Ghost World is the story of Enid and Rebecca, teenage friends facing the unwelcome prospect of adulthood, and the uncertain future of their complicated relationship. Clowes conjures a balanced semblance, both tender and objective, of their fragile existence, capturing the mundane thrills and hourly tragedies of a waning adolescence, as he follows a tenuous narrative thread through the fragmented lives of these two fully realized young women.
Originally serialized in the pages of the seminal comic book Eightball throughout the mid-1990s, this is a quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonists is famously an anagram of the author's name) about two best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart.
Daniel Gillespie Clowes is an Academy Award-nominated American author, screenwriter and cartoonist of alternative comic books. Most of Clowes' work appears first in his anthology Eightball (1989-2004), a collection of self-contained narratives and serialized graphic novels. Several of these narratives have been collected published separately as graphic novels, most notably Ghost World. With filmmaker Terry Zwigoff, Clowes adapted Ghost World into the 2000 film of the same name, and also adapted another Eightball story into the 2006 film Art School Confidential. Before Eightball, Clowes worked on comic book series Lloyd Llewellyn, which in the later issues stronger foreshadowed some of the social criticism of his work with Eightball.
This is the graphic novel edition of “Ghost World” by Fantagraphics Books, originally published as chapters, in the comic book series “Eightball” #11-18.
Writer & Illustrator: Daniel Clowes
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
People who read my reviews know that I’m not usually negative (for not saying of giving 1-star ratings) when I am commenting about my readings, and being that negative, doesn’t cause me any joy, sadly when I do feel that it’s necessary, well I don’t hesitate about it, even if it’s against a generally popular and praised work.
No book is a $100 bill to be liked by anybody.
I didn’t have a clue about what was about Ghost World, and after reading it…
…I still don’t have a clue about what was about it!!!
The main characters of Ghost World are Enid Coleslaw (her dad legally changed his last name from Cohn) and Rebecca (Becky) Doppelmeyer, both 18-years old girls, both just graduated from high school, best friends and still looking out for what to do with the rest of their lives.
The graphic novel doesn’t show any north, no real storyline, just a bunch of unrelated episodes without any clear purpose, where Enid and Becky basically interact with old acquaintances or new people, always commenting something negative about them.
MUCH NEGATIVE ABOUT EVERYTHING
Both, Enid and Becky, are very mean to everybody, they are constantly pointing out their faults, calling them with offensive names and generally criticizing them, behind their backs and/or in their faces. Enid and Becky also have negative opinions about almost anything around them. Even, Enid and Becky comment in negative light about themselves!
In a few cases, some of the support characters deserve the negative critique, but in most cases, Enid and Becky are just mean without any provocation or justification.
So, I guess that since Enid and Becky are sooooooo negative about everybody and everything, I don’t feel so bad myself for being that negative in my review about the graphic novel.
I have read (and watch) a lot of black comedy products and I have laughed plenty with them, but while Ghost World tries to be humorous, honestly I didn’t feel the impulse to laugh with it, not in the least.
MUCH LOST ABOUT POTENTIAL
It’s a shame (at least in my very personal opinion) that Ghost World didn’t exploit its own storytelling potential, since the characters and ambiance were ideal to build a plot in the style of other products like the live-action film Amélie or the animated TV series Daria.
Curiously enough, Ghost World “born” in 1993 and lasted until 1997; Daria began in 1997 and Amélie is from 2001, so one could think that maybe, just maybe, Ghost World could serve as an inspiration and/or to open the road for those projects, but I don’t know for sure about that, and after all, Ghost World is a very pale image in comparison with those mentioned wonderful masterpieces.
MUCH MOVIE ABOUT GRAPHIC NOVEL
I knew that there is a film adaptation of Ghost World, but I haven’t been able to watch it (yet). After reading this graphic novel, I wanted to check (reading it at IMDB) the premise in the movie, since I wasn’t able to understand how somebody would be able to pull a movie out of this.
I wasn’t surprised when I noticed that the movie had key changes in its core plot, since the graphic novel doesn’t have any plot at all!
So, it’s understandable that the film is different in its basics to be able to present a proper storyline to follow.
And I heard that the movie is far, FAR, FAAAR better product than the original graphic novel.
HMM. I feel like I missed the train on this one. I know that it's a beloved cult classic and I cannot deny that so many of the parts worked: there are phenomenal panels, poignant moments, and some gorgeous illustration. Particularly two of the chapters, "Punk Day" and the final one, stuck out to me as resonant and powerful. However, in the end, it just didn't come together for me. Mainly it felt pessimistic, dreary, and a bit exhausting. Why are these women so grumpy CONSTANTLY? I'm very aware that this is an Ariel situation, a me not enjoying the general tone and message of the text, but I'm glad I read it and it definitely had some beautiful moments.
With 2 very close teenage friends That struggle with life after high school. Instead of idealizing the wonders of young adulthood and entering work life and university, the work shows all the insecurities, struggles, and problems young women are facing in a complex, brutal world. And it highly
Depends on the character how to deal with it No matter if an early adopter of adulthood or more of a misfit rebel, each person has a different approach to finding a way of and through life. So while one woman has the mental stability and maturity to deal with the new situation, the other protagonist keeps struggling with her identity and career. What a great example of that it´s
Perfectly ok to evolve and explore oneself And that society has no right to tell when one has to do what. No matter if it´s career, relationships, or general lifestyle, ones´ individual choice of how to live is sacred as long as no others get harmed. The sad truth is, of course, that more progressive, indecisive, and critical minds will have more adventures and experiences, but more stress, problems, and crises too.
7/21/21: Reread for summer YA graphic Novels and comics course. Always on Goodreads and in courses there are readers who HATE these two girls, but I continue to defend them as lost, alienated, vulnerable. One student in my class said that identity is usually defined in positive terms, as what you embrace and know about yourself and the world, and he notes that both of the main characters react to themselves,, each other and the world in negative terms, rejecting everything they face. It's anti-identity.
