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Rusty Brown

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Discover the long-awaited new book from the author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories. The perfect gift for graphic novel fans! ‘The week after I finished the last page of Jimmy Corrigan I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanize... amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha chil/>‘The Discover the long-awaited new book from the author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories. The perfect gift for graphic novel fans! ‘The week after I finished the last page of Jimmy Corrigan I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanize... amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha childhood and Nebraska upbringing.’ (Chris Ware, Monograph) Now, twenty years later, Ware is publishing Rusty Brown in book form. It is, he says, ‘a fully interactive, full-colour articulation of the time-space interrelationships of six complete consciousnesses on a single Midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit.’ The six characters are Rusty Brown himself, a shy schoolkid obsessed with superheroes, his father ‘Woody’ Brown, an eccentric teacher at Rusty’s school, Chalky White, another schoolboy, Alison White, Chalky’s sister, Jason Lint, an older boy who bullies Rusty and Chalky and fancies Alison, and the boys’ teacher, Joanne Cole. Ware tells each of their stories in minute detail (or as he puts it, ‘From childhood to old age, no frozen plotline is left unthawed’), producing another masterwork of the comics form that is at once achingly beautiful, heartbreakingly sad and painfully funny. ‘A treasure trove of invention… With its awe-inspiring exploration of regret and ageing, anxiety and ennui… Rusty Brown is a human document of rare richness’ Guardian


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Discover the long-awaited new book from the author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories. The perfect gift for graphic novel fans! ‘The week after I finished the last page of Jimmy Corrigan I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanize... amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha chil/>‘The Discover the long-awaited new book from the author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories. The perfect gift for graphic novel fans! ‘The week after I finished the last page of Jimmy Corrigan I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanize... amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha childhood and Nebraska upbringing.’ (Chris Ware, Monograph) Now, twenty years later, Ware is publishing Rusty Brown in book form. It is, he says, ‘a fully interactive, full-colour articulation of the time-space interrelationships of six complete consciousnesses on a single Midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit.’ The six characters are Rusty Brown himself, a shy schoolkid obsessed with superheroes, his father ‘Woody’ Brown, an eccentric teacher at Rusty’s school, Chalky White, another schoolboy, Alison White, Chalky’s sister, Jason Lint, an older boy who bullies Rusty and Chalky and fancies Alison, and the boys’ teacher, Joanne Cole. Ware tells each of their stories in minute detail (or as he puts it, ‘From childhood to old age, no frozen plotline is left unthawed’), producing another masterwork of the comics form that is at once achingly beautiful, heartbreakingly sad and painfully funny. ‘A treasure trove of invention… With its awe-inspiring exploration of regret and ageing, anxiety and ennui… Rusty Brown is a human document of rare richness’ Guardian

30 review for Rusty Brown

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I feel like my review is problematic right out of the gate because the fact that this just wasn't a book for me has nothing to do with Chris Ware's artistic talent (astounding), writing (witty, world weary, and downright lovely), or storytelling (solid). Its just so goddamn depressing I couldn't wade through it after awhile. Ware examines, in minute fucking detail, a day in the life of several different characters at a midwestern school. All of them are in one way or another outsiders I feel like my review is problematic right out of the gate because the fact that this just wasn't a book for me has nothing to do with Chris Ware's artistic talent (astounding), writing (witty, world weary, and downright lovely), or storytelling (solid). Its just so goddamn depressing I couldn't wade through it after awhile. Ware examines, in minute fucking detail, a day in the life of several different characters at a midwestern school. All of them are in one way or another outsiders in their own lives, disconnected from each other and themselves. And they're all so goddamn depressed and lonely it almost killed me. There's the titular Rusty Brown, a fat, unpopular, intellectually challenged little boy who is horribly abused and bullied by everyone, his African American teacher who flashbacks reveal is just as bullied, and one of the bullies himself who pays for his treatment of Rusty by having a real fucking depressing life when he grows up. There's just such an impenetrable layer of deep depression here that is totally impossible to break out of. Even the setting, for the most part the bleak midwinter, is heavy and painful. I don't need everything I read to be sunshine and puppies but when there's no catharsis of any kind I end up just floating in this sea of pointless sadness that isn't even mine. I'm not sure who this book is for but you've got to have a high tolerance for misery.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I've sampled Chris Ware here and there over the years, but I think this is the first full book of his that I have read, and frankly, I just don't get all the acclaim heaped on him. Pathetic and awful people live pathetic and awful lives in teeny tiny little panels. I guess we can never have enough stories about toxic white males?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Hollo

