Thankfully Clowes is not your hotheaded creative type, but rather a generous and giving subject willing to ignore the foibles of his ill-prepared interviewer. Perhaps it was awe in the presence of such greatness? Or was my mind simply distracted by the memory of Sophia Myles (Picture: 1), whose nudity makes Art School Confidential (2006) one of the must-see pictures of the year? Regardless, Clowes proved himself a gentleman and a scholar of Russ Meyer and even more titillating topics.
Do yourself a favor, buy Ghost World on DVD, see Art School Confidential, and pick up all of Clowes's excellent comic books, available at Fantagraphics. But before you do, read on and, please, don't make the same mistakes I did.
From what I've read, you're no fan of reading stuff online. So what do you think of MrSkin.com, where the pictures tell a thousand whacks?
I think it's pretty amazing in its exhaustive all-inclusiveness. It's good to know there are people out there who take this work seriously.
Of the thousands of actresses on our site, which top five would you look up first?
Unfortunately the actresses that I found most compelling as a pubescent lad are all from the "pre-nudity" era, or, if they did do nude scenes it was too late to matter very much. As twisted as this is to admit, I had a thing for Doris Day, and for the Gidget-era Sally Field (Picture: 1). Also Ann-Margret (Picture: 1 - 2) (especially the body-painting scene in The Swinger), Nancy Sinatra, and Yvonne Craig.
You definitely seem to have a type, as illustrated in your comic book and movie Ghost World. Do you feel like if you draw them they'll become real, and was that the case with the woman you ended up marrying and having a daughter with?
I have a son and no daughter. And yes, my wife certainly belongs to the same genus as Enid. It has as much to do with the way they dress, carry themselves, etc., as with any physical trait. They must radiate intelligence and perhaps certain disregard for their own beauty.
Do you have a particular favorite sexy movie, be it exploitation or mainstream?
I'm partial to the exaggerated, cartoonish sexuality of Russ Meyer and Frank Tashlin, or the furtive, voyeuristic creepiness of Hitchcock. Most sensitive, earnest portrayals of human sexuality make me gag.
Do you recall the first time you saw a nude scene in a mainstream movie growing up?
Weirdly, I actually don't remember the first time I saw tits on the big screen, possibly Cybil Shepherd (Picture: 1 - 2) in The Last Picture Show. One memorable experience I recall is going to see Alien on opening night in 1979 at a shitty theater on the south side of Chicago. Toward the end of the movie, after all this intense, gruesome stuff has happened, we see Sigourney Weaver (Picture: 1 - 2) in her underwear. At this point, everyone in the theater is expecting something to explode out of her body--or worse--but this one horny guy in the audience starts yelling, "Take that underwear off, Baby! C'mon, just show us a little bush... C'mon, baby... "
Your latest movie, Art School Confidential, is sure to get a review on MrSkin.com, thanks to a disrobed artist's model. I went to art school back in the '80s, but all of my models were uncut men or corpulent women. What makes you so lucky?
Art School Confidential does have both the lovely Sophia Myles and the more realistic version of an art school model in the person of Ezra Buzzington. The models we had at Pratt Institute were much closer to Mr. Buzzington, I'm afraid, but I remember hearing tales of beautiful models at other schools.
How does it feel to now be putting nudity on the screen and, therefore, on our site?
It doesn't feel so good, let me tell you. I intended for the nudity in Art School to be the way it really is in art school, which is to be sort of titillating in concept but somewhat uncomfortable and sexless in person.
Was your school, Pratt in Brooklyn, a hot bed of art-chick sex?
Uh... maybe with each other.
You roomed with Cliff Mott, who went on to be the art director at Cracked magazine. Is there a character based on him in Art School Confidential?
I never roomed with good ol' Clifford, but we were good friends. There is in fact a character named Cliffy in the film, but not at all based on Mr. Mott. The real Cliff is far too decent and likable a person to ever wind up in one of my stories.
Your artwork graces the cover of Mr. Skin contributor Allan MacDonell's memoir Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler. How do you know him?
He once called me up to redesign the sexy mail-woman character for their "Hot Letters" column--quite an honor. I guess he was a fan of my comics, or perhaps knew my work from album covers or something.
Allan MacDonell is legendary as a hard-ass boss and inspiring mentor. Do you have any great Allan MacDonell stories?
I got nothing. Only met the guy in person twice, the second time being two weeks ago, and he was never anything but nice to me. Actually, I do remember one time he left a totally deadpan message on my answering machine in regard to a sketch I had sent in for an illustration idea, which went something like: "It's fine, but I would lose the severed black penis."
Prisoner of X is published by Feral House, which published a collection you worked on called Cad. Back then the cad was nostalgic, but with the advent of Maxim and Lad culture the cad has returned, albeit somewhat different. Do you take responsibility for this reemergence?
Our Cad was a different sort of fellow, more of a tweedy intellectual than a douchebag frat-boy. He would impress girls by quoting Robert Burns and showing off his scrimshaw collection.
What's the dirt on MrSkin.com editorial director Mike McPadden, who you may know better as Selwyn Harris, editor of Happyland? He claims you called him a genius.
Is this an interview, or a referendum on your friends? I have never heard of this Mr. McPadden/Harris--and yes, he is a genius.
According to IMDB, you're currently at work on Untitled Daniel Clowes Project and Master of Space and Time. Will either of these have nudity?
The former is a movie that features all twelve-to-sixteen-year-olds, so probably not. There is hope for the second one, though.
Are you also working on another issue of Eightball or any more graphic novels?
I'm working on a bunch of short-ish comics, but I'm not sure yet what they're for. And yes, they will all contain nudity.
The site design of MrSkin.com has a retro cartoon look that may appeal to you. Any chance you'll work on a screenplay or comic book featuring our nudity-obsessed leader?
My agent will call you on Monday.