Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Obviously everyone on
Earth Tumblr has read and reviewed Ghost World so this post is serving my desire to write about it far more than anyone else’s desires to read about it. (But what else is the internet for right?)
In case you aren’t familiar with Clowes’ modern classic, here’s the set up; Enid and Rebecca are two girls who have always been best friends, but in the vast empty time post-high school are struggling to remember what exactly it was that they had in common. Enid feels stifled by their small town existence, while Rebecca is contented just to be free of the school walls.
The setting of “Ghost World” the nameless town where they live is almost a character of it’s own, with it’s creaking collection of faux-retro diners, cheerless apartments, streets littered with abandoned jeans, graffitied walls and buses that never come. There is a spirit of boredom and quiet desperation that permeates the everything in Ghost World.
The friendship between the two girls is illustrated beautifully, both their closeness and the tensions between them are believable, and their bickering never feels manufactured for drama. Enid and Rebecca have a ‘romantic’ friendship - but it’s not one that’s romanticised. Their relationship works as the linch-pin of the book because it is so genuine.
I have to hand it to Daniel Clowes, he might be an adult man, but he did a wonderful job of creating such realistic teenage female characters. Their unlikeable moments, flippant attitudes, reliance on irony, awkward sexual experiences, and glimpses of insightfulness all feel whole and truthful.
This comic isn’t for everyone, there are going to be people who find it too slow, or feel that nothing is “happening”. It isn’t action-packed. But if you enjoy a sardonic wit, love to people watch in cafes or sometimes feel nostalgic for your teenage years in spite of the fact that they were actually unbearable - then Ghost World is very much for you!
- Contains sexual references and strong language - it’s one of those comics that should be in all secondary school libraries though, so if you’re a school librarian you should get on that!
- Published by Fatagraphics Books or Jonathan Cape
Try it out if you’re a fan of:
Oh and there’s a movie. In general the film is true to the tone and feel of the comic, and my understanding is that Clowes was involved in the making of it. The film does make some pretty big plot changes, but that’s understandable given how difficult it would be to fully realise the story of the comic as a satisfying film. I still prefer the comic, as a few too many of my favourite quips are missing from the movie, but it’s an enjoyable watch nonetheless.