    Technically astounding as always, at times truly beautiful and with streaks of genius, but unrelentingly depressing. The best of it, Lint, was published as a self-contained story as ACME Novelty Library 20, although Joanne Cole's sequence is lovely and has a real emotional hit at its denouement. When Ware turns his pen to depicting sympathetic characters who we can really care about (generally female), the misery is tempered by loveliness and even some kind of peace - that's why Build Technically astounding as always, at times truly beautiful and with streaks of genius, but unrelentingly depressing. The best of it, Lint, was published as a self-contained story as ACME Novelty Library 20, although Joanne Cole's sequence is lovely and has a real emotional hit at its denouement. When Ware turns his pen to depicting sympathetic characters who we can really care about (generally female), the misery is tempered by loveliness and even some kind of peace - that's why Building Stories is so brilliant. But the Rusty Brown stories have always been the most painfully misanthropic, and so it is with most of this big compilation - only half of the entire work, what's more! The fact that Joanne Cole's story is the most recent (and mostly unpublished) work does bode well for what comes next - although those of us who've read all the ACME Novelty Libraries know that Rusty himself only becomes a more pathetic figure as he gets older.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Browning

    great art, great deconstruction of the comic form, but geez if the plot (as it were) isn’t an unending (perhaps occasionally relenting i.e. the last page) stream of misery and depression and (3 out of 4 sections) damaged male horniness. often the pages look beautiful with Ware’s geometries and solid lines, but it’s just so fucking hard (emotionally) to read and for what? what does this share about the human condition beyond that life’s fucking miserable? even authors like DFW, who worked in a si great art, great deconstruction of the comic form, but geez if the plot (as it were) isn’t an unending (perhaps occasionally relenting i.e. the last page) stream of misery and depression and (3 out of 4 sections) damaged male horniness. often the pages look beautiful with Ware’s geometries and solid lines, but it’s just so fucking hard (emotionally) to read and for what? what does this share about the human condition beyond that life’s fucking miserable? even authors like DFW, who worked in a similar sphere, allowed sustained moments of catharsis. i wouldn’t say that this isn’t worth reading because it has its qualities (as an art object, few graphic novels come close), but be warned: it’ll put you in a dark mood.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Great to read this collected, a book I actually found hopeful in the end, and full of human moments both sad and funny. I also probably relate to Rusty and Chalky as kids far more than is normal...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    In the past year, we've gotten Lutes's Berlin, Seth's Clyde Fans, and we're now blessed with Ware's Rusty Brown. What other epic years-long projects are still ongoing at this point?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    A new work from Chris Ware is always an event. No one does comics quite like him, and he seems to enjoy stretching the limits of the medium further with each story. Surprisingly, despite being literally the name of the book, Rusty Brown is barely in it. He’s there as a child at the beginning, but about a third of the way through the book, Ware shifts focus to the lives of various significant figures in Rusty’s life (father, teacher, etc.) Since the book ends with the phrase “Intermiss A new work from Chris Ware is always an event. No one does comics quite like him, and he seems to enjoy stretching the limits of the medium further with each story. Surprisingly, despite being literally the name of the book, Rusty Brown is barely in it. He’s there as a child at the beginning, but about a third of the way through the book, Ware shifts focus to the lives of various significant figures in Rusty’s life (father, teacher, etc.) Since the book ends with the phrase “Intermission”, and we know that Ware has written many stories of Rusty as an adult, I’ll hazard a guess that another Rusty Brown book will appear at some point. As always, Ware’s characters are painfully human. David Sedaris expresses it best regarding previous Ware books: “So real and awkward, it almost feels wrong to read it.” His characters seem to routinely stumble into situations that are almost nightmarishly embarrassing, but are so similar to things we’ve all done--not every single one, obviously, but if you read enough Ware, eventually he’ll hit upon something that is alarmingly close to your most embarrassing, shameful moment ever--that we can't help but empathize. As always, Ware has produced a fascinating book. Highly recommended!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    This certainly wasn’t what I expected. My first experience with Rusty Brown was in Acme Library, and I expected more of the same: sometimes depressing, but often petty and hilarious musings of an aging collector. I expected the painfully awkward situational humor. This volume featured very little of what I mention above. But I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I read Building Stories several years ago and loved it. If I compared this new volume to anything, it would be Building This certainly wasn’t what I expected. My first experience with Rusty Brown was in Acme Library, and I expected more of the same: sometimes depressing, but often petty and hilarious musings of an aging collector. I expected the painfully awkward situational humor. This volume featured very little of what I mention above. But I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I read Building Stories several years ago and loved it. If I compared this new volume to anything, it would be Building Stories. This is bittersweet, painfully bleak at times, and just beautiful. Every story in here is pretty dark, reinforcing the underbelly of humanity without arcing down a nihilistic spiral. In the end, there’s always a thread of hope in Ware’s work that is deeply touching. The more I think about it, the more I think Ware may be my favorite author. His work makes me feel just about everything, and the way he illustrates his work just makes it all the more wonderful. For example, at one point in this book a character recalls watching a friend shoot a small mammal. He vomits. The illustrations are very small and simplified, which strips the moment of its poignancy to some degree. Instead it is almost humorous, like the character knows he shouldn’t be so rattled by it, and yet it is this important moment from his past. I think we all have memories like this, like the time my wife lost my jump drive and I thought I was going to die. In retrospect it seems foolish, but I still remember that initial onset of panic, the severity of the situation as I was in it, even if I grew out of it later. Ware shows us the distance of time and experience through his illustrations. That’s really all I have time for though. I need to go grocery shopping and my kid is throwing a fit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zack Quaintance

