Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Monica and Burning: Who is telling this story anyway?

It's easy to see how the ending to Monica - Daniel Clowes' latest chunky graphic novel - can fail to resonate with many readers. Without giving too much away, there is a big tonal shift in the final couple of panels that can be easily seen as an obnoxious cop-out.

My pal Joe certainly thought so, and hated the comic so much he literally tossed it in the trash. (I tried to get him to do a guest post here on why it was so bad, but he's a very respectable human now, and doesn't need that shit). 

While I believe this is an extremely valid reaction, I still think Joe is totally wrong. I thought Monica was great, all the way through, and felt weirdly like the most Eightball comic he's done in years. And while I admit the apocalyptic ending took me by surprise, it fits with the thematic whole.

Mainly because, as is the case with a fucking shitload of my favourite stories, I'm still not sure what is actually happening towards the end. Whether it's taking place in the reality of the comic's story, or whether it's part of a story mentioned often in the text, and never shown.

It certainly helped that I had just seen Burning, the excellent Korean psychological thriller, because both stores have some similarity in how they end, where it's impossible to tell if this is something real happening, or whetherit's all just a story within the story.

Both endings have that same kind of unreliable narrator, and I will eat that shit up every time and ask for second. Narrative clarity is for squares, man.

No comments: