Lucca Comics 2022: Chris Ware: "My works, fragmented like the stories of our life"

Lucca Comics 2022: Chris Ware: My works, fragmented like the stories of our life

Lucca Comics 2022

After the Italian release of his masterpiece Building Stories (Coconino Press editions), Chris Ware at Lucca Comics 2022 explains that he has no intention of resting: "I'm working on the second part of Rusty Brown, the second half of Last Saturday, and a book whose title or format I do not yet know, but of which I have made 60 pages and which will take a long, long time to finish ", announces Ware, considered one of the most influential contemporary authors of graphic novels, guest at Lucca Comics & Games.

It's easy to misunderstand Chris Ware. Look at his Building Stories, a monumental box containing dozens of comic stories in the most disparate formats, to be assembled at will, and interpret it as the result of a passion for material experimentation. Exchange it with the formal desire to push the comic beyond the book medium and transform it into something new. We fell for it too.

Building Stories, Coconino Press

But the meeting with the author at Lucca Comics 2022 reveals a completely different perspective. Chris Ware is not an artist obsessed with publishing, with tables broken down and reproduced on cards, newspaper sheets, boxes, booklets - or at least, not only. The real engine that drives him to seek ever new formats for his stories is a visceral curiosity towards the narrative of life, and towards the way in which our mind structures space and time according to stories.

“I wanted to write a book that didn't have a beginning or an end - says Ware -; a book that could be read in the same way you know people. When you meet someone, you don't learn his life in chronological order: you collect fragments of stories, anecdotes, often over many years ".

Chris Ware talks about himself at Lucca Comics & Games 2022

In the beginning, Building Stories was a book about the stories of the inhabitants of a building. "Working on it - explains the author - I realized that all these stories were actually seen through the eyes of a single main character, a woman who wants to be an artist or writer and finds herself a mother. In the US there is the idea that this is mutually exclusive; I don't think that's true, and I also think that being a mother is much more important than being an artist ”. Ware's goal is to discover the other; knowing and depicting strangers, "as we all do every day when we meet a person and we depict a mental image of him".

Why Chris Ware is among the most anticipated guests of Lucca Comics & Games All that you need to know about one of the most influential authors in the contemporary comic scene In a certain sense, even Building Stories has been a continuous discovery for its own author. The unusual format was born from a literary need, and not vice versa. "I was more or less a quarter of the way when I realized that the original format was not suitable. That there was a need for a different structure ". Of course, Ware is notoriously obsessive for the care he places in the smallest details, even at the editorial level, thanks to his background as an artist, sculptor, graphic designer for newspapers: "When I work I prepare prototypes, I send very precise indications to the editors, to simplify their lives but probably also to bankrupt them ", he jokes, referring to the exorbitant costs associated with the production of his works - which are also the main reason why Building Stories has only just arrived in Italy, 10 years after the original publication.

“Generally, the reader's gaze crosses a book to focus only on the content; comics are a visual medium, and therefore I want the object to be seen and considered as well, "explains the author. This is also why Ware's relationship with drawing is focused on paper rather than on new mediums: “I tried digital drawing, but for me it's like having someone who breathes in your mouth. An invasive and unsatisfactory experience. There is something about the physicality of the card that cannot be replaced. Like our body ".

When asked about the ontology of his work, Ware constantly shifts the discussion to what really interests him: the human being. "I think the book, as an object, is a perfect metaphor for man," he insists. "Everyone has a cover that can tell the truth about the contents inside, or maybe lie; and everyone's inside is bigger than the outside ".

Even the passion for architecture for which this eclectic artist is known, so evident in the accurate representations of buildings, rooms, inhabited spaces, seems only one side: “Yes, of course, I use a ruler - he admits - for this reason everything seems to be accurate in my drawings. But in reality, architecture and memory are the same thing. We choose to live in spaces that are enclosed in right angles, which we rarely see in nature. It is an order that we impose on the environment around us. However, it seems that there are neurons in our brain that are organized on the x, y, z axes. The rooms, offices and other spaces that we know and in which we live are reinforced, in our mind, by these neurons that represent them as real models ".

So, of course, you can open that big box of wonders that is Building Stories (which Chris Ware himself compares to a "Christmas package to be unwrapped with a sense of wonder, without an instruction manual"), and reduce its author to an artist interested in experimentation. But it would mean misunderstanding. Because Ware believes that his mission is simple, even if anything but trivial: to produce works that are an “emotionally touching, and I hope honestly, way of grasping the meaning of life. "

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