The ACME Novelty Library No. 3

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Published:Fall 1994
Format: B&W (with spot color), 44 pages, 15x20 cm, stapled booklet, thin white paper with cardstock covers
Still in print; can be bought from Fantagraphics Books

The third issue of the ACME Novelty Library is chronologically the first. It's a cute digest size black and white booklet featuring the exploits of that potato shaped guy who loses his eyes all the time.

The volume opens up with a lengthy (4 pages of tiny printing, altogether) satire of pompous officious writing -- the kind that has been done to death a million times (at least) before. I was bored out of my skull by it. The two letters pages were more enjoyable.

The main bulk (32 pages) is taken up by the exploits of potato guy. Potato guy plays with his dog, sends his dog away, loses his eyes, stumbles around a lot, finds new eyes, sets his foot on fire, finds the head of a dog, and carries it around a bit. If it sounds like I think the story meanders around without going anywhere, that's probably because I do think that. The comic looks and reads like Ware has digested a great deal of art spiegelman and is playing with various story-telling methods. Whereas spiegelman's formal experiments are usually rather interesting, Ware's aren't. There's some slapstick humor here, but I think it falls flat.

The art is rather nice, though. Ware plays with a Charles Burns inking technique, and also does some rather nice crosshatching. I love the way he draws grass.

That's it, basically. There's two more pages of fake ads, and another building set.

After the stunning ACME Novelty Library No. 2, reading this older work is a bit of a let-down.

The Acme Novelty Warehouse.