Clowes to Webb to Clowes

The young Daniel Clowes loved Dragnet and its creator, actor/director Jack Webb. Throughout Clowes’s work — from Lloyd Llewellyn to Eightball to his current graphics novels — Webb’s influence surfaces in all sorts of fascinating ways (an essay in The Daniel Clowes Reader discusses this influence in detail).  When Clowes and Mort Todd worked on The Uggly Family for Cracked magazine, they did a number of TV parodies, and Dragnet fell victim to the duo’s funny-book shenanigans.  

Here is the opening page of their spoof, Dragnut (Cracked #232 - 1987):


(Eel O’Brien is Todd, and Stosh Gillespie is Clowes — Gillespie is Clowes’s middle name.)

Other, harder to spot allusions to Webb pop up throughout Clowes’s work. He buries a reference in this panel from “Three Blue Teardrops” (Lloyd Llewellyn #2 - 1986).


You have to look closely:


Webb starred in and directed The D.I., a 1957 movie about a drill instructor. Watch this clip from the film and you’ll hear the name of a semi-obscure, wacky and beloved Clowes character, whose strange moniker is military slang!

The whole clip is great, but if you want to save a little time, start listening at 3.00 and keep your ears open for this line: “You wish you could listen to radio, _____  _____, and smoke cigarettes, don’t you?”