Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Creator: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
WHAT IS IT?
A coming-of-age story about two friends and recent high school graduates as they spend time together, as well as their relationships with each other, boys, the people they know, and even the town itself.
Obviously, you can watch the Ghost World movie, but it also has an indie film feeling of dissociated tones and the “day in the life” storytelling we often see in the genre.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Enid Coleslaw & Rebecca Doppelmeyer are friends and our main characters. Recent high school graduates, they spend a lot of time together bumming around town, criticizing everything and playing pranks on people.
While that sounds shallow, we come to realize that it’s their way of ignoring all the big questions and decisions surrounding what they want to do with their lives now.
While we have two protagonists, the narrative really seems to focus more strongly on Enid’s opinions and character growth. “Enid Coleslaw” is an anagram of Daniel Clowes, the story’s creator, so it makes sense that she would be his personality representative in the story.
It seems like the two don’t want to make decisions on their future, and that they’re content to spend each day the same way, talking trash and hanging out. But as the people and the town change and move on, and Enid is forced to encounter things from her past and her future, she and Rebecca have to realize they can’t just pause life forever.
Ghost World captures that awkward, transitory phase between high school and college, for those people who don’t have a plan already in place
Clowes also does a good job of showing the angst, melancholy and ennui of fairly well-off white people as they struggle to hold onto their pasts and fight against change
It was fun seeing the book get meta by including its creator (see image below)
Clean line art and teal for shading does a lot for the tone without needing a full palette of colors
Some of the book’s meaning is buried in subtlety, which made me want to discuss it with other people so I could better understand it
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Rebecca seems to act more as a character foil for Enid rather than an individual
The main characters may not be likeable for all readers, and Enid can be downright cruel, sometimes (though, I suppose this is characteristic of teenagers, sometimes)
Not growing up a woman, and being a yeti, I’m not sure how accurate Enid & Rebecca’s relationship and lives are to real teenage girls’ experiences
There’s no nudity, but there’s a decent amount of sexual dialogue in here that some parents may not want their kids to read
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
So, I found this graphic novel recently and remembered watching the movie forever ago. Knowing that it’s over 20 years old now, I wanted to read it for the first time and see if it still held up.
I think it did.
It’s a comic that has received a lot of praise – enough that they made a movie out of it. I think it really captures aspects of the ‘90s, but also a certain universal lack of direction that some people may still feel today. Fans of offbeat indie flicks, coming-of-age stories or just people who want a comic that isn’t filled with punching and powers may enjoy this one.
Check it out. I’m interested in seeing what you think about it.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Art School Confidential by Daniel Clowes
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
If you like the art:
David Boring by Daniel Clowes
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Sky in Stereo by Mardou
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Daniel Clowes – Creator
Multitalented: Incredibly talented, he does the art, writing, coloring and lettering for his comics
Award Winner: Has won over a dozen Harvey & Eisner awards and was even nominated for an Academy Award
Most of his work has appeared in anthology comic book series, Eightball
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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