Authors: Daniel Clowes
Illustrators: Daniel ClowesPublisher: Fantagraphics
Genre: Graphic Novel
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I Can’t Relate To 99% Of Humanity
If The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caufield ever had a twin it would have to be Ghost World’s Enid Coleslaw. These two characters hate everything about the world. Every person. Every place. Every thing. On and on it goes. While Catcher in the Rye builds towards an emotional climax that finally reveals the one thing Holden does enjoy, Enid’s on the other hand is left in a lot of ambiguity.
Ghost World is a segment from author Daniel Clowes’s Eight Ball series. Since its release in the mid-90s, it has become a cult classic amongst readers, and it was even turned into a critically acclaimed film that continues to make its way onto Top-10 comic film adaptation lists everywhere. The acclaim is not undeserved as Clowes crafts an engaging story about two teenage girls and their transition to adulthood.
The story focuses primarily on Enid Coleslaw (an anagram for Daniel Clowes) an eighteen-year-old woman that’s just finished high school. Not sure what to do with her life she and her best friend Rebecca Dopelmeyer randomly scrounge around their slowly wasting away hometown, oftentimes making fun its various establishments and residents. It’s clear that the Enid and Rebecca are very self-absorbed, and their lack of compassion for everyone and everything may make them hard to relate to.
Credit to Clowes though for making them relatable despite their near constant negativity. They become endearing instead through various issues that are explored in the story, many of which are issues I’m sure people can relate to. These range from figuring out your sexual identity, to becoming comfortable in your own skin, and to figuring out how to adapt your friendships as you transition from childhood to adulthood. Where Catcher in the Rye and Perks of Being A Wallflower rely heavily on narration to drive their points home, Clowes has to rely almost exclusively on dialogue. What results is one of the most authentic friendships – albeit it’s a dysfunctional one – that you could find in any storytelling medium.
Attention to detail is the other part that makes this story so special. The artwork captures a lot of moments where words would otherwise fail. As for the story, Clowes has a knack for zooming in on a lot of the smaller moments in life and turning them into small works of art. For the adults whose chose to read this, enjoy your trip down memory lane.
Coming of age stories have always made for some real emotional storytelling. Out of the most famous coming of age stories that come to mind that reflect pretty accurately upon growing up in the United States are the before mentioned Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Ghost World,despite being a graphic novel is certainly on the same level as those two novels. This isn’t literature, but Clowes’s story certainly proves that graphic novels should be just as highly regarded as their pompous literary counterparts.