    There are not one but several achingly-beautiful stories told in this book. The intersection may be billed as a single day at school, but it soon emerges that the real commonality in these pages is the complicated nature of the human condition. Just a gorgeous work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    Make no mistake about it, in the hardback edition of this book the quality of the art work and overall presentation is yet again exquisite. It’s all clean lines, eye-popping colour and just a delight to take in, which is the standard of which we have come to expect of Ware. But what of the story itself?...After all visually speaking, “Jimmy Corrigan” was beautiful, but the story was nothing more than mediocre. This is a dark, weird and twisted story, which again is no surprise. The fi Make no mistake about it, in the hardback edition of this book the quality of the art work and overall presentation is yet again exquisite. It’s all clean lines, eye-popping colour and just a delight to take in, which is the standard of which we have come to expect of Ware. But what of the story itself?...After all visually speaking, “Jimmy Corrigan” was beautiful, but the story was nothing more than mediocre. This is a dark, weird and twisted story, which again is no surprise. The first thing which starts to grate in this, is the irritating habit of drawing many micro panels, at times only postage stamp sized or even smaller, turns this more into a bitter test than enjoyable read. This was so bloody frustrating to read at times, it reminded me of the last time, with all of that lovely art work seemingly squandered in another mediocre attempt at a plot line. Rusty Brown appears to be the glue that connects all the other characters together in some way. The main characters seems to be his dad, a guy who looks like a cross between Bill Bryson and the Monopoly guy, a guy who bullied him at school (who has a whole battalion of demons to battle himself) and a black school teacher dealing with many struggles herself. This is one of those books which is too cool for actual page numbers, the story is increasingly hard to follow as the order and style of the panels keeps changing. Too often the lettering is tiny. I have decent eyesight, but there were times I was really struggling to read so much of it, so I imagine this would be borderline impossible to read in the paperback format. But then on the other hand there are some really clever visual devices and attempts at deeper stories within stories. He dabbles with many ideas, and explores many themes which sometimes result in something worthwhile and other times it ends in frustrating disappointment. He obviously has some serious talent, but it is just not consistently expressed in the most effective or pleasing ways for this to be well-rounded or really enjoyable and again that lovely art work is sorely let down by a half-baked story and the micro panels and tiny lettering.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schlatter