6/27/17 Reread for my YA GN/Comics summer class, discussed with clips from the movie (including Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi, and Scarlett Johannson at 16!), which more and more seems like a light rom-com version of the much deeper and richer (and grittier, nastier) book. One dimension of this book that seems clearer to me in this reading is that one of the things they are struggling with in this summer after high school graduation is sexuality, including some Q (of the GLTQ) moments. Who are they, and who do they want to become? Enid may be going to college; Rebecca just wants things to stay the same between them forever. Many people find these girls too nasty, but Clowes, an alt comix/underground guy, didn't write them for everybody. They are two sort of punkish/art crowd cynics that seem very familiar to me.
6/19/16 Ghost World is Clowes's comics masterpiece, his first work to cross over from alternative comics into mainstream success, with a film adaptation. One of the first alt comics ever to do that, actually. The text features two recent girls, Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer, recent graduates of high school, both disaffected and cynical. They seem to hate everything, and pretty humorously so. One of my favorite moments is when Rebecca makes the claim that Enid hates all men. Enid says, no, there's one guy, David Clowes, he's like this cartoonist, he's pretty cool. . . :). Coleslaw is a rough version of Clowes, but it is my understanding he modeled Enid on a classmate with whom he went to high school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Enid and Rebecca go to yard sales, they go to coffee shops and restaurants, they try on different costumes as they try to find a place to NOT fit in with the horrors of modern urban society. The dialogue is spot on, sometimes acid, usually rude and crude, though if you scratch just below the surface, there is a kind of vulnerability, even fragility, there. They are friends, anti-social as they seem. They have as interesting a collection of acquaintances as exist in any teen novel: The quiet Josh, who they talk into going with them into a porn store; budding actress Melorra; Bob Skeetes the astrologer, the morbidly hilarious John Ellis, Johnny Apeshit. . .
They seem a little post-punk, all these urban kids, and if sometimes mean to others and each other, they do seem to care about each other, and they do want love. The art is comics genius, and has been recognized at recent years by the art world, on a par with Chris Ware and Seth. Clowes was featured in a huge Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) exhibit.
Remember those angry, bitchy girls in high school, who sat around judging people and talking smack behind everyone's back? Okay, now imagine being locked in a box for an hour forced to listen to those jealous twits and you've got Ghost World in a nutshell.
I have been wanting to read Ghost World for ages. I stumbled across a copy of it at the library, so finally picked it up. I think if I had originally read this a decade ago, I might not have disliked the characters so much. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood to be reading this at the present time, but I felt impatient reading the whining of two bitter disenchanted teens.
I almost stopped reading a few pages in because of the incessant complaining. However, I'm glad that I continued reading because the characters become less annoying towards the end. The attempts to be witty failed miserably. Apparently, I'm in the minority here since this is a cult classic with rave reviews. I wouldn't advise reading this on a day you're plagued with ill humor. You'll only want to chuck the book across the room.
american representations of adolescents and post-adolescents in films and books have always left me cold, if not alienated. why do i have so little in common with these kids? why was my life and the lives of the italian teens i currently know and follow so vastly different? i blame american culture of violence and vice (for lack of a better world), kids' need to find themselves in drunkenness and drugs, when we had... what? what did we have? what do the italian kids i know have?
i think we had, they have each other, large groups of kids roaming the city in various combos, girls, boys, girls and girls, boys and boys. i think we had mobility and cities designed for people not cars. we had walking distance and we had public transportation. also, we had spaces, public spaces, outdoor spaces designed for hanging out -- in neighborhoods (mainly in front of the church), in the city. lots of spaces. plazas, fountains, pedestrian-only streets, small public gardens (italy is lousy with public gardens, unlike its neighbors to the north), benches, stones, steps to buildings and monuments, sidewalks. there are people everywhere, the city is inhabited.
when i see kids represented in american films and books, i see a ton of emptiness. kids hang out in commercial not public spaces, because the concept of a well-tended, well-protected, accessible, attractive public space is pretty much non-existent. in my university, even the box office of the newly renewed football/baseball/whatever stadium is named after a donor. i honestly and sincerely anticipate that soon we'll have to preface a lecture with "this class is brought to you by...".
if you have nowhere to go, and if you can't go there anyway because you have no transportation except your parents, you hang out in malls, diners, ice cream parlors, fast food joints, bowling alleys, or the back of your school. the latter is maybe the best scenario. i cannot imagine a childhood so starkly defined by commerce. i know that kids everywhere breathe commerce, but i cannot imagine a childhood so controlled by commerce that there are literally no spaces that are free of it.
so this book got me down during its first half. i hate empty american cities, big and small, and kids lost in it. i hated the terrible disaffection, rage, and plain nastiness of enid and rebecca. i hate the heavily underscored lack of family life, this eternal american parentlessness -- the trope of the absent parent, independent as it is from the fact of the parent's physical existence.
but then i started feeling tenderness for the two girls, because of their tender love for each other, their tip-toeing around the conventions that allow its various modes of expression, the light narrative touches that convey how straying from the rigid boundaries of these conventions becomes just too much (a closing panel that simply says, "let go of my hand"). i also started feeling tenderness for the way in which the girls talk to each other through boys -- by talking about boys, by passing boys from one to the other, by obsessing over boys, by despising ugly boys. it's such a lonely and doomed love, so unfree to blossom, so constrained, it breaks your heart.
and at the end, of course, it withers and dies, not like a raisin in the sun, but like a dream that was squashed from the start. bleak, man.
i blame this on suffocating locales, sordid city aesthetics, mangled architecture, and a ton of institutionalized loneliness.
i wish our cities, our american cities, the very best, but i don't see how anything short of demolition and stark rebuilding will make them more friendly to kids, less conducive to such a powerful absorption of ugliness that life will be forever marked by it. after finishing the book i slept and i dreamed, as i heartbreakingly often do, of century-layered, beautiful cities, rambling living rooms for roamers, chatters, and lovers alike.
