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Jimmy Corrigan has rightly been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever to be published. It won the Guardian First Book Award 2001, the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize. It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story and the drawings Jimmy Corrigan has rightly been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever to be published. It won the Guardian First Book Award 2001, the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize. It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story and the drawings that are as simple and original as they are strikingly beautiful, Jimmy Corrigan is a book unlike any other and certainly not to be missed. **ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY**


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Jimmy Corrigan has rightly been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever to be published. It won the Guardian First Book Award 2001, the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize. It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story and the drawings Jimmy Corrigan has rightly been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever to be published. It won the Guardian First Book Award 2001, the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize. It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story and the drawings that are as simple and original as they are strikingly beautiful, Jimmy Corrigan is a book unlike any other and certainly not to be missed. **ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY**

30 review for Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This is a five star graphic novel , so I am giving it five stars. However, I hated it. Well, no, I didn’t hate it, I hated reading it. So I am abandoning it with relief. The great thing about this book is the brilliant graphic concepts which dazzle and delight on every other page. They are really stunning. The unreadable thing about this book is its subject matter, which is the life of a miserable loner with a bullying father examined in very great painful detail. Rarely has a book been so origin This is a five star graphic novel , so I am giving it five stars. However, I hated it. Well, no, I didn’t hate it, I hated reading it. So I am abandoning it with relief. The great thing about this book is the brilliant graphic concepts which dazzle and delight on every other page. They are really stunning. The unreadable thing about this book is its subject matter, which is the life of a miserable loner with a bullying father examined in very great painful detail. Rarely has a book been so original in its presentation and so painfully banal in what it's talking about. Moreover, Jimmy is saddled with this horrible face with a single woebegone expression in every panel. I don’t think he is allowed to smile in the whole 380 pages. I would reproduce Jimmy’s visage here so you could see what I mean but then my review would have the painful balding cringing circular kisser looking out at me and frankly if I never see Jimmy Corrigan again in this life it will be a blessing. This book is so going to Oxfam, as fast as its little feet will carry it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    I guess I understand why people MIGHT consider this a masterpiece. I, myself not a wholehearted admirer of the graphic novel, am usually very surprised by the narrative techniques and posh styles used in famous graphic novels like "Watchmen", "Maus" &, most recently, "Ghost World". This one is said to "elevate the medium" to another level and it kinda sorta does: like witnessing Jim Carrey going from funnyman to dramatic actor! The story is so droll, boring, sad... did I really need this type of I guess I understand why people MIGHT consider this a masterpiece. I, myself not a wholehearted admirer of the graphic novel, am usually very surprised by the narrative techniques and posh styles used in famous graphic novels like "Watchmen", "Maus" &, most recently, "Ghost World". This one is said to "elevate the medium" to another level and it kinda sorta does: like witnessing Jim Carrey going from funnyman to dramatic actor! The story is so droll, boring, sad... did I really need this type of monotony (and even, ironically, with the more than 3000 illustrated scenes which change beautifully in scope, color, emotion, etc.)? It was like watching an Oscar-inclined indie drama with no end in sight...long, yes, beautiful, yes, poignant, well-put-together, even avant-garde. But James's face never changes; neither does the reader's interest peak or descend. Nothing here spoke to me in a blatant, colorful, or (graphic) novel way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I'm surprised that GoodReads doesn't allow a sixth star for this book alone. I can not say enough great things about Jimmy Corrigan. Honestly, it changed my life, and I can't imagine anyone not being in awe of its mathematics, literally and figuratively. This book is like the Catcher in the Rye for graphic novels. It raised the bar and it will not be matched for a very long time. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Breathtaking and deep. Brilliant. I'm surprised that GoodReads doesn't allow a sixth star for this book alone. I can not say enough great things about Jimmy Corrigan. Honestly, it changed my life, and I can't imagine anyone not being in awe of its mathematics, literally and figuratively. This book is like the Catcher in the Rye for graphic novels. It raised the bar and it will not be matched for a very long time. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Breathtaking and deep. Brilliant.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    I won't lie to you. I spent days not liking this book. Jimmy Corrigan is described by the author as "a lonely, emotionally-impaired human castaway." You got that right! He's also possibly the dullest man on Earth and Chris Ware does not skimp on the tedium. Panel after cartoon panel of people sitting in diners, doctors' offices, and hospital waiting rooms. This is WAY too much like MY life. Then we meet Jimmy's grandfather, a sad and lonely child, and his great-grandfather, who helped build the Whit I won't lie to you. I spent days not liking this book. Jimmy Corrigan is described by the author as "a lonely, emotionally-impaired human castaway." You got that right! He's also possibly the dullest man on Earth and Chris Ware does not skimp on the tedium. Panel after cartoon panel of people sitting in diners, doctors' offices, and hospital waiting rooms. This is WAY too much like MY life. Then we meet Jimmy's grandfather, a sad and lonely child, and his great-grandfather, who helped build the White City during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Suddenly, I was happy again. I loved their stories, though they were not always pleasant to read. What a family of unhappy men. The artwork in this book is spectacular. The colors are vibrant and contrast well with the sad doings occuring in the novel. The design and layout are creative. It even includes a zoetrope and tiny farm scene to cut out and play with. The little horse, and buggy, and coffin were really tempting, but I refrained as my copy belongs to the library. The ending was quite satisfying, and ended up bringing a book I started out not liking, very close to five stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kayfor4me

