For this month’s booklist, we chose to feature books that deal with some of the same issues that Daniel Clowes touched on in Ghost World, like teen angst, living in the modern world, and urban anomie. Enjoy them, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Ghost World: Special Edition (originally serialized 1993-1997)
The inspiration for this month’s screening, Ghost World is a classic tale of cynical young women struggling to stay sane in the face of dullness and decay. Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer have become much more than the characters in a comic book, by now they are the crystallization of a moment in time personified. In our current era of corporate control, rampant franchises and the Internet, it’s interesting to revisit how it felt at the moment these forces were only just beginning to seep into our everyday, meaningless existence.
Black Hole (originally serialized 1995-2005)
Imagine you live in an alternate universe, when instead of directing, say, M. Butterfly, Canadian director David Cronenberg instead helmed the good natured high school coming of age movie Dazed and Confused. And he was given free reign by the studio to add as much of his signature “body horror” as he wanted to. This Frankensteinian mash-up is perhaps the best way of quickly explaining the feel of Charles Burns’ Black Hole. It takes place in the Seattle suburbs of the 1970s, where a strange disease known only as “the Bug” is drastically changing the lives of local teenagers by making them grow new body parts. Where Ghost World makes its point about the distances people nowadays have between us somewhat subtly, the way in which it is difficult for real connections to be made is grossly apparent in Black Hole, as its social ostracism leaves very real marks.
Local (originally serialized 2005-2008)
Megan Mckeenan is a restless wanderer, a vagabond. No matter where she goes she can’t seem to settle down and fit in, nor does she want to. She picks up various jobs and friends, but nothing sticks, so she moves on in search of another place to call home. In writer Brian Wood and illustrator Ryan Kelly’s Local, we follow Megan and she travels across North America looking for her place in the world. Made up of 12 individual but connected stories, each set in a different real life city, Local explores how the places we come from and live impact our lives and shape our identities. In Ghost World, Clowes explored the malaise and doldrums of the American suburbs on the teenage psyche; Local examines the effects of place on a much grander scale, examining one young girl’s life journey and how hard it is to escape where you come from.
Ghost of Hoppers (originally published 2006)
Margarita “Maggie” Chascarillo is the manager of a seedy apartment building found somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. She’s not what she used to be, she’ s in her thirties now, no longer an ace mechanic/punk rocker and occasional wrestling enthusiast. Now the only things she’s wrestling with are demons from her past, mostly the turbulent relationship she had with her now distant best friend/lover “Hopey” Glass. Ghost of Hoppers is a stand-alone entry from Jaime Hernandez’ half of his and his brothers’ comic odyssey Love and Rockets, one of the best series of all time. It shares with Ghost World a similar art style and worldview; at times you could imagine this as an end point to the friendship of Enid and Rebecca as well.