Book Review: Wilson by Daniel Clowes

Wilson: Clowes, Daniel: 9781770460072: Books

Title: Wilson

Author: Daniel Clowes

Genre: Graphic Novel

Number of Pages: 80

Rating: B-

Recommended?: Yes




I’d never read anything by Daniel Clowes before this, and I have to admit I saw the film Ghost World a couple years back and absolutely failed to get the hype. It’s really baffling to me because everybody else in the world seems to love it. My lack of love for that film might have been what held me off on reading one of this guy’s comics for a long time. I know, po-tay-to potato, but I had the feeling that Daniel Clowes’ stuff just wasn’t going to click with me (like Todd Solondz, who holds the dubious honor of seeming to hate human beings even more than Daniel Clowes does.)


Wilson kind of grabbed me by surprise near the end, I didn’t realize going in how goddamn depressing it would be. Maybe even heartbreaking. I didn’t like Wilson’s character (and to be honest, I don’t think you’re supposed to) but even I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for him at the end, even though he had no one to blame for his situation but himself.


Do you know how sometimes you get in a mood where everything around you feels so empty, where you’re an insignificant finite blip of a person trapped in an overpopulated world that doesn’t care about you? Yep. That’s this book. The main character, Wilson (like the neighbor from Home Improvement, except a total jerk) is a foul-mouthed misanthrope who likes nothing more than to despise his fellow man and try his best to alienate them. Thank God he has his dog for company or he’d probably have to shoot himself.


The main storyline (which is very brief, just like the rest of the book) is Wilson deciding he wants to belatedly get to know his daughter, who his ex gave up for adoption years ago. He’s a lame excuse for a human being and he knows it, but he also decides that he needs some kind of connection in his life. Other than that, this book doesn’t have that much of a plot.


Many of the comic segments show an everyday social situation ending with a scathing rebuke from Wilson, and the art style occasionally switches around and provides it’s protagonist with different levels of realism. The ending was a gut-punch for me, which is kind of funny since I didn’t even like the main character. It’s one of those stories that reminds you that happy ever after’s in real life are scarce and that sometimes loneliness can be the most damning fate. I think Daniel Clowes really managed to capture an element of the human condition here even if it’s one most of us choose to ignore.


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