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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ghost World Special Edition -- Speaking of his landmark graphic novel, creator Dan Clowes says "It is the only I've been involved with that is ever discussed as its own thing, on its own terms, without mention of a creator -- to such an extent, in fact, that I've come at times to question my own existence." All who create fiction should aspire to generate such powerful icons as Enid and Rebecca, the lead characters of Ghost World, although Clowes's frank admission of how it feels is rightly unsettling.

Look, Ghost World is one of the most vividly realized and compelling graphic novels yet created. Clowes has done more complex (David Boring) and more inventive (Ice Haven) works, to be sure. But Ghost World's perfect storm of tortured entitlement and lost horizons captured a moment in amber, and that moment is as wonderfully revisited with every re-reading as it was viscerally experienced upon first ever cracking open its pages.

That is to say, few works in comics form are so deserving of the sort of presentation Fantagraphics gives Ghost World in this special edition. Enid and Rebecca's relationship and its slow dissolution remains a wondrous and funny and heartbreaking story that is beautifully constructed and never takes a wrong step. It is so well-structured and compellingly crafted that it inspired a film great in its own right that doesn't even find particular value in sticking to the details of the original story.

The book and the film remain two of the greatest joys in my life, and this new hardcover special edition is a great summation and celebration of all that has gone before: you'll find the original graphic novel, plus the screenplay, and seemingly every single piece of art that Clowes ever created for anything relating to Ghost World, including CD inserts, advertisements, dolls, and other merchandising offshoots.

Because Enid and Rebecca inspire such interest and passion to those who experience their story (in any medium), it seems somehow right to assemble for their fans every document and piece of evidence relating to their existence within the pages of this book. Moreover, though, it seems to me a paradoxically personal attempt by creator Dan Clowes to somehow reclaim these two girls, these portions of his personality that he gave to create this work, to somehow find a way to wrap his own brain around the phenomenon that came from his giving Ghost World to all of us. In a way, the Special Edition gives Ghost World back to Dan Clowes, and as such it's a perfect book for those of us who love this story, and a perfect gift of acknowledgment and thanks to its own creator.

Buy Ghost World: The Special Edition from Amazon.com.



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