Sunday, June 20, 2004

The McSweeney's affair: At, Andrew Arnold falls in love with McSweeney's Quarterly Concern No. 13, "The Comics Issue" edited by Chris Ware:

"The book itself stays true to Ware's high standards, being printed on heavy paper stock and in full color for at least half of the works. The contributors are a jaw-dropping list: every single major North American cartoonist of the last two decades, plus several key historical artists, some newcomers and even a few prose pieces by the likes of John Updike, Chip Kidd ('Peanuts: the Art of Charles M. Schulz') and Glen David Gold ('Carter Beats the Devil'). The works have been loosely organized by genre. Early in the book appears what may be considered the world's first comic strip: Rodolphe Topffer's 1839 'The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck,' about a despondent bachelor who perpetually fails at both love and suicide. A major revelation, in its charming way it lays the groundwork for both the jollities and existential torments of comix to come. This becomes the first in a strange triptych of early suicide-related strips. Other genre groups include fiction, journalism, biography, autobiography and as Ware says in the introduction, 'the uncategorizable.'"