Illustration and graphic novel fans hold onto your hats, the long awaited, eagerly anticipated next novel by Chris Ware is now finally available.
Almost two decades in the making, Rusty Brown follows the comics artist’s debut Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth in 2001, the revered Building Stories in 2012, as well as Monograph, a part anthology and part memoir, published in 2017. Chris’ work combines sensitive but page-turning narratives with illustrations of extraordinary detail and has garnered the artist a loyal, wide-spanning fanbase. Chris’ work is multi-award-winning and bestselling with notable admirers including Zadie Smith and This American Life’s Ira Glass.
Within Monograph, Chris details when he first started Rusty Brown, the week after he completed the final page of Jimmy Corrigan.. “I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanise… amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha childhood and Nebraska upbringing,” he wrote. Now completed, Chris describes Rusty Brown as “a fully interactive, full-colour articulation of the time-space interrelationships of six complete consciousnesses on a single Midwestern American day and the tiny of piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit.”
Built around Rusty Brown’s namesake character “a shy school kid obsessed with superheroes”, the weighty tome of a graphic novel (as Chris’ books tend to be) centres around six characters. These include his father Woody Brown (also a teacher at Rusty’s school); Chalky White, another schoolboy; Chalky’s sister Alison; Jason Lint, an older boy who bullies Rusty and Chalky and fancies Alison; as well as their teacher, Joanna Cole. Building the story around such a close group of characters, Chris details their every move with intricate detail – in his own words, “from childhood to old age, no frozen plot line is left unthawed”. The result is an illustrative depiction of life, described by its publisher as “at once achingly beautiful, heartbreakingly sad and painfully funny.”
Released on 26 September, Rusty Brown has already been described as “an astounding graphic novel about nothing less than the nature of life and time,” by Publisher’s Weekly. The magazine continues, “Ware again displays his virtuosic ability to locate the extraordinary within the ordinary, elevating normal lives into something profound, unforgettable, and true.”
You can pick up your own copy of Rusty Brown via Jonathan Cape, part of Penguin Random House UK, here.
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