It’s so funny because she is Enid. And she’s been fired from almost every job she’s had for being obnoxious, which I actually admire. It’s hard enough to write real people to begin with. How did you write such fleshed-out female characters so well in both the comic and film? Where does that come from? ^ As you say, there are many Ellen Sawyers in the world. I’ve known so many girls like that. Guys like me always wind up with them with a sarcastic, obnoxious, uh… (Laughs) And I always felt like they had never been accurately depicted in any medium at all. I felt like I knew that kind of person so well. I’d gone to school with so many of those girls and I always thought they were such great characters and so entertaining and funny and just sort of, different from what you expect. It came very naturally. It wasn’t a big effort to write that character. Every line would just pop into my head, I would just hear it in my head.
Will there be a comic book version of the movie? ^ We’re going to get Alan Dean Foster to write the novelization. (Laughs) No, I don’t think we’ll get into that.
Your artwork is all over Ghost World. Did you do double duty as art director as well? ^ Not exactly. I was there on the set, so I was the free artist basically. Normally you have to pay someone a lot of money to design the logos and do all that kind of stuff but to me, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted the movie to look like it came out of my head.
Almost every scene is populated with some piece of art that you did. Even stuff that looks nothing like your style. I could just look at it and I knew you did it. Am I right about that? ^ In the art class we couldn’t get any really good student art, so I had to do a lot of those. And we’d get people on the crew to do a lot of the art. I drew that little horse that was on the art class wall.
Did you work in any in-jokes that you wouldn’t mind divulging right now? ^ Not really. There’s that really obvious one where she pulls out the R. Crumb and the Cheap Suits Serenades album and asks, “Is this is any good?” And he says, “Nah, that’s not so good.”
Anything else you can tell us…? ^ There’s a cameo of my hand in one scene, but I’m not going to say where. You’ll have to figure it out. (Laughs)
You have to tell us on the Ghost World DVD commentary. There’s a scene where Seymour’s roommate just suddenly farts and there’s no acknowledgement that he has squeaked one out. And I have to say that I am a grown man, yet I still find farts funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Where do you stand on the issue of farts? ^ That is Terry Zwigoff. I thought that fart was funny but Terry actually wanted to put in many more farts in the film and I thought that it was too much. I thought one was good.
I guess the problem for me was that for five minutes after the scene I kept giggling like a 12 year-old as I thought about the fart and I think it really disturbed the people around me. That must mean that I’m really immature. ^ I don’t want to tell Terry that because he’ll just be so vindicated by that. We actually tried putting farts in every scene with that Joe character, the roommate. It was pretty hilarious, but then you’d realize that those girls would never just ignore it. That’s all they would ever talk about and it just threw everything off. Luckily I was able to convince him to take them all out except for that one.
The rough-cut of Ghost World was an hour longer than the final running time. What were some of the things that were cut? ^ Almost every scene had more to it. We were writing this in a very methodical way, so every scene started out with a beginning and ended with an ending. And you realize as you’re editing that all that is pretty redundant and boring so we wound up getting into and out of the scene before we had to. It’s just a lot of little trimming here and there. There are probably five or six scenes, all of which are not all that important that were chopped.
How do you think fans react to a Ghost World film? Do you think they’ll perceive that you sold out? ^ If somebody thinks that, it wouldn’t bother me because I don’t feel that way at all. I feel like we really struggled to do something as truthful as we could possibly do. I think there are going to be people who just want to see an exact transcription of the comic into a movie and they may be disappointed. The people who’ve read my comics and liked my comics all seem to like it and get what we were doing.
Terry Zwigoff has never directed a dramatic, narrative feature before. His previous films were both documentaries. He seems to step into those shoes very easily. ^ It was kind of amazing. He’s one of those guys who’s always complaining and always saying how nothing is going to work out. You expect him to crack under the pressure of making a film, which is just the most enormous amount of pressure I’ve ever seen in any situation. He was like a general. He just took over. There were many times where we were down to making these really tough decisions about music or what scenes to cut. He was very adamant about how he saw the film and never let anybody talk him into anything. That’s what made the film so great is that he had the sort of stubbornness that carried it through to the end.
Get inside Dan’s head and read the final part of “GHOST WORLD” APPEARS: A DAN CLOWES INTERVIEW>>>