S ORIES Chris Ware as the Intersection of Comics and Graphic Design LITA LEDESMA
Chris Ware as the Intersection of Comics and Graphic Design LITA LEDESMA
For my brother, Ben, who LET ME STEAL HIS comics.
comic books as
Left: detail from cover of Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth. Next page: detail from the cover of Action Comics No. 1, which was the first example of a Superhero comic.
The disciplines of graphic designers and comic book artists share many similarities. While their histories and purposes are very different, both mediums aim to express a direct message to an audience using forms and text. Both serve a dual purpose of communication and aesthetic qualityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and ideally, these two things enhance one another. Popular and celebrated in both fields, Chris Ware deftly utilizes the techniques of traditional graphic design to inform and enhance his work as a comic book artist. His highly controlled, geometric forms are constructed in harmony with elaborate, hand-lettered type in a masterful expression of self-discipline and rigor more frequently associated with graphic design, not comic books. The work of Chris Ware is particularly exemplary of the close relationship between comic art and graphic design and the ways in which the tools and techniques of the latter benefit the comics medium.
A brief HISTORY of
To understand and better appreciate Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s particular style, and indeed, comics as a whole, one must have a clear understanding of the definition of comics and at least briefly consider the origins of this type of artwork. In his book Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud devotes an entire chapter to an analysis of the definition of comics. His illustrated explication is useful in noting that while comics are generally accepted to have certain characteristics, like any art form, their definition is malleable. Still, for the purposes of formal analysis, his description seems an excellent starting point: â&#x20AC;&#x153;comics (komiks) N. plural in form, used with a singular verb. 1. Juxtaposed
pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” (Conscious of the sterility of his cautious definition, McCloud includes three alternate definitions that riff on dominant stereotypical ideas of comics: “2. Superheroes in bright colorful costumes, fighting dastardly villains who want to conquer the world in violent sensational pulse-pounding action sequences!! 3. Cute cuddly bunnies, mice and roly-poly bears, dancing to and fro, hippity hop, hippity hop. 4. Corruptor of our Nation’s Youth.” (9). When we comb backward in history, we can find no obvious moment when fully realized comic books suddenly appeared ex nihilo. Rather, as is the case with many other linguistic modes of communication—and there are some, Ware included, who would consider comics a kind of language—it would seem that comics evolved over time, eventually taking on the distinctive and consistent characteristics they have presently. While McCloud includes ancient hieroglyphics as among some of the earliest examples of proto-comics, other
Above: Töpffer’s early comic works showed an innovative use of sequential art to tell a story, such as this example from Histoire de M. Vieux Bois.
comic historians such as Art Spiegelman tend to point to an event in time far more closely connected to our own. In 1837, a Swiss man by the name of Rudolphe Töpffer published an illustrated story, Histoire de M. Vieux Bois. Distinctive in its method of employing a sequential pictorial narrative, this work of Töpffer is seen as the predecessor to the comic book medium as we know it. Spiegelman notes in his historical essay on the origins of “commix,” that Töpffer “made brilliant use of his limited drawing ability to create a kind of shorthand picture-writing” (61). Before Töpffer’s work, there had been books with illustrations to accompany them, but his work differed in its intentionality; Töpffer’s
Katzengammer Kids was one of the earliest serialized comics which served as inspiration for later artists such as Chris Ware. Next page: detail from Little Nemo in Slumberland.
