four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

A Comic-Strip Novel

A-IceHavenThe sleepy Midwestern town of Ice Haven houses a cast of self-deluded locals. Random Wilder, a would-be poet, is out to avenge his archrival Ida Wentz, an old woman whose syrupy poetry appears regularly in the Ice Haven Daily Progress. (She bakes cookies, too.) Other inhabitants of this illogically hilarious, tragic town include Ida’s granddaughter, Vida, the lovestruck Violet (unrequited, of course), the salesgirl Julie, and a husband-wife detective team, searching for the missing (or murdered?) oddball David Goldberg.
Pantheon. 88 pages. $18.95. ISBN: 037542332X

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"The creator of Ghost World has done his usual meticulous job of nailing character, tone, and inner monologue. … But his Art Spiegelman-like experimentation with different illustration styles—without losing his own unique line—is what make the pages such jewels." Whitney Pastorek

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"… a two-dimensional study of three-dimensional characters that uses the apparent kidnapping of David Goldberg to peer into the interior lives of the residents of the humble burg ..."
Dan DeLuca

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Maybe because so much is actually going on in Ice Haven’s 30-plus interconnected strips, Clowes seems to take perverse pleasure in convincing the readers that there’s less to the plot than meets the eye. Don’t be fooled." Joey Anuff

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Clowes’s suburban monsters are monsters precisely because they don’t mess with one another. They are eerily unscarred except by loneliness and neglect, and these two things scar them horribly." Laurel Maury

Time 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Bruisingly satiric and brilliantly designed, Ice Haven will have you gleefully reading it two or three times in a row to unlock its complex interconnections." Andrew D. Arnold

Critical Summary

Graphic novelist Clowes’s Ghost World illustrated his talent for creating alienated misfits; here, he’s just as twisted. Ice Haven, based on the simple premise of the disappearance of a strange little boy (inspired, in turn, by the true story of child murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb), is actually quite complex. The more than 30 short strips form a portrait of a dull suburban town, and the blocky, dull-colored drawings mirror the themes: alienation, loneliness, entrapment. "It’s not as cold here as it sounds," says Random Wilder. But, as readers will soon find out in this artful graphic novel-cum-crime-thriller, he’s very, very wrong.