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With Chris Ware (Omaha, 1967) it happens as with that aphorism that says that if you want to meet you you have to travel and if you want to know the world you have to look out the window of your house. You can hang out reading any book or you can get into the deepest and most inscrutable of human nature with one of his comics. This has been demonstrated since the publication in 2000 of 'Jimmy Corrigan, the smartest boy in the world'.
Because Ware's revolution is not only formal - a use of space and visual language never seen before - but the way of dealing with issues far exceeds any other attempt (movies, novels, plays) to dissect the human soul . Above all, the dark parts.
That's what Rusty Brown is about, which now publishes Reservoir Books in Spain . A collection of comic books written over 16 years that have as a common point a day in the life of an American Midwest school. The boy who gives name to the graphic novel is the favorite target of the center's abusers. His father is a bitter teacher who never overcame a crazy love of youth. His teacher hides several ghosts under a layer of kindness and kindness. And the thug that makes his life impossible ends up becoming the true protagonist of the album: a psychopath whose progress in life ends up resembling that of those successful men of American capitalism.
"It seems to me that hate, violence and selfishness is what makes us animals, and the ability to imagine others and their pain is what makes us human. Perhaps such an argument is a bit simplistic, but at least it is a beginning, "Ware summarizes his worldview. "I don't think there is anything to admire in being violent or hateful. Even being something exclusive to humans, it is something we should avoid. It is always easier to be a stalker or be mean and take what you want to try to understand the complexities of a person or a situation. Or try to be generous, when not invisible. "
As in other Ware books, the reader's confrontation with his ghosts is an experience as addictive as it is painful. Hence, despite the colors and the beauty of the clean lines, the feeling of unease accompanies the reading of Rusty Brown. And even more in these times when the conflict has mutated irreversibly.
"Unfortunately, the Internet has been like connecting a car battery to these slight polarities, and now we are all at the opposite ends of the playing field," laments the artist. "Art, however, what it does (or should do) is to see the subtleties and contradictions of human behavior more easily. That is why we need it. It is both a container and a lens."
Thus, between space rockets that go to other planets or superheroes that escape from the horrible reality, Ware's stories spin, like satellites, to good and evil. "I think quite often of an idea: to consider that what we humans do is right or wrong, in the broader scheme of things, it is ridiculous," Ware argues. "The good and the bad only exist to the extent that they affect the comfort and value of an individual human life." Most of the time he imagined that "we are simply nodes in a great developing planetary consciousness, working blindly to create a more elaborate network of global memory." Or maybe "we are simply a cancer that the planet is trying to eradicate. Sometimes it seems to me that consciousness is simply an evolutionary aberration, and perhaps we are the only forms of life in the entire universe that have developed it." Hence his penultimate complaint: "It can be more an obstacle than an aid."
That is why it is important for him to write and draw things: to see what really happens. "I am amazed at how quickly our world has returned power to the abusers," says Ware. "It is as if we had returned to the thirteenth-century feudalism, or something like that. On the other hand, I suppose people may have felt something similar during this explosion of angry newspapers and publishers, which gave free rein to words that were perhaps more violent than any dialogue that could have occurred before through a polite conversation. "
"New technologies allow part of the human psyche to find a stronger and faster way to amplify its voice; otherwise, why would we put so much effort into creating them?"
It seems to Ware "that we are in a strange moment in our culture, where entire careers can be destroyed by a tweet, but the murderers are released from prison ahead of time for good behavior." Somewhere, adventure, "there must be an intermediate path. I was born an atheist and I still am, but I also believe in salvation, vulnerability and forgiveness. Or at least for almost everyone; Hitler would probably be an exception."
All this leads to Trump. In fact, the final index of the work specifies who the US president was when he wrote each part. "I don't know why lying, stealing and xenophobia can be inspiring, but unfortunately they are for a certain segment of the American and, increasingly, European population," he says of the US president. "Reducing life to such polarities is always the easiest way to power. Mussolini knew it, Franco knew it and Trump knows it. It is up to the Americans to let Trump and those who support him learn that this will no longer be tolerated, that sympathy, not hate, is the way to understand others. We are no longer tribal. As Malcolm X said: 'I am a human being, first and foremost'. "
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