Visceral Comics, Part 2

Originally published on September 16, 2013

Last post I focused on the spaces in Chris Ware’s book-in-a-box called “Building Stories,” and the way that those spaces bring the reader into the story. I could write about Ware for the next few months, but for now, since I’ve already made the case that Ware’s work is as significant as literature like “Infinite Jest” and “Remembrance of Things Past,” I’ll discuss his significance within North American visual history, mainly by analyzing his work alongside the landscape paintings of Grant Wood.

Fuzzy on who Grant Wood is? Here’s his best-known piece, “American Gothic,” from 1930.


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Visceral Comics: Building Stories by Chris Ware, Part One

Originally published on September 2, 2013

At the end of my last post about “image” in comics, I began discussing this week’s book for review—”Building Stories” by Chris Ware—which is really a box of 14 small books, pamphlets, magazines and even what looks like a game board. Here’s an image of the whole shebang from Britain’s newspaper “The Telegraph”:

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Reading Comics Images: Simplicity Isn’t Simple

Originally published on August 16, 2013

Welcome to the second installment of Commons Comics, a bi-weekly blog sponsored by Better World Books. Stay tuned for my first review—Chris Ware’s “Building Stories”in the next post. If you’re already familiar with comics and you want some immediate reading suggestions, here are some of the other works released in the past year that I plan to review in the next few months: “Love in Yop City” by Marguerite Abouet, “Marble Season” by Gilbert Hernandez, “Relish” by Lucy Knisley and “March” by John Lewis.

Last week I promised an overview of five categories—moment, frame, image, word and flow—from Scott McCloud’s “Making Comics” (2006) to think about when you read comics. I also got requests from readers for more images, however, so I’ll slow down and start with just one of those five categories, the one that puts the “graphic” in graphic novels: image.

Perhaps the main reason that comics get dismissed as mere kids’ stuff is the simplicity of much of its art. McCloud argues in “Understanding Comics” (1993), however, that it’s precisely that simplicity that gives comics their power. Check out the contrast between these two images:


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