His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in the Universe is a visionary piece of work. It’s one of the finest long-form comics around, and part of that select few to have broken through to a mainstream audience. His work raises the subject of aesthetic devotion to a specific period of comics work, and tests the reader’s devotion at the same time. The book-length Jimmy Corrigan is clearly wonderful, but the rewards hidden within his obsessively detailed Acme Novelty Library series can be harder to extract. There’s so much there–is it all worthwhile?
There’s no question Ware’s work appeals heavily to a desire for buy-able products of today that hearken back to a vintage period in American advertising. He is one of the top artists able to do something with those nostalgic aesthetics.
Ware has two approaches: one is his ‘cuter’ side, used largely on book covers and in various shorts, where circular, adorable little characters tell a wistful story. His other mode is sadder and more serious–the mode of Jimmy Corrigan.
When I first heard “Chris Ware is doing animation”, I thought “fantastic, a comic book artist with a great eye for design, now animating,” and then wondered for a while which approach he’d choose: would this be a kind of Jimmy Corrigan brought to animated life, or something more traditionally ‘cartoonish’ and light?
His first forays into animation–for National Public Radio’s televised This American Life–fit nicely in the latter category. Like the show itself, Ware has a talent for observation done in his certain small, sad mode, and they work perfectly within the show’s context. Forget any idea that these are a revolutionary addition to the world of animation, but rather a comic artist bringing a certain aesthetic touch to a small story.
Being a traditional comic artist is no guarantee of animation success, so here’s to a successful, small scaled first effort:
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