Monday, November 10, 2008

Acme Novelty Library V. 19

Acme Novelty Library is Chris Ware's blanket title for every book he does (actually they get retitled when various stories get collected into a larger book, like his Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth) and a couple of weeks ago volume nineteen arrived (hardcover, full color, 77 pages for $15.95). Although Acme Novelty Library always sells a decent amount when all comic book stores and regular book store sales are tabulated, I'd think that if Ware would make each volume as distinct as their contents and didn't have such nondescript covers, that they'd do better. Having said that though, I think Chris Ware doesn't really care about their commercial appeal or he wouldn't just create these odes to depression that Acme Novelty Library are.

The painful sadness of Acme Novelty Library volume 19 is centered on W.K. Brown / Rusty Brown, a character who is inept in the way of social graces, has difficulty interacting with others, and for whom just basic day to day living is a struggle. Brown is a fan / aspiring writer of science-fiction and Acme Novelty Library 19 contains his only published short story and like the rest of Acme Novelty Library 19, takes longing and sadness to almost unbelievable new depths. Every volume of Acme Novelty Library can be read onto themselves and even though they're sure to be amongst the saddest things you'll ever read, they have an odd kind of beauty as well. Additionally even though there's only 77 pages, one Chris Ware page equals about four or five pages from almost any other cartoonist because he packs so much information on a page and manages to do so without overwhelming the page (but even if you have great eyesight, you'll probably need some kind of reading glasses!).

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