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Book Review < Back

Like a Velvet Glove Cast In Iron

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Commentary

I don't know if LIKE A VELVET GLOVE CAST IN IRON actually means anything. I'm sure it does to someone somewhere, someone who's much smarter than me. What I do know about VELVET GLOVE is that it makes some odd sort of sense - just don't ask me to explain any of it.

The word Lynchian gets tossed around at anything with a lesbian or a dream sequence in it nowadays, and that's too bad. The key to Lynch, much like early-period Clowes, is a pervasive, banal horror existing in the negative space or the periphery as opposed to being front and center: a shaved dog is not Lynchian, whereas an anonymous note ordering one to shave said dog is. Seriously, just ask David Foster Wallace, he'll back me up here.

VELVET GLOVE reads like an expulsive dream journal, written by a guy so equally bemused and tormented that he's decided to share. Clowes' art at this point was still in that weird neo-fifties phase that somehow makes the whole work more unsettling somehow. The events of the story (which at first appear to be non-sequitors) eventually start building upon themselves, forming a unique logic that's inexplicable but at the same time cannot occur any other way. If it's total nonsense (and with Clowes, one must always be on guard for such things), then it's nonsense that provides its own context.

There's a plot, too: a guy becomes obsessed with a woman in an old stag film. He tries to find her. Things get weird. This is the kind of comic that could alternately get you laid or slapped. Read it and find out.

-- Matt Fraction

 
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.

 


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