The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Inside The Daniel Clowes Reader


At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon talks to the editor of The Daniel Clowes Reader Kevin Parille about compiling the book. The interview will be too esoteric for some, but it’s great to see Parille draw attention to the work of the book ‘s designer Alvin Buenaventura, and place Clowes work in a wider cultural context than just comics:

[It] was crucial that the book alternate between comics and critical materials, and that within the essays, text and images would be carefully integrated — and Alvin’s design does that. I also wanted a diversity of secondary materials: full interviews; interview expects; a piece on Clowes’s children’s literature precursors; a short feature on Clowes’s revisions of character faces (how he changes them from comic to graphic novel); full lyrics to songs that Enid listens to and sings; excerpts from a zine mentioned in Ghost World; and more. When I couldn’t find an essay on a topic I thought should be included, I asked someone to write it. I also thought it would be helpful if Ghost World, a comic more visually and thematically dense than some might recognize, had an index; so I created one with entries for key themes, words, phrases, and objects.

Since Clowes’s comics come from so many different artistic and social perspectives, I include essays that employ distinct critical approaches: personal narrative, literary theory, close reading, historical context, psychoanalytic, etc. In order to addresses a wide readership, I selected writers who are smart and write accessible prose. In unexpected ways, many recurring issues tie the essays together: gender, adolescence, music, punk, grunge/gen x/the ’90s, Clowes’s aesthetics, urban environments, etc. . . . The essays present readers with an expanded sense of what Clowes is about and offer new ways to appreciate his work.

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