    Imagine life eclipsed by imagination. The bloodiest, the most beautiful, the most vulnerable imaginings, and the disintegration of wishes as we make them. This is how life unfolds in the mind of Jimmy Corrigan, the desolate main character in Chris Ware’s graphic novel. Jimmy speaks full sentences—only when he imagines. In his mind he has courage, kills people, commits suicide, has sex, and is “the smartest kid on earth.” In his actual life, Jimmy is a spineless, aging man, with no friends and no Imagine life eclipsed by imagination. The bloodiest, the most beautiful, the most vulnerable imaginings, and the disintegration of wishes as we make them. This is how life unfolds in the mind of Jimmy Corrigan, the desolate main character in Chris Ware’s graphic novel. Jimmy speaks full sentences—only when he imagines. In his mind he has courage, kills people, commits suicide, has sex, and is “the smartest kid on earth.” In his actual life, Jimmy is a spineless, aging man, with no friends and no romantic ties. It is only with some courage and equal trepidation that a reader might see his/herself in Jimmy. With a little of both, I found that I could. And I did. It’s the language of this piece that I identify with most. This book assembles history, memory, and make-believe in such a poignant way. It speaks a language that reflects how we build the narrative of our own lives. A single moment in the novel can span across several illustrated panels that call the reader to absorb information—to taste and savor the moment—and hold off on situating it within the chronology of the story, at least not immediately. Jimmy’s imagination works alongside the narrative to shock and dissemble it. You never know what to expect. His imagination is so easily pierced, so fragile, that it bleeds. The image I see of this character, both figuratively and physically, is one of a big walking wound. Even in the story, Jimmy walks around bandaged most of the time. As you may expect, this story is depressing. It’s not about plot or character development—these features of the narrative endure little change. Early on, we learn that Jimmy is abandoned by his father. A few pages in, we see Jimmy as an older, insecure, socially inept man. The story’s life carries on despairingly. Even after Jimmy gets a letter from his absent father inviting him to come visit, the father and son’s time together suffers from Jimmy’s volatile mind. Old memories, family history, and violent make-believe interrupt what could have been new development in the relationship between father and son. Time shifts between the past and present, with repeated returns to 1893 and the Chicago World’s Fair, the year Jimmy’s grandfather was also abandoned by his own father. We see here a pattern of father abandoning son. Jimmy remains lonely, unwanted, disturbed. He does not grow out of the mold. This instructs the reader not to wait for ‘what happens next’ but rather to give an eye to how moments flower. A single page may rest on capturing a memory, a sound, a place, even a bird, from different points-of-view. The sequence may be interrupted suddenly by a memory, by a violent wish. A new image may evoke a previous one, asking the reader to retrace his/her steps or to borrow and bring into play clips from an earlier scene. What’s special about the performance of this novel is that it uncannily reflects how we make into a story our own lives. It quietly captures how we edit our life time, moment by moment, on the fly, calling on memories, fears, visions, prophesies, to help us assimilate the conditions of our present world. This novel is visually and grammatically stunning. Yes, the story is deeply sad, but the language is arresting and beautiful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Sebesta

    I read Jimmy Corrigan sitting in a Denny's in Florida in 2000, watching the Bush/Gore election returns. I just finished rereading it again today. It's nowhere near as depressing as it was the first time, but then, how could it be? I remember putting the book down in 2000 when I got to the last page and realized the complexity of the joke that has been pulled on him, the author, and us. He will never be happy. It will never end, and never change. Superman is not going to save him. This time it was I read Jimmy Corrigan sitting in a Denny's in Florida in 2000, watching the Bush/Gore election returns. I just finished rereading it again today. It's nowhere near as depressing as it was the first time, but then, how could it be? I remember putting the book down in 2000 when I got to the last page and realized the complexity of the joke that has been pulled on him, the author, and us. He will never be happy. It will never end, and never change. Superman is not going to save him. This time it was nowhere near as bad. Instead of thinking "He'll never be happy," I thought "Yep, he's still never going to be happy." It was less terrible. Of course, things have changed. We survived Bush. My friend that I went to Florida to visit in 2000 continued his inevitable decline, and inevitably died of an overdose, and has inevitably remained dead since. Many of the things we worried about came to pass, and we survived. Jimmy Corrigan is a living character in a way that most characters never dream of. Somewhere, right now, sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard, Jimmy Corrigan is alive, and suffering terribly. The book is a blueprint of his failed, miserable life, the lives that came before, the damp and clinging hope that maybe there will be lives after. He is trapped. When you read the book you bring him to life, and that is the meanest thing you can do to him. But we are not trapped. This is a book about the 90s. Time has passed. The elder Mister Corrigan is certainly dead by now. Jimmy still hasn't found love. He still calls his mother every day. His journey to personal growth was to find that the journey was too far, that he can never do it. But we can go visit him. On the technical side, this book is a formal masterpiece and it's easy to see why it has dominated the visual conversation of the last decade -- this is the book that invents the language of cartooning that we use today. That said, I'm ready to move beyond it and try a new visual language with a bit more zip. But Jimmy Corrigan is a monolith, an era-defining book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I love me some graphic novels but I don't pretend that the vast majority of them rise to the level of serious literature. Most of the time I look for the large number of books out there that are "clever" (as in, better than 90% of TV) as a mindless respite between novels. And in the case of ones such as Louis Riel, Berlin, or Maus, I get a little bit of education without trudging through a 600 page history book. Jimmy Corrigan, though, is one of the five or six graphic novels I've read that have I love me some graphic novels but I don't pretend that the vast majority of them rise to the level of serious literature. Most of the time I look for the large number of books out there that are "clever" (as in, better than 90% of TV) as a mindless respite between novels. And in the case of ones such as Louis Riel, Berlin, or Maus, I get a little bit of education without trudging through a 600 page history book. Jimmy Corrigan, though, is one of the five or six graphic novels I've read that have simply blown me away. It really has to be read and not explained, because I think that the taglines thrown on this book make it seem like any run of the mill "post-modern angst" book. And while this subject matter gets mined to death, it works here. Beautifully. Oh, and Ware's art is a consistent revelation. It's always either relentlessly spare or bursting with detail, with very little in-between.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dave Russell

