A «Quick Preparatory Quiz» from the poster-size brochure accompanying «The Public Exhibition of Original Cartoon Drawings, Preparatory Doodles and Printed Ephemera Selected From the Life Output Thus Far of the Juvenile Book Artist, Typographical Stylist, and Comic Strip Lobbyist Mr. F.C. Ware» now running at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago
1. As a child, you were
a. sort of happy. b. not so happy.
2. To occupy your time, you like to
a. watch television. b. go to movies. c. draw. d. play video games. e. talk in weird voices into a tape recorder. f. read comic books.
3. The presence of members of the opposite and/or attractive sex makes you feel
a. weird. b. awful. c. terrified. d. hopeless. e. like killing yourself.
4. If you don’t like a comic strip, it’s because
a. it sucks. b. the cartoonist is an idiot.
5. If you don’t like a painting, it’s because
a. you don’t understand it. b. you’re ignorant of the history of art theory and art in general.
If any of these questions made any sense at all to you, you are now welcome to enter the exhibit. Please do not speak loudly, carry beverages, or scratch your initials into the plexiglass.
Chris Ware is the Flemish Master of comic art. Not only because he executes a scene the way they did -– by painting achingly small and vulnerable players against the big sweeping backdrop of the city in which they live –- but also because he gets that thimbleful of grief just right -– the thing that Auden wrote about --
About suffering they were never wrong,Ware builds a scene with exacting details and then occasionally telescopes it forward, back and sideways in time in Run Lola Run style. It’s wonderfully engaging, hard on the eyes, and takes hours to devour. Tough going for a museum show like the one that’s running at the MCA through (nearly) the end of August; better that you pick up one of his books and sit awhile.
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along