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Looking Back At 'Ghost World' In Honor Of Daniel Clowes' New Book

Daniel Clowes, the creator of graphic novels Ghost World and Eightball, is back after half a decade with a brand new comic. Patience is the story of a young couple who are about to have a baby. Sounds simple, right? Until you remember who’s writing it.

Damn, Daniel.

We thought we would celebrate the return of the comic book by taking a look back at one of our favorite anything-evers of all time: Ghost World

Ghost World is the story of two girls, Enid and Rebecca, and their post-graduation summer. Enid, quick as a whip and just as cruel, rejects everything around her as being too dumb, too dull, and Rebecca, the nicer, quieter of the two, is happy to play along. Both are cast adrift, with loose college plans that carry no real weight and more than a healthy dose of angst. You don’t have to be a total comic book freak to get into it ( I mean, we are, but you don’t have to). Perhaps the only comic book with a great movie adaptation (starring baby Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch no less), it remains just as powerful as it’s release nearly twenty years ago.

Oh, Ghost World. Dare I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou would most likely point out how utterly lame and lacking in originality that is before laughing at my distress’d face. See, Ghost World is a culmination of everything Clowes does best– that is, creating this strange, uncaring world that tries to be crueler than it really is. Because much like the perfectly human characters which inhabit them, they are filled with these cracks that offer a look into something fragile, something tender. From Enid’s quiet heartbreak to Rebecca’s equally quiet jealousy, Ghost World goes for the surprise tear-jerk.

Enid and Rebecca judge everyone and everything around them; their friendship is like a shell, protecting and withholding, never letting anything in. And it is just as fragile. When it breaks, it shatters, totally irreparable. And the break is just as mundane a happening as cracking eggs for breakfast– we don’t meditate on it, we persist on. Enid and Rebecca move on. All of this is a part of life.

“Some people are ok, but mostly I just feel like poisoning everybody.”

This sort of careful dance with unhappiness, the realization that for all these years of friendship, Enid and Rebecca can no longer sustain each other, these are feelings which remain just as relatable and heartbreaking and relevant for us as it was for Generation Y. Because although Ghost World is steeped in glorious nineteen-ninety-isms, from the hem of their jean skirts to the hatred of white boy reggae lovers, although we may now live in a world where the corporate takeover of the girl’s small town has been totally realized, we remain human beings filled with longing and the ability to hurt. We are always trying to break free of something, always trying to reinvent ourselves and find the one Real Thing that exists within us.

Maybe Enid really did become a sexually liberated, nineteen twenties-inspired libertine. Maybe it was only for a day, or maybe she’s still driving that beat up jalopy all around town. Ghost World is the story of people– not just Enid and Rebecca, but people in general, seeking satisfaction and completeness, seeking a thing they can’t name and hurting those around them in the process.

Why wouldn’t it be a cult classic?

Original imagery by Kathryn Chadason.

Stay tuned to Milk for more things that move us emotionally.

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