Buenaventura, Alvin. The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2012)
After having my appetite whetted by the Daniel Clowes: Conversations book, Alvin Buenaventura's The Art of Daniel Clowes was just what I needed. It's a great look at Clowes' art, with a plethora of essays and art examples--of which this "Happy Holidays from the Clowes Family" Peanuts homage (p. 35) is a favorite:
One example of the great critical commentary accompanying all the art is Ken Parille's observation about two of Clowes' lead characters, where Parille notes that "Clowes has often said that when it comes to self-expression, Marshall and Wilson are complete opposites:"
Marshall keeps nearly all his thoughts to himself and Wilson leaves no thought unsaid. While Mister Wonderful uses every trick in the bag (plus some new ones) to express Marshall's repressed interiority--mood clouds, star-filled flashback mists, psychomachia, thought balloons, interior monologue boxes--Wilson strips away nearly all of these devices, leaving only present-tense text in word balloons. (p. 164, "Narration After Y2K: Daniel Clowes and the End of Style" by Ken Parille)
Chris Ware's comments about Clowes' fastidiousness were surprising: "To see a Clowes original is to behold the cartooning craft at its zenith:"
Every line is extremely carefully wrought, placed, and considered, yet the sum total radiates a loose confidence, a casual self-possession. Even from the Lloyd Llewellyn days, a sense of "somebody actually drew that?" sums up the experience. Clowes pencils so lightly and is so fastidious in his erasures that the brush lines seem to appear there practically of their own volition, though closer inspection frequently shows spiffing up or even complete construction of larger swoops with a circle template or French curves. (p. 106, "Who's Afraid of Daniel Clowes" by Chris Ware)
Another, of more global relevance, is Chip Kidd's observation that "Cartoonists are designers. They have to be:"
They take a blank piece of paper and a drawing tool of choice, and they create the world: characters, personalities, landscapes, motivations, wardrobe, weapons, buildings, vehicles, all manner of flora and fauna. Everything. But it isn't just about drawing. It's about invention, and taking on the role of every kind of designer there is: fashion, industrial, architectural, cosmetic, automotive, aeronautic, environmental. [...] Clowes is a very skilled graphic designer. (p. 197, "Dawn of the Deadpan, Daniel Clowes: Graphic Design and Storytelling" by Chip Kidd)
I'd like to see more books like this; kudos to Buenaventura on his excellent work.