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Wilson Hardcover – April 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010: Wilson is billed as Daniel Clowes's "first original graphic novel," which sounds a little funny, since he's the author of Ghost World, one of the instant classics of that young genre, as well as the lesser-known but strangely wonderful David Boring, among others. But his other books first appeared serialized in his Eightball comics series, while Wilson comes to us all at once, in a beautiful oversized package. Wilson tells a single, complete story (of the bitterly lonely man named in the title), but it does so in tiny bites. Each page is a stand-alone vignette, in the familiar newspaper comics rhythm of setup, setup, setup, punch line: like Garfield, say, if Jon were a foul-mouthed incipient felon (and drawn with the tenderly grotesque genius of Clowes). The gags are the sort that stick in your throat rather than go down easy, and together they add up to a life that's just barely open to the possibility of wresting oneself out of the repetitions of hostility and failure. It's an intriguing addition to the most thrilling career in comics. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Clowes (Ghost World) takes his particular brand of misanthropic misery to new levels of brilliance in this book, a series of one-page gags that show the divorced and lonely main character repeatedly attempting to engage with life, and then falling back into his hell of pessimism. Clowes uses a variety of drawing styles to depict Wilson and his world; sometimes he's highly realistic, other times he's an Andy Capp–style cartoon, but he's always the same downbeat guy. In one sketch titled FL 1282, Wilson asks the kid seated next to him on a plane about his line of work. When the kid answers that he does I.T. stuff, Wilson comes back at him with a mockingly satirical description of his own supposed work, using only initials. The last panel shows Wilson looking at a Spirit magazine and asking, Christ, do you realize how ridiculous you sound? Clearly, the comment is directed as much at himself as to the I.T. kid. This attitude of solipsistic despair is expressed incisively and cleverly, taking Wilson through a search for his ex-wife, Pippi, who has become a prostitute since leaving him, and their daughter, put up for adoption years earlier. Clowes offers another beautifully drawn slice of piercing social commentary. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770460071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770460072
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tim Idsole on April 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Clowes assigned himself an unusual formal constraint in this book; it consists of a sequence of seventy full-page comics, each with six or seven frames, each a complete vignette, most with the familiar rhythm and concluding punchline of a Sunday newspaper gag cartoon like "Nancy" or "Peanuts." (Be forewarned, though, the tone of the writing has little in common with those strips, and Wilson's "punchlines" often traffic in cruelty and humiliation.) Each page is recognizably in the hand of Clowes, but the styles differ from one strip to the next, from big-nose cartoons to quite naturalistic renderings, with many different color schemes. Every page features the musings and adventures of Wilson, a self-defeating, socially inept and exceedingly unlikeable protagonist. We get glimpses of Wilson's dialogues with himself and his interaction with others, including his father, his ex-wife and his beloved dog Pepper, across a considerable span of years. Rather astonishingly, through the accumulation of single-page strips that if taken independently may seem glib, slight or superficial, Clowes builds up a moving book that lingers in the mind as much more than the sum of its parts. It gives rise to thoughts about the need for human interaction, the nature of memory and the possibility of wisdom. The most resonant contents of the book emerge from the relationships between the individual strips, much the way action can be implied by the blank "gutter" between the panels of a comic strip. Easy to read, but I'm sure there's much I missed the first time through: I expect to enjoy reading this several times.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tolento on April 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What a fun read! Each page of this slim oversize book is designed as a self contained comic strip. The effect is an episodic revelation of Wilson's story in phases like the peeling of an onion. Once Clowes has defined Wilson's irrepressible personality, the vignettes evolve from the slice-of-life non sequitur of the opening pages, and begin to relate to one another in development of the plot. Clowes varies his drawing style from one strip to the next. The art goes from Schultz-esque cartoon abstractions to representational warts-and-all realism in service of the narrative.

This is Clowes most mature and emotionally satisfying work to date, yet his dark acerbic humor remains, manifesting itself in the cranky eccentric voice of the title character. Wilson is a brilliant graphic novel, sure to be cited as one of the best in the same breath as Ware's Jimmy Corrigan or Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp. It is a celebration of the sort of storytelling one can only experience through the misunderstood medium of comics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After the success of Terry Zwigoff's film version of Ghost World, it was almost inevitable that Dan Clowes would move away from the serialised strips of Eightball towards the longer, more ambitious graphic novel format. Clowes has of course produced works of graphic novel length - Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, David Boring, Ice Haven - but finally, after a much longer wait than was expected, Dan's first full-length original graphic novel has arrived - and it's been worth the wait.

Surprisingly, at first glance it seems like Dan Clowes hasn't really embraced the novel format and that Wilson would be suited to the writer-artist's usual episodic format. Although there is indeed a recurrent character and theme, the story initially seems to be broken up into standalone single page strips of 6-7 frames, with the final frame delivering an admittedly devastatingly witty punch-line. Not unexpectedly, Wilson turns out to be a typical Clowes sociopath who can't hold back his true nature, accosting strangers on the street and in coffee shops, alienating friends, family and neighbours through cringingly embarrassing put-down remarks, sometimes intentionally and sometimes despite himself.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Heering on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This graphic novel by Daniel Clowes is about a misanthrope named "Wilson". It is told in 69 one page comic strips of 6 to 8 panels. The pages are drawn in several different styles, ranging from realistic to cartoonish. Although each page stands on it's own, and ends with a punchline, taken together they tell a story. It is a very good tragi-comic story, although Wilson is not someone you would want to spend time with in real life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By oldmanron on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Wilson', the latest book by cartoonist extraordinaire Daniel Clowes is unique in both Clowes' work as a whole and in the evolution of comic books/graphic novels as a serious medium. Unlike his previous books like `Ghost World, `Wilson' did not appear first in a serialized form. It was written as a book and is meant to be read as a book.

That very fact is one of the things that causes the reading experience of `Wilson ' to be intriguing. Although Clowes has stated his desire for `Wilson' to be viewed as a whole, the story is told in the form of page-long `snippets' that resemble Sunday funnies comic strips such as `Peanuts', which appears to have been a substantial influence on Clowes.

The reader, who in this case was myself, may at the beginning of the book may be tempted to view the first handful of snippets as amusing little experiments (a number of different drawing styles are applied throughout), shortly discovers something : a story emerges, one that is funny, disturbing difficult to forget. By the time that the book is over, one realizes that Clowes has created a very unique character, as contradictory and troubled as any real human being can be.

In Clowes' hands, the comic book/graphic novel/whatever the hell you want to call it has become a very unique medium, one distinctly of its own. Clowes has done great work before, but `Wilson' is a book that makes one look forward to what he does next.
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