images were using sequencing as a method of expressing time to further his story. This “language of signs” as Töpffer dubbed it, was “hard to define but easy to understand. They were simple enough that all who saw them immediately understood them... Töpffer’s picture stories were powered not by individual signs but by combinations of signs working together in sequence” (Raeburn, Chris Ware 7). As an aside, despite the art form’s present-day struggle for a place of legitimacy in the realms of art and literature, the famous author Goethe was an early endorser of comic books; Töpffer sent his work to the ailing author when he was on his deathbed, and received high praise from Goethe for the work, who believed that the form had a tremendous amount of potential, particularly if the subject matter were elevated to something beyond mere amusement (McCloud 17). Töpffer’s seminal work would go on to inspire a great deal of early 20th Century comic artists, including Rudolf Dirk, the artist behind the comic strip The Katzenjammer Kids. Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst took a liking to
his comics, and chose to feature Dirk’s work regularly in his newspapers—a marriage that would further the popularity of comics, but also solidify the notion of comics as throwaway ephemeral art. Despite this dubious place of honor in print, many comics artists of the period were highly skilled illustrators and writers, engaging in sophisticated work which explored and expanded the boundaries of this relatively new medium. Winsor McCay, the creator of Little Nemo in Slumberland, was a masterful illustrator, but more importantly, as Spiegelman notes in his analysis, “McCay understood the storytelling possibilities of the comic strip’s unique formal elements: the narrative as well as design significance of a panel’s size and shape, and how these individual panels combined to form a coherent visual whole” (64). The work of early comic artists such as McCay benefitted from a relative freedom from expectation; the
format was still a frontier in many respects, and thus artists working in this medium were able to define it for themselves. In 1918, the long-lasting serial comic Gasoline Alley appeared on the funnies scene. This lighthearted family-themed strip concealed behind its simplicity a subtle sophistication. Frank King, its creator, frequently experimented with
â&#x20AC;&#x153;McCay understood the storytelling possibilities of the comic stripâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique formal elements.â&#x20AC;?
layouts and color to great effect, and more uniquely, created a real-time narrative for his characters, such that they aged over time along with the comic’s audience. Tintin, first published in 1929, is also notable in the history of the medium. Created by Georges Remil, professionally known as Hergé, this world-beloved series is distinctive for its clean, crisp line and savvy storyline. Hergé’s illustration technique was also characterized by his detailed and highly realistic backgrounds in contrast to simplified character illustrations. This technique underscores the relationship that the comic book reader has with the characters; the “shorthand” character illustrations in Hergé’s work are characteristic of many comics, and are effective insofar as they allow the reader to better place him or herself in
Hergé’s TinTin, pictured at right, had a clean look that would influence Ware’s illustration style.
the storyline. When, for example, a face is simplified, the character in the story can become a sort of everyman, as McCloud notes in Understanding Comics (44). In 1938 the game-changing Action Comics made its debut to the world, introducing Superman for the first time. The birth of this publication marked the beginning of the superhero genre of comics (Muir 538). Characterized by simple dramatic story arcs and cinematic pictorial styles, the superhero comic shares a close relationship to the action film. This genreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s popularity would eventually engulf the comics world, defining them for many creators and readers alike. Today the superhero genre is more popular than ever, with associated films churning out of Hollywood at a breathless pace. Though the superhero genre certainly has had a powerful influence on the comic book medium as a whole, early comic book artists like Dirk, Frank and HergĂŠ have a much closer relationship to contemporary comic artists like Chris Ware, and it is in these pioneer comic artists that we see
Chris Ware’s cover illustration of Lambiek No. 30, by McCloud’s tongue in cheek definition of comics, passes with flying colors.
more clearly the formal techniques of graphic design. Though Ware’s work does not dismiss the superhero comic genre (indeed, his work continuously references and parodies aspects of the genre), his narrative structures and illustration style are far more evocative of the work of these early 20th century comic artists.
It would take a whole book to cover the history of the underground comic movement alone, but it is necessary to mention a few key figures in this important revolution in the medium as they relate to Ware. Following the cultural tide of rebellion at the time, artists such as Robert Crumb, founder of the independent Zap Comics and the widely popular Fritz the Cat emerged in the late 1960s with a daring new approach to content and delivery within the comic milieu. Crumb’s tense, aggressively sexualized characters inhabited a dense world of emotionally expressive, culturally challenging images and stories.
Left: “I’m not here to be polite.” Robert Crumb self-portrait from the R. Crumb Handbook.
Later, Crumb would collaborate on a comic with his friend, Harvey Pekar. Pekar crafted bleak, confessional narratives on the banalities of the human condition, often with no conciliatory resolution. Coupled with Crumb’s anxious illustration style, their co-creation of American Splendor can certainly be seen as an important step in the realm of the graphic novel, particularly for the genre of literary, character-driven material exemplified in Chris Ware’s oeuvre. Work of artists such as Crumb and Pekar recaptured significant territory from the likes of Marvel and D.C. Comics, allowing for other artists in their time, and future artists such as Chris Ware, to consider the medium apart from the formulaic narrative and compositional conventions of the superhero genre (Cassel 39). What is the stylistic difference between “superhero” comics and “underground” or “independent” comics such as Crumb’s and now Ware’s? They both have certain similar characteristics, to be sure. They are both sequential art, and combine word and image; both kinds of comics easily fall under McCloud’s definition of comics.