    This is my third foray into the world of graphic novels. This book compels me to continue into this genre. Chris Ware tells a heart-rending story of loneliness, but what truly captured my admiration was the artwork. He does a sort of stylistic 180 from the narrative. While the story is intimate and emotional his images sort of stand back. He employs repeated frames of seemingly insignificant details, such as a bird moving along a tree branch. He emphasizes the alienation of the characters by foc This is my third foray into the world of graphic novels. This book compels me to continue into this genre. Chris Ware tells a heart-rending story of loneliness, but what truly captured my admiration was the artwork. He does a sort of stylistic 180 from the narrative. While the story is intimate and emotional his images sort of stand back. He employs repeated frames of seemingly insignificant details, such as a bird moving along a tree branch. He emphasizes the alienation of the characters by focusing on the architecture, somewhat akin to the way John Ford uses long shots of mesas in Monument Vally in his westerns, or the way Ozu uses "pillow shots" in his movies. This makes the human drama stand out more when Ware does focus on the people. A small down-turned line on a face takes on greater significance as an emotional marker. The one drawback is in the layout of the frames. I found it confusing at times. I had to think for a second, "which frame am I supposed to focus on next?" It interrupted the flow.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Well, the technical quality of the art is certainly good, and it's formally inventive and all that, and it most definitely does an effective job at maintaining and conveying a consistent mood- if you were feeling charitable, you could even say that there's something kind of magnificent about it's overwhelming, unrelieved bleakness- but when I was finished I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the point of the whole thing had been. On quality I'd say it deserved three stars, if it wasn't Well, the technical quality of the art is certainly good, and it's formally inventive and all that, and it most definitely does an effective job at maintaining and conveying a consistent mood- if you were feeling charitable, you could even say that there's something kind of magnificent about it's overwhelming, unrelieved bleakness- but when I was finished I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the point of the whole thing had been. On quality I'd say it deserved three stars, if it wasn't for all the critics (and what a sour and joyless lot they must be) claiming it as the greatest comic book ever written. Bah!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    I have read this 3-4 times but never felt ready to review it in the manner it deserves.. and am still not quite ready. This is a great work, maybe the very work that catapulted Ware into the upper reaches of the comics hierarchy. Ware, one of the 4-5 most influential and greatest comics writers in the world, started this graphic novel with the intention to do a summer of strips in 1995 for an alternative mag here in Chicago, New City, where is was buried where comics are usually buried, in the w I have read this 3-4 times but never felt ready to review it in the manner it deserves.. and am still not quite ready. This is a great work, maybe the very work that catapulted Ware into the upper reaches of the comics hierarchy. Ware, one of the 4-5 most influential and greatest comics writers in the world, started this graphic novel with the intention to do a summer of strips in 1995 for an alternative mag here in Chicago, New City, where is was buried where comics are usually buried, in the want ads section. The work is framed by insightful and snarky and hilarious notes about comics and literature written as if they might in part be addressed to a decades ago audience, but they are appropriate for today. The afterward is also amazing, making it clear that this work is his attempt to move beyond the alt comics he had been doing to venture into semi-autobiographical fiction touching on issues regarding his absent father, who after decades, finally met with him. His account of the writing and meeting with his actually father is terrific and insightful and typically, for Ware, self-deprecating. But he doth protest too much, of course (his sort of mentee friend Seth does this, too, this apologizing for his work as crappy. We, the unwashed, are wanting because we fail to see the flaws…and maybe they are there, but there is so so much more). This is a pretty bleak multigenerational work that mostly deals with the effects of emotional loss and abuse for a series of men and their sons--great grandfather, grandfather, father, son… the mothers play supporting roles and a daughter figures in later. There's the always Mondrian-like exquisitely drawn lines of buildings and furniture, and the repetition of things like broken legs and sniffing and sad faces, year after generation, all bespeaking order. And grim accounts of terrible fathers who beget terrible fathers, etc, sexist men, racist men, from the late 1890's through 1990's. Hard to read in places, but fascinating in its Theodore Dreiserian way, its depiction of how lost and damaged so many people are. Sister Carrie's got nothing on this book for sheer sadness and depiction of the deep loneliness of life for so many people. But the effect is epic, and powerful, if sad. And there are surprising moments of redemption, and some deep emotion after so much silence and silencing and constraints. Emotion comes out of all the constraints, all the orderly neatly constructed repetition, I think, the limits, the neatly and careful drawn limits on lives he depicts so meticulously. Highly recommended, a classic, One of the greats as a kind of pair with Building Stories; that one deals with (also sad) women instead of men. Seth, Chester Brown, others, all sad sack storytellers, help us see the lives of people we don't read about in much fiction. The people who pass us on the street, usually unnoticed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon, 2003) I don't think it would be overreaching to say that, even if it is not, Charis Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth has been touted as the single book that ignited the renaissance of popularity (and social acceptability) in graphic novels in America; it was almost certainly the first to be widely discussed in entertainment magazines and on National Public Radio. It took me a while to get round to it, and I'm thankfu Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon, 2003) I don't think it would