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on 29 December 2005
This stunning book is one that quite literally has to be read from cover to cover. The amount of imagination and attention to detail that Chris Ware puts into this work is staggering, and you can be lost for hours in the articles, phoney adverts and delicious comic strips that fill the pages. Indeed there's so much variation in the content of this book that you never know what's coming next when you turn the page. There's a section of cut-out-and make activities but there's no way you'd ever do that; this publication is too beautiful to take a knife to. Quimby Mouse makes an appearance, and some pages appear at first glance to be front pages of newspapers. The most stunning double page however has to be the author's re-interpretation of the constellations, which does actually glow in the dark to give you a guide to night sky viewing.
This is no story book, but really is a joy to dip into or alternatively to devour in several hours of absorbed reading. It is humourous and evocative and will take a proud place on my bookshelf. Or if you're not a keen comic-book fan, I'm sure it will be equally treasured as the best book you've kept next to the toilet, ever.
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on 30 January 2006
I've been waiting for this one for awhile, so I was happy to finally get my hands on it a couple weeks after what was supposed to be the initial release date.
Overall, the ACME Novelty Library #16 delivers more of what you would expect from Ware. In this short hardback (64 pages), he delivers intertwining stories by pulling them together uniquely on the page for the first section, then intersecting the strips as the characters finally converge in the same place. As always, the drawing and design is amazing, and he gives us a small insight into his process (including what seems to be an ongoing, almost debilitating case of self-doubt) of creation.
I have just about everything that Ware has done to date, and the only reason that I'm giving this book 4 stars is because his always dreary stories are on the cusp of starting to get to me. Jimmy Corrigan was beautiful and sprawling masterwork that had a small sense of redemption at the end, but in the time since then (including The Acme Novelty Library and this new piece), his downer storylines have felt more and more claustrophobic. It's probably just a personal preference, and I know I'll keep buying his work since he's such a unique and talented artist, but I felt I had to explain my less than 5 star rating. As mentioned above, if you're a fan of his work, you're not going to go wrong with this one. You almost feel guilty getting such an exquisitely designed and printed book for such a cheap price (considering some of the poorly-conceived rags that are foisted upon the literary world).
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on 17 January 2009
If you have touched upon the previous material/volumes you may know what you are letting yourself in for. However this volume seems to take a pleasant surprising side-line story (away from the school and bees!) and into a science fiction story about Mars, dogs, death, cruelty, isolation and a lot more. The remaining material in this volume takes us on the ride that is completely engaging harrowing and atmospheric only to leave the reader speechless again. Be aware though, that as usual when trying to express to others why the stories atmosphere and images combined are so beautifully unique, the words of enthusiasm always will fall flat leaving you trying to remember what the exact details were that enthralled in the first place. This work continues to be in a class of its own. I would even recommend this volume as a starting point into Chris Wares work, as not knowing the previous volumes would not ruin anything about starting here and working through the volumes in any direction. Its a scenic body of work for quality time alone.
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on 24 September 2005
Chris Ware is a Genius!!!! I absolutely love his work and this is a must for all Chris Ware fans, and perfect for those who are just beginning to learn the ways of the Ware.
Essentially, this book is a collection of the individual Acme Novelty books that have been published through the years. Individually, these are hard (and expensive) to come by, so having them all re-printed in one book is a great idea.
The book includes many of his comic strips and sketches, his brilliant and hilarious fake adverts and the famous cut-out models. Sadly, the mechanical cat one seems to be missing, which otherwise would have made this book the ultimate Chris Ware book.
Chris Ware's style is dark and pretty depressing, but very funny and incredibly well executed. I could spend all day looking at this book. For those that already own the award-winning Jimmy Corrigan and/or the Acme Novelty Note book, this book does offer something different so is well worth the purchase. More so considering its amazing price!!
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on 3 May 2007
This is a collection of comic strips and fake advertisements/articles by Chris Ware (of Jimmy Corrigan fame). The comic strips are drawn in Ware's inimitably stylised fashion and the humour is dark, commonly based around the tragedies of everyday adult life or growing up.

