Books are tiny people. Delicately simple, yet filled with ideas bound to their particular culture and time. Made with only themselves in mind, they are passed hand to hand until they wind up on a dusty shelf for a nickel.
But I like ideas. And I have a few nickels.
So I went to Chicago’s Printers Row Book Fair this year in hopes to fulfill my overflowing lust for used expository passage. The stranger and more weathered the cover the better – books like people, get better with continued love. Stepping into the first block filled with vendors as far as the eye could see, I knew that however great my desire, this was far too an overwhelming scenario to properly hunt.
A few old D&D choose books, a set of 1980′s cartoon comics with fuzzy animals in various hijinks, and a wonderful conversation with a vendor about how Graeme Base’s “The Eleventh Hour” changed my life.
And then I ran into Chris Ware. Provider of the ACME Novelty Library. Creator of Jimmy Corrigan Smartest Kid on Earth. Savior of the independent comics scene. This is the exact moment I crapped myself.
Of all my places my horrible addiction to collecting books had taken me, I never expected it to lead me to the author of the books I save. You see I love Chris Ware’s stories, characters, and design, but more often then the rest I find myself saving his books from the hands of the undeserving.
A dark reseller in the west suburbs has two copies of Jimmy Corrigan for a dollar. I save them. A pop culture store has one copy with a 80% off sticker. It now belongs to me. This happens again and again – until today I have a copy of this book in every room of my house. Two original hardcovers, a few of the first softcover, and even more of the second print run. Jimmy Corrigan is safe in my home.
But it gets even stranger. He was five feet away signing books, and here I was (for once) empty-handed. Damn fate and its bittersweet symphony of evil. So I bought a recent book, waited in line, and proceeded to lose my mind.
Chris Ware thinks that a choose your own adventure comic is a good idea. He had always wondered why no one had ever done that before. After mentioning that he was the reason I’m still doing comics (way too true), he said “I’m sorry.” Finally he wished me luck, shook my hand, and pushed me on my way.
I toddled to the nearby sidewalk to catch my breath. CHRIS WARE. . .KNOWS ABOUT MY BOOK. . .THINKS IT MIGHT NOT SUCK. . .
So this is why the mysterious post drought of the past few weeks. The CYOA graphic novel is pushing forward at a breakneck pace. By far it is the best thing I have ever touched.
It hit me a few months back that I should no longer try to create the best book I can anymore. Or the best graphic novel. If I can’t try to create the best book EVER then I’m wasting my time (and yours). Because, no doubt, I will fall very short. But the crazier I aim the greater chance I have to make it something magic.
(New webcomic coming this weekend tree pirates!)
Thanks as always for reading,