Book Review: The Art of Daniel Clowes - Modern Cartoonist

PrintE-mail Written by P.M. Buchan


Book Review: The Art of Daniel Clowes - Modern Cartoonist / Author: Alvin Buenaventura / Publisher: Abrams ComicArts / Release Date: Out Now

Best known to the general public for his graphic novel Ghost World and its film adaptation starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansonn, Daniel Clowes has won Harvey, Eisner and Ignatz awards for his comics as well as an Academy Award nomination for his screenplays.

One of the world's foremost alternative comic creators, Clowes eclectic body of work is characterised by social ennui, angst and alienation. The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist has been collated by Alvin Buenaventura, comprised of essays, interviews and samples of work from across Clowes' life and career to date. The lavish, oversized photographs and reproductions of Clowes' original artwork must surely represent a treasure trove to dedicated fans of the man, because even though my interest in his work could best be described as casual I found myself poring over page after page uncollected strips and cover images.


The essays dissect Clowes' work in great detail, analysing his working methods, influences and recurring motifs. The book, of course, treats Clowes and his work reverentially, but this is to be expected from an expensive art book contributed to by scholars, art curators and peers that all hold him in high esteem. Luckily none choose to sugar-coat their personal descriptions of the man, so while the picture that they paint is biased it nonetheless gives the impression of containing truthful accounts of his interactions with other artists and the world at large.

For my own reading I seem to prefer the generation influenced by Clowes to Daniel Clowes himself, but reading this fascinating book gave me a strong urge to revisit his graphic novels and seek out the ones that I haven't yet read. To immerse myself so fully in his psyche and come away wanting more must surely speak volumes not just for the quality of his comics but for the love and diligent research put into this book. Clearly the market for a luxury dissection of Daniel Clowes' life in art must be limited, but if the idea appeals to you I can't imagine any possible way that this book will disappoint.

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