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Quimby the Mouse
By Chris Ware
Published by Fantagraphics Books

Quimby the mouse is a tiny little guy -- so tiny that even on this hardcover graphic novel's gigantic, generous pages his adventures often take up dozens of tiny little panels. It's a work that rewards close observation, not to say the use of a magnifying glass.

Ware, as you may know, is one of a handful of cartoonists who bring a singular brilliance to anything they create. Crumb, Clowes, Hornschemeier and Ware pretty much constitute a pantheon for me of creative minds that never disappoint and often challenge. With Quimby the Mouse, Ware challenges the reader on any number of levels. The sheer deluge of tiny text that greets the reader in the book's opening pages may be enough to, well, scare the shit out of you. "I have to read all that?" Yes, yes you do. You have to read all of it, or else!

Or else you'll miss the obsessive attention to detail, the hidden treasures in the miniscule blocks of text, it's like rooting around in the depths of Ware's consciousness trying to find the same thing he is -- the meaning of his life, the threads that hold it together, but only barely.

The book is mainly cartoons, though -- page after page of intricate, complex strips that create whole new worlds and shatter expectations again and again. My favourites are the ones that find Quimby visually executing his usual, freakish slapstick antics while Ware's text provides a human and shockingly touching counterpoint with recollections of pain and sadness and loss from his family history.

This massive slab of perfect comics will set you back the paltry sum of $25.00, and it more than pays for itself in the reading of any one page. You'll be stunned by the value and amazed at how much of himself Ware gives with every creative impulse he has no choice but to share. Gorgeously produced and criminally cheap to own, Quimby the Mouse is one of the most beautiful and most necessary graphic novel releases of the decade. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane



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