Synopses & Reviews
"The most versatile and innovative artist the medium has ever known."
Dave Eggers, New York Times Book Review
As one of today's most renowned cartoonists, Chris Ware is widely considered an artist of genius. Combining innovative comic book art, hand lettering, and graphic design, Ware's uniquely appealing work is characterized by ceaseless experimentation with narrative and graphic forms. The publication of his novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth in 2000 inspired a near avalanche of praise from critics and general readers alike. This book is the first to explore the life and work of Chris Ware.
Daniel Raeburn looks closely at Ware's career, work methods, and artistic innovations. Born in Omaha in 1967, Ware introduced the character Jimmy Corrigan in a full-page strip he began writing for the Chicago tabloid New City. Combining six years' worth of the strips, Ware created the best-selling novel named after Jimmy that spans an Irish-American family's life in Chicago from the Civil War to the present. For its experiments in graphic form including pull-out, three-dimensional inserts and its non-chronological narrative, the novel earned numerous honors, among them the Guardian First Book Award, presented for the first time to a comic book.
For this volume Raeburn interviewed Chris Ware for many hours to make fascinating connections between Jimmy Corrigan's fictional life and the life of his creator. Raeburn discusses the scope of Ware's career, including his drawings for New City, the New Yorker, and his own comic book, The Acme Novelty Library. As Raeburn shows, Ware's unique art form extends beyond the world of graphic novels into the broader worlds of literature, graphic art, and popular culture, and challenges traditional definitions of all three.
"This volume, the fourth in the Monographics series of design books, begins with a lengthy introduction exploring the history of comics as a language, before bringing Ware into the foreground. Nicely caught up on Ware's vision of the medium, Raeburn, who self-publishes The Imp (a series of booklets about comics), treats readers to an insightful, chatty and precise explication of Ware's life and work. This includes the standard biographical information, but also covers Ware's working methods and source materials, the everyday life of a contemporary cartoonist, the ins and outs of comics publishing and, by way of Ware's love of ragtime, a fine comparison between the rhythms of ragtime and the structure of comics. The remaining pages consist of examples of Ware's work, encompassing graphics, comics, sketchbook work, paintings and even some wondrous sculptures. Ware's work is aesthetically gorgeous, but it's also thematically complex and layered enough to reward the kind of analytical skills Raeburn brings to the project. Raeburn's concise and informative captions sometimes describe Ware's thought processes, a particular source of inspiration or the work's place in Ware's oeuvre. Raeburn handles these captions, like the rest of the text, with dry wit and obvious affection for the artist. In just a handful of pages, Raeburn eloquently captures the essence of this important artist." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An insightful, chatty and precise explication of Ware's life and work....Raeburn eloquently captures the essence of this important artist." Publishers Weekly
"A gorgeous monograph, crammed with reproductions of Ware's comics...alongside examples of his influences and even evidence of his creative swipes from sources ranging from mid-1920s Sunday funnies and ragtime sheet music to African-American beauty-product labels." Joshua Glenn, Boston Globe
"Impressively knowledgeable about the comics medium, Raeburn contributes an invaluable essay revealing the autobiographical elements in Ware's work....[A]s a concise introduction to an important artist, it is ideal, especially for comics nonenthusiasts." Booklist
"A must-have for fans of Chris Ware or anyone interested in contemporary graphic art." Comic Book Galaxy
A close-up look at the gifted graphic novelist whom the New York Times Book Review called "the most versatile and innovative artist the medium has ever known." The publication of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth in 2000 inspired a near-avalanche of praise. Now, Daniel Raeburn offers fascinating insights into the connections between Jimmy Corrigan's biography and that of his creator.
About the Author
Daniel Raeburn self-publishes The Imp
, an irregular series of booklets about comics. His writings have appeared in The Baffler
and the Village Voice Literary Supplement
Rick Poyner is series editor of Monographics. He founded Eye, the international review of graphic design and was its editor from 1990 to 1997. His books include Typography Now: The Next Wave (1991), Typographica (2001), and No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism (Yale University Press, 2003).