I don’t really know how it happened that I never read Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel Ghost World before now. I’ve also never seen the movie based on the novel. I’ve had it on my radar for years, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the first movies I ever added to my Netflix queue. I’ve just never taken the plunge and moved it to the top.
[Loba Tangent: I just watched the trailer and read the plot of the movie. First, I love how early this was in Scarlett Johansson’s career. Also, what the hell ever happened to Thora Birch? Second, that plot sounds jilted. I suppose that answers my question of how they made a mainstream movie out of this comic, which doesn’t really have a central point other than the exploration of the post-graduation dystopia and ensuing tumble into adulthood, as set in the culture-defining era of early 90s grunge and disenchantment. They didn’t make that movie. They made another movie. And it sounds…questionable. Maybe that’s why I haven’t rented it yet.]
So, the graphic novel is…uh, I think I just pretty much explained most of it in my tangent. The two main characters are Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer, both highly cynical, highly sarcastic, highly amusing. They’re best friends at the time of their high school graduation, both into the same things, the same people, the same warped and weary view of the capitalistic, consumer-driven wasteland of unnamed America in which they live. Enid is slightly more of all these things and slightly less popular with the boys than Rebecca, which I think gives her the sharper edge and ekes her out as the star of the novel. She seems to be the one intent on making things happen, whereas Rebecca is more content with being a follower and the recipient of male affection.
Clowes does a fantastic job of showing the everyday fluctuations of relationships and the stilted stumbling journey that we all take as we move away from the cloistered safety of our adolescence and into the stark reality of adulthood and figuring things out on our own. Also, the natural evolution of Enid and Rebecca’s friendship from beginning to end was believable, relatable, and not the least bit melancholy. And make note that it was no small thing that Clowes chose two female characters as his protagonists, or that the novel was so well received by fans and critics regardless of the fact that it wasn’t a male-driven coming of age story for the comics fandom, which continues to be a holdout of male domination.
Final Verdict: I very much enjoyed this novel and foresee it becoming a part of my graphic novel collection. I kind of have a feeling that I might not have the same reaction to the movie…but I’m willing to give a go.