Daniel Clowes is Making the Rounds

The Oakland Museum of California is featuring an exhibit of Daniel Clowes’ comic art, which if I lived in the Golden State, I would definitely check out. However, those of us who cannot attend get the benefit of all of Clowes’ recent interviews with the media promoting the exhibit.

I was lucky enough in the fall of last year to catch Clowes do a Q&A with Canadian comic book artist Seth (author of It’s A Good Life if You Don’t Weaken and Clyde’s Fans) at Harbourfront’s International Festival of Authors. Both were funny, erudite artists and the talk was a blast.

If you aren’t familiar with Clowes’ work, I highly recommend that you check out all of his stuff. Most people recommend Ghost World for newcomers, but I think you can do just as well starting with the high melodrama  and depravity of David Boring or the Lynch-ian Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. All of his collections of shorter pieces are great too (Caricature particularly). Retro fans will likely particularly enjoy his Lloyd Llewellyn stories, featuring his 1950/60s detective / lounge lizard Llewellyn.

On to the interviews:

New York Times:

While talking about his early days as a cartoonist, Mr. Clowes mentioned having “a lifetime of resentment to pour out.” When asked why he appears so easygoing, he guffawed. “I get a lot of it out in comics, you know?” he said.

Onion’s A.V. Club:

I had an older brother who bequeathed me his stack of comics when he moved on to Playboy and Zap and all that stuff. So I was very much obsessed with that. I had like a two-foot stack of old Marvel and DC and Archie Comics and Mad magazine, stuff like that. It was this very finite group of comics. Ones that I just read over and over and over and studied. I remember I read them before I could actually read, and trying to figure out the stories just based on the pictures, and that’s a really great thing for kids to have to do. To try and learn that language. I feel like I understood the language of comics. I had a real fluidity with that medium at a very early age.


When you’re talking about a fictional book, what are you going to say? “Well, I did this book. It’s all in there. Everything I have to say is within that book. Read the book. I have no explanations.” Anything I would say is just going to obfuscate things or throw you off track. I’m only going to give non-committal answers for that reason. Whenever I hear fiction authors on NPR talking to Michael Krasny, explaining their book, I always think, How can you… don’t do that! Don’t talk about your characters like that. It’s so embarrassing.

L.A. Times:

One thing that really shocked me was to go through some of the fan mail I used to get in the pre-Internet days. Lots of people — like a truly surprising number of complete strangers — would write me 10- or 15-page letters, telling me all about the most mundane details of their twitterless existence. Pretty much inconceivable nowadays.

Of course, a post on Clowes should include some artwork. I’ll include his recent cover to the June 4 & 11 issue of the New Yorker (the science fiction issue as it turns out).


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