September 16, 2003

Acme Novelty Datebook

Much to my delight, the Acme Novelty Datebook, by the astonishing Chris Ware, arrived early this week. Contrary to what the title suggests, the book is not a day planner containing pages adorned with Ware’s art, but is in fact a collection of Ware’s sketchbooks (at least a sampling of pages he could bear to release into the world) from 1986-1995. In his introduction, Ware asks the reader not to delve too deep, or read too much being that he is such a staunch pessimist when it comes to his work. Despite this (and nearly because of this) the book begs to be poured over. The truth is, Ware is a phenomenal artist with an all-too-real outlook. The pages are littered with early concepts drawings of characters and scenarios (some of which later became additions to his ongoing series, The Acme Novelty Library), usually adjacently debased with Ware’s own derogatory comments of his skills and social ineptitude. What this all amounts to is a staggering piece of art chronicling the beginnings of one of the greatest graphic artists today (Ware’s putdowns and low self-esteem aside).