Just when you thought there was no life left in the graphic novel genre along comes Chris Ware and his ‘Building Stories’. It’s a couple of years old now but only now have I found the time to dig into it.
It’s an impressive multi-layered story told through a series of books and magazines strips that populate a large box.
At its center is a building in which different tenants go about their lives and an unnamed woman who has lost a leg in a boat accident some years previously.
We see her as an unhappy singleton, as a jilted lover and as mother but the order that happens all depends on which book we decide to pick up first. For the box in no way tries to dictate to us in which order we have to read. Instead we piece together the lives and stories we read about literally building our own version of the story.
Their are wonderful tangents like ‘Branford the Best Bee in the World’ which echoes the problematic human relationships of the books with a problematic bee relationship, involving the super nice but rather naïve Branford Bee.
It’s interesting to think that a book with some few words can through its juxtaposition with pictures build a far richer and real existence for its characters that many more lofty tomes.