Above: Crumb’s illustration from Pekar’s American Splendor #4.
Frequently, “superhero” comics are produced by teams of multiple people for a large publishing studio. One comic might include the efforts of one or more script writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, and letterers. Often, the characters in the stories are owned by the publisher, as is the case for many of the more famous superheroes, like Batman of D.C. Comics fame, and thus control over the storyline and visual representation of the storyline must meet the approval of the publishing company. This scenario allows for much less innovation in narrative structure and technique, particularly as the end product is frequently serialized and intended for an
â&#x20AC;&#x153;their illustrations are boldly expressive, hyperbolic and cinematic in composition.â&#x20AC;?
audience that expects a consistent product over an extended period of time. Generally, the stories in this genre of comic are action-filled conflicts between archetypical hero figures and their counterpart villains. The themes in such stories are typically man vs. man variations. Their illustrations are boldly expressive, hyperbolic and cinematic in composition. Typographical treatments of the words in this genre are simple and formulaic, expressive only within the conventions of the genre, and generally within the norms of the comics language; screams might be drawn with larger, jagged letterforms, for example. This type treatment is almost a form of punctuation or stage direction, and type design generally seems an afterthought to the images in the story (Khordoc 163). In contrast, comics that are not of the superhero genre are very broad in style and content, particularly those produced in Europe and the United States. (For example, Japanese manga comics bear a much closer relationship to superhero comics, though there are notable differences in narrative structure and style). Largely,
these “independent” comics are created by a single person, who serves as the author, illustrator, and designer of the work. Somewhat less common for independent comics is a collaboration between a writer and an illustrator. In the past, comics of this type have frequently been self-published or produced by small publishing houses. However, in the past two decades especially, independent comic book publishing companies have emerged and more recently, major book publishers have begun to include some comics in their catalog. Whether self-published (in print or on the web) or published by a major book house, the creators of these comics tend to have control over most if not all aspects of the product. This distinction from traditional comic “factory” style studios allows independent comic artists freedom to explore the idiom of comics without the burden of conventional expectations in form or content, resulting in a broad range of unique works by artists with distinctive approaches to the formal qualities of comics.
Facing page: an example of a traditional contemporary superhero comic, in this case from Batman #345.
CHRIS WARE Chris Ware emerged on the independent comic book scene in the early 1990s as a young college student. His first published work, an experimental comic called Quimby the Mouse which was featured in the Daily Texan, explored and played with traditional comic book narrative structures by manipulating time and continuity through layout and story. A tribute to George Herriman’s long-running comic strip, Krazy Kat, Ware’s Quimby the Mouse is a clever juxtaposition of the classic “funny pages” comic genre with a turbid emotional quality more common in formal literature. By combining these two contrasting aspects, Ware employs a visual and messaging irony that enhances the effect of each component.
In addition to publishing his comics, Ware also had a brief stint as an art director for a newspaper. While not his calling, it proved useful and formative. In an interview, Ware notes that this “taught [him] a lot about creating images for reproduction and about printing—an invaluable experience... The full-time pressmen and production people working there as integral to [his] education as [his] professors were” (Irving). The celebrated comic artist Art Spiegelman took notice of Ware’s work and invited him to contribute to his publication, Raw. One of Ware’s submissions to the publication, a wry send-off of the superhero genre entitled Thrilling Adventure Stories, displayed an impressively accurate visual parody of a typical 1940s superhero comic. On the surface, the strip appears to be about a classic hero who frequently rescues damsels from assorted evil villains. However, the text used to accompany these stories is unusual. Seemingly unrelated, the word bubbles describe the protagonist’s troubled relationship with his family members, who have distant or difficult relationships with the person narrating. Using the images in
Above: excerpt from Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Thrilling Adventure Stories. Previous page: portrait of Ware in his home.
each panel as a counterpoint to the text, Ware uses contrasting themes to enhance the message of his creation. Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visual tropes serve as cues to the reader and convey the complicated dichotomy of the narratorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s emotional associations with the stories in this series. Since the stories being relayed are reflections on events from childhood, this dissonance (the protagonist is both a child without power and an action hero with unusual power) allows the reader to infer the internal pathos of the protagonist (Kannenberg).
