Book Article

Mighty 'Mouse'

Five reasons to love award-winning author Chris Ware. And how ''Gaseoline Alley'' has to do with one of them

Quimby the Mouse | DREAM CATCHER ''Quimby'' is one book you should definitely snatch up
Image credit: Quimby the Mouse: © Chris Ware
DREAM CATCHER ''Quimby'' is one book you should definitely snatch up

Five reasons to love award-winning author Chris Ware

1 His new book, ''Quimby the Mouse'' (Fantagraphics, $24.95), collects some of his earliest work, done while at the University of Texas at Austin in the early '90s, and proves the guy was a master of meticulous cartooning even before his 2000 award-winning graphic novel, ''Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.''

2 Quimby is an anxious, scrawny rodent -- Mickey Mouse on the Atkins diet -- the upper half of his body prone to split in two to visually convey profound ambivalence. What's not to love?

3 Ware's book can be enjoyed by comic-strip novices but others will find a trove of sly allusions to silent-film comedies and older, beloved strips like Frank King's ''Gasoline Alley.''

4 Quimby offers mind-blowingly detailed instructions on how to build ''your own working cat head'' out of wood. As usual, the process -- the care with which Ware lays out the plans -- is as beautiful as the finished project.

5 The book's introduction includes a tender reminiscence of the author's grandmother. Ware is nearly as impeccable a prose writer as he is an artist.

Originally posted Aug 15, 2003 Published in issue #723 Aug 15, 2003 Order article reprints