Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending the opening of Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes at the Oakland Museum of California. You may know this graphic novelist/artist/screenwriter from works such as Ghost World (later made into a film starring Thora Birch, Scarjo and Steve Buscemi, Clowes writing and winning an Oscar for the screenplay), Art School Confidential (also later turned into a film, screenplay by Clowes), Eightball, The Deathray, Wilson and David Boring among many others.
You might also recognize Daniel Clowes's distinct graphic style (of which I am a huge fan of; the clean bold lines, the solid color palettes, the symmetry, ah man, fantastique!) from the many indie album covers and movie posters he designed over the years. Here are just a few to whet your appetite:
This is the angle that P&C is interested in; the music on the records that Mr. Clowes worked on, the music that he's inspired by, and even a few tunes that I, Dr. Marnie think of when I imagine Clowes's quirky characters and bizarro storylines. Flipping through my copy of Ghost World, I cooked up a playlist that might be fitting of both the stylistic range of this influential artist and what might be the sonic landscapes that some of his characters inhabit.
At the opening, I was privileged to be able to ask Dan what kind of tunes inspire him when he works, to help me get a few leads for this popcast. He was happy to share that he's a fan of old movie soundtracks, citing Nino Rota and the Vertigo theme as among his favorites, both of which make appearances in this mix. And so fellow popsters, I present to you the official Daniel Clowes inspired popcast. Feel free to dig in, grab a sketchbook and marvel at what comes out of your fountain pens.
And after that, be sure to head out to the Oakland Museum of California in downtown Oakland to see Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes up close. The show runs through August 12, 2012. It’s a gorgeous show with many Clowes originals showcased on large, framed sheets of paper that almost makes you feel like a character wandering through the panes of his various comic strips. You might also be interested to check out the upcoming panel featuring Daniel Clowes and fellow critically acclaimed graphic novelist, Chris Ware as well as Oakland Museum curator, René de Guzman and Susan Miller, Modern Cartoonist guest curator at the OMCA on Friday July 27 from 7-8:30pm.
And now, please enjoy this rockin' playlist and don't get scared when you hear the Vertigo theme song. Just grab a pencil and some paper. Its clinically proven to help you draw cool things. Just a little tip I picked up from the pros…
oh lookey here, what is that hand-written little message on the inside of my book..?
1. Comic Strip: Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot • an obvious choice, no?
2. Jann Pehechaan Ho: Mohammed Rafi • the bomb Bollywood dance number introduced to the western world in the film Ghost World.
3. Mantrap: Thee Headcoats • music from the album with a cover created by Clowes – as seen above – featuring a lovely lady with a coney bra and a sweaty brow. Awesome.
4. Ace of Spades: Link Wray • Clowes did the lettering work on this album cover which is awesome but also funny because when you look at the album the first thing you might think is "someone hand-wrote those letters? Isn't there a font for that?" well now there is. Back then, the OGs did it by hand.
5. Wiped Out: The Escorts • a rockin' track from the Las Vegas Grind compilation – as seen above – featuring a toothy, bespectacled man at a naughty bar. Teehee!
6. I Don't Want To Grow Up: The Ramones • this is one of my faves. Clowes did the music video for this song which features the Ramones singing inside a comic strip and interacting with animated Clowes characters. Man I miss the 90s!
7. Painting and Kissing: Hefner • now this one doesn't have any connection to Clowes other than it reminds me of a characters from Art School Confidential. The song is about a boy that falls in love with an artist who is bad at painting but good at kissing, but then she gets good at kissing and bad at painting. Who knew?
8. If Lonliness Was Art: Allo, Darlin' • because it seems that many of Clowes' characters are some kind of introverted artistic types which I think alot of us art school kids were or perhaps even 'aspired' to be. ha! nerds…
9. How To Hang A Warhol: Little Joy • just cuz this song is about dreaming to be a hotshot artist and 'making it' but in the meantime, "But as long as I don't know how to hang a Warhol, I'll keep sketching birds…"
10. Pop Art Poem: The Jam • because this silly little ditty has always been what a pulpy comic strip must sound like when you read it. And also, I like the part where Paul Weller says, "I made this up as I went along, its good innit..?"
11. Prelude and Rooftop, from Vertigo: Bernard Hermann Orchestra • this is here because Daniel Clowes mentioned it and I couldn't wait to stick it in. Also, its good music to draw shadowy figures to.
12. Le Notti de Cabiria: Nino Rotta • because its another one that Daniel Clowes mentioned inspired him and one that I hold dear to my heart because its one of my favorite films and soundtracks ever. Nice choice Mr. Clowes!