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Daniel Clowes: Conversations (Conversations with Comics Artists Series) Paperback – 30 Aug 2010
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From the Inside Flap
Collected interviews with the alternative artist who created Lloyd Llewellyn and Eightball comics, as well as screenplays for Ghost World and Art School Confidential
About the Author
Ken Parille is an assistant professor of English at East Carolina University and the author of Boys at Home: Discipline, Masculinity, and 'The Boy-Problem' in Nineteenth-Century American Literature.|Isaac Cates is a lecturer in English at the University of Vermont and has published in Indy Magazine, International Journal of Comic Art, ImageText, and many other periodicals.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Covering about 20 years of Clowes' career, this book collects up many rare interviews and presents them in chronological order. From his very early Lloyd Llewellyn days to a few brief comments about Wilson, it's hard to find a corner of the artist's career that the book doesn't cover thoroughly, entertainingly and intelligently.
Lots of attention is given to his masterpiece Ghost World: The Special Edition, but also covered are the Art School Confidential film, his years working on 'Eightball', Ice Haven,David Boring and even his unproduced screenplays. Ghost World is my favorite film of all time and he sheds fascinating light on the process of bringing his cult comic to the screen.
I can't recommend this fine book enough -- it will make you want to re-read Clowes' entire output of masterpieces all over again.
I was a little hesitant before buying this book, expecting that many of the interviews might be the light promotional pieces that you so often find in magazines even when the subject is someone like Clowes, but no, each interview here has a certain 'weight' and depth to it and combined they form a very informative picture of Clowes. The image left does not seem far removed from what you might receive from a conventional biography.
There was also the concern that many of the interviews - or even all of them - might be easily found online but I feel I have read every Clowes interview online at this time and in this book there are only three that I've seen before.
The last concern was that, despite the page count, fifteen interviews did not sound like much at all, and still doesn't, but somehow it adds up to make a pretty reasonable read, it's not something I can see anyone blowing through in a couple of hours. If anyone has similar concerns, I'd suggest going by the page count alone. Most questions are answered in detail, there are few sections with short answers and short replies, and I'd say in all, if you flattened it into blocks of text you'd only be down to 180 pages.
Now, to the book itself, I very much like Clowes' comics as a whole but my main interest in him, or at least reading about him, is I suppose in how he physically works rather than, say, the dissection of his stories. I draw as a hobby and to me what is most appealing is in hearing of Clowes' work methods, materials and ideas, and in that area this book is, to my delight, extremely revealing. The book is more than this, certainly, but for this review I'll talk of nothing else.
There is an incredible article from The Comics Journal in 2002, composed of nothing but Clowes' words, which covers his entire approach in detail. Asked about this in the retrospective interview, Clowes says little has changed in his overall approach since then (though what has changed, mostly to do with computers, he does explain). The Comics Journal article includes how he sketches, making outlines with either a blue pencil or a 4H mechanical pencil, and his exact brushes and ink brand are given. It even covers how he approaches drawing figures, saying that he finds it too "confusing" to draw "those art-school stick figures with the circles and cylinders" and instead lightly outlines his figures nude and very simply and from there builds up. Clowes also names The Famous Artists School Course's chapter on clothing as his chief source for understanding folds. There are many interesting details like this.
Outside of this article, there is still much more on this topic. It is interesting, and also rather comforting, to hear that he finds the style of 'Ghost World' and 'David Boring' a struggle. He notes what earlier work makes him cringe but that he does not often get that feeling when he looks at work from the time of 'Ghost World' and onwards. There are also smaller bits of trivia like the comment that the head of Ernie Hoyle from 'Lloyd Llewellyn' was drawn with a circle template. Whether these sort of details interest many more than me, I don't know, but the book is filled with such things.
In all, a very insightful look into how Clowes works, answering many questions that I thought I'd never have an answer to, and overall a very plainly interesting and entertaining read.