Whatever became of those beastly boys who teased and threw snowballs at Rusty Brown as a child granting him another excuse to retreat into his own obsessions? With the momentous release of Acme Novelty Library #20 (Drawn & Quarterly) Chris Ware performs an autopsy on one such character, Jordan Lint, spreading his heart, muscles and veins onto the page to be analysed. The storytelling is typically conveyed with Ware's detached eye but the scope of the book is far more ambitious than before. As with recent releases from other masters of the form such as David Mazzuchelli and Daniel Clowes, Ware uses a seemingly ordinary man's unspectacular life to explore some major themes. In this case religion, sex, parenthood, commerce and identity are balanced around the story of a man struggling to reconcile a duality in his nature. Lint's life is presented from birth to death and Ware lingers less on the mundane as he has done before instead taking us through the passing of larger passages of time whilst still pausing to appreciate the detail. It's an achievement as delicate as his precise line work and while he continues to find beauty in tight design, this time Ware also allows a looser approach with pages of experimentation and panels that depart from his usual style (inviting a commentary on comics reading that draws yet another comparison with Asterios Polyp and Wilson). Stylistically there is so much to discuss and I suggest this review as a starting point.
As ever though, Chris Ware is selecting a character to channel themes of nihilism, abandonment and loneliness. And as ever I am left wondering what this extraordinary book leaves me with. A warning perhaps?