Master graphic novelist Chris Ware (who calls himself a cartoonist) came out with the experimental graphic novel, “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” in 2000. It was sad, true, expansive, meticulous and beautiful. Ware says the day after he finished it, he started on “Rusty Brown.” Nearly 20 years later, the first volume of that graphic novel will finally be published. While he’s worked on other projects since, notably 2012’s boxed-set graphic novel “Building Stories,” New Yorker magazine covers, and exhibitions in the Whitney Biennial and at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, he worked on “Rusty Brown” nearly every day, self-publishing chapters along the way.
Now a 356 page hardcover book (with a sort of choose your own adventure poster-sized book jacket) “Rusty Brown” tells the story of seven people: four kids and three teachers at an Omaha, Nebraska school. Like everything Chris Ware does, the graphic novel is beautifully drawn in clean, densely-packed, perfect panels of art. The characters are presented in their entirety, inner thoughts, hangups, heartbreaks, hubris and all. That, along with Ware’s unconventional storytelling make “Rusty Brown” an experience unlike any other narrative, one worth the 20 year wait.
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