Gabriel Winslow-Yost reviews Chris Ware in The New York Review
A Triumph of the Comic-Book Novel
In 1988, Gore Vidal predicted that by 2015 “The New York Review of Comic Bookswill doubtless replace the old NYR.” It was a joke, of course, and a warning (Vidal preferred “book books,” as he called them), but we’re just a couple of years short now, and he wasn’t all wrong. The past decades have seen an unprecedented amount of serious attention paid to comics, and for good reason: they’re better—stranger, subtler, more ambitious—than ever before.
A medium that had spent most of its existence being mocked, ignored, and denounced, its books shoddily printed and sold only in specialty shops that, as one artist recalled, were “really just one step away from a pornographic bookstore to a lot of people,” began winning the awards meant for “book books,” and showing up on the walls at MoMA and the Whitney Biennial (The New Yorker called this “pant[ing] after the youth market”). Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning Holocaust comicMaus was nearing completion even as Vidal wrote, and there has been no shortage of successors, from the politically minded reportage and memoirs of Joe Sacco and Marjane Satrapi to the acid, unnerving fictions of Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns—to, above all, the intricately bleak work of Chris Ware.
Click to read the full review on The New York Review of Books
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