Chris Ware: Monographics

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With a new series called Mongraphics, Yale University Press offers a perfectly compact and affordable way to become more intimate with the superstars of contemporary graphics.”—Glen Haelfand, CMYK—>

“A gorgeous monograph, crammed with reproductions of Ware’s comics, paintings, and kinetic sculptures 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

Library Journal
For readers who want to learn more about Chris Ware, suggest this introduction to his work that consists of a lengthy contextual essay and a catalog of some of his best and most unique pieces. While the series focuses on graphic designers, Raeburn, who interviewed Ware for the essay and covers his wide-ranging career and particular approach, pays due attention to the comics as well. Its main concerns are Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and The Acme Novelty Library, but it also showcases other pieces, including some of Ware’s astounding and fanciful mechanical creations. Introduce too The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing is a Way of Thinking, edited by David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman. This collection of essays on Ware’s style will interest those readers looking for more detailed and wide-ranging discussions. Both books conclude with very useful bibliographies listing all of Ware’s work as well as a number of interesting articles. Finally, suggest Todd Hignite’s In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists. In the Ware chapter, fans gain insight into his work and revision process and learn about his influences and heroes.

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Jennifer Howard
Raeburn seems to know just about everything it's possible to know about Ware and his influences, including greats like George Herriman's "Krazy Kat," Cliff Sterrett's "Polly and Her Pals" and Frank King's "Gasoline Alley"; 1880s reading primers; old-style fruit-carton labels; and more recent artists like Joseph Cornell and R. Crumb. In this good-looking and luxuriously illustrated volume, Raeburn explores Ware's talents and influence.
— The Washington Post
John Hodgman
Ware's painstaking draftsmanship, beautiful hand lettering, virtuosic absorption of prewar graphic design and comics history and Rube Goldbergian paneling inspire awe, gratitude and fear. Raeburn reviews Ware's best known work, the graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth, and previews his work-in-progress ''Rusty Brown.'' But he also draws the curtain back on almost two decades' worth of posters and newspaper illustrations, sketchbooks and antique-seeming contraptions. I think it was when I saw the ''Professional Futuristic 3-D Picture Viewer'' -- an operating, hand-crank-powered stereoscope that Ware designed as a cutout and build-it-yourself prize in an issue of his ''Acme Novelty Library'' pamphlets that I quailed. Never mind the ingenuity and physical beauty of his work; the long physical labor clearly required to produce it makes it seem beyond human ken -- the work of a strange alien visitor to our world.
— The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300102918
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2004
  • Series: Monographics
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,503,683
  • Product dimensions: 7.62 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet 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).

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