I had read this before, but I wanted to read it again, and gee, didn’t I deserve a treat for finishing my schoolwork ahead of time? yes I did.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware, is a stupendous “little” book packed full of psyche. The plot jumps between three generations of poor – to nonexistent fathering, and the handed-down repercussions, culminating in Jimmy Corrigan, the most pathetic man on earth. It’s really painful as a reader, to just have to sit through this train wreck of impotent lives, to witness such a domination of fear and fantasy. Needless to say, it really struck a chord with my younger years. I’d definitely put this book on the “must read” list, especially if you’re not a usual to the world of comics. Oh, ahem, I mean graphic novels, adults are supposed to call em. And they’re action figures, not dolls. Though I heard that differentiation was to get around doll import/export tariffs, not to get past gender bias. Don’t know the truth, you’ll have to google that’n up yourself.
OH sorry I got sidetracked! first time for everything, right?
right SO.. Chris Ware’s art is so simple and iconographic- like the Hemingway of visual novels- and it’s surprising the range of emotion and strained nuance that can be stuffed into the blocky characters, but it’s there, and you’ll wish it wasn’t. Ware subdivides and further subdivides his panels when you fall into a microcosm of the history leading up to a point, or a characters thoughts or fantasies wedged into pages until the panels are less than 1 inch square- but the simplicity of the art lends itself to fitting the characters into whatever space is available, though honestly it doesn’t even touch on some of his previous work, such as Quimby Mouse, where a double-sized sheet could be filled with 1/2-1/4″ panels, taking over 1/2 an hour to get through one page.
The focus here in Jimmy Corrigan is on revealing the narrative of parental relationships, and the chance for Ware to expel some of his own (not-quite-but-close) autobiographical demons. Unfortunately, as such, there’s less of the great iconic pictographic relationship charts that serve as a narrative puzzle that I have grown to absolutely adore in Ware’s work. What follows is an example of such a diagram, that actually compresses the whole 280 page history of the Corrigan legacy into one page. Because I’m so sexy, I took a craptastic picture with my digicam and flashed it up in under 2 hours for all you lovelies, with a nice magnifying glass and turn the page- functionalities, because I love both you and chris ware so much that I think you all should meet one day .
to be fair, it’s not for everyone.