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daniel clowes interview
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With an Oscar nomination behind him and a creative partnership with director Terry Zwigoff coming along well, Daniel Clowes has placed himself directly in the firing line for a very nice career in film. The fact that the comic-book author still frets about giving his readers value for money is somewhat refreshing, given that by his own admission this “requires a lot of extra work… it requires sitting around with the material for a long time and letting it sink deeply into your unconscious to really let that process take place.”
His latest long-form comic (Clowes rejects the literary gentrification of the “graphic novel”, insisting he “never saw anything wrong with the comic book”) is the pay-off for this hard work. Ice Haven contains strips culled from Eightball - bittersweet portraits of failed poets, angsty teenagers, a private detective who figures himself as something out of Raymond Chandler, all living in a town brought together by the disappearance of a young boy.
A “very loosely structured thing”, Ice Haven, like Clowes’ work before it, revolves around characterization. “It’s either the way a character looks or some event I want to draw. It’s often even something much more abstract, like wanting to draw a page in comic form that looks a certain way, then almost coming up with something that fits that look.” He continues, “The interesting thing about a comic book is that it’s the world as it exists inside my head, put on paper. That’s what I find interesting about it. That’s something very different from film or anything else."
His current work-in-progress is an adaptation of Art School Confidential, no doubt set to be liberated from the page in the same way that the Ghost World film was - “It has its own story in its own right, while maintaining the semblance and tone of the book.” Working with Zwigoff again, Clowes has hit his cinematic stride. “I feel like this one has everything Ghost World had, but another layer of depth to it somehow.” So, once again we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of his hard labour.
Ice Haven, out now published by Jonathan Cape.
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