But, so was Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum." Only time will tell if his work will be included amongst such august company, but for the time being, Daniel Clowes stands at the top of the heap of today's comic book artists.
Twentieth Century Eightball is an omnibus, "best of" collection of his comic panels from his Fantagraphic comic book series "Eightball" which was issued semiannually from the late 1980s through the 1990s.
Clowes' rapist (pun intended) wit is in overdrive here, as he expounds on his endless lists of things he hates, often in the guise of such stand-ins as the now-classic Lloyd Llewellyn. "I Hate You Deeply" and "I Love You Tenderly" will have you howling like a banshee, as you follow Lloyd through one of his ranting diatribes against sports figures, corporate greed, hippy sellouts and lowest-common-denominators.
And that's basically the whole book: Thinly-veiled attacks on all the things that bother the idosyncratic Daniel Clowes. But, so what: They deserve bashing! My favourite targets of his ire were post-modernist talentless art school poseurs, violently agressive hippy burnout peaceniks, "hip" people, Chicagoan "Jim Belushi" types, dumb jocks and pretentious Americans such as I who use the British spelling of words (e.g., "colour" instead of "color"; "kerb" rather than "curb").
Some of the material is just too bizarre to describe here -- I don't want to give away the weirdness, so find out for yourself about "On Sports," "Pogeybait," "The Happy Fisherman" and other such sundry freakishness.
But this book also reveals a soft-spot in Clowes' heart, particularly in the short "Ugly Girls," in which he questions society's norms of "beauty." Though he doesn't use the name "Enid," the reader can tell that Clowes has long been entranced and obsessed with the raven-haired, bookish, bespectacled wallflower type. I agree: She *is* much more stunning than those trophy blondes.