Back on track with the countdown of my top ten comics of 2012, continuing with… BUILDING STORIES BY CHRIS WARE!
It seems that one of the things that takes a work from simply being something I respect/admire and makes it something I love is the ability to connect with me on an emotional level. There are plenty of technically profficient books out there, but if I feel nothing (emotionally, intellectually), well, shit, what’s the point? There’s got to be something besides lines on the page. Chris Ware has always done that for me. He did it when I first read part of Building Stories when it was released as an edition of ACME Novelty Library and he did it again here. His character study is engrossing and so far-reaching that it’s hard to escape.
So much was made of the format of Building Stories that I’m not sure that I have a lot to say there. I think it worked in some ways, not in others. I wasn’t a big fan of the little fragment fold-outs. But, I got the point of them. He gave you two little pieces with no set beginning or end and that’s the only way to present that material to accomplish that. You can’t do that in a book and produce the same effect. That formalist experiment is a nice thing to think about and I would love to see it explored further. But, that doesn’t mean that everything worked quite as well. It’s cute to put one of your stories in a storybook-esque package… but to what end?
But, I came here to praise Ware, not bury him. His art stuns me. Just floors me. The way he designs pages and make everything work — adds such warmth to his characters, is able to communicate what’s going on in their heads… His style seems like it would be cold and impersonal, but it isn’t. That never stops shocking me. It always defies my initial expectations that I can’t seem to shake.
In 90 minutes, I’m back with #3.
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