Ghost World

by Daniel Clowes

Paperback, 2001

Call number





Fantagraphics (2001), 80 pages


One of the best-selling and critically-acclaimed graphic novels of all-time telling the story of two supremely ironic, above-it-all teenagers facing the thrilling uncertainty of life after high school. As they attempt to carry their life-long friendship into a new era, the careful dynamics of their inseparable bond are jolted, and what seemed like a future of endless possibilities looks more like an encroaching reality of strip malls, low-paying service jobs and fading memories.

Media reviews

This book is a fascinating insight into the mind of the disenfranchised youngster, and anyone who can remember being there will probably understand the journey the girls are going on.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mattsya
Like Your Eyes in Stars, this is a story of a great friendship that grows apart as adulthood sets in. Very funny and often vulgar, Clowes' comic book is the form at its best. Clowes is highly regarded in the comics world, and is truly a master of the form. As with Blankets and Death of Speedy, the
Show More
drawing adds great emotion and subtext to the otherwise non-dramatic narrative. Enid is a wonderfully complex character with a wicked sense of humor. This comic effectively captures the moment of the end of adolesence and the beginning of adulthood. Recommended for all readers.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cattylj
This baffles me. I can't understand why it's so highly regarded. Sometimes it's fun to be a hater, sometimes it's cathartic, but this was exhausting. There were a few one-liners here and there that made me chuckle, and others that, embarrassingly, sound like something my friends and I would have
Show More
said in high school. But other than that it was just...mean. They're mean girls. They're misfits and witty and hating on "the mainstream" or whatever, but in the end they're just plain old mean girls. And unlike other books, shows, and movies that deal with mean girls, there didn't seem to be anything deeper at work. No real interest in why they were so corrosive, where their anger stems from, or why their relationships were all so toxic (even with each other). There were a few small attempts at this, but nothing to really grab on to. I'm just baffled.

I would recommend this for people who hate everything. If you can relate, you'll love it, if you hate it, you'll enjoy hating it. You can't go wrong.
Show Less
LibraryThing member wiremonkey
If you have ever been a middle class, disenfranchised adolescent in North America, if you have ever been bored/disillusioned/confused about growing up/sexuality/what the hell you should be doing with your life and what it all means anyway, this book is for you. Clowes portrays the adolescent angst
Show More
(that is so painfully real at the time but seems a little shamefully narcissistic a few years later)to perfection.
Show Less
LibraryThing member anderlawlor
Even if you’ve seen the movie, go out right now and get this comic. Seriously. You will not be disappointed. Even more than in the movie, Ghost World is the story of the friendship between Enid and Rebecca in the summer after high school. The art is both funny and good-looking. And the story
Show More
takes the friendship between the girls as seriously as any romantic relationship. Somehow, Dan Clowes has gotten inside the heads of two very sarcastic, very bored, very angsty teenage girls. How did he do it? No one knows.
Show Less
LibraryThing member swampygirl
Kind of reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite in that the character's crippling self-centeredness kind of ruins any impact/entertainment value the story could have had, and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
LibraryThing member dr_zirk
If you've only seen the film version of Ghost World, you're missing out on an entirely more compelling version of the story, rendered in a medium that is much more appropriate to the subject matter. Daniel Clowes has formidable talents in illustration, story and (best of all) characterization.
Show More
Despite the delicate challenge of depicting the complicated lives of young women, Clowes succeeds marvelously by carefully balancing his delivery so that we are given just enough information, but never feel overwhelmed with too much detail. Enid and Rebecca are richly developed characters, and their story is subtle and fascinating. Not bad for a "comic book." If you're new to the world of graphic novels, this is a great place to start - this is the good stuff.
Show Less
LibraryThing member heidialice
Enid and Rebecca, too cool and eccentric for their peers, have been inseparable since childhood, but the summer after they graduate from high school, things start to subtly shift between them. They still have their twisted fun with each other and people they know, but the end of the summer looms as
Show More
Enid longs to escape the town, and the child she was.

Well-drawn, with perfectly executed dialogue, probably more poignant and appropriate for older teens. Especially good are the glimpses into the real young women behind the personas.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bookworm12
I think I would have enjoyed this one more if I'd read it in high school or college. The girls just seemed shallow at this point.
LibraryThing member AnarchicQ
I can see how this comic would have massive cult appeal to the 'disenfranchised youth' of the 90's. However, this book is the bastard child of Strangers in Paradise and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac with a dash of Clerks. It has all the negativity of both books (Plus Daria and Roseanne) but none of
Show More
the wit, charm or cleverness.

