Quimby the Mouse

 QUTM   (Fantagraphics, 2003)

™ and © Fantagraphics Books, Inc.

Chris Ware must be frickin’ crazy. In an age when pictures dominate the printed word and technology can handle the tedium within the creative process, Ware lovingly, lavishly, and laboriously hand-crafts one of the most consistently beautiful, albeit infrequent, publications in comics and stuffs it with more small-point type than a mortgage application.

That publication, of course, is Fantagraphics’ Acme Novelty Library, and, although fandom hasn’t been treated to an issue of this series in nearly two years, Ware has found time to compile this collection featuring ANL’s most famous feature character not named Jimmy Corrigan. And, insanely enough, he’s found a way to make this volume even more gorgeous than the original issues, at first proven by the stunning, foil-embossed cover.

This is far, far more than a reprint of Acme #2 and #4. Ware has recolored many of the features and reorganized them into a seamless collection. Best of all, there are several pages of new material that honestly rank among Ware’s best work ever on the book.

For the uninitiated: Quimby is to Mickey what Krusty is to Bozo. He’s an innocent-looking cartoon mouse who is seen stealing, swearing, and looking at porn. But Ware shows Quimby in a fashion that’s excruciatingly reminiscent of such media as old animation cels and Sunday funnies, and at first glance that is exactly what these features look like. And Ware hilariously pays tribute to old comic-book ads; never did the guy who had sand kicked in his face react the way he does in Ware’s world.

This book is simply too breathtaking to pass up. Once it catches the eye, it won’t let go until well after the eyestrain has set in, but it’s worth it. Get out the wallet, put on the bifocals, and go.

— Jim Johnson

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