For a mixture of comedy and drama delivered with indie sensibilities, it doesn’t get much better than Daniel Clowes’ Wilson. The only indie book that’s better would be Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware.
Daniel Clowes is known for his books about disaffected people in the suburbs feeling out of place and having brief moments in their lives when they finally connect to another person, before the connection’s severed and they’re alone again. He’s most famous for Ghost World (made into a contemporary classic film with Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson before she went for the big bucks in mediocre films). Another of his books, Ice Haven, is quite good, but I’m putting Wilson above both of those.
The book is about an aging hipster who goes about town offering ironic critiques of culture. At first, it (purposefully) resembles a Sunday comic strip, and the whole story evolves over one-page installments. Ast it goes on, it becomes apparent that Wilson’s glibness and his irascibility, which make him such a funny character, are what’s keeping him back from real relationships. As readers, we can see exactly how and why Wilson’s life goes downhill. The story, like Jimmy Corrigan, involves reconnecting with long lost family members.
It’s the reflexivity that makes this Clowes book so unique. Instead of just jeering at the world, Wilson turns inward.
This makes a good coffee table book, if you’re a hipster. The whole thing can be read in an hour, but it’s one that you can definitely re-read.