Shawn Gilmore joins our Building Stories quasi-symposium with a piece on “formal disruption and narrative progress” in the book. Here’s an excerpt:
There are complex patterns and resonant thematic connections here, but they operate in a slightly different mode than in Ware’s previous works. Building Stories is less maudlin than many of his previous works, instead presenting a more nuanced portrait of the long arc of a character’s life, with all of its psychological drama, conflicting emotions, and shifting commitments. In Jimmy Corrigan, Ware treated the epic saga of a particular family, spanning a century or so, and while we have some historical notes in Building Stories—for example, at one point, the landlady works in the old Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building during her youth in the mid-twentieth century—the focus is quite different.
This is a story of our moment, filled with iPads and cellphones, with the hectic day-to-day push and pull of life and the commitments of memory and old relationships. There are some of Ware’s tropes throughout—visual repetition and the importance of key locations in Chicago, the desire to affect change and the inability to do so, the rigorous attention to composition and uncluttered storytelling. But in Building Stories, these tropes are undercut by the lack of a master narrative that establishes and fixes the pieces together. Instead each book carves out a piece of the overall narrative, often leaving the rest to the side, offering only glimpses of the wider world in which the scene is set.
Tucker Stone is back again, as is his wont on Fridays, with a stripped-down column reviewing Julia Wertz and Tezuka on one hand, and old Punisher comics and unsatisfying superhero crossovers on the other.
—I’m sure some people are starting to get a little burnt out on Building Stories coverage, but The Los Angeles Review of Books has a couple more items for you to check out before you’re done: the novelist Rick Moody reviewing the box set, and Casey Burchby with a top-drawer brief interview with Ware.
—The Independent has a good short profile/check-in with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat.
—David Smay at HiLobrow makes a persuasive case for forgotten Surrealist “Claude Cahun” (Lucy Schwob) being a secret influence on V For Vendetta.
—And via D&Q, video of Brecht Evens making a mural: