I’ll start with an “I’m running late” appology, as it seems as though I am eternally running late on my writing goals. Eh. C’est la vie.
This week, I’m looking at another Indie comic and it is a nice, hardcover book called Wilson. In Wilson, Daniel Clowes (writer of Ghost World, Pussey!, and Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron) tells the story of (ironically?) Wilson. Wilson is middle aged and angst-ridden. His father is dying, his only real friend is his dog Pepper, and his attempts at social interaction are excercises in futility.
The story is told episodically, one episode per page. Each episode is illustrated in a slightly different manner, which is interesting. It lends a flavor of American Splendor to the book. I think that each style is meant to reflect the emotional content of each episode, but it is difficult to say. What I am certain about is that it is a deliberate choice and has some form of intention.
In my interpretation, Wilson has unfair expectations of his fellow man. In one episode, Wilson sits across from a stranger in a coffee shop. The stranger is working on his laptop, and Wilson tries to strike-up a conversation despite knowing that the stranger is working. Wilson gets upset when the stranger doesn’t respond conversationally, eventually yelling at him. This is a prime example of Wilson’s desire for contact, but inability to connect with people.
At times, Wilson’s disappointments are validated. When he meets a woman whose sister has lymphoma, they talk for a while. His father, 82 has been diagnosed with stage four cancer and is dying. The woman asks how old his father is, then she says “at least he’s lived a long life” and that her sister is “44 years old with three little children.” Wilson, arms crossed and in a huff, sits back and crosses his arms, saying “Yeah, who gives a shit if some old man drops dead.”
With his father’s death, Wilson is faced with his own mortality. He wants to have a legacy, he wants to leave something behind when he dies. He tries to reconnect with his ex-wife Pippi, thinking that their relationship wasn’t so bad and that maybe he could salvage something about his life. When he does find her, she’s doing well enough. He had heard she became a prostitute and got into drugs; when he finds her, she’s waiting tables.
Wilson rekindles his romance with Pippi; she seems tired and deperate, he’s lonely and desperate and the two make a fine, dysfunctional couple. Oh! Did I mention Wilson said he got millions from his father’s estate? Yeah, he wasn’t serious, but someone thought he was… Then, Wilson finds out that Pippi had a daughter that she put up for adoption, and Wilson assumes he’s the father. Long and short, Wilson soon finds himself reconnected with his ex and visiting his estranged daughter Claire.
Claire is a teenager, and she’s pretty much a younger version of Wilson. She hates life with the zeal only a teenager could muster. Claire lies to her adoptive parents so that Pippi, Wilson, and she can go off to spend some time together. The three get to know eachother and we get a glimpse into Pippi and Wilson’s old marriage. Wilson is pretty much a passive-aggressive ass and Pippi lacks the ability to stand up to him. This is understandable, since most prostitutes aren’t known for high self-esteem. Not that I know any prostitutes, but I think it is a fair estimate that most have some kind of self-esteem issues.
Anyways, when Pippi finds out that Wilson didn’t inherit millions, she gets distant. She doesn’t even feel a connection with Claire while Wilson raves about how much he and Claire are alike and how good it is to all be together. Of course, that might all be somewhat dilusional…
Anyways, Pippi disappears one night and then the cops arrive. Apparently, she claimed that Wilson kidnapped Claire and off Wilson goes to prison.
I’ll tell y’all the rest of the story next time, but for now, I must eat lunch and go to work.