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Daniel Clowes

An quick interview with cult cartoonist and screenwriter Daniel Clowes

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Daniel Clowes

5-7 p.m. Sept. 14

Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, atomicbooks.com, free

Small Press Expo

Sept. 15-16

Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, spxpo.com, $10, weekend $15.

Daniel Clowes’ alt-comix output—releases like Wilson, The Death-Ray, and the cult classic Ghost World (which he adapted into an Academy Award-nominated screenplay)—teeters precariously between the familiarly mundane and the frighteningly surreal. To coincide with his appearances at Atomic Books and this weekend’s Small Press Expo, City Paper interviewed the cartoonist and screenwriter by phone.

City Paper: It’s been almost 20 years since the first chapter of Ghost World was published and a little over a decade since the film version came out. How do you feel about Ghost World these days?

Daniel Clowes: I’m heartened that it seems to live on. It’s about teenage girls from another world, really; [they] don’t text, don’t have cell phones, don’t have computers. It’s really about the olden days and yet it seems like the whole new readership of teenagers seems to take to it every year.

CP: It’s clear you had some kind of involvement with the recently released The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist. What was the process of working with [editor] Alvin Buenaventura like?

DC: The process was really allowing Alvin to come into my studio for six hours a day and go through my art very quietly in the background while I worked and tried not to look over my shoulder to see what he was looking at. I would hear him giggling and think, Oh god what did he find? I didn’t filter anything out, I just let him look through everything I’d ever done since I was 4 years old.

CP: I have to imagine having your own “The Art of” book is humbling.

DC: Yeah, it is humbling, and you don’t normally look at your entire career from that kind of vantage point. On the one hand, I’d look at it all together and I’d think, Wow, I’ve actually done a lot. But then on the other hand, I’d start to think of all the years and days I spent working at a drawing board making all this stuff, and then it doesn’t quite seem like as much. Then it seems kind of not enough, somehow.

CP: Can you say anything about what you’re currently working on?

DC: You know, I’m working on a longer “graphic novel,” and it’s not something I’m really ready to talk about yet, but it may turn out to be the longest thing I’ve ever done or at least close to it.

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