Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Tim Conway in a wig

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"Ruin your life—draw cartoons!" by Chris Ware

Interviewer: Someone once remarked that you have a repertory company, which you ­reuse in various works. You introduce new characters using short, disconnected strips, as if to get used to them, then you launch into larger narratives that explore their lives and world. Whats the advantage of getting to know characters that way?

Ware: I think the remark you’re referring to is a complaint I made about my limited ability, early on, to draw more than three or four different people. My wife called it my “Carol Burnett complex,” meaning I really only had a handful of basic facial types I was capable of drawing. For example, if I needed an old lady, I’d just have to put Tim Conway or Harvey Korman into a wig and hope that no one would notice. I think I’ve gotten beyond that somewhat now.

Interviewer: Was this a matter of technical limitation?

Ware: It certainly started out that way, but eventually it became a more considered part of my approach, since any cartoonist has to constantly walk a tightrope between the ideal and the specific.

Chris Ware, to The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

December 11, 2016 at 8:26 am

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