Ice Cream Man is a terrific work of contemporary absurdism that gives form and intent to the forces that undermine and erase all that we love, trading the universe’s devastating ambivalence for something garish and malevolent. Morazzo’s abstracted figures and O’Halloran’s simplified color palette give perfect form to Prince’s tales of existential horror. The creators often toy with surprising formal devices, experimenting with the possibilities of their medium in a way that dodges the overly cerebral and instead brings an extra bit of fun to this delightfully horrifying series.
Chris Ware’s new collection, Monograph by Chris Ware (Rizzoli, $60), assembles countless strips, pages, magazine covers, sculptures, photographs, and other things into a thorough and astoundingly generous retrospective of the artist’s career. It comes replete with commentary written by Ware himself, who charts his path from RAW to Jimmy Corrigan to Building Stories and beyond. Reading this book is like touring the interior of a vast and seemingly impossible mechanism carved from space metal, while your tour guide chats amiably and bemoans the lack of carpets. There are also individual booklets within the book that you can flip through, and several of his New Yorker covers depicted in their full glory. For any fan of the cartoonist, this is probably the single best purchase you could make this holiday, a blueprint for everything Ware has done over the past few decades. But for artists, this is something even better: Chris Ware opens the door backstage, shows you how he performs the magic tricks, and then gives you a chance to do it yourself.