A major graphic novel event more than 16 years in progress: part one of the ongoing bifurcated masterwork from the brilliant and beloved author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories.
Rusty Brown is a fully interactive, full-color articulation of the time-space interrelationships of three complete consciousnesses in the first half of a single midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit. A sprawling, special snowflake accumulation of the biggest themes and the smallest moments of life, Rusty Brown literately and literally aims at nothing less than the coalescence of one half of all of existence into a single museum-quality picture story, expertly arranged to present the most convincingly ineffable and empathetic illusion of experience for both life-curious readers and traditional fans of standard reality. From childhood to old age, no frozen plotline is left unthawed in the entangled stories of a child who awakens without superpowers, a teen who matures into a paternal despot, a father who stores his emotional regrets on the surface of Mars and a late-middle-aged woman who seeks the love of only one other person on planet Earth.
"Alternative-comics artist Ware's new book is the latest volume of his long-running Acme Novelty Library, an elaborately produced hardcover that is a far cry from most (paperback) comics magazines. The strips in it depict the early years of nerdy, comic-book-obsessed Rusty Brown, an outcast at his elementary school who is well on the way to an ostracized adulthood. Rusty is hard to take a shine to, so it's fortunate that the supporting characters, including Rusty's schoolteacher father, sole friend Chalky White, and Chalky's alienated--adolescent sister Alison, whose stories unfold alongside Rusty's, are all more sympathetic and multidimensional. These strips aren't as formally daunting as much of Ware's other work, yet their parallel storytelling, precise compositions, and meticulous draftsmanship definitely demonstrate his mastery. Ware's occasional alternative-newspaper strip has forged on into Rusty's even more pathetic adulthood, and eventually, all the Rusty strips will be collected in a volume that may dwarf his acclaimed and plethoric Jimmy Corrigan (2000). Meanwhile, there are the elegant Acmevolumes, each a delight by itself. --Gordon Flagg Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Ware (Building Stories) delivers an astounding graphic novel about nothing less than the nature of life and time as it charts the intersecting lives of characters that revolve around an Omaha, Neb., parochial school in the 1970s. Third-grader Chalky White and his high schooler sister, Alice, are new students. Chalky finds his outcast status concretized when he tries to make friends with the bullied Rusty Brown and gets embroiled in recess humiliation. Alice attracts both friendly attention and leers, including from stoner Jordan Lint and (secretly) from her English teacher, Woody Brown (Rusty's father), and her art teacher, Chris Ware. The narrative then shifts to Woody, dropping into the world of a sci-fi story he publishes in a pulp magazine, about an astronaut who becomes unhinged on Mars, before revealing Woody's own youthful heartbreak. Next, the birth-to-death trajectory of toxic Jordan is intimately portrayed, including profound childhood loss, youthful rebellions, brief redemption, and restless middle age. Finally, Ware focuses on teacher Joanne Cole, a black woman who grows up in poverty, then stoically perseveres as an educator despite racism at the wealthy, predominantly white academy--and loves to play the banjo. Ware's dazzling geometric art--pointillism for Woody's eyesight sans glasses; close-ups of Joanne's face through the decades--has never been better. Through this winding narrative, resonant echoes are drawn between characters inside their loneliness, adversity, and frustrations (such as two different characters, decades apart, placing a flower in a bowl of water). Ware again displays his virtuosic ability to locate the extraordinary within the ordinary, elevating seemingly normal lives into something profound, unforgettable, and true. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi. (Sept.)"
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