    I hated the first half of this book. I'm not a huge Chris Ware fan, but I liked the experience of Building Stories and I gave a good review to the third portion of this volume (Jordan Lint). But the first two stories in this tome (Introduction and William Brown) delve deeply into the personas of stunted man-children obsessed with things sexual, super-hero, I hated the first half of this book. I'm not a huge Chris Ware fan, but I liked the experience of Building Stories and I gave a good review to the third portion of this volume (Jordan Lint). But the first two stories in this tome (Introduction and William Brown) delve deeply into the personas of stunted man-children obsessed with things sexual, super-hero, and science-fictiony, and I found them deeply painful to read. I understand that the development of independent comics in the 80's, 90's, and 00's often involved commentary on the very geeky and masculine subculture they were trying to break free of. Love and Rockets tried doing it with a sense of joy, Dylan Horrocks used a historical approach with Hicksville, and Evan Dorkin simply burned the house down with the Eltingville Club. But now, you can see graphic novel after graphic novel produced that doesn't reference the (sometimes truly awful) gender issues that ran alongside the early days of the industry and fan base. So, seeing that same approach now was not only a shock, but felt like a revisiting of shame and hurt that I didn't really want to revisit (at least not from Ware's perspective). Watching a young boy obsess over sexualized daydreams of Supergirl (to the exclusion of all else) or a high school teacher obsess over the physical appearance of a new female student or a grown man turn his sexual misunderstandings into a cruel misogynist science fiction story just read like insights into incel culture. And because Ware is so formalistic in his approach, nothing in the art releases you from that intense gaze on the character. Also, this middle-aged man had quite a few problems reading the smaller text at times. You might want a magnifying glass. Reading Jordan Lint through for the second time, I was struck by how much Ware took a "douchebag" character (a stoner high schooler, a sadistic frat boy, a serial womanizer) and added texture to his life. Lint is not exactly sympathetic (thank goodness!), but Ware makes a logic of his life that is compelling. I was fascinated to see the times Lint thought he had turned his life around only to lose it again and again. The last story (Joanne Cole) is the biggest departure in the volume and felt more like Building Stories than anything else. Ware's protagonist is a female African American teacher (who taught Jordan Brown and Rusty Brown and works with William Brown). The usual Warian themes of isolation and regret are there, but the story feels more open and takes more interesting turns. (Or, I was just relieved to not read about disgusting men...) If you are interested in Chris Ware, I would not recommend this as a first book. I'm going to find it hard to keep the volume given that I already own the Acme Novelty Library with Jordan Lint in it. But it might be worth checking out of the library to read the second half.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (aka WW)

    (4.5 stars) Holy heck is Chris Ware an amazing artist. I’m mesmerized by his artwork, which manages to convey even the smallest facets of ordinary life. This book has three main sections: the first, a day-in-the-life scenario of Rusty Brown and other students and teachers in a midwestern school; the second, a depiction of the entire life of one of the students from the school; and third, most of the life of a teacher/counselor at the school. All were fascinating, if a little depressing. It seems (4.5 stars) Holy heck is Chris Ware an amazing artist. I’m mesmerized by his artwork, which manages to convey even the smallest facets of ordinary life. This book has three main sections: the first, a day-in-the-life scenario of Rusty Brown and other students and teachers in a midwestern school; the second, a depiction of the entire life of one of the students from the school; and third, most of the life of a teacher/counselor at the school. All were fascinating, if a little depressing. It seems that Ware finds more to say about unhappiness than happiness. And that’s ok, it just gets a little much at times. The only thing I did not like about the book was the last page…”intermission”. I was wondering when the story would get back to the titular Rusty Brown, but it seems I’ll have to wait until the next installment.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Having never warmed very much to the Rusty Brown comics that I’d read in the ACME Novelty Library series, I was a little reluctant to dive in. But not only does this new Chris Ware masterpiece of comic art swiftly move far beyond its initial engagement with the author’s typical “inarticulate white guy blues”, but it ends up exploring so much new territory in staggeringly expressionistic forms. The middle section on Jordan “Jason” Lint is one of the most incredible comic book narratives I’ve ever Having never warmed very much to the Rusty Brown comics that I’d read in the ACME Novelty Library series, I was a little reluctant to dive in. But not only does this new Chris Ware masterpiece of comic art swiftly move far beyond its initial engagement with the author’s typical “inarticulate white guy blues”, but it ends up exploring so much new territory in staggeringly expressionistic forms. The middle section on Jordan “Jason” Lint is one of the most incredible comic book narratives I’ve ever read in any context, and the closing part simply floored me. Can’t wait to read it again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Koen Claeys

