Monday, 15 November 2010

Review; Wilson

Like Ray from Locas II, reviewed at On The Ration over the weekend, Wilson is in his forties and seems reticent to be an adult, and like Ray, Wilson is the star of his own story, interacting with the world around him in an almost distancing manner. Ray seems self aware enough to know that he’s trying to retell the world to fit a narrative that suits him whereas Wilson, more plausibly perhaps, isn’t self aware at all. When somebody says to him about his terminally ill father “At least he’s lived a long life” Wilson responds, “Yeah, who gives a shit if some old man drops dead?” You might think that he’s upset for his dad but really, he’s probably talking about himself.

Wilson is Daniel Clowes first original graphic novel but it doesn’t necessarily read this way. Each page works like a single episode ending with a progressively bleak punch line with the start of the next striding forward in the narrative. It means that we don’t get exposed too much to the thoughts and reactions of people that interact with the character. Instead, we are sold Wilson’s world view completely. At first he’s amusing, I even agreed with his point of view sometimes, but what seem to be the actions of a non-threatening misanthrope turn out to be those of a dangerous sociopath. When others do respond to him, whether it’s to chastise him for something self-absorbed that he’s said or update him of their own lives, it’s a surprise. Wilson never lets these intrusions distract him from his internal dialogue for long, though.

Clowes draws Wilson in a verity of styles. Loose and cartoony on one page, tight and realistic on the next. I’m not really sure why he does this but it seems to create a sense of the character’s undulating moods. Perhaps if Clowes decided to draw in the same style throughout, Wilson the man might have come across as too relentless and less plausible. Also, the artwork, whatever the style, seems less technically accomplished than his previous work. Whether this is because the book is reproduced nearer to the size of the original artwork or a deliberate creative decision on the part of Clowes, I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because the book remains a great looking object nonetheless.

I find everything Clowes does to be worthwhile (I’ve been following his work since issue one of Lloyd Llewellyn, ladies. Ladies? Oh, suit yourselves). Wilson is as compelling, enjoyable and as challenging as anything the artist has done before. I’m delighted to see him back doing comics again after what seems to be such a long time away, just as you should be too.

Budgetary stats; I used birthday money to buy this from
Amazon for £9.09 during the summer. To be fair though, even at the £12.99 retail price, Wilson is surprising value for money.

1 comment:

  1. I finally cracked and ordered a copy from Amazon this evening. I better start flogging off some of those Birds of Prey books now, to pay for it.