The cover for "The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist," edited by Alvin Buenaventura and published by Abrams ComicArts.Link
Page 47: The New Yorker, June 8, 2009. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 86: "Eightball No. 23: The Death-Ray," June 2004. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 88: Original art for "Ghost World", cover, 1997. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 113: Original art for "Wilson," page 77, 2010. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 125: Original art for "Eightball" no. 1, cover, 1989. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 132: Original art for "David Boring," pages 2 and 3, 2000. (Daniel Clowes)Link
158: Single panel from "Mister Wonderful" chapter 1, the New York Times Magazine, September 16, 2007. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 172: Original art for "Wilson," cover, 2010. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Page 188: Original art for unpublished Bill Murray illustration, 2010. (Daniel Clowes)Link
Forlorn faces and fetish grins, the mundane, the daft and the deranged — that’s what you find in “The Art of Daniel Clowes” (Abrams ComicArts, $40). And, beginning April 14, it’s what you’ll see at “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes,” the Oakland Museum of California’s tie-in exhibition and the first major survey of the artist’s 25-year career of quirk, kink and ink. The “Ghost World” artist will be in Los Angeles on Thursday for “An Evening with Daniel Clowes” at Meltdown Comics, but we caught up with him this week for an email interview about digging up the past.
HC: Opening up old sketchbooks and photo albums can be strange, sweet or unsettling — or all three. Has any part of this been a sentimental journey?
DC: My initial plan with this project was to allow my friend Alvin Buenaventura full access to my hoarders-like storage closet of junk and let him dig up all the stuff to go in the book without any involvement or emotional commitment from me. He’s a very quiet guy and often I’d forget he was in my closet until I’d hear him laughing at some stupid drawing I did in a sketchbook in 1987. He was in there for like three years, and just barely got through all the stuff.
HC: Is there something he came across that you now see in a whole new way?
DC: There were many, many things I had completely forgotten about — like entire years of my life. One thing that really shocked me was to go through some of the fan mail I used to get in the pre-Internet days. Lots of people — like a truly surprising number of complete strangers — would write me 10- or 15-page letters, telling me all about the most mundane details of their twitterless existence. Pretty much inconceivable nowadays.
HC: Tell me about this photograph [on the right] that you sent.
DC: It’s a picture of me (allegedly, I suppose, since you can’t see my face) dressed as Batman in 1966, the height of ’60s Batmania. Not only are the proportions of the costume disturbingly wrong — I look more like an impotent, malevolent gnome than a superhero — but the framing by my grandmother is extremely odd and unintentionally (?) artistic and beautiful. If one single image could capture my childhood, that would be it.
HC: Is there something you can’t find — or something that you sold, trashed or gave away — that you wish was in this exhibit and this book?
DC: Actually, the opposite was true. There were lots of things I wished I had burned 20 years ago so I’d never have to see them again, but unfortunately I saved everything.
— Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED