Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Acme Novelty Library (Volume 20) HC

Chris Ware

An impeccable design with thoughtfully-arranged panels and art, and complex characters, are pretty much guarantees when it comes to the work of Chris Ware, and are present in the latest volume of The Acme Novelty Library.  Continuing the epic Rusty Brown story, Ware gets sidetracked and delves into the life of Jordan Lint, a secondary character who bullied Rusty Brown in school in previous volumes, telling his life from birth to death.  I rather enjoyed watching Lint grow up, from the clever illustrations of his early memories, to his troubled childhood, to his latter years, where he reflects back on things we've seen earlier.  The reflecting back on things was the most riveting part of his story for me, as you see him make connections, and regret actions he took.  Lint is pretty much an asshole, but seeing him in his pathetic and cringe-worthy moments, it's hard not to sympathize, and you really get to see this one-note character from the previous Acme Novelty Library volumes as a fully-realized person in this book.  And unlike Daniel Clowes' Wilson from earlier this year, which I did not like, this character you kind of loathe has his bright moments too, and doesn't really see himself as a villain, which is interesting, especially when he says hello to Rusty Brown years after school (in the only short cameo by Brown in the entire volume) and doesn't understand Brown's reaction, you can kind of see how he views himself this way.  On a side note: To be fair, Wilson was trying to do something entirely different, but that abrasive character was also not funny, and I think if the humor didn't work for you in that book, the whole thing falls flat.  But anyways, in The Acme Novelty Library #20, Ware knows just when to bring up a memory or hint at a similarity to something from the past, or give a subtle reaction to something said, to make a very impactful scene that loads a page down with meaning.  It's subtle and beautifully crafted, another winner.

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