Years later, Ware would create his most celebrated work to date, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Originally published as a serial comic for the Chicago paper, New City, this comic saga spanning multiple generations of Corrigan men has received numerous accolades and awards, including the American Book Award and the British Guardian First Book Award (a first for the comic genre), both in 2001. Praised by critics across the disciplines of literature, art, and design, Ware is considered by many to be the preeminent example of excellence and achievement in the contemporary comic arena.
Illustration from Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth.
CHRIS WARE AS
DESIGNER As part of Ware’s explorations with visual and typographical narratives, Ware has employed a number of graphic design techniques in his comics work. Steven Heller observes that “Ware has refined a unique illustrative and typographic language that bridges comic art and graphic design” (Heller, Eye Magazine 20). Indeed, Chris Ware has brought the two disciplines together more uniquely and effectively than any other comic artist.
Book display concept for Ware’s Quimby the Mouse.
In the body of work associated with Jimmy Corrigan (both the single volume and the individual, serialized books produced under the series title Acme Novelty Library), Chris Ware implements many of the techniques of type designers to enhance and even become a part of the story: “In the same ways that a typographer physically transforms the words in display and logo type to make them embody the meaning in the words themselves, Ware transformed the storylines of his strips
CORRIGAN’S life is compact and controlled, frequently not by him, and he is not equipped to access the passion he craves. into headlines, choosing colors, typefaces, and the occasional rebus to symbolize the emotions warranted by the words. He then used these headlines to move the story forwards, using typography to tell not only the verbal story but also the visual story.” (Raeburn, Chris Ware 19). Immensely attuned to the nuances of typographical expression, Ware peppers
his work with elaborately designed, hand-painted letterforms. Frequently, the typography in his work, particularly headings, has an expressive, emotional content: bombastic, romantic, nostalgic, or highly kinetic. This contrasts profoundly with the stillness, slow pace and flatness of expression which his illustrations of Jimmy Corrigan convey. Corrigan’s life is compact and controlled, frequently not by him, and he is not equipped to access the passion he craves. Ware illustrates his hapless protagonist accordingly, with a tight, precise line that leaves no egress for feelings. It is hard to believe that such clean and elegant linework comes from a handheld brush; many have mistakenly believed his delicately inked artwork to be digitally illustrated (Eggers 309). As Steven Heller notes in Stylepedia, “Indeed, Ware argues that his cartooning is not drawing; it’s more like typography, a mechanical sort of ‘picture lettering’” (329). This “mechanical” illustration style has been noted by some critics, Douglas Wolk included, as somewhat cold and unsympathetic (Reading Comics 347), but
Ware insists that his desire is to generate empathy in the reader, emotion being the primary focus of his stories. Ware explains that his distinctive illustration style is for the sake of clarity of comprehension: “What I’m hoping to do is just to make it a clear as possible what’s going on in the page and make the images really not necessarily that interesting, but just easily readable so that the story can be as confusing and difficult to sort out as my own experiences are” (Alfano). As a counterweight to the flat emotional effect of his structured illustration technique, which Ware feels is a “sensible distance” that, inspired by typographical disciplines, “governs the way that he draws,” (Bengal 1), Ware employs a startling array of typographical designs in conjunction with these illustrations. Fascinated by handlettered typography, particularly from the mid-19th century and earlier, Ware is a selftaught typographer who uses the stylistic conventions of previous eras to evoke a sense of nostalgia and humanistic warmth: “I steal constantly from all sorts of things,
Right: Ware’s experimental type treatments add layers of irony to his work in this excerpt from Ware’s Acme Novelty Library #4.
