~post by Shappy
Greetings to all lovers of obscure, illustrated printed matter! It is with a great deal of excitement that I have been asked to say a few words on the BookPeople web-a-logue about the upcoming appearance of Chris Ware and Charles Burns at our fiercely independent bookstore on October 25th, 2012.
I have been an enthusiast of Mr. Ware’s work from the very beginnings of his career. I may have been one of the few comic book guys to actually purchase one of his earlier works, Floyd Farland: Citizen of the Future, published by Eclipse Comics when it first came out. I am hesitant to even mention this early work since Mr. Ware has declared a personal war upon it and has vowed to purchase and destroy every copy he can lay his hands on. But I mention it because it was a collection of serialized strips from the Daily Texan where a young Chris Ware first had his cartoons published. That’s right, Austin-ites, Chris Ware once walked among you as a UT student, hence the appearance of Burger Tex in panels of Chris’s seminal work Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kidon Earth, which if you haven’t read I ask you, why have you not read one of the most innovative works of pictorial fiction ever published? Don’t worry, we will have copies available for your perusal.
I once lived in Chicago where every week we were treated to a weekly installment of Mr. Ware’s Acme Novelty Library in the pages of New City and currently the Chicago Reader. Can you even imagine a city that gets new Chris Ware cartoons EVERY WEEK? I can, and the winters are enough to make you want to stay indoors with your old radiator clanging as you draft ground-breaking comics. Which is why I’m glad Chris Ware still lives there.
When I first moved to Chicago, I actually attended an art opening featuring artwork from not only Chris Ware but Dan Clowes (Ghost World), Doug Allen (Steven) and possibly Lynda Barry. I feel like I dreamed this show up but I swear to you it happened sometime in the early 90’s! It was then that I discovered that Chris also made strange, antique comic book vending machines and little wooden models of his Quimby the Mouse characters.
By some odd twist of fate, I eventually became gainfully employed at an underground bookstore in Chicago called Quimby’s. The new owner asked Chris if he could design a sign for the newly located storefront. Chris brought back a scale model of the store in cardboard that looked like something out of his detailed comics. I bet that cardboard model is under glass somewhere now. If you are ever in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago, be sure to check out Quimby’s on North Ave and check out the sign and the giant “Super Man” painting Chris just walked into the store with and said, “This is for the store”.
When Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kidon Earth first came out as a hardcover collection in the year 2000, we had a line around the block at Quimby’s. It took me weeks to read it. Mr. Ware’s work is worth spending your time on. It is truly exciting to be getting a new collection from one of the best comics artists working in the 21st century. A century I’m sure Mr. Ware does not have a fondness for.
It would be ludicrous if I did not also speak to the work of Charles Burns who has also risen among the ranks of vital cartoonists working in the pantheon of graphic novel greats. Like Chris Ware, Charles Burns’ work has appeared in Art Spiegelman’s Raw and both have had numerous comics and collections published by Fantagraphics.
Burns’ artwork was widely seen throughout the 90’s. Both as a graphic artist for Sub-Pop Records and as an animated/live-action feature on MTV’s “Liquid Television”. His early work includes El Borbah about a gritty, noir-style detective who happens to be a Mexican wrestler.
His best known work to date is a collection of his Black Hole comic books that chronicle a strange plague that only effects teenagers. His twisted storytelling and nightmarish style make this book a guarantee for nightmares if you take it to bed with you. The second volume of his new trilogy, which he’ll talk about at BookPeople, is The Hive. The first volume, X’ed Out gave me the hives just reading it!
As a comic book geek, I can’t emphasize the enormity of this event. Just to get one of these reclusive artists to do a signing is a big deal, to have them both under the same roof is something akin to having Charles Schulz and Edward Gorey at the same event! Maybe I mashed up the wrong cartoonists there, but you get the idea.
If you want to meet two of the most innovative and ground-breaking graphic artists working in the current scene, you will not want to miss this event!