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A Look into Daniel Clowes’s Patience

A lifelong comics geek reviews the cartoonist’s latest graphic novel.

Photo: Daniel Clowes

To say I’m a fan of Dan Clowes’s graphic novels would be an understatement. More accurately, I’m obsessed. In the ’80s, whenever I’d pass by the rising star’s Wicker Park apartment (I’d spotted his name on the buzzer), I’d look up at his window, hoping to catch a glimpse of him working at his drafting table. Since then, I’ve devoured Clowes’s entire canon, the everyday dramas of which have earned him spots in The New Yorker and Zadie Smith books. So trust me when I say that his latest, Patience (March 23, Fantagraphics), is a departure. Spanning five decades and leaping liberally into the future, it reads more like a Philip K. Dick novel than anything from Clowes’s hyperrealistic oeuvre. A murder sparks the plot. Time travel drives it forward. The protagonist, Jack, even wields what looks like a Jetsons-esque ray gun. Still, at the end of Clowes’s complexly layered narrative, it’s his characters’ humanity that makes Patience pulse. Thirty years after I stood outside the illustrator’s apartment looking for silhouettes, the world is as different as it is in his imagined future. People, on the other hand, stay the same.

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