be overreaching to say that, even if it is not, Charis Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth has been touted as the single book that ignited the renaissance of popularity (and social acceptability) in graphic novels in America; it was almost certainly the first to be widely discussed in entertainment magazines and on National Public Radio. It took me a while to get round to it, and I'm thankful for that; I am sure that had I started reading graphic novels again with this, instead of in the places I did, I would not have continued on (and discovered books like Charles Burns' Black Hole and Jeff Smith's Bone, which actually deserve all the praise-- and more-- heaped upon Jimmy Corrigan). This is the first graphic novel that's ever taken me more than two weeks to read. Why? Because every time I put it down, I felt no desire to pick it up again; I forced my way through the last two hundred pages. Even now that I've embraced the fifty-page rule, I can't bring myself to abandon a graphic novel; it seems like cheating. That said, I've never even come close to abandoning one before. I was treading the line the entire time I read this one. There is a plot: the life of four Jimmy Corrigans, from great-grandfather on down. None of them is in any way sympathetic. And while the episodic, dragging nature of the novel was probably not helped by the fact that it did start its life as a comic strip, there have been many graphic novels that began as serial work that have done it much, much better. (The aforementioned Bone is one obvious example, but many others are out there.) I'm sorry, I guess I'm one of those who just didn't get it. *

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Pistelli

    In lieu of an essay, some notes (with spoilers): 1. I both intellectually acknowledge the brilliance of this book and viscerally dislike it. 2. I bought it and began reading it in late 2000; I set it aside after about 100 pages and only took it up again—a library copy; I have no idea where mine is—two days ago. Back in 2000, when I was all of 18, I remember being immensely moved by some of those first 100 pages; Jimmy’s fantasy of being murdered by Superman, in particular, overwhelmed me. But the In lieu of an essay, some notes (with spoilers): 1. I both intellectually acknowledge the brilliance of this book and viscerally dislike it. 2. I bought it and began reading it in late 2000; I set it aside after about 100 pages and only took it up again—a library copy; I have no idea where mine is—two days ago. Back in 2000, when I was all of 18, I remember being immensely moved by some of those first 100 pages; Jimmy’s fantasy of being murdered by Superman, in particular, overwhelmed me. But the quality of pastiche—the design and visual storytelling echo early twentieth century comics and commercial art, from Winsor McKay to art deco—put me off, as I myself had no investment in those earlier aesthetics. 3. (Nor did I share Ware’s generational relation to Superman. The Superman of my youth was a sensitive, vulnerable, and humane citizen, a man of impeccable liberal sentiment in a romance of equals with a professional, feminist woman—he was not a punitive patriarch. But this is hardly Chris Ware’s fault; we were simply born in different years and grew up reading different iterations of the Superman character.) 4. Jimmy Corrigan, I thought, was a highly intellectualized exercise in self-pity, its ironic sneer at the past masking its wounded longing. My gut reaction has not changed in 15 years; I hope I have a language for it now. 5. Jimmy is approaching middle age, but looks at once like a baby and like an old man. The book he is caught in is, in its intricate straight-line grids, both puzzle and cage. It is with Jimmy Corrigan as with the other big generational statements by the men of that moment—PTA’s Magnolia, DFW’s Infinite Jest: the elderchild blubbering in the labyrinth of the text. 6. What is Jimmy Corrigan about? It’s about 400 pages. Aside from that, let more impartial observers tell you, in this comprehensive summary that opens an essay by Juda Bennett and Cassandra Jackson that I will quote again later:Jimmy Corrigan traces the history of the titular character from a childhood characterized by an absent father and overbearing mother to his life as a middle-age white man whose isolation is represented by the cubicle in which he works. He is the novel's Everyman. Contacted by the father he has never met, Jimmy travels from Chicago to a small town in Michigan. In Waukosha he meets Amy, his father's adopted African-American daughter and – unbeknownst to them – a distant relation to Jimmy. Though the figure of the Everyman never completely understands himself in the context of a racialized America, the audience is aware of this complicated genealogy. The narrative is interrupted periodically by the story of Jimmy's great-grandfather and grandfather, which is set in 1893, and this narration focuses on the great-grandfather's abusive relationship with his young son, whom he beats and eventually abandons at the top of one of the largest buildings in "The White City" at the Chicago World's Fair. This narrative section also reveals that Amy is not only the adopted daughter of Jimmy's father but a blood relation descended from Jimmy's great-grandfather's relationship with his African-American maid. Reduced to its barest bones, the narrative is built upon Jimmy searching for himself through the lost father and finding a much more (racially) complicated family. At the same time, the reader learns of a more complicated backstory to that diverse family (blood, and not just adoption, link Amy to her half brother). Given that the protagonist never discovers this history that the reader is privy to, the novel refuses a simple conclusion in which the protagonist finds or even fully knows himself.7. I cannot now find it, but I recall that a critic at the time compared Jimmy Corrigan, with its complicated racial genealogy and its aesthetic formalism, to Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!. Absalom, Absalom!, yes, but as adapted by Wes Anderson. Or E. L. Doctorow. Most of my criticism of Jimmy Corrigan would, with allowances for the specificities of graphic storytelling vis-à-vis prose narrative, echo my criticism of Ragtime. Both Doctorow and Ware formally appropriate a past style or ideology, in implied quotation marks; Ware’s use of 1890s advertising and comics iconography is the graphic equivalent of Doctorow’s “There were no Negroes. There were no immigrants.” It is a premature and adolescent disavowal of the past rather than an honest struggle with it. “That’s not me!” you say by way of mocking imitation, like an insult comic. You want to say, “The past is dead. It is even past.” Braver to go forth as the heir to your tradition that you in fact are. Your father’s sins will be visited upon you, yes, but petulant denial in the guise of formal mastery cannot in any case prevent that. Faulkner was not performing a pastiche of Shakespeare or Melville; he was writing as best he could in their tradition about his time and place. 