By Seth Kushner
In March of 2011, with six months to go before our deadline to turn in Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics to our publisher, writer Christopher Irving and I decided to take part of our advance money to travel to Chicago to cover a few last, important subjects. On top of the list was cartoonist Chris Ware, arguably one of the most influential and distinctive voices in comics today. His storytelling, design and unique aesthetic has served to inspire me for years, so I was especially excited to have him be a part of the project.
I was warned by several prominent people that Ware probably “wouldn’t do it.” But, I’ve been told such things in the past in regard to subjects, and often such warnings only help to light more of a fire under me, as it did here. From experience, I know politeness and persistence pay off, so happily on the last day of our trip, I found myself at the lovely Oak Park, Chicago home of the Ware family.
As an unabashed admirer of Mr. Ware’s work, I’ve read many an interview with him, and I’ve seen photos of his historic home previous, but I wasn’t prepared by how amazing it would be.
Ware’s collection lives throughout the warm and tastefully decorated home. Atop mantlepieces sit his handmade mechanical wonders like his Acme Book Dispenser, his Quimbies The Mouse and Sparky The Singing Cat sculptures. Behind glass doors live Gasoline Alley and Peanuts merchandise, Krazy Kat dolls, Buck Rogers rockets, and many other items of amazement from bygone eras.
My usual process on shoots which have taken place at cartoonist’s homes has been to find a spot to place each subject which might recall their work in some way. Ware’s home was a location dream come true and a bit overwhelming. I quickly decided to walk my subject through several different spots, taking a variety of portraits throughout the house. Then, so enamored with Mr. Ware’s collection, or “junk” as he calls it, I asked if I could shoot just the items, to which he happily agreed.
Presented in this gallery are a series of photos of Chris Ware, along with photos of some of the fascinating items in his collection.
Read the GRAPHIC NYC profile of Chris Ware by Christopher Irving.
See more of Chris Ware, as well as over 60 other top comics creators in Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics, by Christopher Iving and Seth Kushner, and read Ware’s newest work, Building Stories and his classic, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.