© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Graphic novelist Daniel Clowes makes his otherworldly return in 'Monica'

The cover of Daniel Clowes' latest graphic novel.
Courtesy of Fantagraphics
The cover of Daniel Clowes' latest graphic novel.

Daniel Clowes' newest work is a labor of love touching on birth, death and everything that might come after. How does he reckon with those themes in his own life?

Who is he? Clowes is a legend in the world of graphic novels and comics.

  • From Lloyd Llewellyn to the original source material for the beloved cult classic film Ghost World, Clowes is lauded for his complex worlds and the detailed illustrations that accompany them.

A sample from <em>Monica.</em>
/ Courtesy of Fantagraphics
/
Courtesy of Fantagraphics
A sample from Monica.

What's the big deal? After a seven year hiatus, Clowes is back for the newest installment of his work, which was released last week.

  • Monica is the summation of stories depicting the life and experiences of the eponymous protagonist, from being abandoned by her mother as a child to her mysterious connection to the afterlife.
  • Clowes, whose own mother left him with his grandparents when he was 5, says that although he doesn't share life experiences with Monica, he feels that the process of writing her life was the result of trying to "create somebody who sort of shared the same emotional experience I had growing up."
A sample from <em>Monica.</em>
/ Courtesy of Fantagraphics
/
Courtesy of Fantagraphics
A sample from Monica.


Want more on books? Listen to Consider This on howthe battle over book bans takes a toll on librarians and comes at a financial cost.


What's he saying? Clowes spoke with All Things Considered host Juana Summers to discuss the attachment and processing he experienced through creating this work.

On how much of the book is autobiographical:

On his own relationship with Monica:

On the book's approach to straddling the line between belief and skepticism in the supernatural:

Clowes says it can be strange releasing a new work into the world.
Brian Molyneau / Images courtesy of Fantagraphics
/
Images courtesy of Fantagraphics
Clowes says it can be strange releasing a new work into the world.

So, what now?

  • Despite all of the critical praise, Clowes says he doesn't feel completely confident about having his work out in the world:
  • "It's kind of like raising a child. And then releasing it to the world is like putting that child when they're not fully grown, alone on the subway or something. It's like, what am I doing?"
  • Monica is available now.


Learn more:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.