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The Death-Ray Hardcover – October 11, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


A Look Behind the Scenes of The Death Ray
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Some early sketches "No. 30"


An unused cover



Review

"Daniel Clowes continues to plot a lofty, lonely course through the subconscious of popular culture with this hilariously bleak graphic novel." TIME Best of 2011
 
"48 pages densely packed with art, dialogue and ideas, The Death-Ray [is] supersaturated, a story delivered directly into your imagination..."—NPR
"Clowes once again shows he is a master of current-day absurdity — with heart.”—USA Today

"The Death-Ray reads as a cautionary parable and an acidic rumination on the travails of adolescence . . . Clowes demonstrates what the comic book can do and literary fiction can’t." —The Observer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770460519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770460515
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.6 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Clowes is the acclaimed cartoonist of the seminal comic book series EIGHTBALL, and the graphic novels GHOST WORLD, DAVID BORING, ICE HAVEN, WILSON, MR. WONDERFUL and THE DEATH-RAY as well as the subject of the monograph THE ART OF DANIEL CLOWES: MODERN CARTOONIST, published in conjunction with a major retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California. He is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, the recipient of numerous awards including the PEN Award for literature, Eisner, Harvey and Ignatz, and a frequent cover artist for the New Yorker. He is married and lives in Oakland, CA.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jankanz on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Just by reading the harsh reviews on the ond hand and the glowing ones on the other, it is clear that this comic isn't for everyone. I loved it but I don't have any issue with those who hated it. I get the impression that Clowes creates work that interests himself, like most great artists should. I don't think he ever set out to titillate everyone under the sun, just those with a sense of humor like his own.

Many more people liked "Watchmen" because they felt it was what superheroes would be if they existed, aged, died as in real life. I enjoyed "Watchmen" but I think "Death-Ray" comes much closer to what they'd really be like - self-obsessed heroes of their own narratives - just like the rest of us.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Wingchair Critic on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Dan Clowes' oversized, brightly-colored 'The Death-Ray' (2011) is an interesting morality tale and unusual spin on the superhero comic book genre.

Like several of Clowes' other works, 'The Death-Ray' introduces its audience to a middle-aged White man--here named Andy--who is nondescript in both appearance and personality.

'The Origin of Andy' reveals that, circa 1977, teenage Andy is a skinny high school student who passes his life without being noticed at all; most of his fellow students can't say whether he's still attending their school or not. His mother has died of a brain clot, his father, of cancer, and his grandmother has passed on too. So Andy lives quietly with his grandfather ("Pappy"), and has made what he feels is one good friend in Louie, a rather aggressive Italian youth who has a wise mouth and likes to instigate minor fracases.

Andy also enjoys something of a long-distance romance going with pretty blond Dusty, who used to live nearby, but now lives far away. It seems that Andy's romantic relationship with Dusty may exist only in his own mind, since Dusty rarely responds to Andy's letters, except for a Christmas card during the holidays.

Louie convinces Andy to try smoking cigarettes, but the experience makes Andy vomit. But that night, Andy wakes with a feeling that he might "explode," of "absolute confidence that I could do anything, that I was in every way superior!"

Running outside to test his muscles, Andy, though still physically scrawny, discovers he can lift the back of a car off the street.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Quincy R. on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up rabidly devouring comic books as a kid. (As a child of the 90's I could still get Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog comics at the local grocery stores and gas stations.) But as I grew older, fewer and fewer comics grabbed my interest and I lost touch with the comics community. In college I really became interested in postmodernism and "snobby literature." I hadn't picked up a comic book in years when a friend handed me his copy of David Petersen's Mouse Guard. Needless to say, it awakened the passion for comics that I hadn't felt in years.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that every so often a comic book comes along that is so freaking cool that it reminds me of what it felt like to sit on my living room floor and revel in the sheer awesomeness of outlandish costumes and word balloons. The Death-Ray is one of these books. The oversize edition lets you really pour over the artwork, the story quality has the right amount of depth, and the premise has a pitch perfect blend of whimsy without seeming overly silly. Check it out if you need your faith in the graphic medium restored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By grafdog on December 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Andy inherits the raygun/nuclear bomb from his ancestor. Andy can also summon up supernatural strength when he smokes, which represents in an army like physical force within himself whenever his immune system is invaded/attacked by the cigarette smoke.
Andy is a metaphor for the still growing and learning America(see back cover), while his Fascist Italian sidekick Louie represents Israel. They have some kicks subjugating whomever they feel paranoid about, going so far as to entrap innocent people in order to force their will upon them.
All the while its Israel who feeds disinformation to Andy, using Andy as a tool for vengeance against the people Israel riled up. Andy is misled into thinking they are superheroes, but they are a Fascist alliance like Italy and Germany or USA and Israel.
Only after Louie attempts to kill Andy in order wrest control of the nuclear weapon gaining nuclear superiority does Andy realize he's been seriously misled down a path of evil. Once Israel is gone Andy/America can live a rather peaceful life while the celebratory illusion of force plays out in the background in the form of a 4th of July fireworks display.
While the rayguns/nukes creations are external manifestations of the Fascist anger brewing inside Americans, Americas true strength lies in NOT using them.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on November 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Andy's a do-nothing kind of teen, orphaned and living with his grandfather in Chicago in the 1970s, and he's not very interested in much of anything at all. He pals around with his best friend, Louie, and he pretends that he's got a great relationship with his "girlfriend" (whom he rarely sees in person but sends letters to frequently). But when he smokes his first cigarette, he discovers he's been engineered by his scientist father to develop some killer superpowers when exposed to nicotine.

The powers are killer indeed: He develops the titular Death Ray, which allows him to eliminate anyone without a trace, because of his bodily interaction with cigarettes. He can get away clean with wiping out anyone, which he knows is an awesome power--and responsibility. But what he does with that power is something else entirely.

Like much of Clowes' work, The Death Ray speaks to (and about) the sluggishness and disaffectedness of Generation X. It harks back to a simpler time, and even the artwork is evocative of 1970s comics greats (although it is certainly all distinctively Clowes).

The Death Ray was originally published in Eightball #23 in 2004 and it's been reprinted by Drawn & Quarterly in this handsome hardcover edition. The entire story is relatively short, but it's certainly packed with gravitas. The plot is straightforward, but things get complex and complicated as Andy gets older. Dealing with that angst and seeming powerlessness is Clowes' utmost strength, demonstrated in so many of his brilliant works, and well executed here as well.

Reviewed by John Hogan
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