Monday, August 09, 2004

EIGHTBALL Posted by Hello

I've been reading Dan Clowes' comics for over 15 years now, and its been interesting to chart his progression from the the retro hipsterism of Lloyd Llewellyn to the Lynchian Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron and on to his biggest popular success, the gen x angst of Ghost World. He has a way of synthesizing his influences (notably B. Krigstein, Will Elder and R. Crumb) so that he creates something new and completely his own.

What's most surprising about the novella in Eightball #23, The Death Ray, is that he takes on the superhero myth. That's right, alt-comics cynic Clowes, who's always mercilessly mocked the
world of superhero fandom in the past (most notably with his nerd character Dan Pussey), here writes and draws his own version of the same. The story he tells is not too terribly far from a 60s issue of Spiderman. What makes it different is both the depth of the characters and the level of bleakness conveyed. He also experiments with storytelling and plays with changing
typical comics vocabulary (each "chapter" is drawn as a different strip, and information that would normally be placed in a thought balloon is spoken in a dialogue balloon).

While I thought the story was quite good, I do miss the goofier lowbrow side of Clowes' work--whatever happened to Needledick fer christ's sake?