Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chris Ware – Champion of the Failure-Chic!

Chris Ware is a Chicagoan graphic artist/cartoonist. He stands foremost in the pantheon of artists who are raising the form of what has been called “funnies” or “comics.” And part of his method is in the pursuit of the unfunny and the tragic.

Ware’s heroes are pathetic, frail, fat, cripple, wretched losers. His heroes, even in the garb of the superhero, are prone to all of the foibles and pratfalls of human misery. His heroes are mice.

Why does he allow so much suffering to parade itself before us and masquerade itself as humor? Is it because of his own self-pitying and -loathing? Is it out of masochistic disbelief in anything good or beautiful or salvific?

Ware’s glorification of the mundane, his beautification of the quotidian (and his skill does evoke beauty), is a much better role model and spiritual booster than to set some sort of immaculate unattainable bar.

His characters are much like Charlie Brown, the quintessential lovable loser. You commiserate with their woes, you laugh at their shortcomings. There is hope that if failure can be justified then our sometimes seemingly meaningless lives can be justified as well.

Chris Ware knows that the funniest thing on earth is a kick in the balls.

Granted, his art doesn’t always make you laugh out loud or not want to kill yourself. But in the end, it lifts you up; it fills you with the knowledge that this is it. This is the real stuff that comprises the comedy of errors which is modern life.

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