Comic book artist Chris Ware’s covers for The New Yorker have become something of a staple of the magazine. For their latest collaboration, Ware approached another cornerstone of US media – public radio show This American Life – with the intention of producing a cover that could work as part of a wider animated story.
“In the past, the editors have generously let me test the patience of the magazine’s readership with experiments in narrative elongation,” writes Ware on The New Yorker’s website, ” – multiple simultaneous covers, foldouts, and connected comic strips within the issue”.
For his work for the December 7 edition, Ware asked the radio show’s host Ira Glass for any audio that “might somehow be adapted, not only as a cover but also as an animation that could extend the space and especially the emotion of the usual New Yorker image”.
Glass did – and the story in question concerns the writer Hanna Rosin and her 13 year-old daughter, Noah, who had chosen to dress up as Hillary Clinton for Hallowe’en. The story turns around one particular remark Rosin made in relation to Noah’s decision to enhance her costume by wearing make-up.
As Ware writes on the New Yorker website, the resulting cartoon, entitled Mirror, is an “experiment in storytelling form”.
“Usually, when listening to a story, one’s mind not only sees but also feels in images; you imagine and constantly revise and update entire tableaux, much the way you imagine things while reading a book,” Ware writes.
“I hoped that our pictures wouldn’t interfere with that ineffable mental dance but would somehow, like my usual medium of graphic novels, complement it.”
Watch the film on the New Yorker site, here. Artists: Chris Ware, John Kuramoto. Interviewer: Ira Glass. Composer: Nico Muhly. Viola: Nathan Schram. Piano: Fritz Myers. A co-production of The New Yorker and This American Life