Daniel Clowes is one of the most well-known cartoonists of the past 30 years. Starting with his serialized comic book, Eightball, Clowes has written and drawn a large number of comics and graphic novels, in addition to writing two screenplays (Ghost World and Art School Confidential) and having a number of exhibitions of his work in contemporary art museums around the world. The Daniel Clowes Reader is the most recent collection of comics, interviews, and essays about Clowes and his work.
Taking up the largest chunk of the book is an annotated critical edition of Clowes’s most famous work, Ghost World, which includes a glossary, personal annotations by Clowes, as well as several essays on the alternative culture Ghost World emerged in and several personal reactions to the story. As a personal fan of Clowes’s work, each essay was very illuminating in regards to Clowes’s life as well as the meaning or story behind even very small details in Ghost World as well as the other comics contained in The Daniel Clowes Reader.
The second third of The Daniel Clowes Reader contains shorter stories such as “Blue Italian Shit”, “The Party” and “Black Nylon”, which relate most closely to Clowes’s adolescence and adolescence in general. Clowes draws upon memories of his childhood as well as the forms and cliches of comics he remembers from his youth. These stories are Clowes at his most misanthropic and psychological. Clowes has much to say on the scenes he came up through in college and at the start of his career and at many times throughout his work he comes across as both dismissive and nostalgic simultaneously.
The final third of the book contains Clowes’s thoughts and comics on the comic industry as a whole, including his notable manifesto, “Modern Cartoonist” as well as his satirical stab at higher art education, “Art School Confidential.” Clowes has much to say on the Artist-Art-Audience relationship and how that affects his art and the future of comics.
Overall, The Daniel Clowes Reader is a fantastic resource for long-time fans of Clowes’s work or for readers who have yet to delve into his vast library.