A section from a larger work by Chris Ware about what a career as a cartoonist can offer.


Chris Ware, Ivan Brunetti, Anders Nilsen, and Jeffrey Brown to appear.

Drawing by Anders Nilsen

Jeffrey Brown
Panel from a page by Jeffrey Brown

COMICS Stacy Oliver, the assistant director at Northwestern University’s Center for the Writing Arts, says she was kicking around ideas with Reginald Gibbons, her boss, when inspiration hit. Today in culture, Oliver recalls saying, “there seems to be this wonderful partnership with the picture and the word.” And, blam, a panel discussion about the rise of the graphic story was born. She did some research and discovered that Chicago harbors many cartoonists eminently qualified to talk about how to create stories told in frames—including Chris Ware, Ivan Brunetti, Jeffrey Brown, and Anders Nilsen, the four artists she rounded up for the panel and book-signing event tonight at Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Moderated by Ray Pride, a photographer and a contributor to New City, the talk will be held in the auditorium of the Block gallery, with the panelists seated in director’s chairs on the floor. “Not on the stage,” Oliver says. The intent is to keep the vibe intimate and encourage the audience to ask many questions. Oliver hopes the discussion will range from process—“Do you think in text or image?”—to artistic influences and maybe touch on the current crisis in book publishing. “We want to know where are books in general heading,” she says. “They are creating these works and it’s being put on screens. Is there something intrinsic about flipping the page?”

These are big questions. Perhaps Ware might even talk about the recent kerfuffle over a cover illustration he did for the 2010 Fortune 500 issue of the business magazine. According to the blogosphere, the commission was rejected—some say over Ware’s tiny satirical portrayals of American companies at work that were rather at odds with an article celebrating the nation’s 500 largest businesses. (A Fortune spokesperson has been quoted saying that the magazine, as a practice, commissions several covers for that annual issue.)

But, you could also go just to rub elbows with some talented fellows.

GO: May 5 at 6 p.m. Free. Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston.

  • Anders Nilsen’s illustration for a Chicago magazine story about the scarily smart kids at the University of Chicago Lab Schools.
  • Chicago magazine’s May 2006 article about Chris Ware’s work, which was the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  
  • Ivan Brunetti’s September 7, 2009 cover for The New Yorker.


Artwork (From Top): Chris Ware; Anders Nilsen; Jeffrey Brown; (thumbnail) Ivan Brunetti