Friday, September 30, 2005

37. Ghost World

by Daniel Clowes

I haven’t seen the film this comic is based on…I wanted it that way. I held out on renting the movie until I read the book, which I knew I eventually wood. I always like to read the book first, if possible. That way I can bitch and moan when things aren’t exactly right. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World follows two teenaged girls, Enid and Becky, on the verge of their high school graduation. It’s been said that this comic is about alienation and disaffected youth and captures the way teenagers really talk and I guess I can’t argue with that. Enid’s the more ambitious of the two, but also perhaps the one who least knows what she wants. Together they prey on the hopes of advertisers in the personals, they stalk supposed Satanists in the grocery store, and they talk about nothing and everything in a small diner in town. But it’s Enid who pushes forward and that’s really how it is with a couple like this. There’s always the more extroverted one, the one who comes up with the crazy plans and the one who goes through with them. Logically, the other one falls back just a step, waits to speak until her friend finishes speaking, and goes along with the plans just because. I was that second person. I guess I still am.

I’m not saying that being that second person is at all bad. These types of personalities naturally complement each other and, in my experience, tend to be attracted to each other. That’s what makes the characters in Ghost World believable. Adding to that believability is the eventual demise of the friendship, as is often what happens with the glued-to-the-hip relationships we create in high school. One person moves away to college. One person stays home. One person jumps right into a job. The choices pull apart what was bound together by trivial obsessions and harsh criticisms of everyone who isn’t you. So when Becky finds out about Enid’s plans for college and Enid does everything to detract from their importance, their relationship starts to unravel. It’s a subtle difference, not built on a fall-out or huge change, but it reflects the kind of thing that really happens.

So now I’ll see the movie, because I hear that was also good. Although, how you can turn an eighty-page comic into a full-length movie is baffling to me, so I expect to have some fun comparing the two. It’s really just more satisfying that way.


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