My wife doesn’t usually make graphic novel reading “suggestions”, but when she does, in order to keep a harmonious household, I’ll read it.
What have I got to lose?
She was spot on (read: lucky) with (randomly) choosing Daytripper, so I gave her powers of awesome comic book prophesy another go.
Summary: Two small-town adolescent best friends share snark about dudes, their future and the very meaning of life itself.
Who knew looking into the abyss could be so much fun.
Not much happens. A series of small vignettes play out and the girls slowly grow more distant from one another. The dialogue crackles with some wit and is essentially the driving force behind reading this.
Girls just want to have cranky fun and that’s okay with me.
Bottom line: Mrs. Jeff is 2-for-2 and is batting a 1.000, so unless she picks up a volume of Aquaman next, her streak will continue. And I had no idea that there had been a movie based on this.
This is one GREAT companion piece to the motion picture.
Sure, this one started it all but it is interesting to see where the screenwriter's words maintained such a close fidelity to Clowes's vision; keeping the same spirit of the book in the movie is a wonder to behold. While the film seems incredibly depressing at times, the comic manages to make you feel that there is no sadness in the Ghost World world, only wackiness and teenage girl banter, um "Daria meets Pulp Fiction." There was one particular gag about a girl diagnosed with cancer, and the chance meeting between the heroines and the poor girl... such low-brow fare just made me cry with laughter (something rare for any book to do). Both girls are/feel like pariahs, but they embrace it. Here's something that my generation can really relate to, especially once out, facing up to the "real world."
Ghost World is the weirdest and worst graphic novel I’ve read. It has no actual plot but is instead a disjointed collection of scenes centered on two blasé teenagers, Enid and Becky, as they navigate their world. The operative word here is “disjointed.” This graphic novel doesn’t make much sense. On the surface, the scenes are snapshots of a life full of superficial arbitrariness. However, I got the distinct impression that I was missing something, that I was too dumb to understand some greater intention. On the other hand, authors should never make their works so nebulous that readers can’t know for sure that they’ve missed something. I’m therefore reviewing Ghost World as is, without trying to puzzle out some deeper meaning, and as is, it’s boring and weird.
Ghost World is memorable for the character of Enid, a domineering, cynical protagonist--but unfortunately not the likable variety of cynical. Author Daniel Clowes’s failed effort to make her likable highlights the tricky nature of crafting such characters. Cynical protagonists have to have some kind of charm, or at least be relatable in some way, for the reader to warm to them. Enid is neither charming nor relatable (at least for this reader), so her constant unimpressed and snide observations just come off as rude and mean, and that soured me on the entire reading experience.
Clowes’s artistic style is somehow good and awful at the same time. Illustrated in black, white, and light blue, the images look garish. All the characters stand straight as boards, and have exaggerated stiff mouths that stay closed despite the speech bubbles. For some reason, most of the supporting characters are ugly, sometimes to the point of grotesque. On the positive side, Clowes’s style is very precise and neat--and has such a strong signature look that it’s unlikely to ever be mistaken for someone else’s.
As a plotless work, Ghost World has an aimless feel, which I’m sure Clowes intended, but most readers enjoy cohesive stories that have an obvious point. I therefore doubt the average reader of graphic novels will enjoy Ghost World. Those who appreciate experimental work might. For me, unfortunately this was a waste of valuable reading time.
In one of his interviews, the great graphic novelist Craig Thompson cites Daniel Clowes as a must-read graphic artist he admires. I admire Thompson’s work, so it makes sense I would seek out Clowes. This graphic novel was made into a movie in 2001 starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson. I haven’t seen that yet, but it may well be the first sighting of Scarlett Johansson before big stardom.
A GR friend of mine wrote a deeply insightful meditation on the development of American cities in response to this work, going big in the face of adolescent alienation. As much as I enjoyed that piece, the book made a different impression on me. I’m going to go small: this is a novel of ideas that happen internally and out of sight. All we see is the petulance, the ripple on the surface of a psyche.
A young thin blond girl and a much edgier dark-haired friend who sports an aggressive haircut and heavy-framed glasses are nearing the end of high school. Contemplating their futures, the dark-haired girl wishes to become someone else. “I totally hate myself,” she cries late one night lying on the couch of a boy she’d just admitted she loved. Poor guy.
At that age we are both afraid of and jealous of the complexities adults wrestle every day; we want to try out our problem-handling skills to see if they can measure up. We want the next thing to happen so that we are not merely sitting ducks when it does. Desire for the world and fear of that same world mix unsteadily in our gut. We’re not ready, but when will we ever be?
The ideas shown in this graphic novel struck me as completely within the range of normal adolescence angst, disaffection, confusion, and fear about the world and one’s role in it. We’re pretty obnoxious and self-absorbed at that age, as anyone with a teenager in the house will readily commiserate. Clowes actually plays it so low key we are as bored and unimpressed with their lives as the characters are.
My favorite frame comes near the end when the dark-haired girl is driving the hearse her father graciously bought for her to take to college. Despite having a vehicle and a direction, the girl says she is depressed: “Everything is all the same no matter where you go.” The Buddhists say it like this: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
The tricolor palette in this book works fine: black and white with a green wash. The pen drawings capture the sprawled-leg teenager-y postures, the trying-so-hard-to-be-cooler-than-thou clothing choices and the deliciously descriptive backgrounds absolutely fill in the picture. I thought Clowes was brave to take on the challenge of depicting the mind of a teenaged girl, but he caught that moment in the lifecycle of a female of the species perfectly.
