A supernatural cult classic

In quest for a lover, teenager Enid Coleslaw sought out cartoonist Daniel Clowes at a comic book signing. He was a bit of a let down, to put it nicely. Later that day, she sulked inside of a diner.

Whenever her best friend, Rebecca Doppelmeyer, would bring up the subject of the artist, Enid would berate him. Then, she would change the subject to her favorite local astrologist.

Maybe the problem is that Enid knows Clowes’ type too well. He did, after all, create her.

In 1998, the comic book Ghost World was published. It detailed the lives of the two eccentric friends as they eavesdropped, experimented with clothing, found pleasure in flaws, and eventually grew apart from one another. In 2001, the story furthered its impact with a film adaptation.

Clowes remains modest about the success. “People may imagine a better story than what is there,” he said through the phone from his California home.

Ten years after its publication, Ghost World has been released as a special edition. This edition complies the original comic book, the formerly out-of-print screenplay, and a host of drawings and other material relating to the story.

“It was almost like I was doing my own archiving.,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to nearly be that much stuff. I thought that we could make maybe a 150 page book out of it but as I got deeper into my files I wound up with almost 300 pages of stuff.”

The appeal of the comic may take root because Clowes uses characters that seem vastly opposite from him. This allowed him to more freely experiment with ideas.

“I’ve found that if my male characters weren’t supposed to be me, then they’d gradually begin to look just like me,” Clowes explained. “I figured if I was working with these two teenage girl characters, no one would immediately assume that they were exposing my opinions.”

The sardonic wit of the girls is often misconstrued as cruel by those who have trouble understanding Enid and Rebecca.

“They were trying to find something authentic in this world that is almost aggressively inauthentic and looking for the little bits of humanity that leap through,” Clowes began.

“I wanted to make it so that they aren’t just making fun of it, but that it’s something that gives them actual joy.”

Enid and Rebecca stand on their own as pop culture icons. This sometimes strangely leaves Clowes behind as the creator. To him, this is not negative.

“When [cartoonists] are creating these characters it’s almost like raising children,” he said. “You want them to go off on their own and have their own lives. The ones who are so connected to the author are the children who stay home until they’re 40.”

Clowes is currently working on two films: Death Ray and an animated film with director Michel Gondy titled Megalomania.

Clowes describes the latter as a “futuristic, dystopian story.” Presently, these films have no set release date.