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Acme Novelty Library. 19 by Chris Ware

Acme Novelty Library. 19 (edition 2008)

by Chris Ware (Author)

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Title:Acme Novelty Library. 19
Authors:Chris Ware (Author)
Info:Drawn & Quarterly Pubn,s 2008
Collections:Read but unowned

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Acme Novelty Library, Issue 19 by Chris Ware



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When a friend of mine here in Connecticut learned that I was reading Chris Ware's The Smartest Kid on Earth, Jimmy Corrigan, he offered to loan me this, an installment in Ware's occasional periodical series. He had found the book in a trash can in his apartment when he lived in Cincinnati, and rescued it only to realize that he shared his hometown of Omaha with Ware. He kept it, but felt compelled to hide it in his closet so he could avoid any awkward questions with his roommate about why he was taking stuff out of the trash. I don't know why it was thrown away, as it's perfectly intact.

It's also a tremendously good book. There are two halves; the first is a science fiction story about a colonization mission to Mars, while the second is about the writer of that story. The sf story ("The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars") is a dark, disturbing descent for one of the four people on the space mission. Science fiction turns out to be a really good genre for Ware, allowing him to attach his human themes to cosmic anchors. It's a disturbing and heart-rending tale of isolation and obsession.

The second story tells us about the writer of "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars," W. K. Brown, an obituary writer in the 1950s, who is in a sexual relationship he doesn't really understand. It's very reminiscent of some of the material covered in Jimmy Corrigan, but it comes at it from a sufficiently different angle to work.

It goes without saying that 1) both stories are incredibly depressing, though not as much as Jimmy Corrigan, thank God, 2) the art is excellent, and Ware's style is particularly suited to 1950s sf for some reason, and 3) his use of panel size to generate emotional response is unparalleled.  Good stuff.
  Stevil2001 | Jun 7, 2012 |
This collection (graphic novel?) starts with a fairly standard failed-colonization-of-Mars, unreliable-narrator story that I found moved into the genuinely creepy category with Ware’s cartoonish figures and persistent use of circles within panels. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the frame story, about a shy man who escapes into the world of pulp sf while carrying on an affair with a female coworker in a repressive fifties environment, much at all. Yes, the misogyny and alienation of his life carried over into the misogyny and alienation of his fiction. ... Okay? I’m not fond of reading only to be appalled by the viewpoint characters. ( )
  rivkat | Jan 16, 2011 |
This wonderful story within a story with yet a sly coda that hints at another possibility is just another example of the reason Chris Ware is one of the best of the modern graphic novelists working today. We start with Rusty Brown's story on Mars where he's one of four colonists (of 12) sent to populate Mars in The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars. As the story starts to unravel into the baser parts of humanity once the four discover they've been abandoned by Earth, we're seemingly rescued by Youth, and Middle Age where we discover William, the man who has written a story by the same name. Through William's youthful brush with love and obsession and his attempts to repair those things he never understood, Ware layers the story of life on Mars and in Lincoln. Even the final essay, devoid of all illustration, Syzygy, adds to both stories. If you've read Jimmy Corrigan, you'll recognize the small panels, the layouts that occasionally require directions and the deep and quiet desperation mined from drawings that hold a surprising amount of detail and depth. ( )
  stephmo | May 24, 2010 |
As always, wonderful greatness.

The space story in this issue i think is an especially good example of the way Chris Ware can unfold a story in a continually tantalizing smattering of moments.

and rusty brown is always great, duh. ( )
  bartflanders | Feb 23, 2010 |
More from the life of Rusty Brown -- this new Ware edition is just gorgeous. His design is always top notch but this volume in particular is really spectacular. It's also a great fit for the Rusty story (W. K. Brown, a real life experimental/speculative fiction author) since it's very reminiscent of genre book design from the 1950s. The comic itself was what a Ware comic always is - sad, pathetic, heart-rending, meticulous, detailed, and sweeping. It did take me a bit longer than usual get into the Brown storyline, but now I'm beyond hooked. ( )
  jentifer | Aug 15, 2009 |
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The penultimate issue of the "ACME Novelty Library" features a new chapter from the electrifying experimental narrative "Rusty Brown," which examines the life, work, and teaching techniques of one of the series' central real-life protagonists, W.K. Brown.… (more)

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