Small talk with Chris Ware

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Just one of the many adventures at your local library!

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.

Chria Ware Acme Novelty Library

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.

star of love and nbc
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,
- Josh

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5 insightful ideas to “Small talk with Chris Ware”

  1. Avatarfluffy

    Are there really no CYOA comic books? I know there are several CYOA-style mini-comics (I am positive Scott McCloud has made a couple, and then there’s a bunch of lesser-known artists’ ones I’ve seen on the web such as the long-gone No Outlet). Of course I can’t think of any actual full comic books like that.

    So, wow, Chris Ware. Cool. If I were to meet him I don’t think I could resist asking what he felt about Stewie from Family Guy but that is because I don’t have any ability to come up with any interesting questions.

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  2. AvatarJosh Farkas
    Author Comment

    Hey Fluffy,

    You’re right on that there have been many short CYOA books. Scott McCloud expanded his from “Understanding Comics”. The other person I see come up from time to time is Jason Shiga, who did a mini-comic this way. Shiga today does one page CYOA comics for Nickelodeon magazine. But strangely a full comic has never been attempted.

    Both of the above tried to create their own way of interacting with the story, each using a different form of a flowchart. This worked well when it was on one page, but fell to crap when you had anything longer.

    It reminds me of websites from the 1990′s. Instead of filling themselves with content, they spend much of their time trying to shoehorn in awkward navigation.

    Your question is much better than mine though (and 90% less selfish). Very true! :)

    Reply to this comment.
  3. AvatarWasd (version 3.4.12 Limited Edition)

    Wow, Chris Ware. Never heard of him… Perhaps I should remedy that.

    Glad this had made an impact on your CYOA. If I had a job, and money, and an address that’s not my parents, I’d buy like five copies, because it sounds freaking sweet. (You know it must be good if I would buy a comic by its sound.)

    I remember reading many create your own BOOKS, but never comics. I thought I was just sheltered, but now I know I’m in the presence of the inventor of a new medium. Cool!

    Reply to this comment.
  4. AvatarRyu

    Well man, I’m very excited for you! To meet one of your heroes, just sounds extraordinary!

    Just keep going on your novel, seriously, I’ll definitely have to own it.

    I’ll find someway…like…become a ninja…pirate ninja…gardener…musician monkey…something.

    Reply to this comment.
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