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 Clowes' later more widely known Ghost World. It contains nightmarish imagery, including dismemberment, deformed people and animals, and sexual fetishism.

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron
Like a velvet....jpg
Cover of the 1993 edition (the book was re-released in 1998 with a different cover).
AuthorDan Clowes
IllustratorDan Clowes
Cover artistDan Clowes
CountryUnited States
SubjectHorror, Romance, Surrealism
Publication date
Media typePrint, Paperback
Preceded by#$@ &!: The Official Lloyd Llewellyn Collection 
Followed byThe Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn: a Golden Treasury of his Complete Works 

Clowes has talked about how the story was inspired by his dreams, as well as a 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 sort of the same thing as when you wake up from a long dream and you, for one minute, see the absurdity of the world.[1]

The book's title is a quote from the Russ Meyer film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill![1] (The full line, as delivered by Lori Williams, is "You're cute, like a velvet glove cast in iron. And like a gas chamber, Varla, a real fun gal.")

Publication historyEdit

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

Velvet Glove has since been reprinted many times, and is currently in its sixth edition. The book has also been translated into Japanese, French,[2] Spanish,[3] and Greek.[4] The French edition was nominated for the 2000 Angoulême 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" forms a commentary on the story with its elements of unrequited love, loss, and death.) For reasons unknown, Clay is in the audience at a porno theatre 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 her and becomes embroiled in a series of misadventures involving an incredibly bizarre and varied cast of supporting characters. Clay is victimized by two crazed policemen, meets a religious cult led 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 to Clay's foot, as a ghost-like character, in Hitler's birthmark, and on the sign for Value Ape shops. It signifies 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 learned by Mr. Loudermilk, but the reader will see suggestions of the Cthulhu Mythos. The phrase "Kenneth, what is the frequency?", referencing the bizarre Dan Rather incident (some years before the R.E.M. song did the same thing), is used as part of the "Mr. Jones" conspiracy sub-plot. There are, in addition, references to child pornography and snuff films.

In other mediaEdit

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron is one of very few graphic novels to have inspired an official soundtrack album. The 10-track CD by Victor Banana (a.k.a. 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 story about 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. ^ a 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. ^ Comme un gant de velours pris dans la fonte (Cornélius, 2000)
  3. ^ Como un guante de seda forjado en hierro (Public Square Books, 2006) ISBN 978-1-59497-195-2.
  4. ^ Σαν Σιδερένιο Ομοίωμα Γαντιού από Βελούδο (Inkpress/Kormoranos, 2009) ISBN 978-960-89659-2-8.


External linksEdit