Chris Ware (born December 28, 1967) is an American comic book artist and cartoonist, best-known for a series of comics called the Acme Novelty Library, and a graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, he resides in Oak Park, Illinois as of 2007.
Ware’s art is eclectic in its influences, and largely reflects his love of early 20th century American aesthetics in both cartooning and graphic design, shifting through dozens of artistic styles from traditional comic panels to advertisements to cut-out toys. Although his precise, geometrical layouts may appear to some to be computer-generated, in fact Ware works almost exclusively with “old-fashioned” drawing tools such as paper and pencil, rulers and T-squares. He does, however, sometimes use photocopies and transparencies, and employs a computer to color his strips.
His work shows tangible influence from early cartoonists, like Winsor McCay and Frank King (creator of Gasoline Alley); especially in its layout and flow. Outside the comics genre, Ware has found inspiration and a kindred soul in artist and sculptor Joseph Cornell, both men sharing a need to capture items of nostalgia, grace, and beauty within “boxes.”
Ware has said of his own style:
” I arrived at my way of “working” as a way of visually approximating what I feel the tone of fiction to be in prose versus the tone one might use to write biography; I would never do a biographical story using the deliberately synthetic way of cartooning I use to write fiction. I try to use the rules of typography to govern the way that I “draw”, which keeps me at a sensible distance from the story as well as being a visual analog to the way we remember and conceptualize the world. I figured out this way of working by learning from and looking at artists I admired and whom I thought came closest to getting at what seemed to me to be the “essence” of comics, which is fundamentally the weird process of reading pictures, not just looking at them. I see the black outlines of cartoons as visual approximations of the way we remember general ideas, and I try to use naturalistic color underneath them to simultaneously suggest a perceptual experience, which I think is more or less the way we actually experience the world as adults; we don’t really “see” anymore after a certain age, we spend our time naming and categorizing and identifying and figuring how everything all fits together. Unfortunately, as a result, I guess sometimes readers get a chilled or antiseptic sensation from it, which is certainly not intentional, and is something I admit as a failure, but is also something I can’t completely change at the moment.”