This is another example, if we needed one, that the writing—including what isn’t said—is as important as the drawing in great graphic novels. So many things have to come together to make a satisfying and lasting work. I admire the heck out of artists working in this medium and encourage anyone who hasn’t picked up a graphic novel lately to try one. It’s hard to read just one.
I've been aware of Ghost World since it was serialized in Eightball but never quite got around to reading it. Since I've been a comic book fan off and on my entire life, I figured I'd give it a shot.
The art is fantastic. My only previous exposure to Daniel Clowes was issues of Cracked where he drew the adventures of The Uggly Family, an Addams Family parody. Anyway, I love the art. It's done in black, white, and green, giving it a very odd feel. If I had to compare Clowes' art to something, it would be Love and Rockets, as opposed to his Cracked work that had more of a Basil Wolverton vibe.
As for the story, there's isn't much of one, Enid and Rebecca go through life hating on everything and making what passes for a profound observation when one is in his or her late teens. I guess it's a coming of age tale but nobody really comes of age. It's not even really about growing apart since that doesn't really happen until the end.
Honestly, I probably missed my window of maximum enjoyment on this. When I was young, uncertain of the future, and Clerks was my favorite movie, I would have enjoyed the shit out of this the same way I enjoyed Douglas Coupland's Generation X in my early 20s. All that being said, I do think this is an accurate portrayal of what it is like being a foul-mouthed, directionless teenager.
While I think I'm a couple decades past the maxiumum enjoyment of this book, Ghost World is still a good read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
There’s nothing really to say about this one. It’s nearly 20 years old, it’s a bit of a cult classic, a major motion picture was made, etc., etc., etc. Basically I’m late to the party and I read it because it was on some must read list of graphic novels I found (and lost) eons ago. Ghost World contains various snippets from the lives of lifelong friends Enid and Becky as they are on the cusp of adulthood and discovering maybe they don’t have as much in common with each other as they used to. As everyone else has already said – the artwork is where the magic happens. Not saying there’s anything wrong with the content – the characters/their interactions ring pretty true to that awkward stage when you’re trying to find yourself between child and adult – but the art is just great. These vignettes would have been something to look forward to had I been a reader of this back when it was serialized rather than picking it up after it had been turned into one collection.
Ghost World is the story of Enid and Becky, two best friends growing up and growing apart. It's hailed as "a must for any self-respecting comics fan's library". Perhaps it's because I wasn't a teen in 90s USA, or perhaps I because I just wasn't like these particular teens, but I found them too pretentious and unpleasant to appreciate what happened to them. Although I enjoyed the occasional panel, the story and artwork didn't work for me. I welcome graphic novels about what it's like to be a teenage girl, but Ghost World sadly isn't one of them.
3.5 stars I needed a literary palette cleanser because I'm not totally feeling anything right now. I just watched this movie last week and thought maybe I needed to revisit this book. I need to start out by saying that the Terry Zwigoff film based on this graphic novel is absolute perfection to me. It is one of my top five favorite movies and reminds me of high school when it came out, all the good things about teen angst, self-loathing and counter-culture, finding yourself and saying goodbye. I've read some of Daniel Clowes comics before (I absolutely ADORE his Eightball Comics which my roommate from college and I used to binge-read after getting high from this seriously amazeballs steamroller we made from a recycled poster tube that we affectionately dubbed "The Stinger" and we spent three years graffiti-ing it with pen and ink drawings of wasps and other such stinging atrocities....but that's another story for later) and I really liked them, but this one always felt a little intimidating to me. I was afraid I would like it better than the movie and that somehow my movie that has over the years reached sacred status would pale in comparison. But when I read this book for the first time a few years ago, the opposite ended up being true. I really did not like this at all. The movie was better.
After a re-read, I decided that I was being a tad too harsh the first go-round, and I actually added a star, making my rating a 3.5, up from a 2.5. I adore Clowes's artwork in this book. Adore it. I think it is brilliant. It's black and white with a turquoise color wash, and the turquoise does an amazing job of setting up the atmosphere and tone of this novel. Clowes is also extremely effective at using his artwork to convey history and emotions that are absent from the storyline. Like the fact that his cover page features a drawing of Enid and Rebecca as younger girls staring at a gravestone. Rebecca has this protective vibe about her, and I realized that they were staring at Enid's mother's gravestone. No mention is EVER made in the comic or in the movie about Enid's mother being deceased. She lives with her single father, and mentions are made about his second and third wives, but we never know what has happened to Enid's mother. One single drawing that isn't even included in the book itself has imparted such an important part of the story and to Enid's character. These two girls are much deeper and more dynamic than I gave Clowes credit for on my first read. With that being said, I still prefer the movie.
The movie condensed and added characters and gave a quirkiness to it that was lacking here. This book is ultimately about two best friends who have grown up together and have forged an inseparable and seriously intimate bond with one another. The book starts with their graduation (shown only in a single drawing on the page opposite the gravestone drawing on the cover page)
from high school and picks up as they start their lives afterward. They come to realize that the real world isn't high school, and their relationship becomes tense and strained as each begins her journey to become the person she is meant to be. Old jealousies and insecurities arise and though it becomes obvious that their friendship may not stand the test of time, neither one wants to let go. Their friendship seems to be the only constant thing in both their lives. It is a security blanket, a reassurance that someone in the world will always be there. Enid is overly critical of everything Rebecca does, and Rebecca is extremely jealous of the person Enid is. And those insecurities build and build until they just drift apart.