Don't get me wrong, I love negativity. Negativity is awesome if delivered with some class. This book has no class.

Like mommy Strangers in Paradise it features two young woman who are just trying to find their way in the world but like Daddy JtHM, it hates everyone and swears up a storm.

Enid and Rebecca are not fun people, they are not interesting people. They are everything they hate and there is nothing endearing about them.

The passage of time in the book is...hard to follow, with scenes suddenly ending for new ones. Are these flashbacks? And then suddenly Enid goes off to college then...comes back to visit and Rebecca stays in stupid-head nowhere with the guy? What am I supposed to take away from this? The more things change?

The writing wasn't witty or new, it was all the cliche stuff we expect 'nihilistic', misanthropic teenagers say.

I will at least give credit where it's due in the sake that they did feel like real people.

Real people I'd never hang out with.

If you liked this book, I'd recommend Strangers in Paradise for some quality "Who am I and what's my purpose?" story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member GingerbreadMan
I read this a couple of years before they made the film, and I now reread it over a weekend at my brother's. I didn't remember the difference between thew film and the book was so big. The book is much more plotless, static or perhaps floating, almost without a dramaturgical core. The main theme,
Show More
growing apart, losing sync with a close friend is sort of happening in passing, in the margins even. It's quite skillfully done, and it moves me in a understated way.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Othemts
A sad but compelling graphic novel about a teenage girl who is an outsider on the cusp of adulthood but not satisfied with the inauthentic world she lives in. An excellent movie was made from this book, but I think its worth reading this first.
LibraryThing member stipe168
movie and book are both great. you have to realize that the two main characters are ignorant flakes to enjoy it. but they have good hearts.. sort of... just read it. self mockery at its best.
LibraryThing member the_terrible_trivium
A book about irony and the perils thereof. The lead character infuriated me, but that's the whole point I suppose. Mixed feelings on this one, but I'd be almost leaning toward calling it "important" if I went in for such things.
LibraryThing member Lindsayg
I had seen this movie before and enjoyed it, even if I thought it was a little confusing. The graphic novel makes much more sense. It's just about what happens to two best friends when high school is over and they have to decide what to do with their lives. They've been so close for so many years,
Show More
and now it looks like they'll have to go their separate ways. The story is very realistic, and includes plenty of meanness and harsh language. I know this is considered an important work in the graphic novel format. I can see why.
Show Less
LibraryThing member perlle
The subject is the time between high school and adulthood. The question is about friendship and how the "ghost world" effects and changes them. The book is full of teenage experiences everyone can identify.
LibraryThing member taylorh
Do I like Ghost World? I don't know.

Clowes art is economical while still somewhat grotesque. Features are a bit distorted out of true and are never hollywood-false, fortunately. He uses a spare amount of color to highlight the otherwise black and white drawings, in such a way that there is an
Show More
almost bleak wash of dusk light suffusing the story. It adds just the right amount of poignancy to the undertones of the tale. Dusk, a time of change, realizations, shifting speeds, moving on.
Show Less
LibraryThing member KLmesoftly
This story captures the difficulties of growing up perfectly - the awkward transition from high school to college, leaving one's home town and struggling to maintain friendships. Don't read this looking for much of a plot, as such; it's a character study.
LibraryThing member poetontheone
Two co-dependent, mouthy girls fresh out of high school have nothing to do but sulk and whine about their lives in an unbearable small town. Some further character development would have improved this premise by leaps and bounds, as so many will fail to realize the intended parody Clowes' attempts
Show More
with these miserable 'hipster' youths. The building tension towards the end is unexpected and refreshing, but not ultimately able to elevate the story's unstable backbone. A funny-but-melancholy coming of age story, as many are, complimented by some bleak though often goofy pencil work.
Show Less
LibraryThing member stephmo
Daniel Clowes has a talent for zeroing in on those who are fighting against the notion that anyone but they has ever struggled with fitting into their own skin. Ghost World follows this struggle through Enid and Becky as they take the only path permissible - forming a tight bubble where one can
Show More
pretend that they and everyone in it is absolutely, the only people that get anything about the world. The problem with angst-ridden teen bubbles is that reality has this pesky way of poking at the bubble, what with things coming to the surface like discovering things you actually do care about and finding things you might actually want to try.

