ACME Novelist, Chris Ware

chris ware is the creator, author, and illustrator of the ACME Novelty Library, a series of meticulously designed comic books and graphic novels. (i doubt that anyone reading this didn't know that already but i don't want to make assumptions.)

i read somewhere that every novel begins with a question: "what if...?"

in ACME Novelty Library #16, mister ware inserted a fictional version of himself into the ongoing story. "mr. ware" is an unremarkable artist working as an art teacher. he is lonely at home and disliked by his colleagues. his paintings are routine but vaguely familiar as cousins of early comics by the real chris ware. in short, mr. ware, the frustrated teacher, is someone that chris ware, the celebrated artist, might have been.

i love this conceit for two reasons. No. 1 it seems like fun to recreate yourself in a form that can interact with your own creations. the two-dimensional chris ware advises the other comic book characters... and is dismissed by them. No. 2 it reminds me of a daydream that i sometimes have: what if ~ at the end of our lives ~ we are not confronted by god or nothingness but by the perfect version of ourselves? the version of ourselves that lived life to its fullest, pursued all worthwhile opportunities, protected people and the world, honed its character whenever possible? would it be torturous or comforting to see everything that we might have been? how would we react to lesser versions of ourselves? how would our better selves react to us?

this portrait was drawn from a photograph by noah sheldon, published in the june/july 2006 issue of Tokion magazine.

© 2006 rama hughes