Chris Ware was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1967. Known for his New Yorker magazine covers, he’s hailed as a master of the comic art form. Ware’s complex graphic novels tell stories about people in suburban Midwestern neighborhoods, poignantly reflecting on the role memory plays in constructing identity. Stories featuring many of Ware’s protagonists—Quimby the Mouse, Rusty Brown, and Jimmy Corrigan—often first appear in serialized form, in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, or Ware’s own ongoing comic book series Acme Novelty Library, before being organized into their own stand-alone books.
Experimenting with the form of the novel itself, Ware’s Building Stories (which took a decade to complete) is a box set of fourteen printed works in a variety of formats—cloth-bound books, newspapers, pamphlets, and flip books—that can be read in any order. The artist’s hand-drawn, complex compositions unfold time through space in surprising arrangements which include pages entirely absent of words, radical shifts in scale, and characters, locations, and events seen from multiple points of view.
In the following preview from the Chicago episode of Season 8 of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Ware considers his connection to old toys and comics.
“Peanuts is the point at which comics really became a medium of emotional connection to readers,” says the artist. “Charlie Brown is the first cartoon character for whom you really feel something. Not only do you feel through Charlie Brown, but you feel for him.”
Season 8 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres Friday, September 16, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Chicago airs Friday, September 16 at 9 p.m.