Schneider – University of Copenhagen

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Greice Schneider: The poetics of disegangement in the comics of Chris Ware

Despite all the prestige achieved by Chris Ware over the last decades, it is fairly common to find testimonies that point to some degree of difficulty in the experience of reading his work – recurrently labeled with terms as ‘monotonous’, ‘exhausting’, or even ‘boring’. But until what extent can boredom be a point of criticism of his work, once the analysis shows that boredom constitutes not only a central theme in his stories – lonely characters occupied by the sameness of everyday routine – but also it seems to be an effect performed by the text aroused in the reader? The aim of this paper is to investigate the strategies behind the game of engagement and disengagement in the stories of Chris Ware.

The main interests here lie in examining how the ennui felt by his characters is replicated also in the reading experience. Under such perspective, the resistance to immediate immersion can be considered as part of an emotional program. This may be achieved by a number of different strategies, as, for instance, changing the focus from the fictional world to the specificity of the medium itself.  His pages very often offer a complicated reading order, requesting certain amount of patience to endure boredom and decipher the conventions proper to his complex system of articulation. Panels, page layout, gutters are, thus, not hiding for the sake of the story, but rather screaming for attention, as part of an emotional programmed response.