    I am a great admirer of the work of Chris Ware. I consider him a brilliant illustrator and storyteller. Of course I have already read most of this thick, heavy, 350-page hardcover in Acme Novelty Library # 16, 17, 19 and 20. I even saw 'Lint' (Acme Novelty Library # 20) being performed as an opera in Brussels. To my surprise this collection contains a new chapter of 100 pages. This time he puts teacher Joanne Cole at the center of an extremely moving story. Chris Ware presents quality on lonely I am a great admirer of the work of Chris Ware. I consider him a brilliant illustrator and storyteller. Of course I have already read most of this thick, heavy, 350-page hardcover in Acme Novelty Library # 16, 17, 19 and 20. I even saw 'Lint' (Acme Novelty Library # 20) being performed as an opera in Brussels. To my surprise this collection contains a new chapter of 100 pages. This time he puts teacher Joanne Cole at the center of an extremely moving story. Chris Ware presents quality on lonely heights, keeping his colleagues a few leagues below him.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dianah

    Chris Ware has a way of depicting the somber lives most of us live with an aching beauty. Like Building Stories, Rusty Brown is a realistic slice of life, with characters and stories that look like our every day, day in and day out. Ever the master of the subtle expression, Ware's story is an illuminated map of human emotion, and how he manages to do that with cartoons is anyone's guess, but do it, he does.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    What the fuck Chris Ware! It’s so good. This book explores narrative and empathy in big ways that may take me weeks to wrap my head around. His work is so human in the weirdest most compelling way, but also cartoony and robotic idk

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christian McKay

    Walk don't run. I've never experienced a book (graphic novel or otherwise) that feels like it's happening in real time. The pacing, the sounds, the details. It is, by any measurement, a masterpiece. I'm overjoyed that it's only the first part (half?) of the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dembina

    Chris Ware specialises in lives of quiet desperation and excels himself with this set of 4 interlinked stories. My favourite being the life story (literally from birth to death) of Jordan Lint

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hawpe

    At 350 pages, one could be forgiven for wishing that Chris Ware's dense, macro/micro-scopic graphic novel take on 20th C. American life was... um, complete, but it ends with an "intermission". So there is more yet to come, however, more of Ware's work should always be welcomed, and Rusty Brown is only really incomplete in the way that Proust's Swann's Way is part of the larger In Search of Lost Time. And that comparison is not too elevated: Ware makes the richest, deepest, most humane, and visua At 350 pages, one could be forgiven for wishing that Chris Ware's dense, macro/micro-scopic graphic novel take on 20th C. American life was... um, complete, but it ends with an "intermission". So there is more yet to come, however, more of Ware's work should always be welcomed, and Rusty Brown is only really incomplete in the way that Proust's Swann's Way is part of the larger In Search of Lost Time. And that comparison is not too elevated: Ware makes the richest, deepest, most humane, and visually beautiful work in comics. Rusty Brown makes the mundane milieu of suburban, mid-western, mid-size city, USA the site of universal struggles, wrenching pathos, and sweet-sad tragi-comedy, while Ware's absolute mastery of the comics form allows him to craft a structure so intricate and gorgeous that it eventually lifts the reader away from the edge of misery into a transcendent sense of human connection and perseverance. Solid gold literature.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Vernier

