Starting as an indie comic series by acclaimed graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, Ghost World appeared in Eightball #11-18 (June, 1993-March, 1997). It was later adapted into an equally acclaimed indie film, which was released in 2001. Both versions follow Deadpan Snarkers Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer as they face the summer after high school graduation. The film cast Thora Birch as Enid and Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca.While conceptually similar, the comic and film differ in their featured characters. The character of Josh, an alienated friend (and quasi-love interest) of Enid's (and Rebecca's), plays a major role in the comic, while only being a side character in the film. Seymour, a lonely and cynical middle-aged man is a central character in the film, yet the characters from the book of which he is an amalgam are only very fleeting presences.Enid and Rebecca's conversations would not be out of place in a Daria episode, though they lack the moral core which would make them that kind of Deadpan Snarker.Definitely a darker look at the classic coming-of-age stories, much of Ghost World's popularity lies in its frank treatment of adolescence and alienation. It's also quite funny.Not to be confused with the tropes Ghost Planet, Ghost Town or Ghost City.
An argument can be made for Enid in the movie, much to the ire of fans of the original comic. The film comes off as a deconstruction of the comic.
The film contain examples of:
Adults Are Useless: Subverted, despite their flaws. Enid's father is well meaning and patient with Enid; Maxine finds a job for her, and Roberta offers her a full scholarship and stands up for her at the art show. Seymour in particular is intelligent and insightful and helps her to move beyond her teenage snark. Enid, however, won't (or maybe simply can't) accept their help or listen to them.
Ambiguous Ending: At sunset, Enid, looking very somber, boards a bus (on a line that had supposedly been cancelled) and rides off to parts unknown. Some viewers think she is about to start a new life; others that the bus ride is a metaphor for death, seeing as a frail elderly man had boarded this same bus shortly before.
Ascended Extra: Seymour's character and plotline is greatly expanded from the comic.
Black Comedy Rape: Enid notices an obnoxious preppy couple at her graduation dinner and wisecracks about the boy getting AIDS after date raping the girl. Rebecca may be having a Dude, Not Funny! moment when she shushes her.
Blues: Seymour's main interest. Enid's unironic enjoyment of an old blues record he sells her suggests she is growing as a character.
City of Weirdos: Most of the strangers Enid and Becky encounter as they wander around their neighborhood, also the listless tenants shown in their tacky apartments at the start of the film.
Composite Character: Seymour is based on the bearded windbreaker guy and Bob Skeetes from the comic. Also, Johnny "Apeshit" was merged into John Ellis.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Norm, an elderly, slightly shabby gentleman who is perpetually waiting for a bus on a line that was cancelled a long time ago.
The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right: Norm tells Enid and Becky that they don't know what they're talking about when they say the bus line was cancelled. Towards the end of the film, the bus does in fact arrive and Norm boards it.
Dancing With Myself: The film opens with Enid dancing to a videotape of an Indian musical the night before graduation.
Dawson Casting: Oddly inverted - Scarlett Johansson was only 16 when the film was released and thus probably two or three years younger than her character at the time of filming.
Dramatic Drop: Josh drops the ice cream cone he is about to serve to a little girl when Enid shows up with Seymour at the Sidewinder Mini Mart.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Subverted or deconstructed. Enid dyes her hair green, aiming for an authentic '70s punk rock look, but the other characters, including Becky, don't get it. (A guy in the 'zine store asks if she's supposed to be Cyndi Lauper). Irritated, Enid washes the dye out of her hair as soon as she gets home.
Growing Up Sucks: One reason why Enid keeps stalling about giving up her childhood possessions and moving on with her life after high school. She is afraid that nothing better lies ahead than a service job at Computer Station.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Subverted hilariously. The paralyzed valedictorian at Enid and Becky's graduation tells the rapt audience that her car accident taught her she doesn't need alcohol to have a good time. (One graduate gulps even before she starts speaking). Afterward, Enid says she preferred her when she was was an "alcoholic crack addict" and that getting into a car wreck turned her into "Little Miss Perfect" overnight. Later, the valedictorian's date is shown pouring alcohol down her throat.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Enid and Seymour. Enid thinks only stupid people have relationships and Seymour says he can't relate to most of humanity (and his actions bear him out).
Not So Different: Enid and Seymour, although she sees him as a "clueless dork" at first.
It is debatable whether her quirky style and interests are all that different than those of the Zine-O-Phobia "creeps" she insults ("Look who's talking Little Miss Badass" one answers) or the "extroverted bohemian losers" she mocks when she's out with Becky.
Real Trailer, Fake Movie: The trailer for a pretentious art film called "The Flower That Drank The Moon" plays at the video store Enid and Becky visit.
Self-Insert Fic: Seymour bears more than a passing resemblance, in attitude and habits, to director Terry Zwigoff.
Significant Sketchbook: Seymour discovers Enid's sketchbook at one point, and feels crushed when he sees a portrait of himself portrayed as depressing and alone.
The Stinger: After all the credits roll, there's another take of the scene where Seymour (Steve Buscemi) gets attacked by Doug in the minimart. Only this time, Buscemi's characer easily wins the fight, choking Doug with his own weapon, and stomps out triumphantly. He finishes with a bunch of Mr. Pink type dialogue.
Tempting Fate: Seymour is devastated when Enid won't return his calls; his roommate Joe tries to comfort him by saying that at least things can't get any worse. In the next scene, Seymour is fired from Cook's Chicken.