Chris Ware does This American Life


God, this is cool. I’ve always wanted to see sequential artist Chris Ware in animation, and it seems I’ve gotten my wish. Here is an animated segment that Chris and animator John Kuramoto created for This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass. It’s not the first time Chris and Ira have teamed up for an animation, but it’s the first time you don’t have to buy a DVD to see it.

Chris Ware, for the uninitiated, is a breathtakingly badass artist who blends deadpan humor, existential angst and incredible visuals to craft some of the most beautiful books I have ever read. As much a graphic designer as a visual storyteller, Chris does all the lettering and layout for his works by hand. If you want to get started with him, check out Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.

Thanks to Phuong Mai for the tip.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



Very clever as usual.


Content is King. The story is so interesting you can get away with the most crude illustrator ‘fills with stroke’ characters. Nice work!


Ware’s stuff is awesome. I love the style. There is so much detail and story crammed in to such small areas of the page. It’s as if youre opening an old-style watch and looking in onto all the minature gears and movements.

There was a Chris Ware exibit here in Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art but I couldn’t make it, and missed out on it.


It’s great! Very nice.


man i’m so glad you posted this. i’ve seen six episodes from the series and they’re so good. the stories are incredible, and the director, Chris Wilcha, is young and super talented. He did a documentary called the Target Shoots First that I reccommend to everyone. This particular short is one of my favorites, I didn’t know much about Chris Ware. Thanks for enlightening me.


I love how this ties in to the “Just A Friendly Reminder” posting. Because in This American Life, the words “people act different when they are behind the camera” applies to: people act different when they are behind the keyboard.

Sweet animation, simple and revealing.


Very nice! I’m a HUGE fan of Chris Ware! And to add to the post, he is a very good illustrator/artist and can put together some of the craziest contraptions. Among his great books are also collections of stuff from his sketchbook which is a great insight into his thought and work. I’d like to believe that this piece for This American Life was done entirely by hand (no illustrator) as Chris Ware is very capable of that. As mentioned before, he does his layout and lettering by hand, and you have to see his work to see why this is so amazing!


Hey brandj thanks for the link. I knew that Chelsea represented him for commercials but not about Athletics. You can see his reel on the it has a trailer for the American Life series, and Target Shoots First. Anyone know where I can see more Chris Ware stuff?


Here is an article about this piece on

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chris Ware. Yet, as an animator who has always wanted to see his work animated, this left something to be desired. The way he explores the genre of comics, pushing the boundaries of how the viewer reads a page could be applied to animation in such a unique way. I hope he explores that further some day.


nice and simple

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