Graphic artist Chris Ware to speak on Bloomington campus this week

A recent visit to the College Arts & Humanities Institute was pleasurable for two reasons — not only did I get the chance to chat with director Jonathan Elmer and assistant Alex Teschmacher, but they let me get my hands on several Chris Ware books.

Chris Ware's self-portrait

Chris Ware’s self-portrait.

If you’re not familiar with Ware’s work, he’s a comic book artist/cartoonist with an incredible eye for detail and intricacy that results in stunning works of what I can only refer to as book art.

Teschmacher and Elmer let me look through Ware’s newest work, titled “Building Stories.” It’s a collection of some dozen illustrated books in different formats, all revolving around a single building. It comes in a box not unlike a board game, with a pop-up building and other pieces and parts that allow the user/reader to essentially put the story together multiple ways, creating a very tactile experience that’s incredibly difficult to explain on paper, but so very cool to see in person.

I also ogled the beautifully embossed cover of “Quimby the Mouse,” flipped through the intricately inked panels for “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth,” and ran my fingers over a double-page spread that features Ware’s re-interpretation of the night sky that actually GLOWS IN THE DARK.

Building Stories

An image from Ware’s newest work, “Building Stories.”

OK, I’ll admit to being a book nerd, but even the most unbookish among us has to admit that’s pretty cool. But don’t just take my word about Ware. Teschmacher turned up this awesome quote about Ware in the New York Times by none other than cult filmmaker J.J. Abrams: “Ware’s graphic novels have the emotional wallop of a Philip Roth or Thomas Pynchon. Wildly complex and damaged and lonely characters populate his worlds, and they are rendered gloriously, both in text and imagery.”

Ware will visit the Bloomington campus this week. He’ll speak at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at IU Cinema, and there will be a brief Q&A and book signing following his talk.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, though seating is limited.

Funding for Ware’s visit was made possible by the Ruth N. Halls Fund and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Themester 2013: “Connectedness: Networks in a Complex World.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,