Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Building Stories by Chris Ware (A Graphic Novel Quick Recap)

Building Stories was the perfect cap off to my graphic novel reading spree in conjunction with SJSU iSchool's INFO 281. Although I may not continue with my written recaps, I am inspired to keep reading. There has been so much fresh material added to the graphic novel scene in recent years, and I'm excited to keep exploring. But first, my final annotated bibliography write-up...

Building Stories by Chris Ware

Presented in a cardboard box similar to a board game - which itself serves as part of the storytelling package - Building Stories defies being neatly boxed up into any typical categories. It is not just a “book,” but a container within which Ware has included an assortment of fourteen separate publications that vary in size and format. While tied together by consistent artwork and stories that overlap within the same world, the medium of delivery ranges from a large cardboard foldout and faux newspaper to a “Little Golden Books” style book and pamphlets of different dimensions. The experience of reading Building Stories was like participating as a voyeur, catching glimpses into the lives of Ware’s characters as their stories are revealed in snapshots, short anecdotes, and sometimes longer sequences. As I gained increasing insight into the characters, it was clear that the title Building Stories functions two ways: first, referring to stories about a building (and its inhabitants), and second, in terms of the process of building (i.e., constructing) stories. And, in terms of story construction, Ware has delivered a most uniquely constructed storytelling experience. The effect, for me, was profound. I have emerged from my reading, feeling as if I have developed a deep connection with this fictional place and its people. I feel like I have gained sacred insight into the characters’ vulnerable, precious inner lives; and, while their life experiences are not mine, I can recognize myself in their small moments of raw human emotion, such as loneliness and longing, that Ware has captured and portrayed so well.

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