Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Capacity” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.34  ·  Rating details ·  451 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Intricate, even exquisite - but never immaculate, Theo Ellsworth's Capacity is a mind turned inside out. Ellsworth's careful line gives shape to profound and profoundly silly thoughts alike, bringing a visionary, startling new life to the doubts and hopes that are so familiar to everyone. This is the 2010 reprint of Theo Ellsworth's debut graphic novel. Capacity.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Secret Acres
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Capacity, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Capacity

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
David Schaafsma
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Capacity is a large collection (over 325 pages) of Ellsworth's mini-comics by the same name, shaped into a sort of narrative, with some mini-interruptions along the way, some detours. But in a way, it is all detours, creative detours, because the creative brain must be obeyed! The focus is on the imagination, creativity. Scratch that: the focus is on Ellsworth's brain, which he sometimes fears is (socially) disabling, it is so weird. And it is weird, his brain, but he's also proud of it, sees it ...more
Jul 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
The visuals were the only thing that got me through this book. Theo is a great artist, and is well suited to be a sequential illustrator. He's got a very unique, detailed style that isn't common today in comics - underground or otherwise. His narrative style on the other hand is absolutely terrible. While his art works well in dealing with nonsense and psychedelia, his writing does not in the least. It's tedious, forced, and in a few rare instances, almost insincere. He's trying to hard to be ou ...more
Nate D
Oct 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Beautiful, meticulous, strange. Ellsworth's art revolves around a rich, baroque mesh of architectural embellishments and crosshatching, somehow both messy and exceedingly intricate. And the images themselves often convey a surreal, lovely twilight dream-logic. The stories themselves are more hit-or-miss, but the long bookending sections, in which Ellsworth recounts his own attempts to translate his imagination into an intelligible form, often make for a fascinating study of the creative process. ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
i am… extremely disappointed in this book! a few months ago i had read theo’s short, 32-page comic, sleeper car, and was completely in love with it, and decided to take the plunge and order the 300+ page graphic novel that came after it. capacity compiles 5 years worth of theo’s first attempts at storytelling, intertwined with explanations of what was going on with his life at the time. nearly all the comics in the book end with him describing how the comic got rejected, and at one point he talk ...more
Derek Royal
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I liked Ellsworth's The Understanding Monster volumes, but I'm completely fascinated with Capacity. The core of the text is his original mini-comics series, but this is much, much more than a collection of previously published material. Ellsworth provides over 100 new pages to the original comics, and in doing so he provides cohesion in a way that makes everything seem almost seamless. In fact, if you don't know that Capacity comprises those earlier single issues, you wouldn't have much of a sen ...more
Felipe Chiaramonte
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Qualquer tipo de lógica deve ser abandonada ao se submergir neste livro. O leitor é tratado como um personagem ativo dentro do inconsciente do autor, que sonha o sonho de criaturas tão ou mais reais que uma caneta sobre uma folha de papel em branco. Monstros e cenários surreais se confundem com o cotidiano e aos poucos pensamentos se transformam em fatos e tomam de assalto todas as páginas do livro, em desenhos tão elaborados que beiram à perdição de olhares analíticos.
A narrativa é intrincada e
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
a comic book about the author's struggles with the creative process sounds dangerously pretentious. but i was really drawn into this fragmented & beautiful depiction of ellsworth's mind, overflowing with eerie worlds filled with fantastic creatures & characters - so much so that he's overwhelmed by the task of containing his own constantly-shifting imagination.

ellsworth is not as sophisticated with words as he is with images. a preachy vignette about war, for example, dips into stilted &
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
I think if I were reading Theo Ellsworth's 'Capacity' minicomics, I'd think they were kind of interesting but nothing that would stick with me particularly, intensely detailed art but meandering half-narratives... framed within this book, those comics become an intrinsic part of a story of artistic and self discovery that was engaging enough to get me to finish reading the book in just a couple days.
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics-and-gns
An awesomely weird comic book. Surreal landscapes and imaginary creatures are great companions as the authour tries to come to an understanding of his creative process and the psychological connections he has to his ideas/the things that live in his head.
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
From Portland, Theo is also a unique soul. His illustrations carry stories and they always captivate me. He's also a great colleague to have the pleasure of knowing. Amazing work. His pieces are better than magic because they're real, honest, and genuine in craftsmanship.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, imaginative, and sincere. Highly recommended!
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My favorite new graphic writer.
Liz Yerby
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a roller coaster! Theo breaks the fourth-wall more than any cartoonist I know, but in a cozy way, like by inviting you to tea and then asking if you need sugar or asking you if you wouldn't mind pressing some buttons with your mind to turn the page. He is a particular kind of genius, but maybe also reading this book as a fellow cartoonist freaks me out cause like now I gotta get to know my own inner cast of characters.

