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Having read Jimmy Corrigan and thus being led to issue thirteen (comics issue) of Mcsweeneys which was edited and designed by Chris Ware I was a little dissapointed that none of the comics in this collection were really any good. They act as a sort of taster for a lot of the big hitters (Daniel Clowes, Jaime hernandez, Art Speigelman) as well as introductions to some newcomers. The stories are nearly all pretentious, cutesy or surreal b.s. or some combination of the three, although i suppose that's all that the space allows. Going from comic to comic, style to style can be quite hard to keep up with but good if you have a short attention span. I was also a bit dissapointed that I recognised a lot the sections as just excerpts from existing material, such as Black Hole by charles Burns, who also produced a nice inner title page especially. this just seemed like an advert for the graphic novel and couldn't work as a standalone piece.
The book is to it's credit one of the most beautiful Designed I have ever seen. If You have seen the cover art for Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth, you'll know the deal, you can open it up into a huge double sided poster packed with detail and little gold foil bits!. The sook also comes with two little supplement books containing comics that are more suited to being really small.
Concluding the review is this: Buy the book because it's not that expensive given the number of pages to pennies ratio and it looks amazing. Also, it will give you lots of little tasters of lots of different artists, many of which have produced some fantastic work. unfortunately, seeing their works in little spurts doesn't really do it justice and I never quite felt satisfied.
This is the only McSweeneys I have and have no idea how it compares to the other issues.
Mcsweeney's quarterly concern is the brainchild of Dave Eggers ( A heartbreaking work of staggering genius, what is the what) and was initially set up to publish stories rejected by other publications. 28 issues on, it has a fanatic following and surreal style all of its own. Everything, right down to the copyright pages can get quite tongue in cheek.
Due to the limited print runs, each mcsweeney's quarterly concern is a highly collectable item. Although i one day hope to be a completist, these are some favourites from my collection.
Issue 11 Comes with a making of Mcsweeney's DVD
Issue 13 - The comic issue - comics wrapped in a comic
Issue 18 - a fabric board that folds out to reveal several unrelated items (comb, playing cards, bookcs, ect)
Issue 17 - Designed to look like it came through your letterbox (looks like a pile of junk mail
Issue 22 - Held together by magnets. Writers complete the unfinished works of F Scott Fitzgerald, Poetry Chains (poets picking poets picking poets, and some experimental french movement)
Issue 26 - The war issue, including Where to Invade Next
The latest issue tries to reinvent the fable.
As you can see, each issue is very different. THis is complemented by a different visual style for each publication. Some even challenging your ideas of what a book should look like. The quality of work differs tremendously (they don't expect anyone to like all of it), but the best surpasses any contemporary short fiction you will find anywhere else. A much more liberal approach than Granta or The New York Times Review of books, Mcsweeney's is well worth your time
Whether a heartbreaking work of staggering genius or literature lite for the chattering classes, Dave Eggers quarterly compendium is an an undeniably essential read.