Sunday, February 13, 2005


Dreaming in Flow Charts

The Portland Mercury reviews the recent Yale U Press publication of Daniel Raeburn's study Chris Ware:

Drawing comparisons to visual art, music, architecture, typography, theatre and music, he presents Ware as not just the future of comics, but as someone who has realized the truth of Art Spiegelman's aphorism: "The future of comics is in the past." Raeburn takes the reader on a very brief tour through the early history of comics and illustration--from Winsor McCay ( Little Nemo in Slumberland ) and George Herriman ( Krazy Kat ) to vintage Sears Roebuck catalogues--tracing Ware's inspiration and influences.... bolstered by countless full-color reproductions of Ware's comics and illustrations, from Quimby the Mouse to his latest projects, Rusty Brown and Building . While some of the reproductions suffer from a reduction in size, the informative sidebars add context and insight.

Sure, Chris Ware is an extravagant novelty purchase. But if you dream in complex flow charts and carry bologna sandwiches around in a Jimmy Corrigan lunch box, well, you're a nerd with a book to buy.

As soon as I saw Raeburn's book over at Prairie Lights I was intrigued; the way it places Ware's work in context with early 20th century graphic art (especially of the commercial art / clip ad variety, which Ware just nails dead-on in his work) is perhaps not surprising to anyone familiar with Ware's stuff, but seeing his work and his influences brought together in one place is a revelation nonetheless. The book is a little too small in its format... I have a sneaking suspicion this was YU Press's doing and not Raeburn's, since he's done newspaper-sized issues of The Imp before, so he's certainly not averse to large formats. Well, maybe someday there'll be a deluxe folio-sized reprint.

And now, if you don't mind, I have to go and pack my Jimmy Corrigan lunch box...

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