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  • Published: 1 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9780224078122
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 246
  • RRP: $135.00

Building Stories

Twelve years after he changed the history of comics with Jimmy Corrigan, a new graphic novel masterpiece by Chris Ware.

In Chris Ware's own words, 'Building Stories follows the inhabitants of a three-flat Chicago apartment house: a thirty-year-old woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple who wonder if they can bear each other's company for another minute; and finally an elderly woman who never married and is the building's landlady...'

The scope, the ambition, the artistry and emotional heft of this project are beyond anything even Chris Ware has achieved before.

  • Published: 1 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9780224078122
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 246
  • RRP: $135.00

About the author

Chris Ware

Chris Ware lives in Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois. His books include Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, which won the Guardian First Book Award in 2001, Building Stories and most recently Monograph, which is part memoir, part retrospective of his career to date. He has won countless awards for his work and has been the subject of several museum exhibitions and scholarly monographs. His work appears regularly in the New Yorker.

Also by Chris Ware

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Praise for Building Stories

There's nobody else doing anything in this medium that remotely approaches Ware for originality, plangency, complexity and exactitude. Astonishment is an entirely appropriate response.

Sam Leith, Guardian

A major moment in British cultural history.

Christopher Frayling, Radio 4

The book-length comic strip, with one or two exceptions, has never been taken very seriously in literary circles. Ware’s new work may change all that.

Paul Davies, Daily Telegraph

Just occasionally, a writer or artist – or both in one – emerges who is so astoundingly original that everything else suddenly seems like a facsimile of what has come before. Chris Ware, the 45-year-old American comics artist, is one of these. Widely hailed as one of the foremost practitioners working in the medium today, his new book, if one can call it that without being reductionist, is a work of such startling genius that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Jake Wallis Simons, Daily Telegraph

This is the first book which I have finished and immediately started again, wanting to experience each of the stories with full knowledge of what happens in the rest... The number of narrative techniques Ware uses in the novel is giddying... Building Stories is a stunning piece of work, proving yet again why Ware is so frequently included in lists of the greatest living cartoonists.

Alex Hern, New Statesman

Breathtaking... Staggeringly good.


2012’s strongest case for setting aside your kindle.


One of the most remarkable, thrilling and possibly important books of the year.

Teddy Jamieson, Herald

A heartbreaking work of staggering genius. The perfect gift for book lovers and design geeks… [A] beautiful testimony to the still-untapped potential of print and paper.

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro

The houses are blocks of black studded with burning orange windows. It’s just a street with buildings on it with normal people living in them. But what Ware has told us about buildings turned each orange window into a frame.

Nick Richardson, London Review of Books

A wonderful achievement. It’s not only that it is so beautifully and attentively made – though in the age of the Kindle, and of all things disposable, Ware is certainly making a powerful statement. No, it’s the sense of belief that gets to you, the absolute commitment to the form. Building Stories does things no traditional novel can, or not without much lumbering effort; and it does things no comic has hitherto pulled off. No wonder, then, that opening it for the first time makes you feel like a child at Christmas. It’s a thing to be treasured, a box of delights.


Even without the astonishing formal experimentation, this is one of the best books about regular people I have ever read.

Tom Gatti, The Times

Prizes will no doubt descend on his new work, which comes in a huge, gorgeous box. There are 14 comics inside, which tell discrete stories of life in a turn of the century Chicago apartment building. Not like anything else you’ll read this year. Brilliant.

Erica Wagner, The Times

This is more than a book: it’s a profusion of printed paper: a box full of pamphlets, comic books, newspapers, hardcovers, and even a folding screen. Together they present the tale of the occupants of a three-story building in Chicago, told in Ware’s instantly recognizable style, with panels so silent and perfectly composed they’re reminiscent of stained-glass windows.

Time Magazine

Magnificent... It’s so far ahead of the game that it tempts you to find fault just to prove that a human made it.

Douglas Wolk, New York Times Book Review

In both imagination and execution, his artistry is faultless. A song to lettering, line, ink, Chicago, hope, regret and the history of comics, the emotions he arouses will stay with you long after closing the box it came in.

Lucy Davies, Sunday Telegraph

Building Stories may be the most concerted and apparently counter-intuitive attempt in any graphic novel to take us inside the life, thoughts and emotions of one fictional, unnamed character and make us care. That he succeeds, without the manipulative heartstring-tugging of cinema or theatre but with comics, is all the more remarkable.

Paul Gravett, Independent

Ware writes and draws with immense compassion... Building Stories is a thing to be experienced.

James Lovegrove, Financial Times

A tour de force of fine detail.

Phil Baker, Sunday Times

A big, sturdy box containing hard-bound volumes, pamphlets and a tabloid houses Ware’s demanding, melancholy and magnificent graphic novel about the inhabitants of a Chicago building.

New York Times

This is long worth the wait ... sumptuously printed and lovingly presented.

Audrey Niffenegger, Evening Standard (ES Magazine)

Both a beautiful object and a work of tremendous power, that sets new standards for the graphic novel form. I can't stop talking about it.


Masterful, beautifully constructed, beautifully drawn tales of domestic boredom, agony and bliss.

Nick Laird, Guardian

Ware's graphic restraint has impressive emotional force; this is a work to pore over, from an artist like no other.

Justine Jordan, Guardian

Moving and indescribably accomplished graphic novel...sent my jaw south and my eyebrows north.

Sam Leith, Spectator

The sadness of the narrative is fractured by the fizziness of its construction: a gorgeous book full of overlapping stories.

Adam Thirlwell, New Statesman

So bleak, observant and meticulously crafted that it merits that usually empty old word: masterpiece.

Sam Leith, Prospect

A thing of beauty.

George Pendle, Financial Times

Ten years of intricate, ingenious work captured in one hefty box packed with graphic novels, pamphlets and a cartoon newspaper. Ware brilliantly charts the everyday experiences of the various inhabitants of a three-storey Chicago building in forensic, melancholic detail.

Colin Smith