I’ve mostly been avoiding posting about this story because no one had written anything I liked about it — which is to say, fair. But the New Haven Advocate has a good take on the whole “Daniel Clowes Eightball #22 was given to a ninth-grader” story.
I do think the Advocate piece makes a good point about how the “objectionable” subject matter in Eightball #22 is in plenty of other “approved” literature for this age group. It’s more about that it’s a comic with those things than anything else.
My experience with Clowes pretty much begins and ends with Ghost World so I can’t say whether or not this was appropriate or inappropriate for a ninth grader. Should the teacher given it to the student? Maybe not, but I don’t know the circumstances as to why he did. I do remember being a ninth-grader, though, and the sorts of things I was reading. Maybe they weren’t assigned reading, but I think we need to stop underestimating teenagers. I think they know better than we do about what they can and cannot handle (I’ve often said that while I wouldn’t give The Sandman to a 14-year-old now, I don’t think it’s bad I read it at that age).