The ACME Novelty Library No. 1

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Published: Winter 1993-1994
Format: Color, 36 pages, 17x24 cm, stapled booklet, newsprint with cardstock covers
Still in print; can be bought from Fantagraphics Books

Second printing December 1995

The first issue of the Novelty Library is actually the fourth collection of strips. The chronology goes as follows:

  1. The ACME Novelty Library No. 3 (Potato Guy)
  2. The ACME Novelty Library No. 2 (Quimby the Mouse)
  3. The ACME Novelty Library No. 4 (Sparky)
  4. The ACME Novelty Library No. 7 (Various)
  5. The ACME Novelty Library No. 1 (Jimmy Corrigan)
  6. The ACME Novelty Library No. 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14 (Jimmy Corrigan)
  7. The ACME Novelty Library No. 12 (Various)

The numbering of the unpublished issues are tentative, of course.

All these Novelty Libraries are collections of strips published in the Daily Texan and New City. When collecting the strips, Ware restructures, redraws and rewrites much of the work, and leaves some strips out altogether.

The first issue of the Novelty Library focuses on Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid On Earth. In the main 24 page color story we see scenes from his life -- as a young boy, as a young man, as middle-aged man, and as on old man. The time line skips back and forth, and it's left up to the reader to piece together a history from these glimpses into Jimmy's life.

Most of the scenes deals with Jimmy's relationships with his mother, with his girlfriend Peggy, and with God/Super-man. We never get to see the faces of anybody other than Jimmy and God/Super-man -- the faces are often outside the borders, or hidden by hands, beams or furniture.

An eight page inlay printed on news-print in black and white and a blue-grayish color has a six page nonsensical strip about Jimmy as a (for once) smart child. He builds rocket ships, shrinks himself, has an adventure and grows up. The ending of the strip is detailed on a full page of typeset text.

Also included is a one page Big Tex strip, a one page funny story about Jimmy fixing a new dad, one page of fake ads, and «A Splendid Toy Model» of Jimmy in his robot man persona on the back cover.

A rather fine work, I think. The only negative thing I can say about it is that the paper chosen for the main part of the story feels icky and doesn't display the beautiful colors as well as it should. The ickyness may seem like s very small thing indeed, but as Ware's comics are very much objects and not just haphazardly produced leaflets, this slight imperfection is worth mentioning.

The Acme Novelty Warehouse.