    I read a fair amount of comics. More than I record on Goodreads. Most are fun stories but few have the depth that Rusty Brown has. I read my first Chris Ware comic 20 years ago, right around when he started working on this book and all of it has made an impact on me. Rusty Brown is mostly about time and loss and memory. It isn’t light reading. And, I suspect that only those well steeped in comics reading would even be able to crack the surface.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I think if it hadn't been set in Omaha, I would have liked it less than I did. It is well-written, but I had trouble following the scenes and understanding what was happening in all of the panels, which was frustrating. Also a lot of illustrated nudity, which made it very difficult to read on the train.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Curcher

    I spent a good portion of 2011 engulfed in the world of Rusty Brown as I wrote a large chunk of my dissertation about it. Now nearly 10 years later, it's finally complete (well the first volume) and it still feels as fresh and revolutionary. In those 10 years I've got married, completely changed careers, and recently had a baby. Time trickles by. Different things hit me in the gut on this reading than did back then. I know I've read a few reviews mentioning how depressing this book is, and it is I spent a good portion of 2011 engulfed in the world of Rusty Brown as I wrote a large chunk of my dissertation about it. Now nearly 10 years later, it's finally complete (well the first volume) and it still feels as fresh and revolutionary. In those 10 years I've got married, completely changed careers, and recently had a baby. Time trickles by. Different things hit me in the gut on this reading than did back then. I know I've read a few reviews mentioning how depressing this book is, and it is, but, it's also feels so kind and open hearted. Yes human beings can be horrible, but no one irredeemable, no one is purely bad. Empathy is everything, even for people who you would normally think don't deserve it. But everyone does. I cannot wait to read volume 2 in another 10 years, I wonder where I'll be then? But I know there will always be one constant, and that is my unrivaled love for everything Chris Ware touches.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    3 stars for the hopeless male characters we’ve seen before, but 5+ stars for the amazing art.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    Another beautiful and depressing Chris Ware book. Jimmy Corrigan was better.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J. Bradley

    This is my first encounter with Ware's work and I'm floored at the scope and style. I'm going to read his earlier work to see where he started and how he got there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hendricks

