Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes

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Mister Wonderful
By Daniel Clowes
Pantheon Books


Wilson wandered and meandered and generally spun its wheels until somewhere near the midway point, when, thankfully, things congealed. It was almost as though the artist didn’t truly recognize an objective until the book was well under way. Now granted, such an approach doesn’t always spell disaster, and surely some of our greatest works have begun life largely devoid of purpose, but in the case of Daniel Clowes’s last book, the result felt downright aimless at moments in that first half, as though the cartoonist were content to let the book exist largely as canvas for showcasing different styles, a skill on which he has seemingly never had to work too hard.

Perhaps part of the book’s failing (which, of course, is not to suggest that the book was a failure, per se), was the fact that, aside from the its strip-per-page format (which was certainly a point in its favor), Clowes didn’t seem to have imposed too many restraints upon himself, which resulted, ultimately, resulted in a slight loss of control over the story’s direction.

Mister Wonderful, on the other hand, is a book defined by its own constraints, beginning with the serialized format with story was originally presented—as 20 installments, which first saw publication in The New York Times Magazine, a format that shares a sense of finite space per issue with Clowes’s own Eightball, a series that gave rise to the artist’s tightest and best work.

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Comic Shop Focus: Quimby’s Chicago, IL

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“I feel like we do have a good comic community here,” answers the bearded, wire-rimmed cashier in the airbrushed tiger shirt. “There are a lot of artists. It’s kind of weird how it all comes together in Chicago.” Logan Bay is in good company, at the moment, seated behind Quimby’s front desk, flanked from above by a pair of signs hand-painted by local cartooning genius, Chris Ware.

The one directly above his head is the now-familiar image the store has since adopted as a logo, a Siamese-split Quimby Mouse torn between a blank-faced red book and that general sense of ennui that permeates so much of Ware’s work. A fitting representation, perhaps of the dual Quimbies now forever joined at the hip in this store front on Chicago’s North Avenue.

First there was the Boston Quimby, a magazine launched in 1985, by one Steven Svymbersky, related in no perceivable manner beyond, perhaps, the cosmically synchronous, to the schizophrenic mouse that would be created half a country and decade away by University of Texas at Austin student, Ware. Through the unique brand of serendipity that only seems to occur in magical lands like Chicago, however, both would converge midway at the beginning of the next decade.

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