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Cartoonist Chris Ware speaks at IU Cinema


Cartoonist Chris Ware gives a presentation about his life as a cartoonist and the story making process on Tuesday afternoon at the IU Cinema. Ware works as a cartoonist for the New Yorker and has published several books including "Building Stories" and "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth" David Crosman Buy Photos

Ware’s visit was part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Themester 2013, “Connectedness: Networks in a Complex World.”

“He’s the creator of some of the most beautiful, mysterious, intelligent and moving books I have read in some time,” Jonathan Elmer, director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute, said.

Ware is best known for his “Acme Novelty Library” comic book series and the graphic novels “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth” and “Building Stories.”

He has been praised by critics and won numerous literary awards for his works, including an American Book Award and the National Cartoonists Society’s Award for Best Comic Book.

In addition, “Building Stories” was named one of the “10 Best Books of 2012” by the New York Times.

During his presentation, Ware discussed his childhood and career as well as some of the people he admires.

His interest in stories was heavily influenced by his mother and grandfather, both newspaper reporters, as well as his grandmother, whom he said was a great storyteller.

“She would create a sense of reality through just a few well-placed sentences,” Ware said. “It was really mesmorizing, almost like time travel, listening to her tell stories about her childhood.”

Although he read a lot of comics as a child, Ware said that “Peanuts” meant the most to him.

“It’s pretty much the only literature I can think of that you can read as a five-year-old and as a 50-year-old and still get something as rich and important out of it,” he said.

After becoming interested in underground comics in high school, Ware studied painting and sculpture at the University of Texas at Austin, where he published comics in the school newspaper.

Ware said he felt odd about doing comics and fine art at the same time.

“I felt like I was leading a double life because comics are considered a commercial pursuit,” he said. 

After deciding to pursue a career as a comic book artist and cartoonist, Ware began publishing in a variety of outlets as well as self-publishing his own work.

In recent years, his designs have notably appeared on several covers of The New Yorker.

When discussing “Building Stories,” which is made up of multiple printed works put together in a box set, Ware said he was trying to evoke a feeling of excitement.

“I had wanted to do this for a long time,” he said of the unique packaging. “I didn’t want to do it in a frivolous or stupid way. I wanted to have a reason.”

After the lecture, Ware answered questions from attendees and signed books.

He acknowledged the unique and valuable connection between him and his audience.

“There’s a relationship between a cartoonist and a reader that I really cherish,” he said.

Follow reporter Rachel Osman on Twitter @rachosman.

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