Friday, June 3, 2011

Graphic Novel of the Month: Quimby the Mouse

Quimby the Mouse is a collection of strips by Chris Ware during his college years at the University of Texas. The strips features Quimby, a mouse that is modeled off other famous characters like Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat & Ignatz Mouse, but Quimby isn't a happy-go-lucky character like they others. Quimby is often depressed, insecure, or cruel. Juxtaposed with the strips, Ware writes about his life at the time, which includes his time away from his home town, Omaha, NE, & the death of his grandmother. Ware's text explains a lot of Quimby's random occurrences, such as Quimby being "Quimbies," which is two Quimby bodies sharing a pair of legs, but one body is withering away. The text also brings further insight into the relationship between Quimby & Sparky, a body-less cat that Quimby acts either maliciously towards or benevolent. Quickly, it becomes clear that Quimby is less about a cartoon mouse & more of Ware's confession.

The single-page strips are presented beautifully & features Ware's talent to play around with font & the comic book form. The layout of the panels often challenges the reader to figure out where to go next. One strip in particular doesn't feature a beginning or end. Often, the words become the frames for the strip, or the strip will be featured in a house or building, with each panel being contained in a different floor or room. If you're a fan of Ware's most famous work, Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy in the World, then I recommend quickly finding a copy of Quimby the Mouse (mostly because I think Quimby is the better of the two.) But for non-Ware fans, Quimby is an inventive autobiography that is both somber & humorous (& by humorous, I mean, amusing melancholy.)

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