The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'daniel clowes'
An interview with underground comic author Daniel Clowes, in which he talks about a number of things, such as the pitfalls of hipster parents trying wrongheadedly to introduce their kids to interesting culture (and, in the process, making it deeply uncool):
I think about that a lot with my son. I don’t want to inflict the stuff I like onto him. He’s only eight, so right now I could get him to like anything, pretty much, but when he’s a few years older I really don’t want him to respond to anything because I like it too much or not enough. I want him to sort of find his way into his own stuff, so it’s something I have to constantly modulate. I don’t want him to associate this music with me, I want him to discover it on his own and then I’ll go like, “Well, I happen to have all their records!”In short, you may be hip and credible, but once you have kids, your position as a parent will, in the eyes of your kids, be like antimatter to all the cred you have carried forth from your bourgeois-bohemian extended adolescence. And so, a generation is produced to whom Black Flag and Pavement will be as naff as, say, Engelbert Humperdinck or something. Or, in the post-loungecore, post-Yacht Rock age after irony has folded in upon itself, perhaps it's the act of having opinions about music that will carry a patina of daddish uncool, with record collections and discographies being inherently cringeworthy; perhaps, to the hip kids, music will be, as Jarvis Cocker put it, like a scented candle, a ubiquitous low-value commodity beneath caring about.
And now is the era of the Cool Dad. I know lots of parents who I just think, like, “God, if my parents had been like that I would’ve been into all this cool stuff.” Luckily they weren’t, so I discovered all that stuff on my own and they sort of disdainfully shook their heads at the stupid stuff I was interested in. But there are a lot of things that I don’t respond to. I’m not into video games, so I can just see my son becoming, like, a video-game tester as his job or something. Developing video games.Clowes touches on the mainstreaming of comic-book/nerd culture:
When I was in high school, if I’d gone up to a girl and said, “Would you like to go read some of my Thor comics with me?” they would’ve just thought I was the lowest form of human life. That would’ve been so unimaginable. I was actually on the subway in New York and saw this, like, Attractive Teenage Couple, and the guy was like, “Hey, wanna go see Thor tonight?” and the girl was like, “Yeah, yeah.” And I just thought, that is just blowing my mind that that is happening right in front of me.And touches on the way that, by reducing the amount of friction required to discover something, the internet has reduced the value of merely knowing about cultural products as badges of belonging:
I could tell you right now about some obscure filmmaker and you could know more about him by midnight than I would’ve been able to find out in 10 years when I was your age. But I don’t know that it would mean much to you unless you really connected to the guy and kept following it and doing more and more research. It’d just be like, “Yeah, I know about that guy,” and then you’d move on to the next thing. There’s something about having it be like a mystery that you have to solve and figure out that really connected you to this weird culture back then.
It also used to be like, you’d buy an album by a recording artist and there’d be one or two good songs on it, and there’d be all the rest that were just kind of to fill up the album, and you’d work your way through that and learn to like the other songs after a while, and then you’d wait till the next album came out. And now it sort of feels like everything is all the greatest hits. You learn about a musician and you immediately can figure out what their 10 greatest songs are, and you just listen to those and you don’t experience the full breadth of their failures and mishaps and all that stuff. I feel like that’s how all culture is. And I’m as guilty as anybody else now—if I hear about an author or something I go straight for their most well-known book and read that first, and, you know, I don’t have that experience of kind of building up to that. You don’t wanna read the rest of their books after that because you figure, “Well, I’ve already read the best one. It’s not gonna be much better than that.”The interview also touches on the settings of Clowes' works, the aura of alienation in his characters, and his aesthetic formative experiences having been a reaction to the cultural upheavals of The Sixties:
As a kid I loved the look of the early ’60s, kind of the pre-hippie era, just the haircuts and clothes and the way women dressed, it was really appealing. And then all of a sudden people started wearing, like, filthy clothes and messy hair and stuff. That seemed really hideous and horrible to me. It definitely relates to what was going on in my life at the time because, as with many kids who grew up then, my family was just disintegrating while all that stuff came in, so it represented this chaos that was entering my life. But I still have an affection for that pre-1968 look, that kind of saturated Technicolor look. That seems like the real world to me, or like the way things should be.
