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Wilson Hardcover – April 27, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
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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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Top customer reviews
The story follows along the same pacing Mister Wonderful did, mostly because it was serialized in one-page instalments while Wilson is one-page vignettes in days or moments of the same day along Wilson's unexciting life. It's Wilson's own conflict with urban frustrations and boredom that give each page it's variation on mulling over the mundanities' of life. One page might be a gag of modern content fleshed out in a formula that is fixed into the DNA of comic from 3 panel dailies to the likes of Mad, and the next might be a slice of life moment wfilled with sadness draped in one of Clowes typical hues.
This book is a peculiar one in the Clowes library not just because it is amorphous, but because it seems like a stepping stone. Very much a summation of what came before, Wilson interacts with examination of not just the self but of the form (stylistic and of comics itself). Seeing style change every page is almost like having a new artist take on the same character through-out it's life the way newspaper strips do. The book itself is a bit of overkill. For only 80 pages, why is it hard cover and with such a price? I would much rather have this in soft cover, printed with a collection of the Mister Wonderful pages --especially since this book is in this oversized format with thick paper stock and not very much on its own-- with a lower price tag. While I can understand that people can be upset this book does echo the past to the point where it feels a bit familiar, it works well on its own but does lack a french phrase.
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.
This is a book that should be shared with friends, grandparents, and strangers on the street corner. I know what I'll be stuffing stockings with this Kawanza.