Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Acme Novelty Library #16

When nobody knows about your favorite band, you run around insisting all your friends have to listen to the CD. Then they get all famous and you don’t want to hear it anymore. Chris Ware is like that. There probably hasn’t been a bigger comic book than Jimmy Corrigan since Maus.

That puts me in a bit of a predicament. Do I not like #16 because I’m sick of seeing Chris Ware everywhere? I was more than half sure I’d be writing a negative review even before the issue came in the mail. Or do I not like it because it’s boring? Or again, this is the first new issue of Acme Novelty Library in four years. (Ware has been reissuing old stuff in book form and drawing a serialized comic for the New York Times Magazine, some of which is in #16.) Maybe my tastes have changed.

I think I honestly don’t like it. Here’s part of the problem: I was never all that interested in the relentless mundanity of the collected Corrigan book. I much preferred the dreamy sadness of the earlier bits of the story, told all out of order, and the non-Corrigan parts of the comic: Quimby the Mouse, the potato man, Rocket Sam, and Big Tex. Oh, and the fake ads:

Raise Giant Frogs
New, Uncrowded Industry
These bloated sons of bitches are all the rage!
Mr. Lyle Packingport of Hartford, CT says “My ‘Newfund Giant’ weighs six pounds! It’s horrible!” Miss Tiddles of West Plains, IL tells us “These are rude and filthy creatures. They are so ungainly they can’t even move. I’m disgusted!” It’s true! Get in on it now. Soon your home will be overrun with hundreds of these fat bastards, some even attaining the size of a modest house cat before expiring in a slimy lump on your new carpet. Completely valueless, wretched, and appalling. Cruel growth hormones are the fun secret. Watch poor creatures trying to breathe, leak fluids from their distended organs. Sick fun for all. Get two batches. Christ, they’re awful.

This next to a drawing of a frog looking kind of sick. (That's from Acme #4, no longer in print, though Quimby the Mouse has been collected in a book.)

There isn’t anything like that in the new issue. Instead there’s a little boy being unhappy at school, socially awkward and outcast and whatnot, and his father unhappy at home, and I’m just bored. Even the earlier parts of the Rusty Brown story were better, in part because Rusty Brown was just so pathetic. “Building Stories,” the serial from the NYT Magazine, is formally very interesting, but so far utterly dry otherwise, and hard to penetrate.

No previews.

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  • At 10:58 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    We're more forgiving of an author when we think he's an underdog. We ignore the tedious bits and focus on the pearls in the seaweed. If he's top dog, it's hard not to focus on those stinky strands of seaweed among the pearls.

    Yikes, that was a Thomas Friedman-worthy metaphor. In my defense (or not), it was originally Thoreau's.

  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    But in earlier days I really liked just about everything. I've been looking over old issues, and although his drawing style was the same, his storytelling sensibility was completely different. He only became a Realist somewhere about halfway through the Jimmy Corrigan story, and since then I think I've been going downhill on him.

  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I honestly think that reading Thomas Friedman poisoned my thought patterns for a few minutes, just as I was writing that last comment. It made me feel poetic.

    Anyhow, yeah, clearly your point is that you haven't changed, he's changed.


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