Updated on 16 October, 2021
Ghost World is an intense graphic novel by Daniel Clowes. It was first serialized in 16 issues of Clowes's comic series Eightball, which was later published in hardcover collection, Ghost World, in 1997. It went on to become a popular and successful commercial and critical hit, ultimately earning the author an abundance of awards including an Eisler Prize, the Carnegie medal, and an Honorary Citizen of the Order of the British Empire. A sequel, Ghost World: In Search of Jack Bunz, was eventually released and followed the same format as the original, with the main characters going back in time. While this series was critically acclaimed and popular, it didn't last long and was canceled after its third season.
The premise of the Ghost World series is that there are those who can visit other worlds, called "Voidlands" that are protected from our own realities by supernatural beings known as the "Ghosts". Our protagonist, called Ghost, lives in a world called Pleasantville, which is protected by a dome that shields it from all others. However, when Ghost goes on a quest to visit his favorite haunts he discovers that other people from his world have the ability to visit the Ghost World, too - and they use their supernatural powers to battle against Ghost and his enemies.
One of the most popular things about Ghost World are the many guest stars that come in for appearances throughout the series. Several of these notable celebrities include Tom Cruise as Dr. Isaac, who is an Alzheimer's patient who becomes obsessed with catching a ghost; Terry Bradshaw as Kevin Corley, a man who has the ability to see ghosts; and Jennifer Aniston as Dotrice, another Ghost World resident. All of these actors make excellent choices because they really bring something unique to the character of Ghost. They also provide the perfect comic relief for the series' lead, Ghost. The ladies in the cast also help make Ghost World very entertaining and likable, and that helps make the comic worth reading.
But it's not just the great characters that make this Ghost World series a hit. The way in which the book is written is also quite interesting, in addition to the way in which it is drawn. The zigzags between the scenes are especially entertaining to those who like a bit of humor mixed into their science fiction novels. The zigzags themselves are not particularly elaborate, but they do add to the sense of confusion and adventure that Ghost World provides. In terms of design, much of the work is done by award winning cartoonist Daniel Clowes, who also drew the original version of the Ghost Towns storyline. In fact, one of the most recognizable elements of the comic is the use of a zigzag line to draw a spider web between various panels.
The writing style of the comic is more conversational than concise, but it still manages to capture the essence of this unique genre. Ghost World takes a moderately dark approach to the classic superhero genre, but it manages to keep the story moving at a steady pace. For the most part, the plot is predictable (although there are a few minor twists that are handled well), but the nature of the characters and the path they take is entertaining even if it occasionally veers off course. Daniel Clowes does a nice job of writing funny dialogues, but the one problem he has with Ghost World is the complete lack of character development.
The most intriguing aspect of Ghost World Comic is the relationship between Ghost and Thora Birch. While Thora is shown as a strong willed individual, she is rarely depicted as someone who is capable of handling a mental challenge or of working outside of her comfort zone. For all her talk about how she can handle anything thrown at her, the writers never show her actually taking any action. This lack of character development leaves the reader hoping that the writer is crafting her character for potential later appearances in future issues. Even the most minor of personality traits are explored in a way that gives them more weight than a mere slapstick villain.
Many fans of the Ghost World Graphic Novel are immediately drawn to Thora Birch's portrayal of a strong female protagonist. Writing about a strong, determined female protagonist is often a little bit more difficult than writing about a strong, determined male protagonist, but Daniel Clowes and thora birch do an excellent job of pulling it off. In addition, the art style used for Ghost World is appropriate for a comic book. The colored pencil drawings are clean and crisp, and the story is told through the cleverly designed eyes of Daniel Clowes. All in all, this is a great graphic novel.
In conclusion, while this Ghost World Comic isn't exactly the best Ghost World storyline, it is still a very entertaining read with excellent comic book storytelling. The story is simple, engaging, and fast moving. Thora Birch does an excellent job of transforming an underdeveloped character into someone that makes you care about her. All in all, this is a great follow-up to the excellent first arc by Daniel Clowes and Thora Birch.