I think the first Chris Ware comic work I saw was in Jab Comics Anthology (not to be confused with the adult comic), in the early 90s. (His little potato guy strips.) Some time after that, it was Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and all that followed.
Ware is one of those cartoonists who does something so well: combining art and writing. Sure, comics as a medium are about words and pictures, but generally, cartoonists are cartoonists, working in one of the best mediums in the world and creating their own way of communicating with others. Some cartoonists hit on a different level, where it’s not the art or writing that is the fascinating thing: it’s the language of the medium that’s so wholly its own thing that floors me. And some cartoonists can do all that and just be damn fine writers.
Ware is one of those cartoonists who does that. He can tell a story, and…he can write. (Although for straight up writing and cartooning, Dan Clowes still floors me the most.)
I can’t remember the particular issue number of Acme Novelty Library where it hit me, but there was a point where the writing stuck out even over the art. For a moment, and in many of the issues that followed, it was like, “Damn, Ware can write!” The words were almost poetic, and through it all he cut deep, tackling the racism of the main character’s grandfather. It was one of those times the writing in a comic stuck out more than the art, or the two things combined.
This isn’t the first time I’ve posted a video about art or artists, and it sure won’t be the last. I think writers can gain a lot by looking to artists and thinking about what fascinates them about art — and see if there’s a way to do something similar with words.
You could do a lot worse than looking to Ware’s works and seeing what you take away as a writer.