8. Upon their father's death, Amy violently rejects Jimmy; she literally pushes him over when he reaches out to her. This is less a Faulknerian gesture than this graphic novel’s Forsterian “not yet,” as at the conclusion of A Passage to India. Not yet, but when? I recently saw the statement, not made by a cishet white man, that “cishet white men are not necessary.” Well and good, but have cishet white men sent any other message than that very one in their major fictions of the past century? Since Forster ended his final novel with “not yet?” Since Faulkner raveled out Sutpen’s genealogy? Since Joyce, with whatever irony, founded the New Bloomusalem? 9. (Ware, I observe, is a Joycean, as am I. Though we are different kinds of Joycean. I think I am a Proteus or a Hades to his Wandering Rocks or Oxen of the Sun. Sorry to be cryptic, but other Joyceans will catch my drift.) 10. Nobody means a self-canceling statement, though. Nobody who denies their will-to-power should be believed, as their denial is a mere ruse of their will. (I am a Nietzschean as well as a Joycean, you see.) Bennett and Jackson, praising Ware’s formalism from the perspective of critical race theory:…Ware sets up a reading practice that challenges the ability to read and interpret race through simple chronologies. As the reader attempts to follow both Jimmy and his sister Amy's stories, no simple narratives of racial origins emerge. Instead, the reader is left to actively piece together the narrative, making errors and corrections along the way. Ware reminds us of this reading practice at every step in the novel. For example, the novel withholds page numbers, deemphasizing a traditional narrative sequence and encouraging a reading practice that may move freely backwards and forwards and across the page in numerous directions. As if to complicate this practice even more, Ware's hardback and paperback editions of the novel participate in this notion of errors and corrections in that the latter adds visual material not included in the former edition.I understand, intellectually, the focus on error, but all the same: Ware tells, the readers learn, the characters never find out. They err, we err—but does Ware ever err? Are not even his corrections obsessive evasions of errancy? (Apologies, like claims to injury, can be assertions of authority.) Who’s in charge here again? To say “error” is to imply that the right way is known. Who is it that knows if Ware flattens time into space to draw us a map? 11. Ware errs, of course. Jimmy Corrigan, by the way, has a little idyll in which Jimmy’s grandfather leaves his loveless household to sojourn with an Italian immigrant family in a house full of warm cooking smells presided over by a gentle, loving, old-world craftsman father. This is silly and mawkish, if I may say as a child of the class and the ethnos specified. 12. Ware’s depiction of black characters does not sink quite so far, though the 1890s maid character is awfully close to an uninterrogated stereotype, i.e., mammy, as I read it. Amy is more complex, which perhaps shows what a crutch—a metaphor the book invites—it can be for the artist to dwell in an aestheticized and flattened-out past rather than dealing with the irreducibly complicated present. Still, Bennett and Jackson observe that, even with Amy, “Ware falls into myths of blackness as a present and secure signifier and whiteness, in contrast, as unstable”—or, to put it with a bit less jargon, he gives us something like the “strong black woman” of well-meaning cliche. 13. But there are the errors the author commits unwittingly—the repetition of cliche is their hallmark, as with Ware’s down-to-earth Italians and his strong black woman—and the errors the author allows himself out of self-trust—of which awkward or embarrassing but undeniable revelations are the sign. Is Jimmy Corrigan not a book suffocatingly without error of the latter kind? Compare Watchmen, which I will be thought a philistine for preferring, though I do prefer it. Watchmen is a similar exercise of the obsessive will to form, a similar conversion of time to space, a similar critique of the Superman archetype. Even a book similarly about race in America, though more subtly, and at the margin. Let us accept for a moment the perhaps dubious psychoanalytic postulate that when men such as Moore and Ware pursue the kind of rigid formal closure that Watchmen and Jimmy Corrigan achieve, a fear of the feminine, construed in the masculine imagination as flesh and disorder, is operating. Jimmy Corrigan is fairly overt about the fear of the feminine, in that sad-sack post-Crumb alternacomics fashion that I have always disliked. Watchmen, by contrast, touchingly seems to understand itself as a feminist statement. And yet Watchmen puts its fears viscerally and and violently and vitally onto the page; it stains its phallocratic grid, so twists its crystalline narrative that Zack Snyder, otherwise immobilized by literalism, had to straighten the thing out for Hollywood. There it is, for all to see, chapter twelve, page six: the vagina dentata that ate New York City. A sublime vision (the sublime, as an aesthetic mode, always expresses the fear that mother [nature] doesn’t love us combined with the confidence that we have something she lacks with which we can best her). Ware, wanting to annul himself, trusts himself too little to give us such a vision. But he doesn’t annul himself in consequence, after all. Here he is, acclaimed a master; here I am, writing about him, wishing I liked his book more. 14. The artist cannot simultaneously annul himself and make and publicize the artwork. No matter how unnecessary you or others find you for whatever local and contingent sociohistorical reason, your compulsion to create and share the creation is a fundamental human drive. So you might as well own up to it. 15. But can any narrative this intelligent, this emotional, really be disparaged or dismissed, even if the intelligence and the emotion seem to be in the wrong proportion, the wrong relation? Maybe that is Ware’s error, of the text if not in it. Maybe I will be writing about again in 15 years. Maybe they will be writing about in 100 years. Neither would surprise me at all.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom LA

    The art gets six stars, but the content deserves less than zero stars. Hence, a generous 3. Chris Ware is the Johann Sebastian Bach of drawing graphic novels pages, but when it comes to the stories he chooses to tell - the HORROR, the HORROR! Someone else should have written the script for him, and let the author do only the drawings. This semi-autobiographical story about a character who is the caricature of insecurity is not endearing, not warm-hearted, not empathetic, not interesting, not ins The art gets six stars, but the content deserves less than zero stars. Hence, a generous 3. Chris Ware is the Johann Sebastian Bach of drawing graphic novels pages, but when it comes to the stories he chooses to tell - the HORROR, the HORROR! Someone else should have written the script for him, and let the author do only the drawings. This semi-autobiographical story about a character who is the caricature of insecurity is not endearing, not warm-hearted, not empathetic, not interesting, not inspirational, and not even "sad" or "depressing", like many reviewers say it is, because that would imply that this work is able to elicit some kind of emotion or empathy. Instead, it's only atrociously frustrating and boring. The reader is made into a psychiatrist who has to listen to this guy (not the character, mind you, the author!) whine about the total lack of joy in his life. God help us! Flipping through the magnificent panels, amazed by the breath-taking minimalist beauty of each page, you are in awe at the visual marvels while at the same time you literally cannot wait for this guy to shut up. Just. Stop. Whining. Despite the sophistication of the surface, I also found this work very superficial. There is great depth only in how the appearance of things is analyzed. I very much preferred the content of the more recent "Building Stories" by the same author, where the main character, despite being another sad sack, is presented in much more depth. In this interview, we get a glimpse of the author's convoluted and woodyallenish personality: "I grew up as an only child, emotionally impaired; I hated myself, everybody hated me, etc. etc. I had never met my real father and it kind of lodged in my brain like this weakness, this emotional weakness; I thought, “Someday I’ll meet him,” you know. We Americans are really weak people. