Richard’s January Recommendation

Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes

mr wonderfulRichard says:  “Mister Wonderful is Daniel Clowes’s examination of ‘midlife romance’ (in fact, that is this graphic novel’s tagline).  In his typically sardonic style, Clowes follows two middle-aged divorcees and their developing relationship.  Friends set Marshall and Natalie up on a blind date; however, no one expects it to work out as well as it does—including the cynical protagonists.  Marshall is a nervous, self-effacing schlub with a heart of gold; Natalie is an attractive, neurotic, intelligent woman with a wry sense of humor.  Despite their initial misgivings, both characters are surprised by how much they have in common.  The story is told from Marshall’s perspective such that the plot is filtered through his myriad fixations, desires, and expectations.  Just the same, readers get glimpses of Natalie’s character through a combination of Daniel Clowes’s careful characterization and Marshall’s observations.

Inevitably, there is a disconnect between the characters’ expectations and reality.  Just the same, in spite of their personal quirks, encounters with questionable exes, purse-snatching thieves, and Marshall’s incessantly self-deprecating interior monologue, Marshall and Natalie are a good match.  Daniel Clowes’s works tend toward melancholy (for instance, the classic Ghost World) and Mister Wonderful retains his signature wistful tone.  Nevertheless, this hopeful piece is informed as much by Clowes’s superb artwork as his insightful, bemused take on human nature.  As such, this graphic novel is a surprising, (relatively) optimistic read by one of this medium’s major talents.”

3 Similar Reads

Over Easy by Mimi Pond – “A dropout from higher education and the career rat race of 1970s California, Pond (The Simpsons TV scripts and five humor books) takes refuge in blue-collar work: waitressing at a popular Oakland diner. So different from her own confusion and naïveté, her wisecracking new colleagues seem appealingly exotic—the boss, for instance, hires staff by asking candidates to tell a joke or relate a dream.” – Library Journal

Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps by Art Spiegelman – “Spiegelman’s influence on graphic narrative cannot be overstated, and most libraries serving college-age readers and older should add this lavish and colorful retrospective to the graphic arts collection as well as to the graphic novels shelf.” – Library Journal

Building Stories by Chris Ware – ““Ware has been consistently pushing the boundaries for what the comics format can look like and accomplish as a storytelling medium…More than anything, though, this graphic novel mimics the kaleidoscopic nature of memory itself—fleeting, contradictory, anchored to a few significant moments, and a heavier burden by the day. In terms of pure artistic innovation, Ware is in a stratosphere all his own.” – Booklist

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