Franklin Christenson Ware (b. December 28, 1967), (Chris Ware) is an American comic book artist and cartoonist, widely known for hisAcme Novelty Library series and the graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, he resides in theChicago area, Illinois. His works explore themes of social isolation, emotional torment and depression.

Ware’s art reflects early 20th-century American styles of cartooning and graphic design, shifting through formats from traditional comic panels to faux advertisements and cut-out toys. Stylistic influences include advertising graphics from that same era; newspaper strip cartoonistsWinsor McCay (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and Frank King (Gasoline Alley); Charles Schulz’s post-WWII strip Peanuts and the cover designs of ragtime-era sheet music. Ware has spoken about finding inspiration in the work of artist Joseph Cornell and cites Richard McGuire’s strip Here as a major influence on his use of non-linear narratives. 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. 

Although his precise, geometrical layouts may appear to some to be computer-generated, Ware works almost exclusively with manual drawing tools such as paper and ink, rulers and T-squares. He does, however, sometimes use photocopies and transparencies, and he employs a computer to color his strips.

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