Acme Novelty Library #20 by Chris Ware

Acme Novelty Library #20
by Chris Ware
Drawn & Quarterly, 2010

Any new work by Chris Ware is a treat, even if it’s never a fun treat. The natural baton-carrier for Charles Schulz’s melancholia, Ware’s work expresses a particular cartoon universe where depressed and inadequate characters live out their isolated lives on pages of exquisitely detailed diagrammatic design. This new volume (subtitled Lint) is a sidestory about a minor character in his ongoing Rusty Brown series, the bully Jordan Lint, and when I say “sidestory”, it modestly covers his entire life from the moment of his birth to the moment of his death.

Ware demonstrates again his considerable chops at page layout and semiotic composition in covering this very ordinary life. He seems fascinated by the idea of presenting banality in a beautiful way, and there are numerous pages which reward close study – although there’s few things as antiseptic and terrible as a cartoonist heavily influenced by Chris Ware, it seems only he can do this sort of thing, just like Daniel Clowes is the only cartoonist who can do post-adolescent aimlessness properly.

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