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Beach Bully

Well now here’s some more Chris Ware for you. The latest in our series, this one by Matt Godbey covering the implications for urban life in Building Stories.

Today, more than ever, cities are defined by a near constant sense flux which has the effect of leaving us feeling disoriented and overcome by a flood nostalgic memories, both real and imagined, for cities as they used to exist and the lives we lived in those past iterations. In the face of the provisional nature of the urban experience, buildings offer at least the possibility of order and structure, no matter how messy the lives of the inhabitants they contain.

Ware assembles Building Stories as the literal embodiment of this messiness, self-consciously subverting linear narrative conventions in the box’s structure in order to reflect and shape the stories told inside. Throughout the strips, time constantly shifts and circles back on itself, which parallels the circuitous nature of time in our daily lives.

And TCJ-columnist Craig Fischer spoke to the artist himself and comes to us with a report on that encounter and how it affected his perception of the publication.

Building Stories taxes our abilities to build a tight story out of its discourse fragments. If you begin the book by reading one of the “Branford Bee” pamphlets, for instance, and then read the volume designed as a children’s Little Golden Book, you’ll be hard-pressed to see connections between the two. You’ll have to wait until you stumble across the panel in yet another piece of Building Stories that indicates that “Branford Bee” is a bedtime story that the central protagonist sometimes reads to her daughter. Yet even though this information places “Branford Bee” in the same world as the human characters, it doesn’t tell us the order in which we should read “Bee” in relation to the main narrative. I suspect that no matter how much I analyze Building Stories, some challenges and ambiguities will remain.

Elsewhere (old comics and no comics):

D&Q goes Rookie in NYC. I missed these parties and now I have to live with my regrets.

-Oh that Turok!

-Some nice and weird early Jack Cole comics here.

-Jog has a great story about Jesus. Of course.

Waaaay off topic, let’s take a moment and look at some moments in this Bob Montana 1963 Archie Sunday.

Look at Veronica’s swim cap. What a wonderful rubber pattern. Check out the porcupine-like hair on the bully. And then look at how the bottom tier builds to a (classic) crowd scene and the comes down with a gag. Woof. Great workman-like cartooning.


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