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McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, No. 13: An Assorted Sampler of North American Comic Drawings, Strips, and Illustrated Stories Hardcover – May 14, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Guest-editing Dave Eggers's literary journal, Jimmy Corrigan cartoonist Ware has assembled a beautifully designed anthology of contemporary art comics, with a few vintage treats thrown in, including an excerpt from "Obadiah Oldbuck"—an 1842 publication that's arguably the first American comic book—and a series of very rough sketches by Charles Schulz. A few pieces have recently been published elsewhere (including excerpts from Mark Beyer's loopy, design-heavy Amy and Jordan and Joe Sacco's comics essay on Sarajevo, The Fixer), but the book is a superb introduction to the best American cartoonists working today. Some of them, including Richard McGuire and Mark Newgarden, haven't published much since the heyday of RAW in the late 1980s and early '90s; others, like Lynda Barry and Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, are prolific creators at the top of their form. As Ira Glass points out in his introduction, Ware seems to believe cartooning gets no respect at all, and his McSweeney's is a passionate defense of the medium. Ware has included work by artists with an impressively varied range of visual styles and narrative techniques. And Ware's own contribution is brilliant: the book's cover unfolds into a gigantic "comics supplement" of his bitter little cartoons, with extra, tiny comic books by Ron Regé Jr. and John Porcellino tucked into its folds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Cartoonist/designer Chris Ware is the author of "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth", "Quimby the Mouse", and the "ACME Novelty Datebook". Ware was born in 1967, two years before Frank King s death.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; 1st edition (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416084
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregory N. Alstad on September 9, 2004
I echo the comments made by other reviewers that this book is beautifully and cleverly designed, setting a standard that promotes ownership and collectability at a very reasonable list price. The content overall is worthy as well, although I do admit to varying degrees of engagement with it. I was aware from time to time of what seems to be a trend in (I'm assuming) younger artists to seemingly construct autobiographical pieces that seem (to me) overly self-involved, self-referential and ultimately fairly trivial. These pieces may not even be truly autobiographical and perhaps only seemingly so but, still, not all that compelling. What I felt was that this somewhat sophomoric content seemed a bit out of place in this type of anthology and I was left feeling that surely there must be far better works that could have replaced these and made the anthology stronger and classic, particularly when accompanied by the essays and historical material. The book's subtance doesn't quite live up to it's style in this case, so I'm deducting a "star" for that but still recommend it as a purchase. Bonus for including SETH!
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Issue 13 of the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is sure to blow you away. This 265-page issue is one of McSweeney's largest and quite unusual in that it embraces a variety of graphic aspects. Alternately titled All Your Favorite Comics, this is somewhat of a misnomer in that flipping through the pages you think less of comics and more of craft and social commentary. Contributor's "stories" range from boisterous, to serene, to penetrating to calamitous; a plethora of style and situations for a variety of readers. Perhaps the most notable feature of this book is the cover itself. A sturdy jacket embossed with gold leafing and riddled with comic clips, this jacket folds out to nearly three times revealing a stunning piece of artwork showcasing exactly why McSweeney's books are so coveted by collectors.
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...quite possibly the finest piece of literature I have ever held in my hands. It's an issue devoted entirely to comics, and aesthetically, I have never seen anything like it. First is the dust jacket - made to look like a daily sheet, it's intricately covered with different designs and characters, and then folded up very nicely around the book. Tucked in pockets on both the front and back are smaller, booklet type comics.
Inside, the issue is guest edited by Chris Ware and is positively stunning. Lots and lots of full color pages with comics by Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Lynda Barry, Mark Newgarden (The Little Nun), and a newly discovered favorite, Richard McGuire. Also, some history of the comics from the editor.
If you like comics (especially the more conceptually adventurous ones) you'll love this book. If you don't like comics, or don't know if you like comics, go and look at it anyway. You might be surprised.
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Verified Purchase
The quality and entertainment level of this collection is about par for the course as far as better alternative comic book anthologies go. There are a lot of great names to be found here, but by the very nature of any anthology, some pieces will appeal to one person and some to another. I found myself disappointed with the selections by some of my favorite artists. While it is great to have such a broad selection of classic talents in one package, the story choices for Charles Burns and Art Spiegelman among others, were much too limited in showing how entertaining and unique these storytellers can really be. In the case of Charles Burns the example of his work is an excerpt from Black Hole, which is fine, but not a personal favorite of mine compared to his El Borbah and Big Baby stories. Where the Charles Burns excerpt is too tame, the Art Spiegelman piece is way too heady and could throw off new readers who would otherwise really enjoy his work if they investigated some of his more accessible efforts.

There are also two or three odd articles that focus on obscure work from really old newspaper comic artists. While I do have some respect for guys like George Herriman, the material these articles focus upon is obscure to say the least, and frankly it's quite dull, which then raises the question: what is the correlation here with the living alternative cartoonists featured in this collection? My answer to this is, "not much". It feels like McSweeney's included these token articles as if they somehow help to qualify the comic art subject matter as having genuine literary, when the reality is that these articles are just out of place and not all that interesting unless you just happen to really enjoy research papers on pre-1920 cartoonists.
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Chris Ware, (ACME Novelty Library, Jimmy Corrigan) guest edits this edition of McSweeney's a spotlight on graphic image narrative. Ware designs in his inimitable, meticulous style what is McSweeney's most handsome volume yet and provides a sturdy editorial structure (including fascinating historical reference and essays as well as his own history of comics). Most of the contributers are artists you'll recognise from independent or self-produced comics, zines, and strips, as well as from low-art magazines like Juxtapoz. These are interspersed with essays by word people (like John Updke) about images. Like every issue of McSweeney's, the grab bag quality is what makes it most successful, you'll see names you know next to names you don't; you'll be surprised by what you find yourself liking and moreover you'll find yourself appreciating the keen vision behind the scenes that pushes each piece of the kaliedescope in front of your eyes. Kudos to McSweeny's for recognising that this insurgent medium that deserves it's own place on Barnes and Noble's shelf, but a larger and more heartfelt amount of recognition should go to Mr. Ware for producing what could really be the Norton Anthology of Graphic Storytelling. The book is thoughtfuilly designed and masterfully put together, benefitting from the attention to detail that makes Ware's artwork so distinctive as well as the sheer quality of the work presented. None of the stories rest on the novelty of being 'comics in a straight book', at their best they are profoundly moving studies that showcase an artist struglling and succeeding in their medium.Read more ›
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