I like the Quimby the Mouse strips (as I expected to, being a fan of Ware's larger collection of Quimby strips "Quimby the Mouse") but was pleasantly surprised by the Rusty Brown and Milky White strips, about a pair of boys who collect toys, getting increasingly obsessive about them as they grow up. By adulthood, Rusty Brown is still living with his parents obsessing about the toys, while Chalky White has started a family and decelerated his interest in toys, caring less about action figures and more about being happy with his wife. It's a brilliant series of strips, which I could really relate to as a collector of items myself and someone who knows many people who take such collections too seriously.

However, the text-dense pages of fake advertisements and articles are not only difficult to read but, I felt, not actually very amusing. They constitute maybe 10% of the book and certainly oughtn't to be skipped over completely (there are still a few comedy gems in there) but did let the book down as a whole. Part of the joke in these sections is the prolix use of language, emphasised by the tiny font allowing more space for all those extraneous words. Unfortunately this can feel like a one-shot gag as you read yet another 2 inch square text box absolutely rammed with words that really don't say anything that the previous one didn't.

This contrast between decadent, large comics and dense, witty prose is definitely a deliberate tonal choice though and the collection overall works magnificently as a dip into book of wet Sunday afternoon entertainment.
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on 23 August 2014
Bloody hell! This isn’t your usual comic that provides entertainment or escapism. This is an alternative comic, an art comic, a muse on the human condition, a work of pictorial philosophy, and an unkind mirror for our souls.

The book is 23cm x 38cm. It is a massive hardback tome yet the majority of the text and panels that appear are tiny. A lot of them smaller than your thumbnail. The strips are never more than a page long and at first glance are nonsensical. But a deeper look detects a small comment or theme usually decrying man’s destructive, petty, uncaring nature. Some of them like “Rusty Brown” – an action figure collector - have a recurring character we can identify with, and deplore and pity in equal measure. Even his life isn’t presented in order so we have to work out where in his timeline he is.

Along with cartoon strips there are also fake advertisements for ethereal concepts such as art, contentment, and big wide open spaces. These are done in the style of classified adverts that have been seen from the nineteenth century up to the present day. The star of the show is the inside cover of “fabulous prizes.” An almost perfect reproduction of the novelties on offer inside every comic book when you were a kid, yet skilfully twisted into a brutal statement about the Western world and its poor treatment of developing nations.

There is also a fictitious history of the Acme Novelty Company with fake depression-era photos. It is a bone-dry filibuster designed solely to suck time from your life and make you realise how much of your time is wasted, even in this digital information age we live in.

Even though you won’t, there are plenty of cut out things to make – as if you would risk tampering with this work of art. Little flick books and miniature playhouses and the kinds of things that would amuse children in simpler times.

This is a long read and once you get the idea you may be tempted to skip over large chunks of the text based pages to find something more accessible to you. This work will stay with you. Not as a moving, emotional experience but as hollow void that nihilistically echoes the failings of humanity. Or thereabouts. Maybe just a nagging thought of “what did it all mean?”

A true labour of love and a valuable work of art. Double Thumbs Up!
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on 27 March 2008
Acme Novelty Library is without a doubt, a work of art, and I had the constant urge to remove pages and put them in frames, but resisted. I found I was only able to read the textual pieces one at a time over a period of time, but got through them okay. The artwork varies a lot, but you may find that you should start with one narrative, then find the next piece of that, rather than reading the book page-by-page, as this to me, made more sense. The Rusty Brown strips were especially good, although I liked the others too, but I could have done without the minuscule detail on some of the cartoons. The book is also huge, much larger than you would it is, and has quirky afterthoughts that make it incredible, Chris Ware has control over all parts of the publication and so each detail is intended. A work of art, although less detail could have been achieved.
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on 14 March 2011
Now on number 19, chris ware keeps churning out new and amazing books in his trademark styles and themes.
A welcome dip into a 60's era space-utopian scifi this melancholy story has an interesting twist.
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on 29 June 2015
Another incredible comic from the Novelty Library series, the nineteen and lovely as the first !!!!!!!!!!!
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on 21 May 2008
this is one of the best comic's ive read. great story line with an abstract approach to it. highest quality graphic detail and high quality colour. just amazingly set out too. i havent found one fault with this book
10 out of 10.
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