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Long live Quimby The Mouse
May 5, 2009 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Quimby The Mouse. That is all. I have been a Chris Ware fan since 1990. More specifically, I have been a Quimby Mouse fan since 1990. This is a video Chris put together for This American Life for their spring 2009 event. The music is by Andrew Bird.
posted by PuppyCat (40 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always thought that Quimby would make a swell animation. However, Quimby, The Acme Novelty Library, and Chris Ware are all so horribly depressing that I'd hoped* I'd never see it.

*not really. Well, maybe a little.
posted by lekvar at 8:56 AM on May 5, 2009


Good stuff.
posted by orme at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2009


Oh my god. Video Quimby.

Chris Ware is a god of graphic design, illustration, storytelling and marketing*.

*god damn him for making me buy everything twice so I can make the toys.
posted by rokusan at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chris Ware, Andrew Bird and TAL... how can I not click?

Well played, but you shall not find my weaknesses again so easily.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Took me 4 years to find the right link to pop my MeFi cherry. I'm damn proud.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Great! I love Chris Ware's work, even if it is terribly depressing at times.

Chris Ware's work previously on This American Life, previously on Mefi.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:05 AM on May 5, 2009


Quimby the Mouse is such an asshole. I love him.

I knew my wife would become my wife when she gave me a Rusty Brown lunch box as a present.
posted by incessant at 9:06 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chris Ware: Stunning Design In Service Of A Crippling Fear Of Life.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


that being said, this is awesome stuff. Everything, the music, the camera shots, the design, is just perfect for the material.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on May 5, 2009


Ha-ha.
posted by rokusan at 9:26 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


loves me some Chris Ware. thanks!
posted by gnutron at 9:32 AM on May 5, 2009


Were this transferred to film, it would be complete. It needs a bit of grit.

Still works: I am all messed up inside after watching, and I want more.
posted by krilli at 9:34 AM on May 5, 2009


I loved this. Well done for your inaugural post, PuppyCat!

But the fishing scene also reminds me of this, brought to MeFi by zerokey ages back. (Sorry, the original YT link was lawyered, so you have to sit through a brief commercial at another site.)
posted by maudlin at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2009


I expected more. Ware's sense of humor is typically a little more biting and less, well, cloyingly cutesy. I feel like that guy's caught in the feedback loop of his own success and is unwilling (or unable) to try anything new.

That doesn't negate the fact that his art is magical.
posted by orville sash at 9:46 AM on May 5, 2009


Chris Ware and I worked together on The Daily Texan at UT in 1988-89.

I was one of the wire editors and he was a staff cartoonist, so when I say we "worked together" I mean I spent 12 hours slumped over an AP terminal when not sneaking off to a nearby bar (the Hole in the Wall, for you Austinites) to nurse my growing distaste for journalism while he created some of the most evocative and haunting cartoon art I'd ever seen. I don't think three words passed between him and me (or him and anyone else on the staff, that I can remember) the whole time, but everyone in the office - and everyone on campus who read his stuff - knew he was an exceedingly rare talent.

By the next year, he was working with Art Spiegelman. I had already changed majors.
posted by total warfare frown at 9:48 AM on May 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hole in the Wall! Spent many a fine Saturday afternoon in there, drinking beer and playing pinball. I still have clippings of Chris Ware and Lynda Barry comics I saved from my copies of the Daily Texan during that time. I loved Chris's actual art building exhibits- little 3d houses with Quimby inside - all kinds of stuff. He was and still is an incredible artist.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:54 AM on May 5, 2009


Am I missing some context, or is the clip just horribly mean-spirited and inscrutable?
posted by jbickers at 10:15 AM on May 5, 2009


Did anyone see this show live? How was it?
posted by pokermonk at 10:15 AM on May 5, 2009


Clearly, Quimby is not a very nice mouse.
posted by Forrest Greene at 10:29 AM on May 5, 2009


I'll bet there's a significant overlap between Chris Ware fans and Cormac McCarthy fans.

I'm reading The Road right now, and the fact that Quimby stores the girl in the pantry reminded me of a scene from the book. If you haven't read the book, don't ask, you don't even want to know.
posted by diogenes at 10:30 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Am I missing some context, or is the clip just horribly mean-spirited and inscrutable?

Yes, yes, and yes.
posted by rokusan at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2009


Am I missing some context, or is the clip just horribly mean-spirited and inscrutable?

Yeah, it helps if you know the rest of Ware's work so you can place this clip in context. Here's the context: everything he writes is horribly mean-spirited and inscrutable. Hope that helps!
posted by painquale at 10:42 AM on May 5, 2009


Huh. I'm a fan of Ware's work. Jimmy Corrigan and Building Stories are brilliant and beautiful. And I've always been comfortable with the misanthropy of his best work, but there is something really nasty and off-putting about this vid. I am not so familiar with his Quimby stuff. Is it all this dark?
posted by barrett caulk at 11:02 AM on May 5, 2009


PuppyCat: "Quimby The Mouse. That is all. I have been a Chris Ware fan since 1990. More specifically, I have been a Quimby Mouse fan..."