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but we like to whine about ourselves and feel like we’re put upon, even though we are destroying half the world just so that we can be comfortable. But anyway, I’ve grown up in America, so I guess I got that mental trauma. I did this story as sort of an experiment: “What would it be like if I had my real father?” And of course in the middle of working on the story, he actually called me up. So one day I was suddenly talking to my real father and I got to meet him once, briefly, before he died right before I finished the book. So that was the initial emphasis for the story. And in working on it I thought about how families and lives interact in ways that we are both aware of and unaware of, so… but as far as a theme to the book, I didn’t really have any specific idea or anything that I was trying to communicate — I was just trying to get at this sort of possible richness of life as I’ve experienced it on the page." 1. His statement about Americans being really weak and whiny people might be (I don’t know) a projection of himself. 2. Unsurprisingly, for this book he had NO plan in mind or subtext. He just said / wrote what he felt about himself as he went along. Just like when you sit in front of your psychiatrist. Not good. Not good at all. Here is another interview: https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

  14. 4 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    This is essentially a graphic novel version of Confederacy of Dunces. The main character is a bland two-dimensional simpleton who has a depressing life. There is nothing entertaining about this story, nor informative. It is pointless. I cannot empathise with the character at all. So essentially, if you thought Dunces was a masterpiece, you'll love this. For everyone else, steer well clear. This is essentially a graphic novel version of Confederacy of Dunces. The main character is a bland two-dimensional simpleton who has a depressing life. There is nothing entertaining about this story, nor informative. It is pointless. I cannot empathise with the character at all. So essentially, if you thought Dunces was a masterpiece, you'll love this. For everyone else, steer well clear.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gregsamsa

    THIS BOOK IS MAGIC.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joey Shapiro

    If this were made into a 7 hour movie I would fully watch it. A lot of reviews have called it the greatest graphic novel ever and compared it to real life Great Literature™️ like Ulysses and Dostoevsky books and I really truly get it. It’s so dense and layered and so so innovative in the way it presents a four-generation-spanning story about fathers and sons and trying to break cycles of abuse. It’s maybe one of the most consistently bleak books I’ve ever read, and it broke my heart many many ti If this were made into a 7 hour movie I would fully watch it. A lot of reviews have called it the greatest graphic novel ever and compared it to real life Great Literature™️ like Ulysses and Dostoevsky books and I really truly get it. It’s so dense and layered and so so innovative in the way it presents a four-generation-spanning story about fathers and sons and trying to break cycles of abuse. It’s maybe one of the most consistently bleak books I’ve ever read, and it broke my heart many many times and made me wish Chris Ware had injected it with at least a little more levity/joy, but I appreciate that it ends on a(n arguably) hopeful note. Not something I could see everyone enjoying because it can be monotonous in just how depressing everything is, but it’s a capital-G great book that gave me a lot to think about and I’m really grateful I read it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    There is a point in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, about a third of the way through, when the author provides a summary of the story so far. Until then, I was disoriented, a bit unclear what was real and what was dream/fantasy. Sometimes, that kind of ambiguity can feel like a puzzle - I'm drawn in by the desire to figure it all out. But not so here, I was bored and frustrated. I didn't trust the author enough yet to feel confident there was a puzzle to solve. Maybe it would just mud There is a point in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, about a third of the way through, when the author provides a summary of the story so far. Until then, I was disoriented, a bit unclear what was real and what was dream/fantasy. Sometimes, that kind of ambiguity can feel like a puzzle - I'm drawn in by the desire to figure it all out. But not so here, I was bored and frustrated. I didn't trust the author enough yet to feel confident there was a puzzle to solve. Maybe it would just muddle on without resolution. The summary helped keep me going in two ways: (1) I now felt clear that this was a realist book with interspersed dream/fantasy rather than a surrealist or poetic work, and (2) I had confidence that the author wasn't going to leave me with an inscrutable narrative. I began to have faith that the mysterious puzzles contained in the text were actually worth puzzling over. And yet, it took me another good chunk of story before I cared one whit about any of the characters. Jimmy was just such a sad sack of a man, allowing the whole world to trample him, and seemingly incapable of exercising any basic human agency at all. And yet the narrative was fixated on him: every other character got lost in his all-encompassing self-pity. It wasn't just the woman in the cubicle next to him that Jimmy failed to notice, it was the whole world of people surrounding him. He saw them only in relation to himself, and thus they remained distant and one-dimensional. I couldn't make myself care about them either. Every woman was "girlfriendzoned" even his (biologically distant cousin) sister when they finally met. At the very least, we see his sister's face, which is more than we see for any other (non-corpse) female character in the book. This is intentional, no doubt. You can see it as a reflection of Jimmy's incredibly low self-esteem and shame at looking women in the face. You can also see it as a reflection of Jimmy's inability to see woman as anything other than one-dimensional