Among really nerdy dudes who obsess over things like the beginnings of Chris Ware’s career, the primary representation of his early work has long been ‘Floyd Farland: Citizen of the Future,’ an out-of-print collection of College-era strips featuring the titular character. ‘Floyd Farland’ is illustrated in a modernist style that is completely unrecognizable when compared with Ware’s later works, so it’s somewhat difficult to trace the path of his ‘artistic development.’ It was recently pointed out to me that additional college paper-era Ware material was collected in a trade paperback called ‘Commix,’ published by Protein Storm Press in 1988.
After I expressed interest in seeing what the book contained, Chris Rice pointed out that Mile High Comics had a copy in stock for just over cover price, so I went ahead and ordered it. The book is of the ‘Garfield’ size and shape, and contains all the fascinating developmental beginnings that I’d hoped to find in ‘Floyd Farland.’
Included are several strips bearing the title ‘Comick Strip,’ presumably published in the Daily Texan. Four of these, which bear separate titles and appear to have been published on consecutive days, can be cut out and joined together to form a circular, infinite comic strip. There’s a brief Floyd Farland strip, an oddly postmodern page-sized lettering of the word ‘Joke,’ and an interesting precursor to the faux-advertising style that Ware became known for when The Acme Novelty Library was publishing regularly.
This one is an interesting combination of advertising imagery and linear narrative, a disconnect that echoes another of Ware’s early works – ‘I Guess,’ which is available online here.