Left: infographic techniques carry the narrative forward in this example from Ware’s Building Stories.
especially when something emotionally affects me, either for reasons of color, composition, letterstyle—sometimes it’s even something as simple as an ascender and descender width relative to each other. I’m sure that if I’d taken a class about this stuff I’d know much better why it all works the way it does, and I wouldn’t have to fumble around in the dark so much” (Heller, Eye Magazine 326). Yet another formal graphic design element which Ware effectively employs in a fresh way is the infographic. Typically reserved the for the conveying of complex data in a visually concise, easy to understand manner, this diagrammatic method of depicting information is used by Ware throughout Jimmy Corrigan and his other works to further his narrative, flesh out his characters, as well as play with the idea of infographics and diagrams themselves. In one illustration, we see the building that is the setting for much of his recently published work, Building Stories. Ware uses circles connected by lines, filled with small illustrations, which reveal details
The small print on one such page reveals Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sardonic sense of humor, as each ad undermines itself with
A morbid twist.
about the building’s denizens. Rather than convey quantifiable information, the circular panels serve as narrative elements. This clinical technique has an intriguing effect, particularly when the material being explored is of a strong emotional content. By employing an illustration style that is associated with simple explanatory visualizations of factual information, Ware creates a formalistic barrier between the emotional content and the reader, which, interestingly, only serves to make those scenes that much more poignant. In a similar way, Ware has created a number of papercraft artworks for his comics. These complex, fully functional pages—one part diagram, one part unrealized threedimensional object—appear as narrative enhancements and entice the reader to participate in the protagonist’s experience in a tangible way. One such example of Ware’s papercraft illustrations can be found in Jimmy Corrigan. Here, the reader is invited to fabricate a zoetrope from his drawings, which, if made well, will animate a crutch-bearing robot—a metaphorical
representation of Jimmy. Ware notes that the act of cutting out and assembling such papercraft projects is inherently a task of isolation and relative futility, thus making it a fitting activity to further imbue the reader with a sense of loneliness and ennui, much like the protagonist in the comic (Alfano). The instructions for this toy include several derogatory statements aimed at the reader (who, in this case, is also Jimmy) as well as stream-of-consciousness text concerning his estranged father. Thus, Ware knits pathos into his information design and diagrammatic illustrations with compelling results.
Above: papercraft illustration from Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Previous page: detail from Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Building Stories.
Ware also raids the design closet for clichĂŠs in the advertising and branding techniques employed by graphic designers and copywriters. Particularly fond of mid-twentieth century advertising, Ware frequently employs the kitschy sincerity of this period in his Acme Novelty Library. In one example, Ware parodies the back page advertisements often found in comic books from the 1960s and 1970s. Using period-appropriate typography, layouts and copy language, Ware mimics the ads perfectly in the service of his message. A close reading of the small print on one such page reveals Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sardonic sense
Left: “Make Mistakes Get Children and Forever Alter the Flavor of Your Life” —Ware’s parody of mid-century comics-pages advertising from Acme Novelty Library #3.
of humor, as each ad undermines itself with a morbid twist. Much as in his earlier work, Thrilling Adventure Stories, here Ware relies on the reader’s exposure to the design technique being parodied. In this case, the crowded page, primary colors, and plain typography all express a particular time and place for graphic design, and it is precisely this that Ware cleverly manipulates to enhance the reader’s experience of the story.
Conclusion Comics artists would benefit greatly by following Chris Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s example and taking a more considered approach in their typographical and design choices. Though not a graphic designer by training, Chris Ware has been lauded by graphic designers all over the world for his comic work, largely because of how well he implements the techniques of graphic designers in his comics.
By harvesting graphic design tools such as hand lettered and designed type, infographics, and traditional advertising and branding conventions, Ware is able to enhance his visual and textual narrative to great effect. With the skills and historical understanding of traditional graphic design techniques for creating form and content at his disposal, Chris Ware is able to communicate a richer, more sophisticated message to his audience within the comic medium. More clearly than perhaps any other comic artist, Chris Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work demonstrates the close relationship that graphic design and comic books share. Furthermore, Ware has been a pioneer in exploiting that connection and expanding upon its possibilities, pushing the boundaries of both disciplines to create a distinctive body of work that is unparalleled in the world of comics and graphic design.
Right: in-store display for Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Previous spread: detail from Building Stories.
