Mar 16, 2016
This week on the review show, Andy and Derek focus on two notable titles, one that has been greatly publicized and the other that has come in under the radar. The former is Daniel Clowes’s Patience (Fantagraphics), the creator’s long-awaited release and his first new book since 2010’s Wilson. (Mr. Wonderful and The Death-Ray, both published in 2011, had been previously published in different formats.) In fact, the guys begin by discussing the publicity and the excitement surrounding this event. While Andy tried to keep himself ignorant of the book’s details before its release, Derek admits that his reading experience was initially affected by all the hype, and not in a positive way. However, both guys conclude that this is a strong narrative and one well worth reading. While much of Patience bears the Dan Clowes stamp, parts of it seem more outside of the creator’s usual style. For example, even though the relationship between the protagonists is reminiscent of the interactions found in Ghost World, Daniel Boring, and Ice Haven, the fact that Clowes premises everything on time travel make this book stand out in his oeuvre. And although, as Andy points out, there’s nothing really new to the time-travel subgenre presented here, Clowes does use its basic components in a compelling way. Next, the Two Guys discuss a work that was designed specifically for the classroom, Visual Storytelling: An Illustrated Reader, edited by Todd James Pierce and Ryan G. Van Cleave (Oxford University Press). This book was released late in 2015 yet hasn’t received much publicity at all. While there have been other comics-related books that are designed for pedagogical use, this is the first to bring together a wide variety of primary texts specifically as a course reader. What’s more, it’s a book that could easily be used in rhetoric/composition and other non-comics-centric classes, as well. Pierce and Van Cleave divide their collection into seven thematic topics: identity, men and women, young adulthood, trauma, history, politics, and the arts. The comics that compose each segment, some complete short pieces and others excerpts, serve as illustrative examples of their particular theme, while at the same time potentially connecting with other thematic sections, thereby giving the collection a feeling of cohesion. The guys admire the diversity of the reader’s selections, arguing that this is a much more usable book than the comics anthologies already out there. At the same time, Derek questions the editors double dipping on some contributors — Peter Kuper and Derf Backderf each have two pieces in the collection, while Gabrielle Bell has three — while Andy questions Derek’s second guessing of Pierce and Van Cleave’s decisions. But this is a debate that the guys always seem to have with anthologies. The bottom line is that Visual Storytelling is an exciting anthology perfect for the classroom, but it is also a collection that can be enjoyed outside of any pedagogical context.