Chris Ware is the author of the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories, as well as the ongoing ACME Novelty Library. He is one of the most critically acclaimed cartoonists in the history of the comic medium.
Praise for Chris Ware
“There’s no writer alive whose work I love more than Chris Ware. The only problem is it takes him ten years to draw these things and then I read them in a day and have to wait another ten years for the next one.” Zadie Smith
“This haunting and unshakable book [Jimmy Corrigan] will change the way you look at your world. Ware captures landscapes made to flatten emotion—a clinic shrouded in snow, a sterile apartment complex—and yet shows the reader the meaning and even beauty in every glimpse from a highway, every snippet of small talk.” Time
“Jimmy Corrigan pushes the form of comics into unexpected formal and emotional territory.” Chicago Tribune
“Even if you're not a comics reader, you've probably heard of Chris Ware, and for a good reason: He has redefined what comics can do…Ware has crafted a springboard for his inventiveness, his intelligence, and his thoughtful approach to tacking issues of family, marriage, friendship, loneliness, aging and loss. Through his mastery of comics' potential, and the wealth of ways that images and words can interact, Ware has invented methods of moving through time that neither books nor films can match…Building Stories is not only important, it's fun to read.” NPR Critics' List Summer 2013
“I have now spent a week in sloppy communion with Building Stories and am ready to declare it one of the most important pieces of art I have ever experienced. I also sort of want to kill myself...What makes Building Stories monumental isn’t its unorthodox format. It’s Ware’s ruthless and tender pursuit of undisguised emotion. His work is brutal in the way all great art is. I can’t wait to experience it again.” Steve Almond, The New Republic
“Building Stories is a momentous event in the world of comics—the unusual format of Ware’s book is bound to help redefine yet again what a “graphic novel” can be.” New Yorker blog
“This book is a masterpiece…Building Stories is a masterpiece, above all, because it cares about human beings, many of them women. It cares enough to observe human beings closely, both when they are behaving themselves, and when they are engaging in their manifold selfishnesses. It cares enough about them to depict them when they are attractive and when they are singularly unattractive. The contemporary novel, it bears mentioning, does not care this much, because the contemporary novel is so preoccupied with affirmation that it will not risk what Ware is willing to risk. Perhaps Ware risks in this way because, as a person who began by illustrating, he is willing to see exactly what’s taking place around him, all of it. But by building up his stories from the fragments, from the discontinuous moments, episodes of glancing contact, and the disconnections as well as the connections, he has made something that, if possible, is more literary than most contemporary literature. The American novel, that is, has a lot to learn from this very convincing and masterful work.” Rick Moody, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Literally the Best Thing Ever: Chris Ware. His books are as big and as small as the world.” Rookie Magazine
“Chris Ware’s Building Stories is the rarest kind of brilliance; it is simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, shockingly intimate and deeply insightful. There isn't a graphic artist alive or dead who has used the form this wonderfully to convey the passage of time, loneliness, longing, frustration or bliss. It is the reader's choice where and how to begin this monumental work—the only regret you will have in starting it is knowing that it will end.” J. J. Abrams
“In terms of attention to detail, graceful use of color, and overall design—Ware has no peer. And while each panel is relentlessly polished—never an errant line or lazily rendered image—his drawings, somehow, remain delicate and achingly lyrical.” Dave Eggers, The New York Times Book Review
“Ware has been consistently pushing the boundaries for what the comics format can look like and accomplish as a storytelling medium…More than anything, though, this graphic novel mimics the kaleidoscopic nature of memory itself—fleeting, contradictory, anchored to a few significant moments, and a heavier burden by the day. In terms of pure artistic innovation, Ware is in a stratosphere all his own.” Booklist, starred review
“So far ahead of the game that it tempts you to find fault just to prove that a human made it…Ware is remarkably deft at balancing the demands of fine art, where sentimentality is an error, and those of storytelling, where emotion is everything.” New York Times Book Review
“Ware’s Building Stories is a stunning reminder of the capabilities of print, telling a tender and crushing tale of missed opportunities.” The Huffington Post
”Its brilliance is not debatable…The components of Building Stories can be read and combined and recombined in any order, producing chance connections and beautiful resonances—very much the way life itself does.” Time, Top Ten in Fiction