    It has been years since I first read Jimmy Corrigan and fell in love with Chris Ware’s work, but I can’t say I’ve kept up. I bought Building Stories and it sat unread on my shelf for a few years before I traded it back in. Recently I got divorced and figured I was in the right brain space to read more Ware. Indeed, no one captures the suffering of being alive quite like Ware does. Rusty Brown is a masterclass in comic artistry, storytelling, and the breadth of human emotion. Time to g It has been years since I first read Jimmy Corrigan and fell in love with Chris Ware’s work, but I can’t say I’ve kept up. I bought Building Stories and it sat unread on my shelf for a few years before I traded it back in. Recently I got divorced and figured I was in the right brain space to read more Ware. Indeed, no one captures the suffering of being alive quite like Ware does. Rusty Brown is a masterclass in comic artistry, storytelling, and the breadth of human emotion. Time to go reread Jimmy Corrigan and track Building Stories back down. This one left me wanting more, yet ends with the word “INTERMISSION” as a splash page. Thankfully, it functions as a self-contained read since it should be another decade or so before we get the next volume. I’ll be patiently suffering through life as I look forward to it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    If I could choose only one book to recommend my GoodReads friends to read, it would be Rusty Brown. It would be this book because it is the most underappreciated and originally constructed narrative of my favorites. On September 26th 2019 I emailed my university library: Please add this masterpiece, even if I have to read it in [the university library's special collections room for books too valuable to loan]. No spoilers, but if you've got four minutes for a trailer, click here to hear/>It If I could choose only one book to recommend my GoodReads friends to read, it would be Rusty Brown. It would be this book because it is the most underappreciated and originally constructed narrative of my favorites. On September 26th 2019 I emailed my university library: Please add this masterpiece, even if I have to read it in [the university library's special collections room for books too valuable to loan]. No spoilers, but if you've got four minutes for a trailer, click here to hear Chris Ware describe the making of Rusty Brown I think this book sincerely depicts the loneliness of reality to the same level and standard as works such as The Catcher In The Rye, Ham on Rye, Infinite Jest. I mean that the narrative includes ordinary events that make it relatable, while also showing how they can (surprisingly) lead to strong psychological experiences. What it does uniquely is to express things that would be extremely difficult with words, such as the first thing a baby sees, or exactly how its head looked like as came out of its mother. The book contains three main character arcs, two of which have been previously published, one of which (Lint, Acme Novelty Library #20) has for a long time been mine (and perhaps the world's) favourite graphic novel. I've actually bought Lint twice already to give to as gifts. Now in this flawlessly expanded form beside the two other character arcs it cushions this gem and makes it more balanced. Like I sometimes cringe or feel a little sick when I read some gory or disgusting text, but some of these images make me laugh or recoil like words never could. Indie comics are one of the newest, most unexplored form of narrative, and I don't understand why people aren't paying more attention to them. Building Stories (the 'prequel' of sorts) was literally like a puzzle box, and now Rusty Brown interweaves life histories from within that same already gigantic story. I don't understand why most readers would rather read one more traditional fictional narrative when there's an entirely new written media genre unfolding right before our eyes about living today. It could be the price, the unavailability or the stigma of comics as being for young audiences, but I just simply urge you to Chris Ware's latest works down in whatever way you can. I'll be meeting this incredible human being in Montreal at a book launch for D&Q and honestly I couldn't be more excited to meet any other living author.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    I don't claim to be an authority on graphic novels. I've read perhaps a dozen of them. But I started reading one now and then about ten years ago and remain fascinated by the medium. Chris Ware is well-known as a leading graphic artist. (The word cartoonist seems a bit limiting in his case.) In addition to numerous books, including the monumental Monograph, which I struggled through earlier this year, he has created a number of New Yorker covers. Rusty Brown is designated "Part 1" and ends with a two-page sprea/>Rusty I don't claim to be an authority on graphic novels. I've read perhaps a dozen of them. But I started reading one now and then about ten years ago and remain fascinated by the medium. Chris Ware is well-known as a leading graphic artist. (The word cartoonist seems a bit limiting in his case.) In addition to numerous books, including the monumental Monograph, which I struggled through earlier this year, he has created a number of New Yorker covers. Rusty Brown is designated "Part 1" and ends with a two-page spread that says "INTERMISSION." This work is said to have been eighteen years in coming (while plenty of other projects have also appeared). Every inch of Rusty Brown> is carefully planned, including the covers, which weighs in at about ten pounds, printed on heavy stock paper slightly smaller than ordinary printer paper. The contents comprise a number of stories of individual characters that are all somewhat related by virtue of taking place in the 1960s and 1970s (and some later) in Omaha, Nebraska, where the author is from. He introduces himself as a minor character near the beginning as a high school art teacher. All the characters seem to be linked to this Catholic school in Omaha. The title character appears as a young kid at the beginning, but after his first sequence makes only incidental appearances until the end of Part 1. He clearly grows up to be a deeply disturbed adult, and it's not hard to guess why. It seems inevitable, given that his name is used in the title, that he will make an important appearance in part two. His father, who teaches at the school, is given much more space and is even nuttier than his son. I won't say any more about the plot or characters. As a relative novice reader of graphic novels, what I find fascinating about this book, above most of the others I've read in this genre, is the great variety of techniques the author uses to convey the story, including subtle gestures and emotions, in large sections entirely without words or with minimal words. When there is text, it's superbly well-written. The layout of frames is particularly interesting, as the reader must keep on his toes to know where to look next. In the end, it doesn't matter much on a per-page basis, as it's possible to "sweep" through the book and pick up what's going on in much the same way we experience things in real life — somewhat non-sequentially and with a lot of things going on in our head even in quiet moments.

  29. 5 out of 5

    D.M.

