cover image Quimby the Mouse

Quimby the Mouse

Chris Ware, . . Fantagraphics, $24.95 (56pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-485-7

This large-format collection of Ware's early work, mostly from 1990 and 1991, repackages material that appeared in Acme Novelty Library as well as other publications, but still feels amazingly fresh. Even in these early strips, Ware displays a virtuoso ability in both rendering and storytelling. The material consists of primarily one or two page strips focusing on Quimby's remarkable bad luck in life and everything else. Quimby resembles a distant cousin of Disney's iconic Mickey Mouse, but instead of being a chipper mascot, he's a tiny, bleak figure travelling across a hostile world. The depressing subject matter is clothed in the peppy antics of primal cartooning, making the strong emotions that much more potent for being so surprising. All of the work is packaged impeccably—Ware's beautiful gold foil stamped cover alone is worth the book's price, while his running joke that the book is, in fact, a discarded library book is funny and touching, underscoring comics' ephemeral quality. Ware also provides a wonderful autobiographical introduction that gives the work context without ever explaining it; he simply adds another layer. Fans of Ware's earlier Jimmy Corrigan will find much to enjoy here; the tragicomic sensibility, beautiful drawing and impeccable packaging that marked that book are all here in full effect. (Aug.)