Guest Blogger Reviews Burns and Ware at Unity Temple

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By Helen Kossler

Reading Between the Lines

There is an enduring myth about comics that they’re just for kids. The Sunday comics and Archie do seem to support this, but for any diehard critics out there, I would have asked you to join me this past Election Day at a literary exposé at Unity Temple.

All four levels of the temple were filled, mostly with twenty-somethings like myself, but with more than a few “real” adults as well, to listen to Charles Burns and Chris Ware. Both men are adult comic artists, though not the way everyone reading this just thought, but as in they literally write and draw comics for adults. It pains me to say that I hadn’t heard of either man before, though I had seen several of Ware’s covers for the New Yorker over the years; however, what I did find was interesting.

Burns uses a dark lined, almost gritty style to tell his stories, and is heavily influenced by the early 20th century comics of Tintin. Ware, on the other hand, has a style that seems lighthearted at first.  But another, longer look shows that just because the art seems flippant, the stories aren’t. 

Both men are finding rather ingenious ways to getting their work out, though they don’t always pay off. Ware had fully designed an interactive comic that could be read on the new I-Pad, but due to complications, never got it published. A shame, for from the demo he showed, it looked like it would have been very interesting. Burns decided to take a page from the many pirated comics over in the east, and made his own jumbled up, mistranslated version of his own story to promote interest, if only so you can simply figure what in the world is going on.

Both just released books. X'ed Out by Burns and Acme Novelty Library #20 by Ware. And though a college student’s budget prevented me from buying them tonight, I’m definitely going to keep them in mind for later.

 

David Pedigo

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