Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ware resides in the Chicago area of Illinois. His earliest published strips appeared in the late 1980s on the comics page of The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to numerous daily strips under different titles, Ware also had a weekly satirical science fiction serial in the paper titled Floyd Farland: Citizen of the Future. This was eventually published in 1988 as a prestige format comic book from Eclipse Publishing, and its publication even led to a brief correspondence between Ware and Timothy Leary. Now embarrassed by the book, which he considers amateurish and naive, Ware is reportedly purchasing and destroying all remaining copies.
While still a sophomore at UT, Ware came to the attention of Art Spiegelman, who invited Ware to contribute to RAW, the influential anthology magazine Spiegelman was co-editing with Françoise Mouly. Ware has acknowledged that being included in the prestigious RAW gave him confidence and inspired him to explore printing techniques and self-publishing. His Fantagraphics series Acme Novelty Library defied comics publishing conventions with every issue. The series featured a combination of new material as well as reprints of work Ware had done for the Texan (such as Quimby the Mouse) and the Chicago weekly paper Newcity. Ware's work appeared originally in Newcity before he moved on to his current "home", the Chicago Reader. Beginning with the 16th issue of the Acme Novelty Library, Ware is self-publishing his work, while maintaining a relationship with Fantagraphics for distribution and storage. This is an interesting return to Ware's early career, when he self-published such books as Lonely Comics and Stories as well as miniature digests of stories based on Quimby the Mouse and an unnamed potato-like creature.
In recent years he has also been involved in editing (and designing) several books and book series, including the new reprint series of Gasoline Alley from Drawn and Quarterly; Walt and Skeezix, the on-going reprint of Krazy Kat by Fantagraphics; and the 13th volume of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, which is devoted to comics. He was the editor of The Best American Comics 2007, the second installment devoted to comics in the Best American series.
In 2007, Ware curated an exhibition for the Phoenix Art Museum focused on the non-comic work of five contemporary cartoonists. The exhibition, titled "UnInked: Paintings, Sculpture and Graphic Works by Five Cartoonists," ran from April 21 through August 19. Ware also edited and designed the catalog for the exhibition.
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