I learned a lot I didn’t know about Clowes—I hadn’t realized, for instance, that as a Pratt student who was born in 1961, Clowes was actually bouncing around New York City the same time that Blondie, Lydia Lunch etc. were making Manhattan such a vital artistic locale.
Clowes’ unbridled hostility towards the hippies that came before him and their arena-ready rock and roll (think Led Zeppelin) actually made him an ideal audience for the seething musical forms percolating right around that time. As he told Maron, “I was like the guy punk was made for, because it was destructive of all the stuff I hated.” And of all the punk bands in the world to choose from, one stood out:
Maron: Do you remember the first punk record [you bought]?
Clowes: It was the first Ramones record. ... The trouble was, that’s still my favorite one. Like, I never found anything I liked as much as that. I spent like five years like, OK, there’s gonna be another one—No, they were the best, and nobody else came close to that.
Clowes saw the Ramones play at Irving Plaza after they’d gotten a little too big for CBGB—most likely the March 4, 1980, show.
Fast-forward to the mid-1990s. The Ramones were putting out ¡Adios Amigos!, which would be their last studio album, and Clowes was a well-known figure in the comix scene who had released Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron a couple of years earlier. The single for the album was a cover of a Tom Waits song off of 1992’s Bone Machine called “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”
If the video hadn’t been for Clowes’ favorite band, he probably wouldn’t have considered the sacrifices he had to make in order to finish the project. Clowes told the AV Club in 2008:
I got the phone call about that project on the first of June 1995, and it was on TV the first of July. It was a month from knowing about it to it being so done it was on TV. It was insane. I would stay up all night drawing pictures for it. At 6 in the morning, this bleary-eyed messenger would come to my door and pick up the latest drawings, take them to an animation studio in Mill Valley, and then come back later and pick up more. I had to postpone my wedding to do that.
The greatest moment of my life was, somebody sent me a cable-access show from Chicago that had Joey Ramone on it showing that video. And he was talking about, like, [imitates Queens accent] “This guy Dan Clowes postponed his wedding for us. He’s a great guy.”
Check out the video after the jump…