Saying that Daniel Clowes "writes and draws comics" is like saying that the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt "writes and records pop songs." Sure, it's not inaccurate, but it doesn't remotely convey the achievement of Clowes' dazzling body of work. Clowes broke out in the '80s as part of the generation that revitalized indie comics after the big bang of the late '60s. His periodical Eightball(and related anthologies like Ghost World, Art School Confidential and Caricature) soon established him as a unique, sophisticated storyteller in the company of suburban surrealists like the Hernandez Brothers and Charles Burns, and zeitgeist definers like Peter Bagge. But Clowes' work, more cerebral and keenly observed, pointed the way for later, urbane developments in the genre, as Chris Ware became king and the NPR and New Yorker crowd started getting interested in "graphic novels." In a field prone to overpraising, Clowes is one of the real geniuses, still producing subtle classics like Ice Haven or Wilson. And he's finally getting the spiffy monograph treatment with the hardbound The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist for which he'll be honored this week by Meltdown Comics' NerdMelt. The event will be hosted by Blair Butler (of G4's Fresh Ink) and Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder will interview Clowes. NerdMelt at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd.; Th., April 5, 8 p.m., $40 (includes book and two admissions). (323) 851-7223.
Thu., April 5, 8 p.m., 2012