Wednesday, 05 May 2010

Daniel Clowes is not, per his insistence, one of those comic book readers. The title says "per his insistence," but it would be more accurate to say "per his repeated insistence," as he is incapable of writing a book in which he doesn't distance himself from the poor sods who enjoy genre comics. His dismissal of such readers almost reaches the point of fetish, as if he thrills at the thought of being the comic auteur who produces books that don't belong on the same shelves as Marvel or DC titles. So strong, in fact, is his desire to not be numbered among the lowly readers of genre titles that despite banking his career on sympathetic portrayals of losers and misfits, he lumps anyone who's ever picked up a copy of Detective Comics and enjoyed it in with the Dan Pussey's of the world. Which is only to say that in Clowes hierarchy of worth, there are reasonably well-adjusted people, self-conscious consumers of indie comic art, losers, pariahs, and loser pariahs who read mainstream comics. The fate of the aforementioned Pussey is, you recall, to have his "silly books" ransacked and mocked by elderly iterations of Ghost World's Enid and Rebecca. How powerful is his desire to distance himself from mainstream titles? His new book, Wilson, contains exactly one reference to comic books period, and it serves to demonstrate that while his titular character may be a felonious asshole whose misogyny dresses the windows of a much more malicious psychosis, at least he knows what's what: Heaven forefend anyone mistake Clowes for one of those readers.* *That said, my annoyance here is at the gesture more than the gesturer. Clowes is a phenomenal talent, but just as I can't brook people who claim they can't dig Pavement because they're into Television or the Wire, people who argue that their taste was never sullied by the commonplace strike a populist nerve. That comparison only makes sense if you know people with an unhealthy fetish for '70s new wave who hate the modern.

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