Posts Tagged ‘Chris Ware’

Fortune May 2010

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.

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I’m reading a book I got from the Santa Monica Library (more like skimming it before bed) about the life of Winsor McCay: Winsor McCay: His Life And Art. It’s a stunning collection (which you can find at Amazon here). To be honest, I’ve always known of Winsor McCary, but didn’t really know much about him. Suffice to say, I’ll be doing my research, as I feel as if I’ve unearthed a treasure trove of amazing illustration and storytelling.

Just a quick scan through the book underlines a few points: McCay was a designer/illustrator on par with William Morris and Aubrey Beardsley; McCay worked tirelessly throughout his life; and McCay did things with a comic strip that transcended the genre. There’s a great quote from McCay in the book (and I paraphrase): “Animation should be an art form, not a trade (italics mine).”

I also found a great little quote online from Chuck Jones:

It is as though the first creature to emerge from the primeval slime was Albert Einstein; and the second was an amoeba, because after McCay’s animation, it took his followers nearly twenty years to find out how he did it.

Just a quick glance at McCay’s book suggests the influence on Maurice Sendak, Chris Ware, Alan Moore, countless others. Truly a giant in the field. I wholeheartedly suggest the book.

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