Created by Daniel Clowes
180 Full Colour Pages £16.99
Published by Jonathan Cape
The Story: Jack and Patience are a down on their luck couple. They are poor, but mostly happy and now, out of the blue, are expecting their first kid. But Jack is keeping secrets from his wife and is considering telling her everything when he returns home to find her dead.
He is immediately the prime suspect and quickly finds himself arrested, charged and in prison awaiting trial. As publicity builds around the case his defence lawyer discovers some evidence that clears Jack and he is released.
The actual murderer is never arrested and Frank is left to fall into years of depression and alcoholism. In a weird future, he saves a blue-skinned prostitute from a beating by a punter and befriends her. Whilst at her apartment, she reveals to him that a customer of hers is developing a time machine. Frank (naturally) decides to steal it to go back in time and either stop the murder or beat the life out of the murderer…
The Review: Like much of Clowe’s work, this is a comic that is full of abrasively strange individuals. Nobody is a hero, nobody is actually nice in any way and everyone is someone you definitely wouldn’t want to sit next to on a long journey.
It is for all these reasons and more that I love reading his work.
The characters in Patience are all argumentative and seemingly could start a fight in an empty room. The narrative wanders around like a snaggle-toothed, amphetamine driven 1990s angry indie movie. The plain speaking characters are all deluded or morally bankrupt – or just plain deformed. Everyone sits in a pool of their own grime and stupidity, crying about their own problems or trying to feed their own spiritual addictions.
To me it is the author who sits there above them all, watching and taking notes. His words and his visuals seem to resonate on another brightly coloured plane of reality. Clowes writes in a biting and gritty style that sometimes is so unorthodox, you wonder if he is a misanthropic alien come to f*** with us. I defy a reader not to come away from reading any of Clowes’ work without needing a shower or just quietly weirded out.
When you begin to think about what a reader takes away from a book like Patience, you realise what the true nature of experimental comics can be. The so-called edginess of some modern comics could take a timely lesson from books like this – and Clowes’ other works. He dwells in the pragmatically absurd and peculiar in every aspect of his approach and style. His work is wonderfully outside of the hyped modern-day norm. He stares from afar at the homogenized mess that is much of the industry today and walks slowly away scribbling in a sketchbook.
I may have gone on a bit, but don’t be afraid of this book. It has a definite beginning, middle and a resolution at the end. The hardback is gorgeous and has a psychedelic swirl of colours on the cover that surround the flat and dead eyes of Patience herself. A lovely design that will draw your eye on a shelf in a shop and hypnotize you into purchasing it on impulse.
Clowes is, without a doubt, a crazy alien!
This is really good value at £16.99 and widely available in comic and book shops so grab a copy.
• Daniel Clowes was born in 1961. He is the creator of the comic books Eightball, Ghost World, which was made into a film by the director Terry Zwigoff, David Boring, and Ice Haven. His adaptation of his own Ghost World graphic novel for the screen earned him an Oscar nomination.
A regular contributor to the New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Comics, he lives in California with his wife. (Whether he comes from another planet is yet to be fully decided).
Many thanks for reading.