Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron  is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Daniel Clowes . The book follows a rather fantastic and paranoid plot, very different from the stark realism of  Ghost World  . It contains nightmarish imagery, including dismemberment, deformed people and animals, and sexual fetishism.

Clowes has talked about how the story was inspired by his dreams, recurring dream of his ex-wife’s:

A lot of it is just daydreams, where … I can just have these thoughts that are uncontrolled by common logic, and then I start to see things in a different way. It’s going to be the same thing when you wake up for a long time, see the absurdity of the world.  [1]

The book’s title is a quote from the Russ Meyer movie  Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  [1]  (The full line, as delivered by Lori Williams , is “You’re cute, like a velvet glove, and like a gas chamber, Varla, a real fun gal.”)

Publication history

Like many of Clowes’ extended works,  Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron  originally appeared in his comic book  Eightball  (issues # 1- # 10, 1989-1993) but has been reprinted as a trade paperback . The opening panels of the chapters of the story were presented in  Eightball  . When collected in paperback form, the chapters of the story were given names, and a table of contents was added to reflect this.

Velvet Glove  has been reprinted many times, and is currently in its sixth edition. The book has been translated into Japanese, French,  [2]  Spanish,  [3]  and Greek.  [4]  The French edition was nominated for the 2000 Angouleme International Comics Festival Prize for Best Album .


Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron  is about a man named Clay Loudermilk and his attempts to locate his estranged wife, Barbara Allen. (The song “The Ballad of Barbara Allen ” is a commentary on the story with its elements of unrequited love, loss, and death.) For reasons unknown, Clay is in the audience at a porn theater when he sees a bizarre BDSM feature ( also titled  Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron ), the star dominatrix of which is revealed to be his wife. Clay sets out to locate and encroach a series of misadventures involving an incredibly bizarre and varied cast of supporting characters. Clay is victimized by two policemen, meets a religious cult by a mass-murderer who intend to overthrow the American government, conspiracy theorists who believe that the reins of the world’s political power somehow revolve around a series of dime store novelty figures, an inhumanly malformed, potato-like young woman and her nymphomaniacal mother, and various other freaks and weirdos. During one dream sequence, the infamous Foot Foot , from the song by The Shaggs , Gnaws on Clay’s leg.

The happy-face icon of “Mr. Jones” also appears in various places through the story, tattooed into people, carved on Clay’s foot, as a ghost-like character, in Hitler’s birthmark, and on the sign for Value Ape shops. It means the way in which logos pervade our societies, and links to the conspiracy elements of the story. The true nature of the potato-woman’s father is never understood by Mr. Loudermilk, but the reader will see suggestions of the Cthulhu Mythos . The phrase ” What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? “, Referencing the bizarre Dan Rather incident (some years before the REM song did the same thing), is used as part of the “Mr. Jones” conspiracy subplot. There are, in addition,child pornography and snuff movies .

In other media

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron  is one of a few graphic novels to have an official soundtrack album. The 10-track CD by Victor Banana (aka cartoonist Tim Hensley ) was released in 1993 on the Jenkins-Peabody label.

In issue # 11 of  Eightball  , published after the conclusion of the  Velvet Glove  storyline, Clowes did a hypothetical movie based on his book. As presented by Clowes, the film is a highly commercialized, poorly made flop, with little in common with Clowes’ original story beyond the title and a few superficial elements.


  1. ^ Jump up to: b  Shiner, Lewis. “The Role of Compassion in Daniel Clowes’  Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron  ,” Archived 2016-02-01 at the Wayback Machine .  Sitcom  (1995).
  2. Jump up^   Like a velvet glove caught in the cast (Cornelius, 2000)
  3. Jump up^   Como a guild of seda forjado in hierro (Public Square Books, 2006)ISBN 978-1-59497-195-2.
  4. Jump up^   Σαν Σιδερένιο Ομοίωμα Γαντιού από Βελούδο (Inkpress / Kormoranos, 2009)ISBN 978-960-89659-2-8.


  • Burr, Ty. “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron,”  Entertainment Weekly  (May 21, 1993).

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