Containing whatever I enthuse over

Acme Novelty Library (hardcover)

Posted by clissold345 on January 19, 2008

The full title of the book is “The Acme Novelty Library Final Report to Shareholders and Rainy Day Saturday Afternoon Fun Book”. This is the large (9.5″ x 15.5″) hardcover book by Chris Ware, published in 2005, with 108 numbered pages (and a few extra unnumbered ones). The book contains comic strips about many characters, including Rusty Brown, Chalky White, Big Tex, Quimby Mouse, an unnamed superman, Jimmy Corrigan, and others. There are also project pages (telling you how to build a variety of paper models) and many pages of spoof adverts.

I’m fascinated by Ware’s visual inventiveness and energy. For example, there are two strips, in tiny panels, on the edges of the cover. On pages 10 and 11 he gives the board for an elaborate game (the game of life?). The project pages for creating the “Miniature Working Acme Novelty Library” include tiny books, which (of course) are about Jimmy Corrigan, Quimby Mouse, etc.

Many of the characters are male, middle-aged, lonely and frustrated. Quimby Mouse himself is tired, no longer young and in love. I don’t understand why Chris Ware spends so much time exploring such characters, after all there isn’t much character to explore. Chalky White starts as Rusty Brown’s stooge but he develops more character. The strips I was most moved by (well, more moved by) are those, near the end of the book, dealing with Chalky and his teenage daughter Brittany. I’d like to see more of Brittany as she grows up.

The photo shows Chalky and Rusty at school sports. Monday 26th March 1973.


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