Friday, January 04, 2013

New Yorker cover of the day

(If you open it in a separate tab/window you can make it bigger. But you already know that.)

2012 was a remarkable year in many respects; most of them not in a good way. But one pretty much amazing thing happened: Chris Ware published a book (notable enough in itself, really), "Building Stories", that ended up in the New York Times list of best 10 books of the year. As someone who has been following Ware since his "Floyd Farland, Citizen of the Future", and who owns all but a couple of Acme Novelty Libraries (there didn't seem much point in buying the last couple of "Jimmy Corrigan" issues given their appearance around the same time in the book; oh how I regret that decision now), I see that last sentence as one of the most unlikely, but deserving, ones I have ever written. (In 1981 I reacted almost violently against the sudden, and equally unexpected, mainstream acceptance of Talking Heads, feeling that My Band had been taken away from me. I'm older than that now.)

I'm not going to go on about the thing itself; you can read that anywhere. (The one thing I will mention is that, this being a Chris Ware production, no detail has been overlooked: a short strip might have been included, if the author had thought about it, on the inside of the box that encases all of the other goodies; so, of course, such a strip appears. You might miss it if you are not already familiar with the Ways of Ware.) Of course, you should buy it, even though there is a fair chance you will already be familiar with some of its contents. There has never been a "book" quite like it, and there most likely never will be. I can't see how it wouldn't have permanently exhausted him, although in late breaking news he has been given the first New Yorker cover of 2013.

Instead, I simply note that during 2012 I read an interview with Ware in which he acknowledged the influence on his work of early New Yorker illustrators including Ilonka Karasz, the creator of the above cover and of many others. You can see the connection, if not exactly a clear resemblance (although those trees are absolutely Chris Ware trees). Composition. Weight. Balance. Substance and form sitting in perfect harmony. (And, if you stretch your imagination as far as it can go, thematically this cover might be seen to be not a million miles away from what "Building Stories" is "about".) And so it is that, once again, two seemingly disparate but equally important influences in my own life are shown to be closer to one another than I could ever have imagined. It is, indeed, a funny old world.