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Dan Clowes talks about his comics and favorite books.

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few good reading tips. Dan Clowes is an outstanding comics artist, probably best known for his comic Eightball. He also wrote the screenplay for Ghost World and Art School Confidential, both based on his comics. Anthologies include Lout Rampage, and Orgy Bound. These are usually labelled underground comics, but they're better described as quality comics, and they show what the comics medium is capable of.

READERSVOICE.COM: I read you were once into hard-boiled crime fiction, Terry Southern, and also Burroughs and Bukowski. I was wondering what sort of books you like to read these days.

DAN CLOWES: I actually made it through very little of Burroughs. I thought Junkie and Queer were good, but couldn’t stomach any of the later stuff.I’ve spent the past few years reading biographies of 20th century artists.

Stand-outs: Night Studio, (Philip Guston) and Utopia Parkway (Joseph Cornell).

I’ve also finally gotten around to reading the first 2 volumes of Tom DeHaven’s Derby Dugan trilogy which somehow actually make it seem exciting to be a cartoonist.

RV: What sort of ink and brush do you use for inking your comics?

DC: Dr. Martin’s TECH, and a Windsor-Newton series 7 number 3.

RV: When you draw comics do you draw to escape into another world or to criticise aspects of the outside world, or just for the satisfaction of drawing?

DC: Are those my only choices? On some basic level I suppose I’m creating “imaginary friends” on paper, but the real satisfaction comes from finding and solving various problems of narrative, rhythm, tone, character, etc.

It doesn’t have much to do with drawing.

RV: You said in one interview that when you wrote Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron you just embodied the characters and went where they took you. Did you use that approach for writing the screenplay of Art School Confidential?

DC: To some degree it was very much the same process, although I hope I’ve learned a few things since writing that Velvet Glove story in my mid-20s. Also, with a film script you have the luxury of rewriting, something that’s often nearly impossible in comics, and it’s in that rethinking of the various story elements that the characters seem to emerge as specific, “realistic” figures with implied histories and unspoken thoughts.

RV: What are some titles of magazines and newspapers or journals that you like to read?

DC: Nothing terribly interesting. Unfortunately, SF (San Francisco) doesn’t have a decent daily paper, so I read the LA Times or the NYT (New York Times). As far as my own line of work, COMIC ART and ILLUSTRATION are both terrific magazines.

RV: What’s your daily routine?

DC: I don’t really have a set routine, but I tend to write during the day and draw at night.

RV: A lot of your comics, like Lloyd Llewellyn, have a ‘fifties and early ‘sixties influence. Why is that?

DC: It was a response to having come of age in the 70s & early 80s; a desire to go back to a time before the hippies made everything ugly.

I’ve always felt that in our drive to stay perpetually up-to-date we’ve abandoned modes and ideas that still have a lot of “juice” left in them.

RV: Growing up, through your teenage years, art school, and beyond, would you draw every day, and how many hours would you spend drawing each day or

DC: Nowadays I probably spend between 25-35 hours actually sitting at the drawing board each week, with roughly the same amount of time spent writing.

Throughout my younger years, I probably drew 2-3 hours regularly every day.

Thank god there was no internet, video games, etc

RV: What are your plans?

DC: A new Eightball is all done except for the coloring, and I’m about to start work on the Art School movie.

After that, I’m going to put together an expanded book-form edition of my Ice Haven comic from 8Ball #22.

Beyond all that I have another project that I’m very excited about, but it probably won’t ever happen so I won’t talk about it now.