It's funny, I think the movie has a stronger voice than the book does, and it takes characters and situations and themes and kind of turns them around a bit, so its similar, but says something different. And I like what the movie says more. The movie takes Clowes's 80 page novella and gives it more juice. I actually found the book to be quite sad in a sweet kind of way and didn't laugh out loud or find the humor humorous. The movie, on the other hand, is downright hysterical. It's really hard to compare the two because they are so completely different in tone. The movie has stuff like this that I go crazy for:
But the book has stuff like this that has so much meaning, truth, and emotion in only a single frame:
So I'm really glad I re-read this because once I was able to detach myself from my love for the movie, I could see that they really weren't that similar to begin with. I like what Clowes did with these girls and I think their actions, words, relationships, and attitudes are very realistic. Enid especially is such a great portrayal of a teenage girl who has no idea who she is. She lost her mother young, is a Jewish girl with a passive father and a string of stepmothers and an Aryan best friend. She is always looking at changing who she is because she utterly hates herself. Anytime anybody shows the slightest interest in her, she shuts down and closes up. Rebecca is so caught-up with being Enid's best friend that she forgets to be Rebecca. The way this short story unfolds is actually quite lovely. I wish this book were three times its length. It does have a lot to say, and I think these girls deserve to be heard.
Interestingly enough, I was just having a short conversation today with a friend on here about art vs. words in graphic novels and comics. He is a word guy and I am an art girl. I love comics and graphic novels because they combine two of my favorite art forms. Words and artwork each have their own story here, and I have to say that my biggest criticism of the book is that the words don't say as much as the art does. I get more from that single drawing in the graveyard than I do from the dialogue in a 15 page spread. But that's ok, I guess. This book has enormous sticking power, and though it isn't my favorite, I am really glad I own it. But seriously. Watch the movie. And if you don't like it,
hmmm. i have vague memories of enjoying the film version of this when i was younger, but the comic was a disappointment.
for the first several chapters, this is a comic about a pair of snarky, negative, cynical teenagers talking shit about everyone around them. literally everyone. and maybe it's just me, but that type of jaded negativity stopped entertaining me when i stopped being a jaded teenager. i get the teenage boredom thing, and their friendship feels realistic. but the negativity just becomes unbearable.
only in the final two chapters does the story shift into something bittersweet. in the end, it's about growing up, and the loss of things we took for granted in youth. that melancholic moving on, and watching as life carries on.
i liked these relatively emotional chapters, but it was a slog to get there. daria and jane vibes, but without the charm.
side note: what was with the weird self-referential part, where the girls talk about a cute cartoonist named daniel clowes? was that supposed to be funny? it struck me as self-indulgent and vaguely creepy.
The worst thing that happened to “Ghost World” was that a movie was made of it, because it pawned the book effortlessly. Dan Clowes’ book was so cynical and condescending towards its subject matter that the film couldn’t help making the girls more likeable.
Case in point: when Enid and Rebecca are watching a lousy comic on television the Movie Enid says, “this guy rules, I want to totally do him”, it’s said with a dose of sarcasm and demented humor. The Book Enid says it with a jaded tone and a vacant facial expression. One Enid has soul and the other doesn’t. Guess which one you care about?
Ultimately the girls come off as numb and more than a little spoiled. That might be a middle-aged man’s take on teenage girls, but I’d prefer to read about two crazy girls that are Latina, gay and love punk rock. Kind of like Jaime Hernandez’ brilliant “Locas”, the original classic that influenced everyone, including “Ghost World”.
Το Ghost World δεν είναι κόμικς, είναι γκράφικ νόβελ: τα καρέ του δεν μπλέκονται το ένα μέσα στο άλλο, έχουν σαφή ρυμοτομία. Τα σχέδια είναι επιμελώς απλοϊκά, η υπόθεση περιστρέφεται γύρω από ανθρώπινους προβληματισμούς άνευ δράσεως. Γκράφικ νόβελ τα λένε. Εγώ τα λέω κόμικς κι αυτά.
Έχει κάτι από ανεξάρτητο κινηματογράφο η διήγηση. Οι χαρακτήρες είναι ελαφρώς δυσλειτουργικοί, δύο κοπέλες που περιφέρονται στην ζωή τους, χλευάζουν, θάβουν κάθε συμβατικό και μη άνθρωπο που συναντούν. Τις απασχολούν οι ανθρώπινες και δη ερωτικές σχέσεις. Υπάρχει και μια υποβόσκουσα σεξουαλικότητα μεταξύ τους, αρσενικά δεν τους κάνουν και φαίνεται να αποζητά η μια την κατανοήση της άλλης. Αυτή η υστερική στα μάτια των αντρών μίξη κτητικότητας και ανταγωνισμού που χαρακτηρίζει των θηλέων τις φιλίες. Η πρωταγωνίστρια αλλάζει τα μαλλιά της, φοράει μάσκες, τραβολογάει φίλους σε μαγαζιά με δονητές. Παρακολουθεί κάτι τυχάρπαστους σατανιστές. Γενικά περνάνε πολλά παρδαλά άτομα από τα καρέ αυτού του βιβλίου. Όμως τελικά είναι μια άκρως ενδιαφέρουσα ματιά στην ενηλικίωση και το τοίχος το δυσθεώρητο που φαντάζει για πολλούς νέους η "πραγματική" ζωή. Αν σας ακούγονται αδιάφορα όλα αυτά, ίσως και να είναι. Δεν είναι για όλους το κόμικς του Clowes. Εμένα που μ' αρέσει η εναλλακτική, κινηματογραφική αφήγηση που αναπτύσσεαι τα τελευταία χρόνια στην άλλη πλευρά του Ατλαντικού, μ΄ άρεσε η ιστορία, μ΄άρεσαν και τα σχέδια του Clowes γιατί αφήνουν την ιστορία να κυλήσει από μόνη της, φαινομενικά διακπαιρεωτικά, αλλά απολύτως χαριτωμένα, πάνκικα με σαφείς αναφορές στα εναλλακτικά κόμικς των 70s.
