at the ICA, 1st July
Chris Ware, writer/artist of Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on earth, winner of the Guardian First book award and recipient of 9/10 from URT. Alex Garland, author of traveller cliché book The Beach and screenwriter of 28 Days Later. The battle of the century! However, when I arrived at the ICA, there was no paddling pool filled with jelly on the stage, just the two men sitting there looking quite nervous (especially Ware). Clearly tonight was to be more about talking than wrestling, which I for one was glad about.
As part of the ICAs Comica season, Ware was here to discuss his work, with Garland acting as a kind of interviewer/facilitator. It started with a slideshow of Wares work, from Art School to the present day. This was a fascinating view of the artist in development. Themes emerged continually, and you got a sense of the shaping events of Wares life, that he would continually return to, including his sense of betrayal from his absent father, and the trauma of his grandmothers death. He also showed his influences, such as Krazy Kat and Siegel and Schuster Superman, alongside pieces where this influence was especially obvious. There were also photos of the toys he created, showing surprising skill with woodwork. You realise that the cardboard cut-out sections of Jimmy Corrigan will certainly work. He even showed al the models he made to check he got the lighting right in sections. Very in-depth.
After this Ware fielded questions, both from Garland and the audience, and finished with reference shots used for the Worlds Fair sequence of Jimmy Corrigan and some pages of his new strip as works in progress. The whole affair was very effective as an insight into the creative process of a genius. Ware, though shy, was incredibly witty. His continual self-depreciation did begin to grate, as it clearly did to Garland, who often took him to task for describing his own work in disparaging terms. The two managed to get a good flow of conversation going, though, and Garland’s questions were often insightful, allowing Ware to talk about his work without much interruption, but guiding him subtly between topics. The audience questions were slightly more mediocre, being along the lines of ‘What pens do you use’ and ‘How do you colour your work’. There was also some sorry customer who began his question ‘I asked you this 10 years ago, but I’m going to ask you again’. And then asked him why he used amputations a lot. Sicko.
But I think the greatest thing was seeing visually how autobiographical Jimmy Corrigan was. Ware looked like Corrigan, down to the big ol’ head, he sat like Corrigan, he even walked like Corrigan. It was like meeting a comic character come to life! Oh, and seeing Frank Skinner.