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Poke Cheese

Today on the site, Ken Parille looks at the first decade of Eightball.

It’s 1988. Daniel Clowes’s Lloyd Llewellyn series has come to an abrupt end, canceled by the publisher. And Clowes is relieved. Freed from churning out short comedic adventures featuring the same cast of characters, he’ll finally be able to develop a more personal and wide-ranging approach to comics. In the ’80s, prevailing wisdom held that a series needed to focus on a single character and maintain a consistent look. “The thought was,” Clowes recently observed,

that if you did stories in . . . different styles — if you combined the serious stuff with humorous stuff — that the result would be kind of discordant. But I also had the theory that if it was all by the same artist, and the artist was trying to be truthful or willing to let his unconscious or his intuition decide what was going to happen on the pages, then it would all kind of come together in a cohesive way. At least that was the theory.

His subversive theory was right. And the proof was Eightball, perhaps the most important American alternative comic to emerge from the twentieth century.

During its first decade, Eightball was a Mad magazine-esque free-wheeling anthology. A typical issue included five to seven short stories drawn in diverse styles, just as each Mad issue contained work by several artists with distinctive styles. Clowes moved effortlessly among genres such as autobiography, gag cartoon, and rant as well as fairy tale, short fiction, and cultural satire.

Elsewhere:

A new festival, with Tom Spurgeon as executive director, has been announced: Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

Longtime cartoonist and staple of that long ago 80s/90s comics world Pat Moriarty is interviewed over here.

This story about Disney is truly beyond.

And Chicago’s own CAKE is this weekend. Go find Anya Davidson and buy everything she has!


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