sexual objects. These two points of view can also be held simultaneously. If I had not been reading this book for book club, I would have put it down within the first 200 pages. About halfway through the book, though, I started to find some emotional resonance, some depth to pull me into the story. Jimmy's grandfather's story of social isolation and bullying as child got me. Here, the grandfather character bullies another child, an Italian boy who eventually becomes popular. The grandfather chooses to be a bully in the hopes of fitting in but instead becomes a pariah, while the other boy ends up fitting in by taking up a hobby and inviting others to join him. By the time the child-grandfather character realizes his mistake, it's too late. He is an outcast. The child-grandfather character makes clear choices, makes mistakes, and engages in complex ways with the other people in his life. That is interesting. I don't particularly like the child-grandfather character, but I care about him, and that makes the final scene at the Chicago World's Fair powerful. It is so powerful, in fact, that I was now more interested in the story of his son, his grandson, and his adoptive grand-daughter when we returned to them. More interested and yet still less invested. When Jimmy finally is approached by the new woman sitting in the cubicle next to him, all I can hope is that she does not get involved with this emotional sink-hole of a man. So then there is the visual component to the story... Generally speaking, I liked Chris Ware's style. I particularly liked the way the "unreliable narrator" is visually represented - most memorably, when the grandfather remembers himself wearing a nightgown to the World's Fair, then corrects his own memory. Jimmy's pants change in length and style between pages and frames. Hospital wall decor changes scene to scene. I loved the moments when people anticipated meeting someone they'd never met before and speculated on the many possible faces they might encounter. The visual representation was both crisp and concise. That being said, I wish that fantasies and dreams were more clearly distinguished from reality. Generally speaking, the only way to distinguish a dream was that the story ventured into the surreal or violent. When Jimmy's imagination was less fantastical, the only way to recognize an imagined event was that the narrative later contradicted a previous scene. I'm guessing this visual ambiguity was intentional, but it just didn't work for me. In the end, I'm glad I got through the book, which I'm certain I would not have were I picking it up on my own. Since the story improved over time, I bet I'd more impressed by Ware's more recent work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maksym Karpovets

    Chris Ware is one of the most unusual writers in the comic industry so far, who experiments with forms and panels in order to convey his personal emotions and feelings (well, at least it seems on the first glance). His works do follow a comic standard, ignoring or deconstructing its patterns, thus some researchers called this genre of strategy as a “meta-comic”. However, it is significant that Ware is always open and honest with the reader, using the huge potential of subjective narration for ex Chris Ware is one of the most unusual writers in the comic industry so far, who experiments with forms and panels in order to convey his personal emotions and feelings (well, at least it seems on the first glance). His works do follow a comic standard, ignoring or deconstructing its patterns, thus some researchers called this genre of strategy as a “meta-comic”. However, it is significant that Ware is always open and honest with the reader, using the huge potential of subjective narration for exploring his emotions, experience, and specific philosophical ideas. In this regard, the subjective narrative of Ware requires breaking the classical structures of panels, expanding the limits of this genre. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth is a great example of subjective narrative where Ware tells the dramatic and sad story of a boy, who is searching for his father in this lonely world. Ware tries to convey a sense of loneliness and isolation due to the minimal design of buildings and interiors, creating a contrast between Jimmy’s world and the surrounding reality. In this context, Jimmy differs from superheroes since he cannot change the world in which he lives. He has no super power and skills, thereby has to rely only on himself in searching of his father. Ware needs to change the design of reality in order to transfer Jimmy’s existential isolation. For example, the author shows that is always difficult to be in one’s interior for Jimmy, designing the surrounding space as an isolate cage. It seems that all the surrounding objects are hostile to Jimmy, disturbing and throwing him in frustration. The innovation of Ware’s subjective narration is that he designs the panels with different objects accordingly to the main theme, changing their usual functions and meanings. Ware often isolates these objects in the small frames, without combining into a single narrative, but “throwing” them into the same discourse of Jimmy’s alienated identity. The biggest paradox is that Ware uses the rational and thought-mesh panels, depicting the theme of despair and disorientation within them. In this regard, the subjective narrative may include the panels without verbalisation as it often happens during the story. Hence, cold rooms, big houses, food, clothing, and cities are the elements of subjective narrative, where the main task is to express Jimmy in both space and time. Following this, things and objects reveal the vulnerable world of Jimmy as a “footsteps” of his tragedy as an individual, encouraging the reader to reconstruct their meaning independently. For example, Ware often uses different types of sections, ignoring the linear structure of storytelling, when parallel panels can develop the same story from opposite focuses, uniting both present and past, real and imaginative settings (p. 61). This principle breaks the classical type of storytelling, but also activates McCloud's of closure, giving more freedom for imagination. Following this, Ware does not limit the reader in the process of interpretation, when everyone can add mentally frames inside the panel. At the same time, Ware isolates Jimmy from the world by the specific design of panels and interior, showing that the things have lost its logical connectivity, thus cannot express a certain order. This idea refers to Jimmy, who also cannot bind and identify himself with the world, and it processes "as an ongoing process filled with errors and corrections” (Bennett and Jackson). In this regard, the reader should design and shape Jimmy’s story on his/her own as well as the character’s identity, involving both verbal and visual patterns. I also would like to add that Ware perfectly uses the visual potential of text, creating additional comments about the main replicas in the form of a meta-textual game. This strategy allows not only to extend a comic, but also to transfer the subjective narrative though both verbal and non-verbal components. The most popular method is a game with text on different spatial surfaces (p. 188), when Ware breaks the classical textual replicas