Thursday, January 25, 2018

ware week

I wrote about Monograph, Chris Ware's strange and fascinating new memoir, for a UK magazine, Prospect. It was a weird commission in that I was asked to more or less triangulate it with two other recent titles, Dave Gibbons' latest how-to book (dumb, but still a little cool) and The Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel (for clowns, by clowns - mostly). The editor originally wanted something about the whole comics vs. graphic novels terminology debate, but very kindly let me steer the argument in a different direction because I literally can't even imagine caring about that. Even if you find that debate fascinating (??), Ware and Gibbons aren't figures who readily map onto it for reasons that I think you must already understand given that you've read this far. You beautiful fucking genius, you.

Due to the nature of that piece I didn't really get to talk about Monograph or Ware as much as I would've liked. Some stuff was abbreviated, some was cut, and some stuff I never got around to in the first place because it didn't fit the contours of my argument, which is about identity and authority and various parties' weird proprietary comics ~feelings~. To make up for it, and to just generally cheer myself up, I've decided I'm doing a Ware Week here on the blog. Nothing fancy: just a week of talking about Chris Ware (who I love to make fun of - and whose work I really enjoy, if you can even believe it) in what I imagine will be posts of wildly varying length and quality. Unless they are uniformly short and terrible, which is also a real possibility.

If you like talking about Ware and you're interested in joining in for a dialogue or roundtable or something like that, let me know and maybe we can work something out. (I haven't really seen that much out there around Monograph, which seems odd?) On one hand, I feel like a whole week of me spouting my personal Ware takes might be a bit much? But on the other I reckon most people love themselves enough that sitting around and talking into the void about Chris Ware isn't their idea of "fun," so I'm prepared to do it on my own. In any case below is a list of some of the topics I'm likely to touch on at some point. For most of them you probably need to have at least read part of Monograph? A couple maybe not. Whatever, I don't actually care. This is an open call, though I reserve the right to flake out. Hit me up if there's anything here that catches your eye:
  • Chris Ware's Charlie Brown Misery Persona (and the weird way in which he controls his public image)
  • Ware's riffs on autobio
  • The many ways in which Ware plays with scale
  • Ware as a historian (of himself, and of comics more generally)
  • How bad was that intro by Art Spiegelman?
  • The Chris Ware ~Conversation~ (how he gets talked about in different circles)
  • Did no one care about Monograph? What's that about?
  • Does Ware need an editor (yes or yes)
  • Fussy formal qualities and sheer volume of ephemera/variation in the Ware archives: charming? overrated? insane??
  • The Worst Chris Ware New Yorker Cover of All Time 
Other suggestions are also welcome. Ware week will be in two weeks, depending on how this goes. Three weeks? Seven hundred weeks. In my lifetime, hopefully. Start practicing your frowny face.

Amended to add that I forgot to include an email for anyone who doesn't know where to find me: 



  1. Hi Kim--long time reader first time commenter. Understanding that you have the right to flake and totally disregard this comment, I personally would be very interested in a discussion/piece on Ware's persona, how he controls that image, and (this part is totally of my own interest) any connections you may see to it with a more general trend of comic men of his era having similar "gimmicks" or tightly controlled public personas (e.g. everything about Seth.)

    Also, and maybe I am not as clever as the credit you give your readers, but until you explicitly said it above, I had no idea you actually enjoyed Ware's work. Any chance you would be willing or interested in writing about what you like about Ware's work and how that pleasure is frustrated or overshadowed by the myriad opportunities to make fun of him?

    Cool, thank you!

  2. I have to vote for the worst Ware New Yorker cover.

    Have you read Bart Beaty on Ware in Comics vs. Art? It's pretty great, and addresses some of these issues, so might be worth a look if you're interested...

    1. The only question is: will it even be possible to pick just one??

      I found that Beaty book by the way! It had multiple listings.

  3. Hey Alex, I'm fascinated in (and confused by) the persona thing, and totally agree that it makes sense to bring in Seth. I've written some praise for Ware for sure, though I think you're right that none of it's here. Soon I'll put together a post with links to stuff that's elsewhere. That said - the new piece that I linked to at the top is fairly positive.

    Not sure how to contact you - how about you email me at Or find me on twitter. Thanks!

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