Dan Clowes: He-Man Comic Artist
On His Life
m: So how would you describe yourself as a kid? What were you
d: Oh, I was like an introverted loner like all cartoonists.
d: You'd never find a cartoonist who was an extroverted jock or
something because when would they have had time to learn how
to draw cartoons. It takes hours and hours and hours of solitary
isolation, you know, playing out what you can't do in real life in
weird little scenarios on paper.
m: So it's like an escape for you, you think?
d: Oh it's not so much an escape as a therapy. I mean, you're
creating these characters to work out these inadequacies in your
own life. . . . That's what superhero fantasies are all about. It's
power fantasies for people who have no power.
m: Right, kind of the Dan Pussey motif.
d: Right, that's what that's all about.
m: So did you have any dreams of what you wanted to be, realistic
ones? Did you want
to be a fireman or something like that?
d: Oh no, I always wanted to draw. I mean, that was the only thing
that I knew I had any skill at at all.
m: You grew up in Chicago right?
m: Maybe you could talk a little more about your high school and
grade school days.
d: Oh, yeah I mean I was sort of in this weird neighborhood. It was
like this college neighborhood in the middle of the worst
ghetto. . . . So you're sort of in this little isolated pocket of
intellectualism. It's just a kind of weird isolated existence. I
never got a sense of Chicago so much, I just felt like I lived in this
urban jungle surrounded on all sides by certain death.
d: I was a very fearful kid. I was always getting chased going to
school. . . .
m: Did you get beat up a lot?
d: Oh yeah or just hassled, just sort of intimidated. I wasn't a, you
know, imposing person in any way. I had my own little fantasy
world at home to return to [laughs].
m: You moved to New York at one time is that right?
d: Yeah, when I was like 18, the minute I got out of high school.
m: Was that for college?
d: Yeah, I went to art school in Brooklyn in another horrible
m: [laughs] You've hit em all, huh?
d: Yeah, it's not till like two years ago that I've lived in a place
where I could go out after dark without getting killed.
m: That's kind of a nice thing, a nice perk. You left [Chicago] right
away you said, were you fleeing?