Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Acme Novelty Library #19

Chris Ware
The latest installment of Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library opens with a short science fiction tale called "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars," a disturbing little story about a pair of couples who are sent to Mars to establish a settlement. Not long after their arrival, things go wrong, as the first supply ship doesn't arrive. This is a pretty engrossing story, but quite strange, with the protagonist doing some pretty awful things. Within the context of this volume, this science fiction story is actually a short work written by Rusty Brown's odd father, W.K. Brown, for which he received some acclaim. The rest of this installment of Acme Novelty Library then shifts focus to follow not Rusty Brown, but secondary character W.K. Brown himself, mostly delving into his past just before getting friendly with his wife. W.K. Brown is odd and awkward, as we've seen throughout the initial chapters of this series, and this just goes one step further to illustrate how pathetic and lonely he is. It is interesting stuff, don't get me wrong, but following the intense "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars," this was actually pretty tame stuff, and a little boring and straight-forward in comparison. I like the awkward scene that the book ends on - a great note for a pathetic character, that I kind of hope we don't revisit too extensively in the future, at least not to this degree. This is my least favorite of the Acmes I've read to date, but it's still far and away better than most graphic novels released in any given year. As usual, the art is crisp and clever, designed masterfully, and brimming with more emotion than you'd expect upon a glance. I love the intricacies of many of the panels, although we don't get as much of that in this volume as volumes past. It's just unfortunate that the book began in such a strong, solid place that the rest of the book was rather dull in comparison.

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