The Time- Trav­eler’s Dead Wife

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher Jonathan Cape Writer/ artist Daniel Clowes

graphic novel The re­lease of new work by Ghost World cre­ator Dan Clowes is an ex­tremely rare event, so it’s dou­bly ex­cit­ing that his lat­est is a time travel tale.

It fol­lows Jack Bar­low, an av­er­age shlubb who comes home one day to find his preg­nant wife’s been mur­dered. The ti­tle ref­er­ences both her name and his ob­ses­sive com­mit­ment to find­ing her killer. When, in 2029, Jack stum­bles across a means of time travel, he switches his tar­get from aveng­ing Pa­tience’s death to pre­vent­ing it…

Clowes fans will im­me­di­ately feel at home among all the sig­na­ture el­e­ments of his style: the sar­donic way even lovers talk, the speech bub­bles lit­tered with phrases like “tit- germs” and “to­tal penises”; the vi­brant, dark­lyinked art, with its cav­al­cade of char­ac­ter­ful faces and bad hair­cuts. It’s a de­light to see Clowes draw the fu­ture, so it’s al­most a shame that the bulk of the story’s set in 2006 or 1985.

It’s a strangely touch­ing book – a scabrous love story, si­mul­ta­ne­ously cyn­i­cal and ten­der. The dam­aged, mid­dle- aged Jack is an in­com­pe­tent tem­po­ral in­ves­ti­ga­tor whose meth­ods are morally du­bi­ous, but the lengths he’s will­ing to go to in the name of love im­press. Though the killer’s iden­tity is guess­able, we’re given enough red her­rings to keep the mys­tery in­volv­ing. It’s not a par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion – but that doesn’t mat­ter too much. For all that this is Jack’s story, some of Pa­tience’s real strengths are shared with Ghost World: the way it un­flinch­ingly ob­serves the tri­als of a young woman ne­go­ti­at­ing the dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion to adult­hood. Ian Ber­ri­man

Clowes spent five years cre­at­ing Pa­tience. Un­til he fin­ished it, he didn’t show a page to any­one – not even his wife or pub­lisher.

A scabrous love story, at once cyn­i­cal and ten­der

Op­er­a­tion : the psy­che­delic board game.

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