McSweeney's Internet Tendency has a detailed interview with underground comics author Daniel Clowes, in which he sheds light on his early career with Cracked! magazine (which he describes as being like methadone for MAD Magazine addicts, and reels off a comprehensive list of various MAD clones and their nebbish mascots), the genesis of Ghost World and its making into a film, the art of writing/drawing comics, and numerous other things:
I used to tell people I was a "comic-book artist," but they'd look at me as if I'd just stepped in dog shit and walked across their Oriental rug. I never knew what to call myself, but I was always opposed to the whole "graphic novelist" label. To me, it just seemed like a scam. I always felt that people would say, "Wait a minute! This is just a comic book!" But now, I've given up. Call me whatever you want.
Whenever a musician isn't happy with the quality of an early record and records it again with a "better" band, it's never better. It's like when Paul McCartney re-recorded "Eleanor Rigby" in the  movie Give My Regards to Broad Street. Did "Eleanor Rigby" need to be re-recorded? The original work is connected to a specific moment of time; it's never going to become "better." Even when I do a new cover for one of my old books, it always seems sort of condescending to the material.
You just mentioned a movie I'm not familiar with: Scarlet Street. What is it about?
It's a strange movie. People always think of film noir as a genre of violent action. To me, noir is more about a state of anxiety and profound loneliness − an awareness of the quotidian grimness of the postwar world. Scarlet Street is about a poor, ugly loser [Edward G. Robinson] who gets hoodwinked by a horrible woman and her pimp, almost willingly so, since even this cheap thrill is preferable to his emasculated existence with his harridan wife.
The original version, directed by Jean Renoir, is even better. The  movie is called La Chienne, which translates to "the bitch." I'm not even sure "the bitch," in this case, refers to the prostitute as much as life itself.
I never really considered Ghost World to be a teen film. To me, it was more about these two specific characters working through something −l something very personal to me. I wasn't necessarily trying to communicate with teenagers, and I never really imagined they would be as much of our audience as they have.
(via Boing Boing)
Read: Mister Wonderful, a graphic story by Daniel Clowes, dealing with modern alienation, though this time in middle age.
Interestingly, the PDF files contain the unrasterised line art; when OSX Preview shows the pages, it draws it in layers, first the neat shapes of colour, then outlines and shading, then speech/thought bubbles and text.
(via Boing Boing)
An interesting article about Jack Chick, author of numerous Christian Fundamentalist crackpot tracts and ironic inspiration to several generations of underground comics artists, including Daniel Clowes and Robert Crumb.
When Clowes, whose screenplay for the indie film Ghost World received an Academy Award nomination, was in college, he read 80 Chick tracts in one sitting. "By the end of the night I was convinced I was going to hell," he says. "I had never been so terrified by a comic book."
The movie will consist of a series of oil paintings that the camera will dramatically pan across to give the appearance of movement. Carter has completed most of the paintings, which are being stored in the offices of Chick Publications. Fans have encouraged me to try to see them. Kurt Kuersteiner, Web master of the Jack Chick Museum of Fine Art (an online fan site that carries news and reviews of nearly all of Chick's works), describes them as modern masterpieces. "There is this beautiful picture of people languishing in hell, with a dragon's head blowing hot flames," he says.
(Hang on, isn't "Kurt Kuersteiner" an alias used by SubGenius church figure Janor Hypercleats?)
I finally went to see Ghost World. I enjoyed it; it's a good film about outsiderhood and alienation in the (post)modern world. The main character, Enid, is sort of the anti-Amélie; an over-intellectual, sarcastic (almost to the point of misanthropy) 18-year-old girl, who has just graduated from high school, and hides her existential insecurity beneath an armour of defensive irony and sarcasm. Like Audrey Tautou's character, she is also a misfit, an outsider, not belonging with the people around her; though she's not particularly nice. The film had a subtly cartoonish air about it, populated with caricatures; the main characters, however, are quite realistic and complex; the portrayal of Enid, for example, balances irony and sincerity quite well.
(Oh yes, and they have the addition of Seymour the record collector, who wasn't in the graphic novel (or at least didn't have a name); fortunately, his interaction with Enid isn't the usual cloying romantic-comedy fare about kindred spirits finding each other and love conquering all and all that Working Title/Miramax schmaltz. They didn't make a High Fidelity out of it, thankfully.)
I usually only go to see films with other people; though this time I'm glad I saw Ghost World alone; this is the sort of film whose effect would be spoiled by seeing it in a group as part of a social activity.
I'll probably get this on DVD when it comes out.