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The Acme Novelty Library Hardcover – September 20, 2005

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The Acme Novelty Library + Building Stories + Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With all his literary accolades and awards, it's easy to forget Ware (Jimmy Corrigan) is one of the warmest, funniest cartoonists in America. The Acme Novelty Library collects a few issues of Ware's comic book series by the same name and adds plenty of new pages and visual delights. It is, like all of his work, an utterly immersive experience. You're not just reading his comics, you're inhabiting his world: from fake ads to diagrams for paper models to a lengthy and very funny fictional history of the Acme Novelty Company. These strips combine complex and beautiful visuals with the humor of hapless, often sad characters in ridiculous predicaments. "Rusty Brown", a series of strips based around an obsessive collector who will be the subject of Ware's next graphic novel, is particularly strong. These comics showcase Ware's unusual sensitivity towards his characters, building an incisive, multi-dimensional portrait of Brown and his friend Chalky White. On top of all of these riches there is Ware's own personal "history of art" in cartoon form, and a multi-page story about a naked superhero. Combining surreal humor, cutting satire, stunning visuals, and empathic characters, Ware's latest is a wondrous journey into the universe of a master cartoonist in peak form. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

The latest from comics artist extraordinaire Ware is rather a hodgepodge. It consists largely of individual, full-page strips that originally appeared in an alternative weekly. But what it lacks in cohesiveness it makes up for in virtuosity, demonstrating why Ware is at the forefront of the medium. The tabloid-sized collection samples all Ware's recurring characters: forlorn spaceman Rocket Sam, nebbishy rodent Quimby the Mouse (eponymous star of Ware's previous collection, 2003), bovine cowboy Big Tex, the futuristic consumer from Tales of Tomorrow, a silently arrogant superhero who is either Superman or God, and even the eponymous protagonist of Ware's breakthrough graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan (2000)--all of them limned in Ware's formally complex narrative manner. More straightforward are strips featuring obsessive toy collector and social outcast Rusty Brown, portrayed with little of the sympathy Ware extends to his other creations, including Rusty's boyhood pal, Chucky White. The volume also features some of Ware's meticulous, nostalgia-fueled renditions of vintage advertisements and an eyestraining faux history of the Acme Novelty Company. Everything impressively attests Ware's mastery. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Acme Novelty Library
  • Hardcover: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (September 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375422951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375422959
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.8 x 15.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CHRIS WARE is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and the annual progenitor of the amateur periodical the ACME Novelty Library. An irregular contributor to The New Yorker and The Virginia Quarterly Review,Ware was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine, in 2005-2006. He edited the thirteenth issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in 2004 as well as Houghton Mifflin's Best American Comics for 2007, and his work was the focus of an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2006. Ware lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, Marnie, a high-school science teacher, and their daughter, Clara.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Goodman on September 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Even if you don't read this book you will get a chill just looking at it, as it is truly a beautiful "objet de art" and not just a collection of comics. The design of each page is a work of art in and of itself and I get a shiver just beholding each one. While ANL claims it is a report to "shareholders" it is really a collection of single page "jokes" that sometimes form a sustained narrative....It's very unlike Ware's Jimmy Corrigan book, as it can be read in no particular order and still make a load of sense. There are also some nice gimmicks included like toys you can build, mini-comics you can "bind", a glow in the dark map of the stars, a wrap-around band that contains a comic, and even the world's smallest comic included along the edge of the book. The colors, are bright, bold and rainbow like, the stories are all over the spectrum from hilarious to cringe inducing pathos, the actual Acme history is quite entertaining, and then there are the ad parodies.....You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish they were real....basically ANL provides hours of entertainment for the price of a nice dinner, especially if ordered from Amazon.....I can hardly wait for Ware's next book which I hear is coming out in the next couple of months. Move this book to the top of your buying list....
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas R. Brown on December 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Getting this book in the mail after having immensley enjoyed Jimmy Corrigan was comparable to my best xmas present-opening experiences as a kid - a feeling I assumed would not occur again, now that I'm a dried-up adult. I got it alongside acme novelty library 16 + 17, which I ordered whilst drunk and deeply regretted until recieving them. Wow! I simply cannot beleive something this amazing exists. I suggest reading 16 + 17 first, as there are secrets about Rusty Brown's fate that you may want to save until after you've got yourself into the 'Rusty-Brown-as-a-child' storyline. A large portion of this book involves middle-aged rusty, so... Well, its up to you. I can see the merit of reading it in the reverse order as well. Either way, this book is just utterly amazing - I haven't enjoyed any comics remotely this much, since reading Twisted Tales in my youth. I still have the final 3 pages left, and am quite excited! (Other reviewers say its the best ending ever, so I'm going to save it...

