Patience by Daniel Clowes – Graphic Novel Review
Patience is the tale of a man who has a simple view of the world. He is deeply in love with his wife Patience, who he sees as the best thing about his life. He has a dead end job and pretends to his wife that he is working in another area, to keep her blissfully unaware of how badly he has done in life. That is until he returns home one day to find Patience lying dead on the floor of their apartment. As the years pass, the pain does not decrease and he sets about travelling through time in a bid to rectify the errors of the past.
This is the first major work by Clowes since The Death-Ray in 2011. He has had some well publicised health issues over recent years, and underwent open heart surgery in 2006. This is one of his longest works to date and in some ways his most coherent and straight forward. It is relatively tightly structured with less of the madness of his earlier work. The story is set in a number of time periods as our intrepid hero sets out to save his wife after her untimely death.
The art is typical Clowes and he has a very strong visual style, with little use of shading on his characters and backgrounds, with large blocks of colour. The characters in his work are usually quite individual, with some freaks of nature on display. The art contained here is quite different from his work with the New Yorker, but possibly more enjoyable for the removal of the restraints.
While the subject matter is quite typical for comic books, he does put his own unique spin on it, with his own view of time lines etc. He doesn’t bother too much with the subtleties of time travel and there is little for science geeks to be enthused about. The story seems a little more controlled than his previous work as he tries to structure the complicated story. There are less flashes of the bizarre in this work, which are some of his finer moments. Clowes is hugely well regarded in the comic industry and has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards, a PEN Award, and even an Academy Award nomination. He is one of the best writers/ artist working in comics today. This sets the bar very high, and this never really reaches the expected standard. Nevertheless, it is another impressive work, but possibly not the starting point if you’re just discovering him for the first time.