"Chris (Ware) really changed the playing field. After him, a lot of (cartoonists) really started to scramble and go holy (expletive), 'I think I have to try harder.'" Seth
“Ware has single-handedly re-defined the possibilities of the graphic novel form. His work is complex, serious and stunningly beautiful…Building Stories is a rich, mature work that defies categorization and must be experienced to be fully understood.” WICN interview
“What is surprising is how quickly Ware can dismantle one’s preconceived notions of genre, leading the reader far past traditional definitions of what literature—or comics—is and isn’t, and deep into his fictional characters’ inner lives…For readers it’s a veritable treasure chest, a deeply layered narrative that can turn, as those familiar with Ware’s work have come to expect, on the subtlest of gestures, on the simplest poetry of a character’s heartbreaking monologue. But for writers it’s a rare opportunity to see the architecture of storytelling stripped bare, to witness an artist at the top of his game as he not only writes his way through the inner lives of his characters, but also transforms his adjectives and adverbs into a stunning visual narrative.” Poets and Writers
“Ware highlights relevant threads in multiple places, teasing full stories that he reveals elsewhere and guiding you masterfully to assemble the whole picture while still letting you feel smart. It may leave you with a hard little knot in your chest about the human condition (birth, maturation, possibly procreation and death, all in a short span and with little to show for it but brief moments of animal joy), but it also somehow makes you enjoy the knowledge.” Paste Magazine
“Chris Ware’s stories are the sheet music that we read to hear music in our hearts.” Lit New City
“A work of art…Ware has an extraordinary instinct for the empathic illumination of banality. He makes plain—beautifully and unsentimentally plain—the fact that nothing is more ordinary than to be lonely and despairing and dying. Perhaps this sounds depressing. It isn’t. Only bad art is depressing; good art, no matter what its subject, is exhilarating. Building Stories takes everyday sadness and makes something very beautiful of it, something powerfully human and true. That is a rare gift, and I’m very thankful to have received it.” The Millions
Chris Ware Biography
Chris Ware was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1967. He attended The University of Texas at Austin in the late 1980s where he published a regular comic strip in the student newspaper, a habit he was to continue upon moving to Chicago in 1992, producing material that has formed the bulk of his periodical, The ACME Novelty Library, since 1994, and that attained its 20th issue with Lint in 2010. Offering both serialized stories and short experiments in comics form, a collection of the same name was issued in hardcover by Pantheon Books in 2005.
From the pages of the ACME Novelty Library periodical coalesced the graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon, 2000), which received an American Book Award in 2000, the Guardian First Book Award in 2001, was listed as one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times (London), and is frequently cited one of the most important graphic novels of all time.
Drawn and Quarterly published two volumes of Ware’s sketchbooks in 2003 and 2007. His massively ambitious boxed graphic novel Building Stories was published in 2012 to enormous critical acclaim, and was named one of the Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year by several publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Kirkus Reviews, and Entertainment Weekly, as well as the Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly; it also won the Lynd Ward award for best graphic novel of the year in 2013.
Ware has created over twenty covers and comic strips for The New Yorker, and is an occasional contributor to This American Life and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine, in 2005-2006, and he edited the thirteenth issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in 2004, as well as Houghton Mifflin's Best American Comics for 2007.
His original artwork was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2002 as well as Masters of American Comics, which originated at the Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2005. Ware has been the focus of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska; the Gävle Konstcentrum in Sweden; and the Columbus College of Art and Design. He was also awarded a Hoi Fellowship by United States Artists in 2006.
Ware’s work has been written about extensively, he was the subject of a lengthy interview in The Paris Review’s fall 2014 issue, for which he provided the cover illustration, and was a featured artist on PBS’s Art in the Twenty-First Century video series in 2016. A major art book on his work, Monograph, was published by Rizzoli in fall 2017.
Ware lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, Marnie, a high-school science teacher, and their daughter, Clara.
Biography adapted from information on the website of Drawn & Quarterly.