Daniel Clowes has been one of the most celebrated alternative comic book cartoonists since he first debuted his Eightball comic magazine in the early 1980's, in which he serialized several of his acclaimed graphic novels, such as Ghost World and Caricature. Clowes has never been the most prolific of cartoonists, but until the arrival of Wilson this week, it has been years since we've gotten a substantial narrative from him, so of course when I heard that Drawn & Quarterly would be publishing Wilson, I've been eagerly awaiting its arrival.
Wilson is a fictional slice-of-life narrative about Wilson, a fifty + year old man, who has led an unremarkable life full of regrets, told in one page installments with a kind of gag at the end of every page, which combined tell a bigger story. Wilson, as a character and graphic novel, is full of misanthropic, angry, and very sad insights into the human condition. An over-sized hardcover, full color graphic novel, Wilson, as published by Drawn & Quarterly, is a beautiful housing for this new Daniel Clowes production.
While the reading experience of Wilson can be a very depressing experience, it's also a darkly humorous one, that evokes the work of other alternative cartoonists such as Ivan Brunetti (Schizo) and Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library). It could be said that Daniel Clowes has taken the alternative cartooning baton from Robert Crumb, just as Clowes has passed on his baton to Ware and Brunetti, but although Clowes and Crumb have fewer new comic book creations coming out, Daniel Clowes (and Robert Crumb) is still a premier voice in the type of alternative cartooning that he does.
Wilson is a graphic novel that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it and this is true of Daniel Clowes' other creations as well, so while I'd like to be able to read more Clowes more often, I also sense that if he did so that the ratio of quality and quantity wouldn't lean as much towards the former (quality) that Daniel Clowes puts out when he does have a new release.
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