Welcome to the wonderful world of Chris Ware, a world quite unlike any other you have visited previously. Chris Ware is clearly a unique voice, he is someone working on an unusual subject in a manner quite different from anyone I’ve come across. His work draws from images of an older age, architecture, and from the loneliness that dwells in our collective soul!
One of the most striking things about this collection of short stories/ graphic novels, is the style of delivery. This work comes as a collection of different books, loose leaf/ pamphlets/ soft cover and hard cover graphic novels all contained in a large box. This leaves you a bit daunted when you open the box as to where to start. While there are comparisons between the many pieces in this work, there is no natural starting point, so you just have to tuck in, and pick a point. Regardless of where you do, you’ll enjoy what you get.
The style of the piece is unusual in that some pages carry large images, that are succinct with little text, where as others are a mass of tiny boxes that the reader has to follow, spending a large amount of time on each page. These seem to have been drawn at a much larger scale and shrunk for this version, so that the text and images can be tiny. On other pages, you are dragged around by a twisting line connecting the panels. There are pages that draw on the type of activity pages that were in news papers and comic books in your youth, but altered in a manner to suit his stories. The art is also intriguing, as he seems to spend a huge amount of time on buildings and other architectural depictions, whereas his images of people are very much in his own style. They are simple depictions with vivid colours, rich and quite stunning.
The basis of the work is largely life in the modern city, but it does include some smaller sections about a bee, which is told like a sit com from the 1950s. The main feature of the work is modern individuals living in cities and dealing with the loneliness of their lives. They seem real characters and their problems are generally banal and every day. It is something approaching the narrative of our humdrum lives. It dwells on middle age angst, the realisation that you’re not going to achieve your dreams, worries about your children and parents etc. It’s an unusual topic, as most books deal with a younger/ sexier individuals, but it is a fascinating topic to mine. No comic collection is complete with this box of tricks!
You can read an interview with Chris Ware here.