If you don't remember trying on different personas or if you no longer acknowledge your angst-ridden teen days, Ghost World can appear to follow two rather cruel and aimless girls. I did prefer the work of David Boring not only because you get a longer story arc, but because it's clear that Clowes does not spend his time with the deliberately cruel. Instead, he spends time with those that become cruel in their misguided attempts to protect themselves from the cruelties of others.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Jargoneer
Much praised graphic novel adapted into a much praised film.

Best friends Enid and Becky are best friends; adolescent girls on the cusp of adulthood. Enid is more opinionated, insecure about her physical appearance, generally less mature as she seeking her ‘true’ personality. Becky is
Show More
attractive, more a follower of Enid than an instigator and more comfortable in her own skin. They have the faux cynicism of youth, spending much of their time making snide comments to each other about other people and the world in general; while outwardly following more acceptable social etiquette. They discuss potential boyfriends, sex and what they want to do with their lives. Eventually as time moves on they grower further apart until their friendship is more-or-less a thing of the past.

The book is less a novel than a collection of linked short stories or vignettes, probably as result of it being published periodically in Eightball. This works well when establishing the characters but is less successful in developing them – the final couple of chapters feel disjointed from the rest as if there are strips missing.

Nominally described as black and white the artwork is actually tinted; green in the copy I read but there appears to some variation between editions regarding this. Clowes art is relatively straightforward, comprised of strong simple lines. (The artwork actually simplifies over the length of the book as Clowes gradually adopts a simpler style). This works well in Ghost World by focusing the reader onto the story and the characters rather than spending more time analysing detailed artwork.

The problem with focusing the reader onto the story and the characters is that both tread such a well-worn path. The story of childhood friends gradually growing apart is an oft-told tale in books, film, television and song – one leaves to go places/abroad/the big city, the other is left behind trapped in a mundane existence. (Of course, films especially often reverse this with the one who left (now harassed or bitter or trapped in the rat race) having to go back to the small town they escaped from and experiencing a spiritual reawakening). Ghost World is no different – the catalyst that starts the decline in their relationship is Enid applying for college and not telling Becky. Even from the first few pages it is obvious that Enid will be the one that leaves, that Becky is on the verge of accepting the situation.

With a clichéd plot the stress of the book falls on the characters but again they are follow pre-determined patterns. Enid is the outsider who is confused about what she wants but she knows that she wants more than is on offer on Main Street; Becky, on the other hand, really just wants to fit into the society around her. Clowes never threatens to alter the dynamic of the relationship, of the characters – Becky is never allowed to step from behind Enid and he leaves her stranded in the shadows.

Ghost World is not a bad book, it is enjoyable, but it has been over-praised, possibly as result of it being more human in a medium that is dominated by superheroes. The journey Clowes takes us on is not an exciting one of discovery but a pleasant one through familiar places.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dst
I can see why people have raved about this. The girls are enchanting characters, both bitchy and insecure. Whether that has something to do with actual teenagers, I do not know. Chilly artwork complements the storyline perfectly.
LibraryThing member Djupstrom
My favorite literary graphic novel by far.
LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
Two cynical, world-weary high-school girls approach graduation and life beyond it with a sense of ennui and uncertainty. This is actually a graphic novel that should probably rate 5 stars - it is an incredibly well-drawn and written portrait of fear and loathing in a small town but I was possibly
Show More
not in the frame of mind to appreciate it as much as I should have. Will re-read this one down the line.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mjspear
Affecting portrayal of teenage girl friendship and alienation. Enid and Rebecca come of age in an urban landscape populated with weird characters, would-be boyfriends, and (surprisingly sympathetic) parents. Everyday events (prank phone calls, trips to a 1970s diner, spying on strangers) are
Show More
elevated to grave importance in their narrow world. Not everyone's cup of tea but a true prize for those who 'get it.' Edgiest of the edgy: f-bombs, nonPC remarks, cartoon portrayals of sexual activity, nudity.
Show Less
LibraryThing member timtom
This is a good example of the new-era of american graphic novels: away from the superhero stereotypes, realistic, cynical and well-drawn. But the storyline is a bit weak, and the two main characters, two pre-college best friends facing the slap of adulthood, are hard to relate to.




1560974273 / 9781560974277
Page: 0.2464 seconds