Ted Rall hatin' on Chris Ware

Categories: Cartoons/Comics
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Ted Rall is one of the most controversial and talented editorial cartoonists in the business. He depicts President Bush as a wild-eyed, dictatorial generalissimo and Iraqi war vets as Abu Ghraib-inspired sexual deviants. Rall is extremely forthright in his political opinions, expressing them as a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist, an op-ed columnist, and a globe-trotting radio commentator through various periods in his life. The current administration and its actions have given Rall more than enough fodder, so why in Monday's cartoon did he feel the need to take a shovel to the head of fellow cartoonist Chris Ware?

Chris Ware is a graphic novelist based out of Chicago. The most famous work from his Acme Novelty Library is "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth," lauded by many as one of the best graphic novels ever produced. Peter Schjeldahl, in the October 17 edition of the New Yorker, declared "Corrigan" the "the first formal masterpiece of a medium that he has proved to be unexpectedly complex and fertile." The story, published in 2000, follows a middle-aged under-achieving Corrigan as he ventures to find the father he never knew, and once again finding disappointment. Those story panels are spare Joost Swarte-inspired images of Corrigan and his environs, which are contrasted by a parallel story of Corrigan's grandfather being raised by his widowed father featuring large-panel, magnificently-detailed renderings of the exhibition halls of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Ware has since gained a wider audience with a 6-month serial that inaugurated the New York Times Magazine's new Funny Pages section.

While highly adept at editorializing on current global events (war, politics, terrorism, etc.), why has Rall taken time out of his schedule to kick Chris Ware in the junk and take his lunch money? Rall's December 5 cartoon mimics Ware's style and appears to mock what he calls Ware's "mundane" observations, "repetitive" panels, and use of flowcharts to "intellectualize the vapid." A scribble on the side of the panel states "apologies to Chris Ware," a phrase commonly used when one artist co-opts another's style for purposes of getting a point across, not when one is calling another a craptastic hack. It would appear Rall has had a simmering hatred for Ware's work that has now boiled over as Ware's exposure broadens.


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