Issue 20 concentrates on a class-clown teenager who was taught by Mr Brown in Vol 16, Mr Browns son (Rusty) makes a very small and socially inept appearance in this issue. I have looked carefully through the acme novelty library (that huge red book) and the panel of rusty running away crying having been bullied by our subject in question seems another standout referance point.
Mr Lints life from birth to death is sped over 70 or so pages. The panels flow chronologically to our main chartacters age whilst between the panels, words and sub-thoughts thread their way adjacent to the main texts and images. The story is fragmented in bias towards the perception of Mr Lint who has an unpleasant past and perpetuates some of this on to others. Mr Lint is dislikable and in other ways warrants sympathy, the parents are at least partly to blame for his perception and reaction to his life's challenges but surely not all. I found as Mr lints life became more tubulant the panel layout became less predictable forcing the reader move the book to many vantage points.
2 small tips: 1) If you are familiar with previous material then get this and catch up on the 'plot'. 2) If you are not familiar with previous material read 16, 17, 18 & 19 in any order before 20.
Not a very upbeat story to say the least, but I found this particular issue very good. Perhaps because compared to other Acme Novelty books there is more pace to the story telling, 72 pages spanning the entire life of Jordan Lint. Our protagonist makes a mess of his life, not being able to build lasting relationships and somehow never able to learn from his mistakes. Something we can all relate to ;) So in a genre filled with super heroes here is a proper anti-hero, someone who finally ends up as a bitter and lonely old man. As usual there is not much to laugh about; the term 'comic' seems out of place really. A bit more humor would make Chris Ware's work easier to digest for me, but I guess the Acme Novelty Universe is just a somber place. Still, recommended!
I was a little disappointed by this one. I love Chris Ware's work and have enjoyed the last few Novelty Library issues very much. However, this one left me a bit cold. Where Jimmy Corrigan and Rusty Brown are not particularly likable, they are sympathetic characters. Jordan Lint, however, is distinctly unlikeable and the few moments that might have brought about some sympathy from me were not enough to draw me in. Knowing the way Ware works, I think that this lack of emotional engagement with the main character had a detrimental effect on the way this book has been drawn. I didn't find the visuals as beautiful or "potent" as I normally do with his work. What formal experimentation there is seems a bit forced.
Compare the effectiveness of the introductory sequence, drawn in simplified "Playmobil" style, with the sublime realization at the beginning of Charles Burns' latest (and utterly wonderful) effort X'ed Out, that you are within some crudely rendered, TinTin influenced nightmare. Then the dream ends and the signature zig-zag shading kicks-in and is twice as compelling as it has any right to be. Ware's effort just doesn't stand up.
Having said that, this is still Chris Ware, and anything he ever does is probably going to be 90% better than most things out there - and this is. It just feels like he was going through the motions a bit with this one.