Daniel Clowes: Ghost World

Ghost World ©Daniel Clowes

Ghost World ©Daniel Clowes

Ghost World ©Daniel Clowes
Ghost World ©Daniel Clowes

#BD This book is one of the most powerful graphic works written and drawn on adolescence and its malaise, the transition to adulthood and its share of existential questions, with an omnipresence of that particular boredom that turns into a golden age once in their thirties. Pre-published in its magazine Eightball among other titles and short stories, Ghost World is one of the best-selling graphic novels in the USA and its film adaptation by Terry Zwigoff is a huge success. 
Le book tells the story of Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca’s teenage friendship “ Bekky ” Doppelmeyer, two young American women who are dejected by their families and this conformist American society. Like many teenagers, their misanthropy pushes them to frequent freaks and the marginalized. Their fusional friendship, materialized by scenes with very funny lines, conversations about sex that no other comic book makes so well and this natural complicity so well made that one will feel crumbling as the pages go by.

Daniel Clowes paints an unfiltered portrait of this strange period when everything is at stake, when people try to assert their personality through codes where cynicism and unease infiltrate all social relationships. 
Enid Coleslaw (anagram by Daniel Clowes) embodies the paradoxes of this youthful age, full of both envy and disappointment at the time of its greatest fragility. The drawing, both aesthetic and clinical, is part of this melancholic, tender and cynical vision of this particular adolescence, which tends towards the universal through a profusion of details, simplicity and realism. Drawings oscillating between sketches from models and caricatures, management of temporality in different episodes, use of two-colour and colour in narrative form and the draftsman plays with shapes, frames and lines for his “ monde fantôme ”. A great connoisseur of the history of comics, the draftsman likes to adapt his style according to the references and discreet tributes he pays to his masters. And this album supports the nods to the great cartoonists of everyday life like Frank King or more modern like Chris Ware. This is more evident in his most recent works and you can read Patience (favorite here) to convince yourself.

Enid draws, art is a way to understand the world and to translate its codes, which are so difficult to appropriate. This heroine’s notebook allows a mirror game between the work and its subject, between the subject and the medium used by its author. Dan Clowes’ elaborate line highlights an essential element of the book’s success: beauty can emerge where we could only see boredom, the poetry of banality.

Winner of an Ignatz Award in 1998, the author also won an Oscar for best screenplay adapted for Terry Zwigoff’s film (watch it, it’s a little different, but at least as successful!)

Thomas Mourier

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, ed Cornelius

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