Thursday, October 11, 2012

Primer on BUILDING STORIES & Chris Ware

Chris Ware's BUILDING STORIES is out, which means its time for media coverage to begin. Since a lot of media outlets generally don't have the time or knowledge to do in-depth research into "comic books", "graphic novels" or "those things kids like". So, for everyone out there just getting into Chris Ware, he's a simple guide to Chris Ware and his work.

Q: Who is Chris Ware?
A: Most people believe that Chris Ware is a sensitive writer-artist based out of the Chicago area. What most people don't realize is that this is a lie!

Chris Ware is actually an alias for Rob Liefeld, the controversial artist who broke into comics in the '80s with HAWK & DOVE and NEW MUTANTS. The "Chris Ware" persona was hatched over a drunken bull session with Gary Groth of The Comics Journal at the San Diego Comicon in 1995. Groth said that Liefeld would never create a comic book he liked. Liefeld said if he did, Groth would have to give every book he did under the pseudonym at least a week's worth of coverage. Groth lost the bet. And "Chris Ware" was born.

Industry folks also claim that "Dan Clowes" is another alias for Rob Liefeld. That is stupid. "Dan Clowes" is the name of the studio that Marc Silvestri and Jim Balent have founded.

Q: What is BUILDING STORIES about?
A: As always, where art is concerned, it depends on how you interpret the contents. Some people say that it is the story of a lonely woman, trying to connect with the world around her. Others say that it is a narrative about post-Modern America's disconnect from itself. All I can say is, it finally resolves what Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Boy on Earth, was doing during INFINITE CRISIS.

Q: I heard that Ware did something weird with the packaging. Is that true?
A: Yes. Chris Ware had trees chopped up and the resulting wood transformed into wood pulp. He then had giant machines transform that pulp into a regular shape, upon which it would be easy to imprint different colored-inks. Those flimsy pieces of pulp were then bound between slightly less flimsy pieces of pulp, put into containers, and shipped to different retail outlets and warehouses where they could be obtained by consumers. All in all, a very previous and artistic way to disseminate art in our modern age.

Also, there are slight variations in the way those piece of pulp are organized and combined, from one printing to another. This has never happened before in the history of comic books.

Q: Does this mean comics aren't for kids anymore? Can I add "Biff! Bang! Pow!" to the headline?
A: Comics have not been printed for kids since 1970. They are mostly consumed by rocks, sentient bacteria, and the Omni-Being from the Dark Galaxy of Quadrant 5.

But go ahead with the "Biff!" "Bang!" "Pow!" to your headline. No one has ever thought of that joke before.

Q: Have you even read BUILDING STORIES yet?
A: That's ridiculous. If I read BUILDING STORIES, I'd have to pick an order to read it in, and I might pick the wrong order!

Also, I hear Joss Whedon plans to make a movie version of it.