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Chris Ware’s Building Stories

Detail from Chris Ware’s Building Stories (Pantheon Books, 2012).

Building Stories, by Chris Ware. New York: Pantheon, 2012. 260 pages.

CHRIS WARE’S COMICS in the 1990s and 2000s—especially his massive graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000)—made him one of the most widely praised creators we have. Ware’s work was and is compelling in its meticulous self-consciousness about comics form, with complicated diagrams and schemes whose elegance belies the melancholy of the people who have to inhabit them. Yet Jimmy Corrigan had a certain coldness, even a predictability: Its people were smaller, sadder, flatter than the cityscapes and panels around them, and they seemed to shrink as the pages went on.

Building Stories isn’t like that: It’s better in every way. It’s a book—or rather a box of readable, viewable, printed, book-like things—to get lost in. Not just a chef d’oeuvre of narrative and design, but a work

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