Thursday, August 18, 2011


by Daniel Clowes

Drawn & Quarterly make some wonderful comics, both in terms of their content and their design, but they are expensive.  Regular readers will have a feel for how many comics I read in a given month, and so it's hard to justify dropping $22 or $24 for what is essentially an 80 page graphic novel, even when it is over-sized, hard covered, and beautiful.

However, while on vacation in beautiful and kind of sleepy Victoria, BC, I stumbled across Russell Books, which must have some kind of arrangement with D&Q, or their Canadian distributors, because they have a plethora of overstock graphic novels at very reasonable prices.  I stocked up, and found a few other surprises along the way. 

Anyway, Wilson.  This story is told in 70 one-page strips, which work in chronological order, but frequently jump over periods of time, leaving it to the reader to figure out how much time has passed.  Clowes changes styles frequently, often using a realistic approach, but at other times drawing Wilson more like a cartoon figure.

Wilson's a jerk.  He wanders around, pontificating and grilling people in coffee shops and on transit about their lives, before cutting them off and delivering some withering criticisms.  Where his self-confidence comes from is a bit of a mystery, as he is jobless and divorced, with only a dog to love him.  After his father passes away, Wilson decides to look up his ex-wife, who has apparently fallen on hard times, and together they track down the daughter that his wife put up for adoption.

Slowly a more sympathetic picture of Wilson begins to develop, although this is frequently shattered by him opening his mouth.  There are touching moments in this book though, and it is sometimes very funny.  It fits comfortably alongside work by Chris Ware, Joe Matt, and Chester Brown.  Very enjoyable.

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