The Dark Comic Arts of Daniel Clowes

Installation shot, Daniel Clowes exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Installation shot, Daniel Clowes exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago/Menachem Wecker


My review, which carries the subhed “Chicago Exhibit Raises Questions of Jewish Identity and Parental Oversight,” appears in the Jewish Daily Forward.

Here’s the lede:

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibit “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes” (on view through October 13) ought to come with a parental advisory about its explicit content. Although the cover of one of the comic books that hangs in the show — “Eightball” No. 8 (1992) — is recommended “for mature readers,” on both occasions that I visited the exhibit, children thumbed through X-rated comics scattered throughout the show, apparently unbeknown to their parents.
Clowes, best known for his illustrated tale of teenage angst, “Ghost World,” which starred Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson in the film adaptation, has an eye for the bizarre and the obscene. Many of his strips feature graphic sexual scenes, and Clowes romanticizes the unsightly in his storyline “Ugly Girls,” in which Enid of “Ghost World” makes her debut.
In the pieces at MCA and in Clowes’s larger body of work, Jews and anti-Semitism often hide in plain sight. The name of the “Ghost World” protagonist, Enid Coleslaw, is an anagram for Daniel Clowes, and Enid is Jewish.

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