Daniel Clowes, 'Wilson'

· Monday May 17, 2010

Angry young men, angry old men, bitter assholes, condescending pricks… Dan Clowes paints in misanthropy the way ice sculptors chainsaw ice.

Best known for the film adaptations of Ghost World and Art School Confidential, Clowes' characters seem much sweeter, much sadder, and much more likable when drawn in his stark, tender, mannered style.

Wilson could be Clowes' most unlikable character yet - a bad tempered, opinionated, lonely old man. His story of family mishaps and losing touch is told through a variety of drawing styles, in single-page gag comic strips - sorta like Peanuts, if Peanuts had punchlines like 'Jesus Christ, that bum is taking a shit right on the sidewalk!'

The device can be disjointing, but it also elevates the story to work on several levels. Because Wilson isn't just a comedy, or a drama, or a spoof - kinda like real life.

Ultimately, Wilson says all the worst stuff you often think, but would be too timid, too polite, or too sane to say. He's a thwarted idealist and an old-fashioned romantic. And his rants about modern society and brainless blowhards are hilariously spot-on.