The Acme Novelty Library, Number 17, by Chris Ware 7.0
“IT IS A SECOND HALF of an already lengthy and interminable introduction to our recent ongoing “graphic novel” Rusty Brown (which appeared in our previous number) and thus exudes none of the sparkle and garden-fresh feeling of something which is genuinely new, surprising, or interesting in its own right. In fact (should one require a metaphor) it is not unlike the waning hours of a disappointingly chaste date, or the last weeks of a predictable and tiresome love affair, or the end of a conversation once its core topic has become tedious, unwelcome and numbing.” – from the back of the book
While I find that that the comparisons with dates and love affairs may be overly dramatic, ‘TANL 18’ certainly does recall a deflated conversation after its initial thrust. It’s hardly a tedious or numbing book, but it’s nothing like its first part, which was playful and imaginative.
The best part of this book was a short tale of ‘Branford, the Best Bee in the World’ (which was alluded to in the previous volume). It was fun, in a silly but pathos-filled way. It still amazes me how Ware manages to contrast such greyness with slick, colourful panels and makes it work.
As for the main story, ‘Rusty Brown, pt 2’, it was mostly a linear, generally uneventful piece. The clever way that Ware usually guides his readers was barely present, and it felt like a poor continuation of a more ingenious work, reusing similar elements in a less inspired fashion (i.e. ‘Quantum of Solace’ vs ‘Casino Royale’, ‘Halloween II’ vs. ‘Halloween’, ‘Back to the Future Part II’ vs. ‘Back to the Future’)
Oh well… they can’t all be winners.
Then again, Ware had warned us with a sticker on the back cover that reads: “This issue is not nearly as interesting as the last one was“. Snicker, snicker… even when he’s not at his sharpest, he’s still a pretty funny guy.