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The Comics of Chris Ware$
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David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734423

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734423.001.0001

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Past Imperfect: “Building Stories” and the Art of Memory

Past Imperfect: “Building Stories” and the Art of Memory

(p.206) Past Imperfect: “Building Stories” and the Art of Memory
The Comics of Chris Ware

Peter R. Sattler

University Press of Mississippi

Cartoonists are aware of how comics can be easily forgotten, and thus have addressed “memory” as a central trope for discussing how their medium works, not only on the page but also in the minds of readers and creators. For example, Scott McCloud has argued that the power of cartooning stems from a mimetic similarity between the iconography of comic art and the contents of human memory. Chris Ware has also formalized the notion that “comics is about memory.” This chapter examines how memory is constructed in his comic strip “Building Stories,” focusing on the interplay between episodic, experiential, and narrative memory. It argues that memory is central to Ware’s comics, in which it is formally anatomized and re-encoded as a “feeling.” The chapter discusses remembering as a felt experience and how it resonates with Ware’s assertions about his artwork and its relation to readers’ psychological states. It also considers Ware’s central techniques for representing remembering in the 2003 strip titled “Paper Dolls.”

Keywords:   comics, memory, Chris Ware, comic strip, Building Stories, remembering, Paper Dolls

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