    These Chris Ware compendium books are a bit tricky to rate. Like Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, this book collects (in beautiful physical form, naturally) previously published stories chiefly from issues of Ware's Acme Novelty Library. And, once again, the contents have been edited, shifted, adapted and added to in order to present a better flow as well as a more comprehensive narrative. So, in reviewing this book a reader has to take into account that most of it has been published and read be These Chris Ware compendium books are a bit tricky to rate. Like Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, this book collects (in beautiful physical form, naturally) previously published stories chiefly from issues of Ware's Acme Novelty Library. And, once again, the contents have been edited, shifted, adapted and added to in order to present a better flow as well as a more comprehensive narrative. So, in reviewing this book a reader has to take into account that most of it has been published and read before...but it's not just a collection. Though the title would suggest that this is a complete recounting of the history of the recurring overgrown man-child Rusty Brown, his life in fact plays a very small part here. Gone are the views of him as an 'adult,' haunting his longtime friend Chalky White's family as his life comes to pieces. The focus here is instead on his childhood, his father's life and past, and character's peripheral to his story like bully Jordan/Jason Lint and teacher Joanne Cole. Cole's story is the bulk of new material here, filling in the last pages of this volume. She has appeared repeatedly throughout these stories, and it's great to get a little more background on her. But in classic Ware fashion, just when we think we're getting to grips with who she is and where she's been, he throws us a curve and then...the end. This wasn't a very satisfying read, frankly. Maybe I was hoping for a more straight-forward recounting of the life of Rusty Brown, or maybe I'm disappointed because we're not given a lot of any single character and instead just a tease of many characters. But saying I'm dissatisfied with a Ware book is on a par with saying I loved a more mediocre creator's work: he is never less than astonishing as a creator, and his sense for realism in his character's is unparalleled, certainly in comics. If you've been along for the ride this long, Rusty Brown will not offer any real surprises: it's beautifully crafted visually and narratively, and chock-full of the type of maudlin, bittersweet, believable experiences that make up true lives. Unfortunately, there is so little new in this collection that it's hard to recommend beyond that.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I have seen a pretty widespread positive buzz about this comic by the author. This is, I am sure, a very important work. The art is very out there, whole series of pages are dedicated to just pictures, but I must confess that much of this is beyond me. Even following the comic pages as they are intended ( not that the story is linear ) is sometimes difficult. For me I sometimes had to read the panels to determine the order expected by the author. This criticism aside, there is a story here. I be I have seen a pretty widespread positive buzz about this comic by the author. This is, I am sure, a very important work. The art is very out there, whole series of pages are dedicated to just pictures, but I must confess that much of this is beyond me. Even following the comic pages as they are intended ( not that the story is linear ) is sometimes difficult. For me I sometimes had to read the panels to determine the order expected by the author. This criticism aside, there is a story here. I believe there is to be Second part to this but then I read that this is twenty years in the making so I’m not sure. Basically we follow four characters, Rusty Brown a small bullied boy at an Omaha parochial school in the seventies, his Father, a teacher at the same school and others. His Father is unhappy, depressed, borderline suicidal. He cannot understand where the tine has gone and is haunted by a woman from his past who he describes as his true passion. We also follow an African American teacher through her career at the school. I believe there is more to the story for these characters, we are left kind of incomplete with them. I am not sure if the author publishes elsewhere, in daily’s or comics but it seems there is much more to these stories. In fact, while we see the other characters age throughout this doorstop of a collection, we only see Rusty as a youth. Except for a brief appearance, that is, that he makes in the storyline that is the clear highlight of the book. Rusty as a child is bullied cruelly by Jordan Wellington Lint III. We eventually see Jordan’s full life. Rich Father, jerk in school, frat boy, stereotypical womanizer, alcoholic, recover, find religion, affair and blow up his life again. Because we see him in such detail, right to his dying day, we at least feel a complete set of feelings for Jordan. We understand him even if we don’t like him. As an adult, in one of his cleaned up making amends moments, Jordan sees an adult Rusty at the grocery store with his Mother. Something is wrong with Rusty but having never seen him past second grade we don’t know what. If this is an actual original work and not a collection of previous work published in smaller modules then one wishes we would have learned more about the books namesake.

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