Primarily I was wrestling with the feelings I had while reading Wilson, which were "Wow, the younger me would've loved this but now I just find it really obnoxious and off-putting." I see why the books works but I don't care. This kind of cynicism, this disdain for everybody--which Clowes undoubtedly has, this isn't as simple as mistakenly reading Wilson as Clowes' voice--makes me uncomfortable and sad. And that's the intention but um, whatever?
When you read it right along with BodyWorld, the books are almost arguing with one another. There's literally no way Shaw was making his book as a response but it works through that lens. BodyWorld's Paulie Panther is very Wilson-like but we end up kinda "getting" him and feeling for him, even though he's a clueless asshole. And then there's the issues of visual narrative and like, a care for the comics form, which Clowes--like Ware--loves and loathes. Dash Shaw just loves comics and it's rushing through the whole damned book. In the review, I compare BodyWorld to Infinite Jest and I mean it!Anyways, click below to read my take on these two graphic novels...
"Every year--at least since Art Spiegelman's Maus, and most certainly by the time Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth was a bookstore-ready hardcover--a few sophisticated, sprawling comic books make their way out of the alt-comics echo chamber and into the mainstream. Last year it was David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp and R. Crumb's Book of Genesis; April alone saw the release of Daniel Clowes' Wilson (Drawn & Quarterly) and Dash Shaw's BodyWorld (Pantheon). Though it won't replace the great American novel anytime soon, the past 20 years have certainly witnessed the rise of the great American graphic novel.
Both Wilson and BodyWorld are graphic novels in the loaded, fancy sense of the term, but each book also subtly defies the expectations for the kind of smarty-pants comics that get write-ups in magazines and, well, free alternative weeklies. Clowes' collection of depressive joke strips--a parody of the Sunday funnies--about a middle-aged, out of touch douchebag, shuns comics' recent fascination with the grand statement, opting for a terse take on America in the aughts. It feels like a relic from an earlier indie comics era when every release didn't have to swing for the fences. Shaw follows up 2008's Bottomless Belly Button--a 720 pager about divorce--with an erotic, pulp-obsessed, 384-page book about a strand of weed that makes you psychic: It's a new kind of comics epic..."