That really wasn't all, was it?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:13 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've read Jimmy Corrigan and kinda enjoyed it, although it's too visually dense for my tastes. But this, yeah, nasty is the right word. Unless there's a larger story to it?
posted by jbickers at 11:13 AM on May 5, 2009


I can't help it. You either love Quimby Mouse or you don't.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2009


Oh my god. Chris Ware. Andrew Bird. This American Life. Animation. Quimby Mouse. It's my birthday and I didn't even know it.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some of the stuff from Acme Novelty Library digs into that irrational part of my psyche that tells me I will be an unloveable man-infant playing video games in my mom's basement when I'm 45 and all my friends have long been successful and happily married. It ruins the rest of my day. Oh, and he manages to do this to me within a few simple panels. I feel this is a best lighter in comparison, but that's just me.
posted by naju at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am not so familiar with his Quimby stuff. Is it all this dark?

No, some of it is much darker.
posted by lekvar at 11:22 AM on May 5, 2009


I will be an unloveable man-infant playing video games in my mom's basement when I'm 45 and all my friends have long been successful and happily married

Eh. It's not so bad, actually.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:24 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quimby the Mouse, posted by PuppyCat

I can't believe I'm the first to say eponysterical.
posted by wendell at 11:40 AM on May 5, 2009


That is all.

THAR SHE BLOWS!

By which I mean that I thoroughly enjoyed the cartoon. It's dark, unpleasant, and made me uncomfortable. In a good way.
posted by katillathehun at 1:02 PM on May 5, 2009


Did anyone see this show live? How was it?

Absolutely great. Ira Glass is one weirdly fantastic dude.
posted by wrok at 1:10 PM on May 5, 2009


Chris Wares Acme Novelty Datebook is still one of the prettiest things on my shelf. It's how my sketchbook would look if I was super. Thanks for the Quimby video!
posted by monocultured at 1:15 PM on May 5, 2009


> Did anyone see this show live? How was it?

There's an encore screening the day after tomorrow, if you still want to see it. I thought it was worth it. Along with this piece, the story from Dan Savage was another highlight.


> Am I missing some context, or is the clip just horribly mean-spirited and inscrutable?

You may be missing some context, but not insofar as a storyline. This is a short, simple piece, and although I think there's a lot going on emotionally, there's not really dense layers of meaning or backstory to untangle. Quimby, often accompanied by the cat head, is a long-running character in Ware's Acme Novelty Library series. Like a lot of the Acme stuff it's pretty well rooted in old, old comics and animation. You could probably draw a straight line from Felix to Quimby if you want a basic idea of where the motif comes from.

He can also act as a stand-in of, or sometimes a foil for, different and unrelated things; which means he can come off as inscrutable. The adult Quimby is sometimes cruel but not really malicious -- more along the lines of 'unthinking'. In some Quimby I see a lot of guilt over how badly we can treat people close to us -- but I project fiercely on Ware's stuff so it's sometimes hard to untangle what he's made from what meaning I've subconsciously charged it with.

Quimby, like all of Ware's work, is a lot of things; harsh things, often. Sometimes heart-aching. But I've never, ever seen it as mean-spirited. It never comes from a cruel or unsympathetic place. Ware never writes violence or misfortune as comedy. Frankly, it's the opposite of the kind of mean-spiritedness that something like "Tom and Jerry" is steeped in, where you're meant to root for the continuous brutality against the cat.

It's a little different when the cat cries, isn't it? That's the crux, for me.
posted by churl at 5:37 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some of the only comics I own are the large sized Acme Novelty Library issues featuring Quimby the mouse. I think they are amazing experiments in form and style. Unfortunately, these were not animated directly by Chris Ware and suffer for it, much in the way the animated MAAKIES -- those three early ones -- suffered.

I love Ware's experiments in color, he gets a high level of texture just using black, white and a third color. Most notably in his Big Tex work.
posted by Catblack at 6:43 PM on May 5, 2009


churl, thanks for that. I was starting to feel weird that everybody was saying "mean-spirited" and "harsh" instead of "heart-aching." I think the adventures of Jimmy Corrigan would have made me cry even if they didn't have so many echoes with my real life. Even his New Yorker Thanksgiving covers touched me deeply.

Also, I like when characters cough in Ware's stories. *kof*
posted by queensissy at 9:52 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Deleted now. Dammit.
posted by Shepherd at 5:59 PM on May 6, 2009


"Sorry, "Quimby The Mouse" was deleted at 5:36:01 Wed May 6, 2009. We have no more information about it on our mainframe or elsewhere." As in missed it by one hour.
posted by eccnineten at 6:25 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's back.
posted by maudlin at 6:33 PM on May 10, 2009


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