I like that we both enjoy human-mice hybrids. I'm giving this four stars
Oct 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Felt like I was back in the 60's with the psychedelic artwork and senseless script. Artwork was hard to follow, storyline was weak, at best.
Eric T. Voigt
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spring-eighteen
Intimidatingly dense line-work at the start, but as I grew accustomed to the massive landscapes and intricate patterning I managed to relax and absorb.
Paul Fergus
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Every so often the universe reveals to me a gemstone of unspeakable beauty and rare full-fledged satisfaction. These are the moments in reading I live for, to have my senses fully engaged and my soul wakened by the stirring fire of delight.

The book is a hybrid, chimerical collection of line drawings rendered in such detail as to suggest Richard Scarry characters when the lights go out and they go home from their day jobs.

Part cartoon, part comic, part pamphlet, and a host of other drawing techni
Caroline Picard
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
The drawings in this book are AMAZING. I was and continue to be awestruck by the painstaking care each panel called for. Ellsworth channels a vivid imagination into this book. The overarching narrative, the connective tissue between parts, describes the process Ellsworth went through to make and publish this comic. It's an artist's creative journey, essentially, punctuated by bouts of subconcious rumination. Now and again I found I myself more interested in the imaginary places the narrator goes ...more
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: creative types who love fantasy
Shelves: read-book-club
We bought and read this book because the guy at the comics store melted when he recommended it. And, having little background in graphic novels or self-realization of artistic process, I wasn't in any way tired or comparative on the subject matter. Just wholly wrapped up in the constant beaming warmth of being a sympathetic accomplice to the story: from being set down *gently* by the Thing in the Chest at the beginning of the book to the amazing imaginary tea gnome blessings I can optionally enj ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Zedsdead by: Birthmas 2012 gift from J&K
Capacity is an inventive, whiny autobiographical account of the author's struggle with writing. He blends whimsy with insanity with more whimsy.

There are math page numbers, assorted pants pictures (palindrome pants, poltergeist pants, mitosis pants and posthumous pants, among others), and a Pudding of Obligation, placed upon a Doily of Resentment. Ellsworth uses a framing device in which his own avatar talks to an Aztec god-looking stand-in for the reader. There are even some almost-but-not-qui
Artnoose McMoose
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Artnoose by: Alisa
Years ago, at the Alternative Press Expo in SF, I passed by a table where Theo Ellsworth was selling copies of his comic zine Capacity. I was immediately struck by the artwork so I decided to get one. I leafed through the six (?) issues that were out there to decide which issue I was going to get and in doing so found one in issue #6 that was so amazing that I bought that issue and still have it to this day.

Flash forward to the present, and my friend Alisa gave me a birthday present, this anthol
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, memoirs
Funny that I read this right after Picture This by Lynda Barry, as they share a theme of creating visual art and stories. Ellsworth's focus is on artist fear: his deep-rooted worry of losing himself in his own psyche for the sake of pushing his art "as far as it can go" (whatever that means), and out of this he creates a full-circle story in which he literally (by using the second person) invites the reader to bear witness to his creative process. Though this sounds tenuous as a narrative struct ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume collects seven issues of Ellsworth's booklets titled Capacity, I think with some additions along the way (I never saw the originals). There are short stories, medium stories, longer stories, one-pagers and single-panels -- all with his uniquely detailed and creative artwork featuring fanciful worlds and monsters and internal mental universes. Most circle around questions of mind and identity, sleep and rationality and identity. Some may find it impenetrable, others pretentious, other ...more
Trashy Dreams
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
this guy's crazy but i like it. this whole book is supposidly documented works of his 'dreams'(?)...or basiclly a subconcious version of himself that he created. like he created an alternate version of himself inside his head, in his head's imagination, and he's built a world around it. i don't know how he remembers all this stuff, but it's pretty cool.

