Monday, December 3, 2012

The Many-Storied Stories of Building Stories

Building Stories by Chris Ware

Redefining that hallowed genre of graphic novel (or comics, as the purists would have it) Chris Ware's Building Stories is boxful of pamphlets, booklets, newspapers, and diagrams that trace the life and times of the sad but hopeful residents in a crumbling apartment.  The pieces aren't bound in a traditional way (see photo above) so read starting from anywhere you like. Linearity has no space in the story as the reader is left to his/her own devices in marveling at the various narratives of love and loss presented in the various artworks.  

One thing I love is the way everything is in relation to the architecture. The spatial location of the characters is given importance, which in today's world mirrors our need to always know at what exact point are friends are.  Dwarfed by the very structure that supposedly protects them, the characters age and decay in tune with the apartment. The drawings are crisp and colorful, indifferent and deadpan even, reminding me of those laminated  illustrations in airlines, which is to say everything's nicely done and intended.  

In the insane world of Chris Ware, everything's till-further-notice, tentative, and tragically lurking for the surface.  This convoluted microcosm is certainly not meant for your tablet. Chris Ware's Building Stories is meant to be physically handled, flipped over, devoured, and then devoured again.  And if you let it, it'll haunt you even. 

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