Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Acme Novelty Library

So we've already had some exposure to Chris Ware in this class, but I wanted to write a bit about one of my favorite works of his, which is his ongoing series called The Acme Novelty Library. Anyone who owns or has seen one of these books knows what treasures they are. Each volume is intricately detailed in a different style, using different printing techniques and various types of embellishments. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, they are some of the most beautiful books I've ever seen.

I first came across the series while searching through a comic store in East Lansing, Michigan. I was immediately drawn to Ware's signature style. Clean and crisp line work, lots of symmetrical forms and geometric shapes used. I began reading issues 16 and 17 (shown above) and was hooked. The stories and characters are very depressing, and from what I know of Ware, laden with personal experience. The first one was originally printed in 1993, telling the first tale of Jimmy Corrigan, one of Ware's most famous characters. My favorite character is Rusty Brown, a chubby little red head boy with a big imagination, but for whom things never go right. In addition to the intertwining tales of the recurring characters, Ware throws in these lovely little short stories at various points in the series.

Overall, Chris Ware cuts no corners in his Acme Novelty Library series. The illustrations are amazing enough to look at hundreds of times over, and the writing can bring you to tears. I strongly recommend tracking down one of these treasures.

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