From The Desk Of Phox: “Eightball” By Daniel Clowes, Issue #18

In interviews, the members of Phox have a conversational style that reflects the Wisconsin band’s music—it’s playful and thoughtful, serious in its ambitions, but seriously fun when all is said and done. With folk-like delicacy, jazz-like precision and a very indie sense of irreverence, the group’s self-titled Partisan debut is one of the best underground-pop records of the year. These high-school friends will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on them.

Clowes

Not only does this issue conclude Dan‘s most famous story, Ghost World (which was later compiled into a book, and even later adapted into a (disappointing) Major Hollywood Picture), but it includes a 2″x4″ insert booklet entitled “Modern Cartoonist.” Bear in mind, this thing is 20 years old. At the time it was written, comics couldn’t have been taken too much less seriously without being disregarded altogether. And I realize I have no authority on the matter, as I’m essentially a middle-schooler comparing the merits of British punk rock vs. the American spin-off bullshit. (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing SLC Punk or something, even for this incidental analogy.)

But if nothing else, this fantastic piece of experimental literature defines its medium with compassion and finesse. In Dan’s words:

“Think of the comic panel (or page or story) as a living mechanism with, for example, the text representing the brain (the internal; ideas, religion) and the pictures representing the body (the external; biology, etc.), brought to life by the almost tangible spark created by the perfect juxtaposition of panels in sequence.”