Chris Ware - The ACME Novelty Library Number 18 (4 stars)

The ACME Novelty Library Number 18

(Chris Ware)


It doesn’t get much more independent than self-publishing, and that’s what Chris Ware is now doing with his occasional title that was originally published by Fantagraphics and which initially introduced the Guardian First Book Award-winning Jimmy Corrigan. Now regularly packaged in hardback format, the 18th issue begins a new story arc, but it’s business as usual in terms of the impressive, sometimes infuriatingly intricate design and dry, depressing humour.

Once again the protagonist, in this case a one-legged 22-year-old failed female art student with weight issues, is miserable, pathetic and alienated. The first chapter of what’s promised to be an ongoing work opens with the gammy girl nannying a unremarkably dysfunctional wealthy family while worrying about wasting her life away. But where Ware’s previous sad sloths, old men and nerdy brats, amounted to little more than the butt of wonderfully wicked jokes, his new girl generates a good deal more sympathy.

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