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Chris Ware

Chris WareAKA Franklin Christenson Ware

Born: 28-Dec-1967
Birthplace: Omaha, NE

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Cartoonist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The ACME Novelty Library

Chris Ware demonstrates that the language and pictographs in cheap, comical chapbooklets can evolve into fine art, if the author maintains enough courage to eliminate everything unnecessary. Crosshatching is replaced with solid blocks of color designed to elicit a specific emotional response. Perspective can be abandoned in favor of flattened, foreshortened orthographic angles of view. Shadows and reflections are eliminated from everything except looming, imposing architectural elements. Trees, lakes, and mountains are reduced to geometric primitives. Visual complexities are saved exclusively for the dense layout and moment-by-moment pacing of individual panels, while his characters of choice -- naive Jimmy Corrigan and his immediate family, curious Quimby the mouse, Rusty Brown and his associates -- are rendered simply and quietly by hand, with the laser precision of a master draftsman at the top of his form. Dialogue is often framed by silence, offering nearly imperceptible cues and body language which provide not only rhythm and tone, but vast repositories of discomfort. Ware's comics and illustrations depict isolated, detached individuals who bristle alternately with genuine warmth, compassion, anger, despair, selfishness, hatred, guilt, and profound regret. He cites Charles Schulz and Frank King (the first generation Gasoline Alley) as major influences.

The most consistently-made criticism of Ware's work is that in between all the icy panels and diagrammatic, flow-charted panel structures, there is a decided lack of emotion. The primary reservation is that he is too "cold", despite his protests to the contrary: "I very much want to express emotion. Since I was fifteen years old, that's all I've ever wanted to do in comics, As far as I'm concerned, that's what it's all about." Stylistically, Ware sometimes mimics the turn-of-the-century essence of a Sears-Roebuck catalog from the 1800s, producing in the reader much laughter which fluctuates between the droll and the somber. His work can be seen in the Chicago news and arts weekly, NewCity, and his ongoing serialized efforts in The Acme Novelty Library published by Fantagraphics, Inc.

In 2000, Pantheon published Ware's most emotionally wrenching and celebrated work, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth, a densely structured 380-page omniscient depiction of loneliness, alienation, and the inability of human beings to connect on the levels which really matter. Spanning several generations, the book is a triumph of illustration, poetry, literature, unconventional narrative technique, and package design: the two-sided dust jacket folds out into a sequence of pictograms detailing -- in graphical shorthand -- backstories and character arcs charting a course over one hundred years in length. He is currently working on Rusty Brown, about a pathetic comic collector, and Building Stories, about an apartment building, currently serialized in The New York Times Magazine. In 2004, he guest-edited Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern's 13th issue, a compendium of independent comics.

Wife: Marnie Ware (biology teacher)
Daughter: Clara (b. Mar-2005)

    University: University of Texas
    University: Art Institute of Chicago

    Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Editor, issue #13
    Obama for America
    Risk Factors: Depression

Official Website:

Is the subject of books:
Monographics, 2004, BY: Daniel Raeburn

Author of books:
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000)
The Acme Novelty Datebook (2003, sketchbook)
Quimby the Mouse (2003, reprints of The Acme Novelty Library)

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