Είναι σκληρό, αλλά κάτω από την επιφάνεια τρυφερό το βιβλίο τούτο. Αν σας αρέσει η ιδέα μια ιστορίας μέσα απο καρέ, αλλά τα συμβατικά κόμικς τα έχετε κατατάξει σε ιστορίες με μπέρτες και γροθιές, ένα τέτοιο βιβλίο θα σας κάνει να αναθεωρήσετε για τις δυνατότητες της 9ης Τέχνης.
I read this over a decade ago so I thought it was high time to return to what is widely regarded as Daniel Clowes’ masterpiece and one of the finest comics to crossover to mainsteam literature. I thought on re-reading it with my teen years behind me that the book would seem silly but I was pleasantly surprised to find the book still remains funny, clever, heart-wrenching, and compulsively vibrant throughout.
The story follows two teenage girls, Edie and Becca, as they contemplate the void following high school graduation and the uncertain future that lays ahead. The book is also a brilliant portrait of two best friends and their complex relationship and is a paean to friendships held in our youth, and how finding out our true selves and desires can break these friendships and lead us far from the people we once were.
Edie rages against growing up but can’t help but drift closer towards it by filling out college forms, learning to drive, taking holidays away from her hometown, and moving further away from her dad and his string of ex-wives. She tries to hang onto her youth by finding old records she listened to as a kid while wishing she were in a relationship with a boy she doesn’t know how to reach.
Clowes does a fantastic job of creating these two rich characters, giving them moments of pathos, levity, and reality. There are some genuinely funny moments like when Edie goes to the sex shop, the Satanists in the café, and the way Clowes inserts himself into the story depicting himself as this sexually depraved weirdo. And there are heart-breaking scenes like the final pages when Edie can’t speak to Becca anymore and sees her through a window before getting on a bus out of town, or when Josh and Edie try to express their feelings for each other.
I felt that Edie could be construed as hipster-ish with her moments of over-cutesiness and quirky fashion choices but I also felt that Edie wouldn’t care what label you gave her, she’s that well written, you could imagine having a conversation with her. And anyway there are too many excellent points about this book for any hipster nonsense to overshadow.
“Ghost World” is rightly considered a modern masterpiece of literature, not just for comics, but for all books. Edie and Becca are perfectly realised characters and their story is real, haunting, relatable, tragic, and wonderful. Clowes’ subtle storytelling and perfect layouts of the panels makes this story far deeper than you would imagine and all the more memorable for it. If you know anyone who scoffs when you mention comics, tell them to read “Ghost World” and then ask them if comics are all men in tights. It’s easily one of the best books ever written about growing up and an utterly absorbing read.
What can I say except...WOW! And, why has Daniel Clowes been hiding from me? (I suspect it's actually me failing to look hard enough!)
Ghost World (GW) is the first graphic novel by Clowes that I have had the pleasure of reading, and all I can say is that it is a delight from cover to cover. I loved the colour scheme, which is something I haven't come across before (an eerie/nostalgic blend of green and black and white), the dialogue which perfectly captured the teenage angst which prevailed throughout, and the characters which I bloody adored, especially Enid! If I had the guts, I would definitely be her!
GW focuses on the everyday antics of best friends Enid and Rebecca who seem to drift through life, commenting on creepy-looking newscasters, pervy guys in bookstores and bitching about Melorra (these latter scenes had me in stitches!) But they don't just bitch and pass judgement on others (although most of the time they do), they talk about their futures, where they see themselves, why they're still single and who they should make out with next; they (briefly) discuss politics, music...and Josh.
Their conversations are so natural and believable; they overflow with teenage angst whilst Enid, a hipster-type character, repeatedly changes her haircut throughout. To me, Enid made GW: she doesn't give a flying monkey about what people think of her, she is who she is and she dares to be different which is refreshingly charming. She is opinionated, loud, and sometimes, conceited, but again, this only adds to the lure of her character. She isn't afraid to speak plainly and that's what I find so invigorating about her. Although, it's easy to see that she does need Rebecca in her life. Together they bring out the best (and the worst) in each other which makes GW a beautiful and honest read.
At times, GW had me laughing out loud; certainly in the last quarter, I noticed that it became deeply affecting and bittersweet. Enid and Rebecca seem to drift apart when they realise they are heading towards different things and forces the reader to ask questions about their own friendships and how strong they really are.
Clowes covers myriad themes in GW from identity (which might explain Enid's ever changing haircut), sexuality (Enid and Rebecca are frequently labelled as lesbos), belonging (either together or with other people) and family (Enid's family, in particular, is pretty complicated.)
Ghost World is a richly detailed story full of wonderful scenes and razor-sharp wit, and will be definitely revisited again and again and again.
I think all that's left for me to do now is to hunt down and devour some more of Clowes's work.
A superb read for those who want a hilarious, teenage angst-ridden and heart-warming story.
I had heard great things about this and was on board until I found out it was a graphic novel. Okay, don't hate me, but something abou graphic novels turns me off. Right from the get-go. It's completely shallow. I wish I could tell you why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that when I was 16 my best friend was into them. And when I say 'into them' what I really mean is that she found a boy she liked who liked comics so she had to know absolutely everything there was to know about the genre and it was the most pretentious thing ever.
My God, I think I made a breakthough.
Anyway--as I was saying, I wasn't really looking forward to this, and even the first 50 pages were ho-hum, but somewhere within the hour it took me to finish this it got under my skin. I guess that whole relationship between Enid and Rebecca hit home.(see above) Thanks alot.
Oh, and I don't need to hear how great Scarlet Johansson was in the movie either.
And it sort of freaks me out that it was written by a guy.
“He always accuses me of trying to look ‘cool’… I was like, ‘everybody tries to look cool, I just happen to be successful…’”
Ghost World is about two teenage girls (longtime best friends) who have just graduated high school and are forgoing college in order to concentrate full-time on making fun of creeps, losers, and weirdos (pretty much everyone they see).