You are a disgrace to humanity if you pass this up.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By W. Creswell on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Chris Ware's tragicomic characters are experiencing the dramas of life that most people would rather not admit even exist. Divorce, hate, ambivolence, child abandonment (a disturbing recurrence in Ware's work.), mental cruelty, substance abuse, murder, shame, self-loathing, etc. This is coupled with very dark tounge-in-cheek humor of the kind that makes you wonder if you should really be laughing or not. (You should.) Above it all is Ware's astounding design work. Nobody but NOBODY can create a world as fine and obsessively detailed as Chris Ware. Endless throwbacks to Victorian book design, Advertisments from early 20th century to comic book styles of the 50s. He has created a unique enviroment that is as dazzlingly brilliant to look at, as it is uneasy to read. I've never been dissapointed by Ware's work and this is no exception. This does collect previously released work from his Acme Novelty Library so if you already own all of those issues this may not be for you. However it is a terriffic collection and a must for fans, modern comic enthusiasts or people just interested in fantastic book design.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles on March 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some comics might make you laugh till you cry. This one works the other way. You'll think and get depressed until you find a place to smile in. Exquisitely produced, it's like owning a piece of custom art on your bookshelf (not that it will fit) or coffee table. Astounding, perfect, unique: read it and fill in your own superlative.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kai Altree on January 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Imagine if you took every dark and self-loathing thought that a person ever had and then lumped it into a book. If you can imagine that then you might just understand this book. The art is phenominal, the writing is heart-wrenching and extremely clear and beautiful, but this book is not for the easily upset. Though Ware's comic style is often misread due to its breaking of the common left to right, top to bottom format this book is definetly worth the time it takes to read it. If you're a common reader of Graphic Novels or just starting out this is a great book for you.

Warning: don't buy this for your ten year old son. Comics aren't just for kids anymore and if you don't know that yet you will soon.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jacques Talbot VINE VOICE on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ware is clearly intelligent, creative, tormented, and devoted to his work. At times he achieves real poetry, which is the highest compliment I can give any creative work. The problem is that the gems contained herein are all but lost in a dense miasma of obsessive neurotica and very uneven satire that tends toward the arch, precious, and vaguely self-congratulatory.

Some of the spoof material is quite clever and I did find myself laughing out loud appreciatively a handful of times, but in general Ware pushes the same simplistic idea way too hard, over and over, and I found my eyes glazing over and my mind ardently wishing it were otherwise occupied. It doesn't help that Ware's style--graphically, narratively, and conceptually--tends to keep readers at arm's length rather than draw them in and create the illusion of intimacy. Add to this the fact that other reviewers are not exaggerating when they say you'll need a magnifying glass just to be able to read a substantial portion of the book, and the overall effect is at best ambivalent, at worst unpleasant and annoying. I couldn't escape the suspicion that Ware is resentful and perhaps even contemptuous of his readers--the self-loathing I read in his work is outweighed by anger directed at others.

He fares much better with the narrative episodes in the volume. These are not only legible (which much of the spoof material is not--ironic considering that Ware seems much more of a designer than an artist, and one who seems to demonstrate a relatively developed consciousness of typographical considerations), but also far more complex,engaging, satisfying, and evocative.
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