Daniel Clowes' middle name is Gillespie; the potential connection he – or, more likely, it would seem, his parents – have to jazz and the great trumpeter and bandleader may be the only part of Clowes' life that he has not... [more]
Daniel Clowes' middle name is Gillespie; the potential connection he – or, more likely, it would seem, his parents – have to jazz and the great trumpeter and bandleader may be the only part of Clowes' life that he has not sought, with an often courageous and selfless ugliness, to explore and narrativize in full view of his readers. Or perhaps Gillespie – a not uncommon Irish and Scottish name – merely refers to one of his family members – in which case we almost certainly have been privy to his thoughts on the matter.
Clowes has established himself as among the most eminent, influential, and innovative comics artists of the past half-century, in many ways the most economically successful – and artistically successful, many would argue with good reason – graphic storyteller to follow in the paths largely first laid out by R. Crumb. But it would be a mistake to align Clowes merely with comics. His prose is so fine and his dialogue so acutely observed that his work bears as much allegiance to the sway of such varied writers as Samuel Beckett and Raymond Carver. And it seems quite unlikely that Clowes' work has influenced only other comics artists – one may find his voice percolating through those of such artists as George Saunders, David Foster Wallace, and Noah Baumbach, to name a mere few. He is one of the unique artists currently working who cannot be defined solely by the medium in which he creates – his work is far too searching and expansive for any such codification, and he will likely stand as one of the great storytellers of this contemporary period.