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The Comics of Chris Ware

David M. Ball, Martha B. Kuhlman

Publication Year: 2010

The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking brings together contributions from established and emerging scholars about the comics of Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware (b. 1967). Both inside and outside academic circles, Ware's work is rapidly being distinguished as essential to the developing canon of the graphic novel. Winner of the 2001 Guardian First Book Prize for the genre-defining Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth , Ware has received numerous accolades from both the literary and comics establishment. This collection addresses the range of Ware's work from his earliest drawings in the 1990s in The ACME Novelty Library and his acclaimed Jimmy Corrigan , to his most recent works-in-progress, "Building Stories" and "Rusty Brown.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Introduction: Chris Ware and the “Cult of Difficulty"

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pp. ix-xxiii

Reading Chris Ware’s comics for the first time can be a disorienting experience. Why does the hardcover edition of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth have such an enigmatic and ornate dust jacket...

Contexts and Canons

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Inventing Cartooning Ancestors:Ware and the Comics Canon

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pp. 3-13

In 1990, Chris Ware, then a twenty-two-year-old student at the very beginning of his career, made a pilgrimage to Monument Valley, Arizona, in order to investigate the life of George Herriman. Author of the classic...

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Masked Fathers: Jimmy Corrigan and the Superheroic Legacy

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pp. 14-27

Throughout Chris Ware’s oeuvre, the role of the superhero in contemporary comics remains a constant concern. Popular discourse tends to construe superheroes as the forefathers of all new comics texts, a belief that clearly troubles Ware...

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The Limits of Realism: Alternative Comics and Middlebrow Aesthetics in the Anthologies of Chris Ware

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pp. 28-44

The thirteenth issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, published in the summer of 2004, captures the precise moment that comics took over the world. The dust jacket (see fig. 3.2 pages 30–31), an elaborately structured comic written and drawn by guest editor Chris Ware...

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Chris Ware’s Failures

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pp. 45-62

Why bother taking the time to read this? Aren’t there better things you could be spending your money on? Isn’t there something worthwhile you could be doing right now? This is the immediate reaction we might expect from Chris Ware at the thought of a critical volume of essays devoted to his work. Indeed, he had much the same reaction when first informed...

Artistic Intersections

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Chris Ware and the Burden of Art History

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pp. 65-77

As the recipient of significant accolades from the fine art establishment, Chris Ware is in rare company in the comics field.1 In 2002, Ware became the first comic artist ever to be invited to exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial.2...

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In the Comics Workshop:Chris Ware and the Oubapo

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pp. 78-89

In order to delve into the complexity of Chris Ware’s work, I would like to begin by pausing to consider a composition by the Dutch artist Joost Swarte because it demonstrates something fundamental about Ware’s structural approach to the medium of comics...

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Comics and the Grammar of Diagrams

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pp. 90-129

Chris Ware’s comics routinely include peculiar and inscrutable devices, external to the comics narrative, designed to testify to the intensity of Ware’s authorial attention: his readers encounter fake catalog advertisements and coupons, collectible trading cards...

The Urban Landscape

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On Modernism’s Ruins: The Architecture of“Building Stories” and Lost Buildings

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pp. 107-120

In a two-page sequence of Chris Ware’s “Building Stories,” architecture both evidences and withstands the passage of time.1 Both pages depict the same Chicago apartment building in pale yellow morning light, one in the early, the other in the late twentieth century...

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Chris Ware’s “Building Stories,”Gentrification, and the Lives of/in Houses

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pp. 121-132

In part 1 of Chris Ware’s serialized comic strip, “Building Stories,” readers are introduced to a three-story row house in Chicago’s Humboldt Park. Ware represents the building as a character that struggles to interpret the motives of a woman who, newspaper in hand, studies it from across the street...

Reading History

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Confronting the Intersectionsof Race, Immigration, and Representation in Chris Ware’s Comics

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pp. 135-145

Chris Ware’s 2005 collection The ACME Report contains some of the most forceful and clearly articulated critiques of American cultural identity and national policy in the history of comics. Alongside his own strips and short tales, Ware incorporates a deeply ironic and satirical hodgepodge of turn-ofthe- century newspaper and magazine adverts...

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Public and Private Historiesin Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan

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pp. 146-158

Chris Ware’s graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth relates the stories of two central protagonists: Jimmy Corrigan, leaving Chicago to meet his father in Waukosha, Michigan, for Thanksgiving in the 1980s, and James Reed Corrigan, growing up in Chicago in the 1890s and abandoned at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition...

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Autobiography with Two Heads:Quimby the Mouse

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pp. 159-174

One of the central tenets of autobiography criticism is what Philippe Lejeune terms “the autobiographical pact,” the “contract of identity that is sealed by the [author’s] proper name,” ensuring that author and narrator are one and the same.1 Another position, however, insists that the narrator him- or herself is inevitably sundered, that there is an insurmountable...

Everyday Temporalities

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Chris Ware and the Pursuit of Slowness

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pp. 177-190

In The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin gives a vivid impression of how strollers moved in the shopping arcades of nineteenth-century cities: some of them, he notes, walked with a tortoise on a lead.1 These fl

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Imagining an Idiosyncratic Belonging:Representing Disability in Chris Ware’s“Building Stories”

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pp. 191-205

In an introduction to his comic strip “Building Stories,” written for the Independent, Chris Ware identifies its main character as “a 30-year-old woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life.”1 What is conspicuously missing from this description, though—as well as from the majority of the text in the comic strip itself...

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Past Imperfect: “Building Stories”and the Art of Memory

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pp. 206-222

Comics have a long history of being forgotten. It seems only appropriate, then, that “memory” has emerged as a central trope among cartoonists for discussing how this medium works, both on the page and in the minds of its readers and creators. Scott McCloud, for example, has attributed the power of cartooning to a mimetic similarity...


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pp. 223-224

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 225-230


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pp. 231-234


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pp. 235-238

E-ISBN-13: 9781604734461
E-ISBN-10: 1604734469
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604734423
Print-ISBN-10: 1604734426

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010