CHRIS WARE In an interview with Stephen Heller you mention that you have no interest in being a graphic designer, though you have done some graphic design (album covers, book jackets, et al.) Yet your comics work looks incredibly well-designed and has an aesthetic that resonates with graphic designers. Can you talk about your impressions/thoughts about the relationship your work has to graphic design, and what inspires your distinctive style? Whatever work Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done as a graphic designer sort of follows a graph that roughly plots my need to pay my rent versus the time/tolerance I have available for it, with that curve rolling off over the past few years only into projects for friends (the occasional CD cover) graphic-design-as necessity (my own weird periodical The Rag Time Ephemeralist) and projects which I am happy to be involved with (the book and record set for the Paragon Ragtime
Orchestra’s orchestration of Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha.”) None of them have anything to do with comics-writing, however, which, as an art of composition and nearly always reproduction, inevitably involves graphic design as an integral approach and component, but not as an end in itself. You mentioned in several interviews how much you love 19th century typography, particularly for its human, expressive character— something which often lies in contrast to the controlled, clean linework of your illustrations. Can you discuss the reasons you choose to use typography in this way? Even if my artwork appears to be clean and controlled, it’s still hand-drawn and nowhere near as clean and controlled as the hand-drawn typography of the 19th century. I hand draw typography in my comics because it’s an expressive part of the comics themselves, and I want it as much as possible to be an unconscious part of the writing, as well; i.e. to be “born” at the same time as the drawing and the writing, not applied apart from it.
Chris Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s record label design for Sub-Pop records. Previous spread: detail from Wareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s illustration for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival held in 2012.
I was just recently at a book fair in Germany and spent a good part of the time looking at modern publisherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s booths and their pleasantly-designed covers, but discovered a section of book dealers which left me astonished anew at the superiority of the work of one hundred years ago, especially the clarity, fineness and beauty it embodied and which our time period almost entirely ignores, or more properly, lacks the facility to any longer fully understand.
Some of the lettering in your work is so small I need a magnifying glass to read it, and I have 20/20 vision! Can you talk about this intriguing and amusing design choice? This is going to sound pretentious, but in a leaf of a tree one can see the structure, shape and growth of the tree itself, and I guess I’m in some way trying to model the same recursiveness in the structure of my panel, pages and ultimately the books themselves. (I also don’t like to waste space.) Much of your work references ads, signage and branding from previous decades, incorporating these ordinary and often beautifully kitschy things into your narrative in a lyrical way. Can you talk about the relationship that advertising and branding has to your storytelling methods? Well, aside form the fact that I loathe advertising, it’s also an integral, living part of my memories and my consciousness, just as it is for nearly everyone in the “developed” world. It’s so difficult in any urban area to not be free of something to read, or to compare oneself
to, or to wonder about what it is exactly that these people who make these ads think will appeal to or sell something to a stranger. These images, phrases, typefaces, music and films linger in the consciousness, fester, take roots and infect real memories, leeching what should be honest nostalgia for people and places and then replacing it with a jingle or a clever camera trick. YouTube is full of television commercials that remind
“If I’ve potentially got all the graphic tools of expression at my fingertips, I should make use of as many of them as possible.” me of my parents and my grandparents, a whole relationship which is sinister and sickening. At the same time, I fondly and deeply remember so many of these ads, and few experiences other than opening the cabinet in which I’ve kept all the objects I collected from my grandmother’s house and inhaling the collective odor take me back to that time more fully. Lastly, the designers who work in advertising make fabulously serious amounts of money, so they assume
what they do must be important. And it is, ironically. Maybe it’s even the real art of our time, in a way. James Joyce employed the repeated banal phrase threading through the thoughts of Leopold Bloom in “Ulysses” to suggest advertising’s insidious infiltration of experience, and that book is only set in 1904; imagine how poisoned and bilgechoked our minds are now. You employ the use of infographic charts in your work—most recently in Building Stories. Can you talk about your reasons for using this technique as a narrative device? It’s simply one way out of many to present relationships (whether between people, places, ideas or falsehoods) in a manner that is non-verbal; it’s another way of writing in pictures that’s not theatrical, but spatial and relative. I figure that if I’ve potentially got all the graphic tools of expression at my fingertips I should make use of as many of them as possible.
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Acknowledgements This book is a thesis publication as part of the undergraduate program in Graphic Design at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington D.C. Greatest thanks to Mr. Chris Ware, who graciously gave of his time for the interview. Much gratitude for the invaluable editorial and stylistic guidance of Antonio Alcalรก and Alice Powers, my thesis advisors for this book and its accompanying exhibition.