Check this out: Chris Ware was commissioned to do a cover for Fortune. Can you believe they rejected this?
Everyone knows Chris is an artist of some intensity, which for the most part has been directed toward meticulous cartoon dissection of childhood trauma.
Maybe they thought – based on the scenes of Jimmy’s Grandpa – that he really had an instinctual sense for the Depression Era, and that this was a relevant visual cue. I could buy that. Maybe they even imagined he would do something unblinking, and pointed. You know: EDGY. When your mind’s eye floats back over his slavish cross-sections of emotional hurts, can you say you felt any strident political viewpoints leap off the page? After being offered this platform, Ware ripped off his Jimmy Corrigan sad-face mask and revealed: STAB YOU! Turns out that intensity has also been quietly set on Simmer over the economic crisis.
What the art director at Fortune didn’t see in Ware’s work, that maybe he should have, is his comfort with brutal honesty. Painful things don’t incidentally happen in Ware stories: he meditates on them. Maybe the guy who draws an intricate schematic of your heart being ripped into 6,000 pieces isn’t going to pull any punches with the corporate looting of the American economy.
What I love about this: Ware is a smart guy. He knows what Fortune’s niche is. (What’s their name again?) Let’s just say that if Bill Greider ever walked in the lobby they would ask him if he needed directions. Ware KNEW they would never, ever run this piece. But I picture him in his studio, setting the record straight with every futile pen stroke. For the few thousand or so people this would leak to on the internet, anyway.
God Bless you, Mr. Ware.