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Acme Novelty Library #18 (No. 18) Hardcover – December 10, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Interrupting the ongoing saga of pathetic man-child Rusty Brown, subject of the previous two Acme Novelty Library volumes, Ware essays a gentler, bordering-on-sentimental tale about a lonely young woman with a prosthetic leg. In exhaustive, excruciating detail, Ware recounts her painful early adulthood: her sole love affair, which ended badly; her unfulfilling stint as a nanny; her failed attempts at becoming an artist or writer; her current dead-end job as a florist. Self-reflective to a fault, the nameless protagonist relates her story and reveals her character through extensive first-person voice-over narration, making this the most text-heavy of Ware’s works. Even if the prose does most of the heavy lifting, Ware’s characteristic graphic approach—icy-clear drawings, meticulous compositions, and geometrically varied panels—conjures the hard-edged atmosphere offsetting the story’s potential mawkishness. Applying the formal rigor of the landmark Jimmy Corrigan (2000) to a more naturalistic narrative, Ware creates a sympathetic heroine who, despite the slim book’s somewhat daunting denseness, may appeal to more readers than the off-puttingly doltish Jimmy and Rusty. --Gordon Flagg

About the Author

Chris Ware is the author of Jimmy Corrigan-the Smartest Kid on Earth, which received the Guardian First Book Award and was featured in the Whitney Biennial. A regular contributor to The New Yorker and the first cartoonist to be serialized weekly in The New York Times Magazine, he is the editor of the thirteenth issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and the Gasoline Alley archival series Walt & Skeezix. Ware was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1967 and currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Marnie, and their daughter, Clara.

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Product Details

  • Series: Acme Novelty Library (Book 18)
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly; 1st edition (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897299176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Rodolfo Jaquez on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With his latest "comic book" offering, Chris Ware has again demonstrated a mastery of the medium uniquely his own. His design sense and technical skill as an illustrator long unquestioned, his writing routinely (and especially here) deserves the same consideration.

Underneath the story's typically apparent theme of alienation (with new characters in the Acme Library, if I'm not mistaken), there is much more at work. Amazingly, over just 56 pages, Ware's finely crafted drawings along with well considered dialogue and occasional stream-of-consciousness narration provide the reader an awful lot to ponder (a good prose writer would need hundreds if not thousands of pages and could still not fully convey the beauty in this slim volume). However, the mind is further boggled when Ware concludes his details-laden enterprise with one very... simple... tiny... wordless... panel. The effect is instant having read it, and I recommend all experience it.

The author describes this as part of an ongoing story, and that may well be. However like all good comics, this story is complete as is. Indeed within the book, certain single page, two page, and especially a few multi-page spreads also constitute complete satisfying stories. Should the reader approach the work with even some of the imagination Ware himself must employ, every single panel is itself can be a complete story. As an illustrator in the truest sense, that may be Ware's intent.

So the "Stunning Masterpiece" title given this review is not to indicate one should ever be surprised when Ware tops even his own earlier triumphs, but rather because the reader may actually be left stunned at the story's conclusion, fair warning given.

There are always great expectations placed on Mr. F.C. Ware, who here delivers devastating inspiration (inspired devastation?) in the calm and measured manner of a master at work. Wow.
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Format: Hardcover
Dolorous and melancholy, Chris Ware's work has always drawn me like a moth to flame. I can't recall a work from a female perspective before, and this one is a quiet, soft, lovely work about a sad and lonely woman who has had a very intense life. The work of deciphering his labyrinthine panel constructions or reading all the fine print has always paid off and this work is no different, but this one sticks out for me a little for being even more intimate than his other more clinical studies of his characters. And his draftsmanship is without peer, as always.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully rendered, deeply affecting work of art. I am not much of a comic reader, but once I started this one I could not put it down. And when I finished, I was crying. Readers of The New York Times Magazine will be familiar with the setting of the old building with feelings and the character of a woman with a prosthetic leg. The story here focuses on her: a lonely, alienated young woman's first experience with love and loss, depression and despair. Told this way, with sensitivity and empathy -- in Chris Ware's tight, tender little drawing style, like I said -- it moved me deeply. Very sad, yes. But beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must-read for Ware fans. It's a compelling narrative with the same quality artwork we've come to expect and is reasonably priced for such a beautifully-designed hardcover.

That said, it's a valid criticism that Ware treads too much familiar territory, here and in all his post-Jimmy Corrigan work. Yes, he experiments in this book, but it's in the style he had already carved out by 1995. We see Ware experimenting with different artistic styles in his notebooks, so why never in his comics? Ware's layouts, lettering and unconventional use of panels in this issue are interesting as always, but it's hard to say his style has evolved or grown in the almost fifteen years he's been doing Acme. Artistically, we've seen this all from Ware before.

Thankfully, Ware *is* evolving as a storyteller. Jimmy Corrigan, although inventive, was a bit too much about being Chris Ware, and it's nice that here, in issue #18, Ware is exploring the world of a female protagonist. Certain scenes, particularly the sex scenes, have never been portrayed with this level of damning honesty and accuracy in any other medium. Ever.

Some people decry Ware's perennial exploration of loneliness and depression. The great comic book writer Grant Morrison once said, "I love Chris Ware's work and consider him a formal genius, but... I sometimes feel like slapping him upside the head and telling him to stop moaning about everything. Sorry, but I live in one of the poorest cities in Europe, and when I see privileged Americans whining about how awful everything is in their sunlit world, I have to gag into my porridge. Kill yourself or get over it, buddy." It's hard to disagree, but perhaps we can appreciate Ware as the best and most determined artist exploring a certain type of American...
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