Clowes’s pictures are black-and-white and washed over with a pale aquamarine, which suits his depiction of a consumerist wasteland (our consumerist wasteland) punctuated by identical fast-food outlets and mall stores. But there’s also the awkwardness of first-time sex, and the dilemma of knowing you can’t remain a teenager forever but being unwilling to let go of your favorite record to listen to as a kid or the toy your fifth-grade crush gave you, and so being caught in a liminal space that’s not only nostalgic but also hauntological—the world of post-adolescence—haunted by vanished pasts and uncertain futures.
Perhaps I’m a little biased because I read this at the perfect time, having just finished my freshman year of college (sadly, cut short by Covid-19). One thing that really resonates with me is the fact that we’re fed this idea that we can be anything we want to be; we just have to work hard and make it through high school. But when we’ve made it through high school, we have to accept that this isn’t true, and that we have to come to terms with this by ourselves.
So it’s pretty depressing, but Ghost World remains a darkly comic look at suburban teenage angst. I really enjoyed reading this.
I can see how this comic would have massive cult appeal to the 'disenfranchised youth' of the 90's. However, this book is the bastard child of Strangers in Paradise and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac with a dash of Clerks. It has all the negativity of both books (Plus Daria and Roseanne) but none of the wit, charm or cleverness.
Don't get me wrong, I love negativity. Negativity is awesome if delivered with some class. This book has no class.
Like mommy Strangers in Paradise it features two young woman who are just trying to find their way in the world but like Daddy JtHM, it hates everyone and swears up a storm.
Enid and Rebecca are not fun people, they are not interesting people. They are everything they hate and there is nothing endearing about them.
The passage of time in the book is...hard to follow, with scenes suddenly ending for new ones. Are these flashbacks? And then suddenly Enid goes off to college then...comes back to visit and Rebecca stays in stupid-head nowhere with the guy? What am I supposed to take away from this? The more things change?
The writing wasn't witty or new, it was all the cliche stuff we expect 'nihilistic', misanthropic teenagers say.
I will at least give credit where it's due in the sake that they did feel like real people.
Real people I'd never hang out with.
If you liked this book, I'd recommend Strangers in Paradise for some quality "Who am I and what's my purpose?" story.
August 4th 2021: No idea why I just thought of this book other than remembering the last man I was with thought I was a lot like Enid and that makes me smile because it’s been about women and girls like me all along. We’re quirky and nerdy and weird and also HOT AS HELL. 😋
Note from a couple of years ago: I don’t know why this review turned out to be 98% about ME. This book just took me right down memory lane and ended up being deeply personal in so many ways. There are countless other reviews on GR that will describe what the book is ACTUALLY ABOUT. In my case... it was an immersive experience. Even my partner just now when I texted him I’d just finished this book admitted he was initially attracted to me because I made him think of the Enid character. But I think I’m much kinder and softer in my middle age. I wonder what Enid and Becky would be up to now??
Brilliant. I don’t understand why it took me this long to get to this book, and why I ended up seeing the movie first, and that only recently. I remember I used to visit this really cool alternative comics store on St-Laurent which Montrealers call “the Main”, at a time before there were hip comic book stores all over the place and seeing Ghost World and being intrigued but somehow not even picking it up to have a look at it, probably because I was suspicious of it for being promoted as the latest published “it” thing.
So I waited it out till it’s gone way beyond having its moment and now I’ve read it I feel like it describes exactly the kind of young woman I was, totally lost, and turned off by anything that was mainstream or trendy or pop culture and swearing all the time and obsessed with sex and questioning sexuality and sort of asexual too and thinking I was really cool for putting together outfits made up of really odd retro clothes and having obsessive friendships which I then dropped to move on to other things and people and personas... And hating myself like fuck. So yeah, I could totally relate to Enid (that would be the Thora Birch character who wears that totally awesome cat woman headgear you’ve probably come across somewhere in the last decade or two).
The artwork is soooo beautiful, and I say this as a reasonably talented artist who made a career of being an art director who had the huge privilege to commission work from some of the worlds most talented and creative artists and illustrators (a few of them fellow Montrealers)... just by way of totally showing off and establishing that I have any sort of credibility at all beyond just saying « I really liked it » as in, I actually studied fine art and art history and have read a shitload of cartoons as a kid and young adult (I don’t think we called them Graphic Novels back then. In fact we had a lot less labels for everything then even though we sure as shit though we had so many of them but how the fuck could we know what we were actually spawning?!) which basically inspired me to become a graphic designer eventually so I could someday do drawings of my own and show off and say so and so’s work is totally awesome and people would take my word for it after I’d had the mother of nervous breakdowns and become a total nobody and never worked for money or deadlines again and was able to catch up on ALL the books. In theory anyway. But/and having seen the movie I couldn’t help but paste Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanson’s faces on top of David Clowes’s drawings of the main protagonists, which is really unfair because the faces he drew were perfect in their own cartoonish way and it must be said the casting for the movie was perfect.
They obviously added a bunch of story elements in the film that aren’t in the GN since the book is rather on the slim side, and also made the girls wayyyy less... I don’t know... offensive, I guess? All I know is when I was a young adult and travelled In the States and swore as I usually do to pepper my conversation or more typically to express anger, I got told off plenty for it and couldn’t believe what prudes Americans were so of course they’d have to tone it down for the movie. Or maybe Johanson’s agent wanted her to have a clean image and the f word was too nasty for her pouty mouth to say, unlike her cartoon self which is just as repressed but still says “fuck” to keep up with Enid. All along I’d been thinking Scarlett Johanson wasn’t that great an actress, all stiff and WASPish and sort of monotonous when all along she’s been THE PERFECT Becky and just... Never stopped being Becky in all her movies. Gorgeous pouty Becky.
