Mister Wonderful: A Love Story

(2011)

 

This tale begins with a blind date.  Marshall—a middle-aged, divorced, extremely lonely and awkward gentleman waits for the woman his friends set him up with to arrive.  Natalie shows up (to Marshall’s surprise), and is beautiful, genuine, and intelligent.  Unfortunately, as their night unfolds, it becomes obvious that Natalie has some skeletons in her closet, and more than Marshall bargained for is revealed.

 

I found Mister Wonderful to be one of Clowes’ most human pieces.  It’s impressive how in such a brief span of pages, this author/artist can show us half a character’s lifespan with such convincing realism.  Because of this, we feel that we know Marshall completely.  He is bitter, world-weary and has a mocking sense of humor with hilarious bite.  He is socially awkward, unused to people, and almost neurotic. We see this when Marshall’s racing inner thoughts literally cover up other character’s word balloons; he then misses his chance frequently in conversation, responding with something totally inappropriate.  I found this especially inventive on Clowes’ part and something many of us can relate to from time to time.

 

We might feel Marshall’s familiarity, yet Clowes surprises us with twists and turns of his character.  Marshall is clearly harboring some explosive anger, and releases it periodically throughout the story, sometimes to Natalie’s shock.  This graphic novel is full of surprises, humor, sweetness, darkness, and humanity in all the right places and extends beyond the “slice of life” genre into something much more.

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