Thursday, October 20, 2016



Chris Ware was born in 1967 in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was first inspired by reading Peanuts paperbacks in his grandmother’s basement, unlimited access to 1970s television. Ware got his start in published comics, however, while attending the University of Texas in Austin. He drew comics every week, and sometimes on a daily basis, for The Daily Texan, still the country's largest university newspaper. It was here that Ware began developing such characters as Quimby the Mouse and an early version of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. In 1987, Ware's work came to the attention of RAW editor Art Spiegelman (Maus), who invited him to contribute to the distinguished annual comics anthology.

In 1991 Ware moved to Chicago to pursue a Master’s degree in printmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he did not complete, but the experience did instill in him a deep suspicion of all forms of theory and criticism about art and writing. While in his first year of school he was invited to draw a weekly strip for the alternative weekly New City in May 1992, in which he began the newer incarnation of his semi-autobiographical character, Jimmy Corrigan, and serialization of a story which would take seven years to complete. (from

(Self Portrait)


"It's uncanny that someone so young would have such an apparent recollection of the history of comics, and the talent to expand upon it." – Art Spiegelman

"Stupendous." – Matt Groening
"Ware’s work is among the very best graphic, comic, illustrative, and fine artwork being produced in the world right now." – Mother Jones

"With a meticulous intricacy, [Ware's] work draws the viewer into a world of sadness, whimsy, nostalgia for a past that might never have been and, sometimes, redemption. The experience of reading panel to panel has rarely been so emotional." – Los Angeles Times

INTERVIEW: The Guardian

Q: The structure of your pages and panels are often integral to the narrative. Do you plan the page after knowing the story, or do you tailor the story to fit with an idea for page layout?

A: I don't plan or write ahead of time, having found through painful trial and error than anything I did script ended up dead on arrival. Instead I try to allow the feedback loop of staring at a blank page with few distractions other than my own memories, disappointments and yearnings direct a story and set a tone. I start at the top or in the middle of the page and whatever happens, happens. I keep vague notes but fundamentally I believe it's very important for a story to find its own structure rather than the other way around — it's the central tenet of Louis Sullivan's architectural theory (his word, not mine) and I've found it to be true — really the only way to find the "shape of life" in an honest, awkward way that feels and hopefully is human. Our minds are already very organized things; the trick, I think, is simply to trust them.

On style and process:
I arrived at my way of "working" as a way of visually approximating what I feel the tone of fiction to be in prose versus the tone one might use to write biography; I would never do a biographical story using the deliberately synthetic way of cartooning I use to write fiction. I try to use the rules of typography to govern the way that I "draw", which keeps me at a sensible distance from the story as well as being a visual analog to the way we remember and conceptualize the world. I figured out this way of working by learning from and looking at artists I admired and whom I thought came closest to getting at what seemed to me to be the "essence" of comics, which is fundamentally the weird process of reading pictures, not just looking at them. I see the black outlines of cartoons as visual approximations of the way we remember general ideas, and I try to use naturalistic color underneath them to simultaneously suggest a perceptual experience, which I think is more or less the way we actually experience the world as adults; we don't really "see" anymore after a certain age, we spend our time naming and categorizing and identifying and figuring how everything all fits together. Unfortunately, as a result, I guess sometimes readers get a chilled or antiseptic sensation from it, which is certainly not intentional, and is something I admit as a failure, but is also something I can't completely change at the moment.

Collaborations with Ira Glass--This American Life

"Yasujiro Ozu" by Chris Ware

Tokyo Story

In 2008 Cinefamily presented an ambitious retrospective of the films of Yasujiro Ozu, "one of the most revered of all Japanese directors."  They commissioned Chris Ware to illustrate the movie poster for Ozu's masterpiece, Tokyo Story.

Criterion Collection DVD Boxed Set:  The Only Son and There Was a Father



Yasujiro Ozu’s first talkie, the uncommonly poignant The Only Son is among the Japanese director’s greatest works, a simple story about a good-natured mother who gives up everything to ensure her son’s education and future.


Yasujiro Ozu’s frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son’s future, the more they are separated.

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