Arts & Entertainment

‘Straight Through the Eyeholes’

In the Review’s April 6 issue, Ed Park writes about the cartoonist Daniel Clowes, creator of the comic book Eightball (1989–2004), the first eighteen issues of which have just been collected in one volume by the publisher Fantagraphics. “Varying in tone and ambition,” writes Park, Eightball “fixates on verbal zing and graphic textures. Faces tend to be grotesque and the dialogue is often stylishly rancid…but the comics’ sheer beauty and mystery can knock you out.”

Eightball was where Clowes published his beloved stories Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron (“The images attack too quickly for style to be processed,” Park notes approvingly, “like medicinal sea worms that dive straight through the eyeholes and into the brain”) and Ghost World (“the story achieves a devastating poignancy while still displaying Clowes’s gift for spite”), as well as a number of shorts that “even in their variety [are] always recognizably Clowesian—and miles away from bland.”

Below, alongside Park’s essay, we have collected a selection from our archives about comics, graphic novels, and cartoons.

Ed Park
Becoming Enid Coleslaw

In each dense and delirious issue of Eightball, Daniel Clowes was driven to perfectionism, ricocheting like mad from story to story and foretelling some of the comic medium’s possible futures.

Dan Nadel
Clean Lines, Messy Lines

“The Hernandez brothers’ recurring characters have aged and sprawled out into baroque, visionary stories that alternate between near-anthropologic detail, fantastical pulp, and sexual fetishes.”

Chris Ware
Caricature: Or, Guston’s Graphic Novel

“What surprises me most about all of the ‘Poor Richard’ drawings is not their recognizable imagery, their directness, or even their satirical and political subject matter, but the fact that Guston apparently intended them to be assembled as a book.”

J. Hoberman
Gerhard Richter’s Lost Cartoons

Before the blurry “photo paintings”—large images based on family snapshots or magazine ads—that would establish his preeminence, Gerhard Richter experimented with another form of Pop: cartoon drawings.

Gabriel Winslow-Yost
A Triumph of the Comic Book Novel

“The smooth, geometric forms in Chris Ware’s comics are icons and symbols as much as pictures, ‘a sort of symbolic typography’ meant to be read and understood, ‘not scrutinized individually as one might carefully peruse a painting or a drawing.’”

Sarah Boxer
His Inner Cat

Krazy Kat is endlessly perplexing, energetic, deep, and playful…. The strip, nearly a century after it started, still feels new.”

David Hajdu
Comics for Grown-Ups

“Joe Sacco, a Malta-born writer and artist who lives in New York, has taken nonfiction comics onto untested ground. He is doing journalism—first-hand depth reporting on hard-news subjects—in ink drawings and word balloons.”

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