i like that he's trying to utilize his imagination to it's fullest um, capacity... that's pretty much what this is- like an exercise in tapping
Jaina Bee
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If I could spread sparkles all over this review, it still wouldn't convey the thrills (literally!) this book gives me. Even if you aren't a fan of "graphic novels" (or whatever the kids are calling it these days), the introduction alone is such a spine-tinglingly spot-on description of the creative process that anyone could appreciate it. The rest of the book is a guided tour of where Theo's creative journey has taken him— deep into the deepest, strangest lands of the imagination! As I finished ...more
May 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People into oldschool comix
I have a low tolerance for nonsensical elaborate surrealism in comics and for books that are explicitly self-conscious about the creative process. This book was essentially composed of these two elements, so it easily could have put me off entirely, but the fun of imagining my own way into the complex images and the snatches of real-life story kept me reading. I wish Theo success in accessing his subconscious and translating all that dream-language, but the process of reading this book was immen ...more
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
capacity could have easily been a pretentious mess.

it's not.

instead, it is possibly one of the most honest and satisfying things i've ever read. theo ellsworth expertly weaves his beautifully detailed art and his thoughts into his work. rarely does one get to know another's mind as thoroughly as ellsworth lets you do here; reading this feels intimate and almost intrusive (but not quite.) capacity is a book a little bit unlike any other; reading it is an experience, and one that i'd highly recomm
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Theo Ellsworth explores and reveals the intricate and unusual imaginings and musings from his personal inner world. The artwork and storylines are often multilayered, creating a cascading rabbit hole effect where place, time, and persona are commingled and reimagined. The fascinatingly dense artwork draws you into the stories (sometimes literally), like fragments from a recurring half-remembered dream.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is so honest, so insightful, so personal. The main character is amazingly brilliant and humble; a tender and kind soul. It is a novel about ordinary life and extraordinary imagination, bound together in a hero's journey. This book makes you feel the loneliness and tenderness and import of this journey, and gives a friend to guide you along the way. Very beautiful and unassuming, but magnificently important.
Ursula Villarreal-Moura
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Most graphic novels are quick and fun reads. "Capacity" is such a magical, imaginative read that it is best savored over the span of a few days or weeks. Ellsworth tackles huge mysterious themes such as the subconscious, dreams, memory, creativity and self while embedding his ideas in gorgeous graphics. If all books are an escape from the mundane existence of our lives, this book is one of the greatest escapes you'll ever be part of.
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Theo Ellsworth seems like the person I would have been had I had the guts to live purely from my imagination. As it is, I still have enough of the inner child left to really appreciate what he's doing here. The whimsical drawing style and storytelling works perfectly with the incredible detail to create a true sense of a dream state. I know this is not for everyone, but as an indie graphic novel, sans machismo, it's a wild ride.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Welcome to the Dahl House: Alienation, Incarceration, and Inebriation in the New American Rome
  • The Lagoon
  • Forming
  • GOGOモンスター
  • AEIOU: Any Easy Intimacy
  • By This Shall You Know Him
  • Pinocchio
  • Kramers Ergot #6
  • My Dirty Dumb Eyes
  • Susceptible
  • Jamilti and Other Stories
  • Powr Mastrs 1
  • Both
  • Gold Pollen and Other Stories
  • Map of My Heart
  • New School
  • Big Questions
  • Weathercraft
Theo Ellsworth is a self-taught artist and storyteller who grew up in the mountains of Montana. He developed his art while wandering the United States in a motor powered vehicle. He is uncommonly fond of clouds, monsters, trees, and impossible objects. He is prone to fits of whimsy, and his mind is filled with preposterous notions, yet he still manages to come across as semi-normal. He now lives i ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The Pudding of Obligation. (Placed upon the Doily of Resentment.)” 2 likes
More quotes…