These girls just seem REAL in a refreshing way, in that they don’t adhere to any stereotypical notions of how girls are expected to be. And also don’t strive to be likeable all the time, which is such a huge burden to have to bear, but I can certainly see how some, let’s say, less tolerant people would find this a reason to really dislike this book because « girls are supposed to be nice » and this book is basically a giant “Fuck You” to that oppressive stricture. I don’t know if I regret not reading it as a young woman when maybe it would have made me feel less like a freak because I was a very angry teen and young woman and then spent years feeling endlessly guilty and apologizing for it, but then again being a freak was the only identity I had to hold on to, just like Enid maybe, and it’s sort of nice now, decades later, to see that maybe it was just a generational thing after all. Or not. In any case, Freaks Unite! Or don’t, because if you’re like me you’re sort of phobic about crowds and prefer to be a loner and overintellectualize everything. :-)
Do I recommend it? Fuck yeah!*
*But only if seeing the f word fully spelled out in this review didn’t send you into a full epileptic fit. ;-)
We often look towards art for comfort. You feel so close to characters in some books. They are like your best friends and you feel like they are talking directly to you. Almost as if the writer knows exactly what you are experiencing in your life.
Ghost World is that sort of a book. When the book ends, you feel like your best friend just left the bar you were both drinking at and talking in the most honest way possible.
Enid is one of my favorite characters of all time. Right up there with Holden Caufield and Mark Renton. She embodies the anomie and acedia that we all experience as teenagers and as adults. The same is the case with Seymour. I could completely relate to his sense of despair and isolation in a society which is not artistically inclined and lacks moral values.
Ghost World is about two teenage girls who are in the very short period between when your teenage life ends and adult life begins. While their classmates are already on the path to becoming middle class dullards and corporate slaves, Enid and Rebecca try their best to postpone the inevitable. But the pull of ordinary life is strong and their friendship starts to crack.
Both the comic book and the excellent movie based on it have touched my life deeply. I have been in love with the Enid character ever since I watched the movie. I mean, very few people are truly happy with adult life. Its pretty hard to feel the way you did when you were in school (though Enid hated her school as well), when things were less complex. Everything falls apart later on in your life, no matter how successful you are.
I remember the movie coming out based on this series years back and Siskel and Ebert giving it two thumbs up. But I found the GN here in the library in our collection so I checked it out and gave it a read last night. First off, the sparse palette of color was immediately evident used by Clowes consisting of pastel green, black and white. That was it. His art style had a bit of Robert Crumb to it along with a Mike Judge Beavis and Butthead-look and feel. I found it interesting that the perspective was from an 18 year old girl trying to find herself in goth, punk, and overall nerdiness if not what one could just call "your average 18 year old girl". The 8 stories collected are all relatively short, but I found them all to be a bit more detailed, engaging, and deeper than I thought they would be. There is a bit of David Lynch type of stuff thrown in there in regards to the surreal nature of a cancerous growth along one of their friend's necks. Reading this was out of my usual super-hero/fantasy comfort zone. It didn't knock my socks off, but I was glad I read it.
I re-read this on a whim and I'm certain I did not enjoy it this much 4 years ago. It's beautifully drawn and such an accurate description of a co-dependent adolescent best friendship. The ending made me so sad...
I could easily see myself depicted in a panel in this lovely graphic novel, with its snarky young teen heroine Enid reading my review of it and saying something like: "I mean, what kind of loser dork has the time to write a *review* of a 20-year-old graphic novel. Probably some middle-age loser living in his mom's basement."
Actually, I have written Goodreads reviews in my mom's basement. So, touche' Enid.
But I am writing this one in my own home, the double-mortgaged one. So, sweet Enid, allow one chink to open in that wall of rebellion you've built of your nagging insecurities and youthful fears and have some slight sympathy for this middle-aged dork and allow him to praise you and the Ghost World that you inhabit.
First, Ghost World, the 2001 film adaptation of this 1990s graphical, is one of my favorite movies of the last decade. It was inevitable that I would read the original. At first, I wasn't liking the book as much as the film, but as I read, I was slowly captured by its spell, its mood, its wisdom.
There are substantial differences between this and the movie, so I'd recommend both, as adjunct and complementary works. The biggest difference is the prominence of the Bob Skeetes character in the movie (renamed Seymour and played by Steve Buscemi in the film). In the book, he is a minor character, and yet he looms as a kind of spectre over the whole thing. Clowes does not forget him, and by the end of the novel he comes back for a key scene. In the book he's a fortune-teller, which ties into the idea of the uncertain future that lingers hauntingly throughout the book.
As it happens, Enid is smarter than Skeetes, and she knows the future better than he does. And no wonder she is resistant to moving forward into it. She knows it is a banal one, in which friends drift apart. In which dreams, if one has them at all to start with, fade into the boring practicalities of survival and selling-out.
It is also a book about the hopelessness of recapturing the certainties of the innocent past. Of re-listening to old children's records to try to once again feel the wonder of a hopeful world, of re-visiting the tawdry tourist-trap dinosaur village in hopes of futilely reliving barely remembered wonders.
It is also about the casual cruelties of youth, the discovery of the blithe and heedless hurtfulness of casual insults. The realization that self-satisfying and self-satisfied sarcasm extracts its price, not just on others but on the wielder of the cosmic joke.
It is also about the sameness of places and people. And wishing it weren't so. About fake 50's nostalgia diners where the pop cultural mix is so fragmented and people's perceptions so blunted that nobody seems to realize that all the songs on the jukebox are from the 1960s.
It's about a place in the mind and the heart, where, despite all of this, there is a ghost bus that still, just maybe and just might, stop for us one last time and let us ride away to somewhere magical.