Back to Earth

Over the weekend Boing Boing brought the happy news that Daniel Raeburn has made all four issues of his fanzine about comics, The Imp, available online. Lavishly illustrated and built on intense research, The Imp was one of the most meticulously constructed zines I’d ever seen; if, like me, you briefly got into the habit of collecting Chick tracts, the comprehensive survey of the species in the second issue (PDF) of The Imp was essential reading.

The third issue (PDF), which is dedicated to the work of Chris Ware, is new to me, and it’s a remarkably thorough study of his excellent 2000 graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Ware seems determined in an interview not to make too much of his accomplishment, but even his self-deprecating comments have a way of shedding light on his work:

I’d hoped to organize this stupid Jimmy Corrigan story in a way that would allow for thought and its various subspecies, such as memory, prediction, dreaming, ambition, and metaphorical association, to shape the ‘story’ rather than a traditional plot might’ve shaped it. Thought affects experience and perception, and I’ve tried to simulate this in the story with intrusions that probably seem to most people like ‘postmodern noodling,’ though that wasn’t my intent, just my fumbling, juvenile result. I dunno. It’s hard to tell a serious story with a dumb main character. I think my big mistake was approaching it as fiction.”

Raeburn has also written a book-length study of Ware’s work (though the Imp issue is pretty comprehensive in itself).