Pantheon, $19.95, 78 pages
A man sits alone at a restaurant table, waiting nervously for his blind date to arrive. She is already late, and he begins berating himself for being too old, too flawed, too poor…this is the reader’s introduction to Marshall, the narrator and main character of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel Mister Wonderful. After his 12-year marriage ends in divorce, Marshall is giving romance one last chance. His date, Natalie finally arrives and as the evening progresses, the reader sees both the conversation and Marshall’s inner thoughts and stream of consciousness. As he tries to stop himself from over sharing, Natalie gladly provides the (sometimes inappropriate) details of her life. But most of her dialogue is literally covered by Marshall’s inner monologue. He is so preoccupied that he doesn’t listen. He might lose the first good thing that has happened to him in years. Is he Natalie’s Mr. Wonderful?
In his characters, Clowes depicts the fragile part in all of us – insecurity, self doubt, and hope. Anyone who has searched for love during trying times, with baggage from the past and hope for the future, will identify with this quirky graphic novel.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin