of the shorts are laugh-out-loud fun, others are quickly unsettling (“My Suicide”), and a few short pieces lead to other creative endeavors for Clowes (“Art School Confidential”). As each issue changes through different story lines, the art changes too: black and white is primary, but there’s also color, and realistic lines become colorful cartoons (see the brutal parody of “Richie Rich” on “Playful Obsession”). and the treaty-influenced imagery of Jack Chick in “Devil Doll?”

Of course, some Clowes fans discovered his work through “Ghost World,” a serialized story that appeared beginning in issue #11. Eight ball after “Like A Velvet Glove…” ended. If you haven’t seen the movie based on the comic, “Ghost World” centers on two cool young women during the summer after they graduate from high school. Clowes uses her sharp dialogue and characterization skills to present her caustic and often hilarious conversations, thoughts, wishes, and judgments of others as they go through their lives. Published in 1997 as a graphic novel, ghost world it is Clowe’s best attempt at presenting female characters as more than objects of desire or mockery. And it’s brilliant. The 2001 film (directed by Terry Zwigoff) deservedly earned Clowes an Academy Award nomination and if she hasn’t seen it, she should. Thora Birch is lovely as Enid Coleslaw and Steve Buscemi is always a joy to watch.

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Among the glorious aspects of The complete eight ballAdding to the deep dive this reissue allows the reader to take are the notes Clowes adds in sections he calls “Behind the Eight Ball.” These sections provide information on his process, influences, and other details about each issue, including details of nightmares and printing disasters. I’m not a comic book artist, but I found these snippets incredibly interesting, partly because I like to learn things and partly because Clowes uses a welcoming, conversational tone that serves to draw any reader in, as if we were listening to him talk about his comic art. the least pretentious way possible. And that’s part of the appeal: this isn’t some fancy private club you can’t join if you don’t know the inside jokes and secret passwords. Eight ball was as important then as it is now: because Clowes is telling stories, not superhero stories, juvenile male fantasy escapist stories, but real stories with real characters living real lives, and maybe weirder than the average reader, but they are people all the time. same. Clowes is of course an accomplished artist and anyone who wants to see good comics should read this book. But he’s also a storyteller, and as long as the images of him last, seeping into that collage of all the powerful art that’s out there if you look for it, for me it’s the combination of image and story that gives Eight ball its lasting power. In a recent piece on the new yorkerClowes mentions doing Eight ball “to see if it somehow transmitted something to someone else.” She did and continues to do so.

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