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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Daniel Clowes's WILSON

Out now on Drawn and Quarterly, Wilson is the latest work from Daniel Clowes, acclaimed creator of such favorites as the teen character study Ghost World and the surreal odyssey Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. Our hero this time around is the titular middle-aged oddball, whose isolated suburban existence takes some strange turns when he begins to face the reality of growing older.  His somewhat warped perception of that reality, however, nearly foils his search for meaning and companionship at every turn, as does his total ignorance of his own unflappable insensitivity.

Clowes cleverly hides a graphic novel in a collection of one-page strips; it took me awhile to realize that there was a strong linear storyline moving underneath all the darkly funny punchlines.  Page by page, the art oscillates between realism and cartoonishness in a way that I think is meant to further throw the reader off the scent of this novel's serious themes.  The lighthearted approach to this heavy material, as though Wilson were just another gag strip on the funny pages, strikes a masterful balance between the bleakness and humor of real life.  It's a quick read, too- perfect for those comic fans who may be a little hesitant to dip their toes into the pool of "literary" comics.  Take a look!


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