Clowes’ revenge

Reason magazine has an interesting article on the comics of Dan Clowes, one of my all-time favorite comic creators. Clowes did the hilarious “Eightball” comic in the 90s and various related products. The article focuses on Clowes battles against the elitist world of high-art and his realization that comics could be a meaningful product.

In early 1990s issues of his comic book Eightball, Daniel Clowes regularly savaged the pretensions and hypocrisies of high art. In his estimation, art school was a scam where washed-up hacks dispensed expensive affirmation to lazy and inept strivers. Art critics were boobs and blowhards. Galleries and museums rewarded hype, novelty, and speculation over craftsmanship and authentic expression. The world of high art, Clowes suggested in multiple stories, was silly, shallow, venal, and blind to actual talent.

It was as if he realized that the world of commercial art—and especially the world of comic books, where the end product was a cheap commodity that was far more resistant to the sort of variations in price that made assigning value in the high art so capricious—was the best domain for the serious pursuit of art.

Alas, the high art world failed to completely appreciate the radical nature of Clowes’s approach—then and now. But compare his cultural impact to, say, Haring’s or Scharf’s. The latter ostensibly made art more accessible by bringing it to the streets, the subways, and the Mudd Club. But they still mostly trafficked in one-offs certified by cultural elites and underwritten by well-heeled collectors.

Clowes, in contrast, wasn’t interested in making art more accessible. He was interested in making that which was already highly accessible—the comic book—more artful. Not out of any utopian sentiments—Clowes has always come off as a cultural snob of the highest order—but rather just because he really, really believed in the artistic possibilities of the comic book.

Hear, hear! And death to art snobs. When the revolution comes they will be dragged from their houses as they shit and piss themselves in fear and then tortured to death. Yay!

1 Response to “Clowes’ revenge”


  1. John Saleeby

    Write a blog post about that guy who did Buddy Bradley, Blagge – Something like that. Now that’s a good Comic Book Guy. I like him.

    Remember that time I was bitching about how much I hated that “Art School Confidential” Movie and you got all pissed off? Remember that time you were bitching about how much you hated “Fifi Gets Knocked Up” and I pretended to agree with you because I’m a nice guy and care about your feelings? Yeah, you were ranting and raving about what a crappy Movie “Fifi Gets Knocked Up” is and, even though I thought “Fifi Gets Knocked Up” is the Greatest Single Motion Picture In The Entire History Of Cinema, I told you “Yeah, ‘Fifi Gets Knocked Up’ is one really shitty Movie! Whew!” and then dealt with my anger and rage by going out and choking the Next Door Neighbor’s Cat with my bare hands. And then I tore it’s head off and drank all of it’s blood like sucking all the cola out of a twenty ounce bottle of Pepsi . . . Cool . . . Refreshing . . . Cat blood!