cover image The Acme Novelty Library

The Acme Novelty Library

Chris Ware, . . Pantheon, $27.50 (108pp) ISBN 978-0-375-42295-9

With all his literary accolades and awards, it's easy to forget Ware (Jimmy Corrigan) is one of the warmest, funniest cartoonists in America. The Acme Novelty Library collects a few issues of Ware's comic book series by the same name and adds plenty of new pages and visual delights. It is, like all of his work, an utterly immersive experience. You're not just reading his comics, you're inhabiting his world: from fake ads to diagrams for paper models to a lengthy and very funny fictional history of the Acme Novelty Company. These strips combine complex and beautiful visuals with the humor of hapless, often sad characters in ridiculous predicaments. "Rusty Brown", a series of strips based around an obsessive collector who will be the subject of Ware's next graphic novel, is particularly strong. These comics showcase Ware's unusual sensitivity towards his characters, building an incisive, multi-dimensional portrait of Brown and his friend Chalky White. On top of all of these riches there is Ware's own personal "history of art" in cartoon form, and a multi-page story about a naked superhero. Combining surreal humor, cutting satire, stunning visuals, and empathic characters, Ware's latest is a wondrous journey into the universe of a master cartoonist in peak form. (Sept.)