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Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I knew nothing about Patience before I bought it except that it was by Daniel Clowes, the creator of Ghost World, and it was named one of the best graphic novels of the year by Amazon. Turns out it's wild and fantastic, and while it travels well trod trails (time travel) it manages to be fresh and exciting.

Patience is the wife of Jack Barlow, a kind of loser who is reduced to handing out strip club leaflets on the street. She is pregnant, and he doesn't know how he's going to raise his family. He comes home to find her murdered. At first he's a suspect, but is let go when other DNA is found.

We then flash forward to the year 2029. Jack is old and bitter (and in 2029, there will be bright-blue women, something we can look forward to). A prostitute tells him about a guy who has invented a time travel formula. Jack must have it, as he wants to go back in time and save his baby.

That's the start, and there is all sorts of time travel paradoxes explored, some of which come close to Back to the Future and any number of sci-fi shows. But it's all driven by the desperation of Jack. He ends up four years before he met Patience, wondering if her psychotic ex-boyfriend is the killer. He watches as a "nice guy" goes out with her but lures into the woods, where his friends videotape him trying to get a blowjob. Jack, against his better judgment, beats them up. When he accidentally ends up in the year 1985, like the Terminator he decides he's going to kill the old boyfriend while he's a toddler.

The story is brisk and compelling. The artwork is not that great, at least not for this subject. Clowes is good at drawing the quotidian (after all, he wrote a book called David Boring). There are many splash pages of Jack having out of body experiences that don't do much and I kind of skipped over them.

What's great here is the story. I love a good time travel story, especially if all the loops are connected. When one goes back in time and interacts with someone, then that has always happened, right? This is sort of the rules of time travel, at least in works by Stephen King and the Star Trek canon.

I'd love to see this as a movie, too. I've already started casting in my head. Maybe Elisabeth Moss as Patience?

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