October 6, 2001 [Ghost World]

In Ghost World, Terry Zwigoff casts Steve Buscemi as Robert Crumb, more or less--an almost seamless move, six years or so after his documentary on that gangly cartooning fetishist--and overlocks the seam by providing Buscemi-Crumb with a slightly squirmy “love” interest: funky little Enid, disdainful in the ghost world she’s made--and one she’s losing: her pal Rebecca is ready to fall away like a ripe piece of fruit; but for a while she remains, the two of them hesitating to grow up--or all grown up already, but as the wrong species.

Over the past decade The Adventures of Pete and Pete on Nickelodeon opened a surreal portal to its own ghost world also hoping that a love of peripheral music accompanied by sharp peripheral vision can catch sight of many otherwise-invisible friends and foes and give life a shape--tenuous, to be sure, and temporary, like childhood; but still of some sustaining strength.  Eventually, though, one must emigrate--if not, you’re stuck like Buscemi’s Seymour with old records and seething resentments.

Unfortunately, the new world does not seem to be much of an improvement over the ghost one.  Actually, we never really see it--and, the more I think about it, I’m not sure which world is the ghost: the one they make or the one they resist.  In any case, Enid drifts from both Rebecca and Seymour, and wanders off into what may be the next panel of this not-so-comic book--unless, like “the little man upon the stair,” it isn’t there at all.


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