Tuesday, August 25, 2015

YA Book Review: Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

This is a book review for Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. This is one of my all time favorite books and I've even had the wonderful opportunity to meet Daniel Clowes himself this past May :) He signed a couple of my original Eightball comics and he signed the complete Eightball collection that I purchased that day at the bookstore. Here is a picture of me getting my comics signed!

Clowes, Daniel. Ghost World. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2001. Print. Ages 16+

This graphic novel follows best friends Enid and Rebecca, two recent high school graduates and best friend, as they spend their summer in their uninspiring suburb.  Ghost World, based on the seminal comic book Eightball , released in the 1990s, is comprised of eight related short stories about the day-to-day lives of snarky teenage girls living on the brink of adulthood. The conversations between Enid and Rebecca are dark, witty, and hilarious: “He always accuses me of trying to look 'cool'... I was like, 'everybody tries to look cool, I just happen to be successful...' What, does he think that most people are trying to look bad?” Clowes has crafted a masterpiece with conversational language that is completely genuine of angsty teenage outcasts.  Ghost World also contains a colorful array of quirky characters, including weirdos they spy on at their favorite diner such as a Neo-Nazi, suspected Satanists, and a psychic who looks like Don Knotts.  The best part of Ghost World is that Enid and Rebecca’s lives realistically embody the transitional period which young adults experience post-graduation in a way that is authentically hysterical without feeling contrived. Through Enid’s display of raw emotions, crude language, and unfiltered criticism of the people around her, she becomes a loveable character that is witty, sarcastic, strong, and smart. Enid shares her innermost thoughts in a way that may resonate with teens and young adults today: “The trouble is, the kind of guy I want to go out with doesn’t even exist… Like a rugged, chain-smoking, intellectual, adventurer guy, who’s really serious, but also really funny and mean…” Clowes depicts the journey of Enid and Rebecca through dense text paired with remarkably detailed artwork, providing readers with a clear understanding of the insecurity and frustration the characters are feeling.  Clowes successfully draws readers into this dreary suburb through meticulous sketches drawn in aqua-blue, white, and black, as if the lives of Enid and Rebecca are lit by the blue hue of a vintage tube T.V.  Aqua-washed illustrations paired with precisely drawn facial expressions of the colorful assortment of people in Enid’s life provide the perfect framework to tell the story of a nonconforming teen just figuring things out.

-Sarah Prokop

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