It takes a while for all the elements of this cover to sink in, but like Clowes’ previous efforts for the magazine, once they do, it’s a keeper.

Via the Fantagraphics blog.


  1. With the exception of the tablets this is hardly a new complaint about bookstores. I remember an episode of “Designing Women” where Julia rants about the fact that the store sells more Garfield dolls than books.

  2. I love that a comic book artist is complaining that the “traditional” bookstore is stocking things other then books. It was not so long ago that these same stores did not have any comics or graphic novels on their shelves.

    Business must adapt to survive.

  3. Dan Goodsell, Clowes’ point is: why should a place classify itself as a “book store”, if the vast majority of its products aren’t books ?

    I haven’t seen this hypothetical book store but if I did, that question would pop into my mind as it has in Clowes’ mind.

  4. It’s kind of a silly criticism. They could fill 2/3rds of your average Barnes & Noble with non-book junk and it would STILL have more books than every store (Walden, B. Dalton, etc) I shopped in when I was young. Compared to the strip-mall stores of the past, these things are practically temples to the written word.

  5. That’s true Thomas, but look at what happened to Borders. Newbury Comics in Boston became big by selling music, now they are moving toward carrying more clothing and gifts and fewer CDs and comics. Physical media are in decline.

  6. Notice that Clowes’ bookstore is a place where writers and their work are fetishized and merchandised, but rarely read. It’s not just a snarky comment on the books-to-coffee-mugs ratio at Barnes & Noble.

  7. When B. Dalton and Waldenbooks opened, they were considered extraordinary as well. They were where I bought my Marvel Comics in 1984 (remember the dedicated spinner rackss for the comics and ALBUMS?), discovered comics not carried by the conservative daily (like Bloom County and Life is Hell), and was exposed to a variety of titles.

    And yes, this stuff isn’t new… Largely Literary did this twenty years ago. Barnes & Noble had Scott McKowen do author portraits for their bags and merchandising at about the same time (the Stephen Colbert tote is one of the last).

    As a fan (happy birthday, Mr. Clemens!), I bought a Mark Twain sweatshirt from some company in Massachusetts in 1988. People thought it was Einstein or Schweitzer… So literary pop culture… it’s nothing new. If literary merchandise is selling, then so much the better. Wouldn’t it be cool to have kids play with a James Joyce Bloomsday Lego set? Or perhaps Waiting for Godot? Or, if you want action, Hamlet? (Something is plastic in Denmark!)

    Nice to know that Dan Clowes would never stoop so low as to cheapen his artwork on something as lowly as a tote bag…

    (And if the Strand is doing it? Will I be able to find review copies of Lego sets?)

  8. Well, at least books have proven to have more legs than DVDs and CDs.
    I went into a Barnes & Noble the other day and found the large area in the back of the store which had been devoted to music and movies had been converted into a toy store. They continue to stock toys in the usual children’s book area as well.