Chris Ware: The Smartest Kid on Earth

By Andrew Selby, Alastair Adams, Andrew Davies and Jemma Robinson.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The graphic novel has developed as a result of publishing and consumer trends to become an important literary vehicle to explore ideas and visions through text and image. This development can be witnessed through authorial and artistic styles, and increasingly through a sophisticated undercurrent of experimental stuctural processes that engage readerships in innovative ways. The graphic novels created by Chris Ware are the primary focus for this study, including Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth and Quimby the Mouse. The paper explores synergies and conflicts presented to the reader through the artists exploratative use of the medium, whilst cross referencing the work of Winsor McCay and Frank King. Ware's work encapsulates powerful emotions and statements which this paper seeks to highlight and explain against the context of the artist's desire for comics to be read rather than seen. In turn, the research will promote the view that 'unwritten' subtexts such as emotion, intrigue and desire can be successfully expressed by authors and artists working in the cross-disciplinary world of the graphic novel.

Keywords: Innovation, Graphic Novels, Relationships, Interventions

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.635MB).

Andrew Selby

Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Andrew Selby is an award-winning illustrator who has worked extensively for publishing and advertising clients both in this country and internationally. His work has appeared in national newspapers, on billboards and on the covers of major corporate reports for household names around the world. His work has been selected for many international awards, exhibitions and publications including, most recently, 3x3: The Journal of Contemporary Illustration (USA), Society of Illustrators of New York Illustrators 48 (USA) and the Association of Illustrators’ Images 30 (UK) juried exhibition touring Europe later this year. His research interests stem from a deep love of the subject of illustration. He writes regularly for the design press on illustration issues concerning theory, inter-connectivity, commerce and practice, reviews books and articles concerning illustration for publications such as Creative Review and Laurence King, and has both edited and contributed to juried annuals and refereed academic journals. He organises conferences on illustration and has been invited to contribute to related visual communication conferences, public lectures and events.

Alastair Adams

Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Andrew Davies

Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Jemma Robinson

Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK


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