Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Acme Novelty Library #18

Chris Ware

The latest installment of Chris Ware's The Acme Novelty Library is always something to look forward to. The previous two installments collected strips from Rusty Brown, which were pretty fantastic. This one I wasn't so sure about before I read it, as it collects part of Ware's Building Stories strips, which I've heard aren't as good as other works from the creator, and the small tastes of the strip that were published in the back of the previous The Acme Novelty Library collections didn't exactly grab me (parts of the strip were also recently serialized in The New Yorker). However, Ware has wowed me once again with his latest collection. There was a lot to love in The Acme Novelty Library 18, and I think it's absolutely on par with his other works. I may even have a little more fondness for this than the Rusty Brown strips. This particular volume, bound in a beautiful, simple hardcover, follows a woman's lonely life as she struggles with depression, loss and her handicap, as she is missing part of one of her legs. As always, Ware demonstrates his prowess at design throughout the book, and his uncanny ability to convey emotion to the reader, making me feel quite depressed alongside his character by the book's end. I really liked the protagonist of the story, watching her movements through small moments, more vulnerable times, and her reactions to the bigger pitfalls of life, such as the loss of a loved one. Throughout her time as a nanny, a florist, and as an art student, I was spellbound. I really enjoyed spending time with her and I'm only disappointed that it will be at least a year before I get to see more of her (or perhaps more, depending on which strip Ware decides to collect in The Acme Novelty Library 19). But at least until then, readers have this great work to enjoy and revisit as necessary.

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