according to his visual pattern. For example, the author often places his text on the walls and ceiling, commenting the specific elements of narrative. On the one hand, it refers to the narrator's voice, which helps to deal with Jimmy’s broken identity. It means that Ware’s meta-text does not only tell a story, but also visualizes it, creating different associations and emotions. The text mainly plays an aesthetic function, expressing joy or depression. Thus, Ware creates a collection of fonts, which design the subjective narrative, strengthening and directing it from point to point. Following this, Ware’s use of meta-textual game also allows him to reflect the subjective narrative in the context of signs and symbols. Accordingly, the narrative scripts are placed on the street panels, boards, screens, and traffic signs. In this regard, Ware through reveals different levels of Jimmy’s life though the meta-textual discourse, creating a series of comments and images. Cook refers to McHale’s idea of double content, being "both about the story and being about the process storytelling" (p. 258), mixing both the real world and the subjective narrative. Consequently, the reader should not only combine such statements, but also select the most appropriate type of narrative for understanding Jimmy's life. This practice may be the complicate one for the reader, because these signs may have different interpretations. However, Ware always enters them in a certain context that shapes one's interpretation. For instance, the most notable meta-textual game an extensive scheme of family history includes a large ball in the center and a complex series of different buildings, ships, European immigrants, and African slaves (p. 119). All these images are interconnected by a series of arrows and lines, directing the reader into one direction. It means the process of reading reflects the main principle of a meta-textual game, where one should decode a story, involving both personal experience and cultural background. To summing up, Ware tells the dramatic and emotive story of Jimmy Corrigan, visualizing his personal experience of searching his father due to the subjective narrative. Hence, the comic deals with the principles of fiction since explores a linear story. However, Ware also uses the uncommon and even experimental techniques in order to transfer Jimmy’s feeling of loneliness in the big world. He practices a minimalist design in different variations, where the main goal is to show the idea of disorder and alienation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is probably the most peculiar graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a sad-sack workaholic who, at 36, has no friends apart from his mother, who constantly telephones him. One day he gets a letter from the father he’s never met, asking him to come meet him. And so Jimmy gets on a plane from Chicago out to suburban Michigan. Corrigan is one of those unfortunate-looking fellows who has a potato for a head and a wispy comb-over, and could be anywhere between 30 and 60; This is probably the most peculiar graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a sad-sack workaholic who, at 36, has no friends apart from his mother, who constantly telephones him. One day he gets a letter from the father he’s never met, asking him to come meet him. And so Jimmy gets on a plane from Chicago out to suburban Michigan. Corrigan is one of those unfortunate-looking fellows who has a potato for a head and a wispy comb-over, and could be anywhere between 30 and 60; he looked little different as a child in the flashback scenes – somewhat like Charlie Brown, also in his depression, diffidence and inability to speak to women. I much preferred the historical interludes looking at his grandfather (another Jimmy) and his years growing up in Chicago with the World’s Fair under construction. I also liked the more random additions such as patterns for cutting and folding your own model village or business cards with ‘scenic views’ of today’s Waukosha, MI on them. Parental (verbal) abuse and neglect is a recurring theme, as are bullying from peers, car accidents, and Superman. There’s also an uncomfortable amount of imagined violence – either homicide or suicide. (Included in my blog post “Graphic Novels for Newbies.”)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I know this is the graphic novel to end all graphic novels but I have to say I wasn't terribly blown away. It was well laid out and pretty to look at but was almost cliched in its portrayal of a loner. Meh. I know this is the graphic novel to end all graphic novels but I have to say I wasn't terribly blown away. It was well laid out and pretty to look at but was almost cliched in its portrayal of a loner. Meh.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Madrileña Reader

    A pretentious graphic novel for hipsters to feel intellectual. Not impressed. Boring, depressing and nonsensical. Go read Ulysses.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vi

    This graphic novel is truly poignant. Flipping through the book, you find little superficial evidence to corroborate my statement. Which is precisely why you ought to plunge in and get past your initial impression. If you are looking for artwork à la Sandman or Kabuki, you may wrongfully judge the more simple style of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Push forward and don't miss exploring his mind and emotions. As other readers have mentioned, the pace can be a bit sluggish and due to t This graphic novel is truly poignant. Flipping through the book, you find little superficial evidence to corroborate my statement. Which is precisely why you ought to plunge in and get past your initial impression. If you are looking for artwork à la Sandman or Kabuki, you may wrongfully judge the more simple style of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Push forward and don't miss exploring his mind and emotions. As other readers have mentioned, the pace can be a bit sluggish and due to the subject being so dismal, oftentimes it is difficult to build momentum--which resulted in my taking over 3 months to complete reading it. I just finished it a few minutes ago and experienced a bit of my own catharsis. While my life does not mirror Jimmy's, there are certainly some parallels, namely the feelings of confusion and loneliness that he has experienced his whole life. Having dealt with my own demons, examining Jimmy's made me face some of mine in a bolder manner. The Corrigan men have been somewhat of an unfortunate lot, with hurtful and traumatic experiences from previous generations snowballing into equally harrowing childhoods and lives for the descendants. While it is much easier to write and even understand how an uncontrollable past can harm from afar, the truth--once one can grasp it--is that upon comprehending this, one can feel empathy and perhaps forgiveness and move on. I still look on from a distance. While painful to read, either due to the dullness in certain parts (which so accurately reflects real life because not everything can be an adventure every second of everyday) or the wretchedness of events, once completed, the reader is left with a peek into a man who is simultaneously so delicate yet incredibly strong. So insanely human. Jimmy's story is worthy of being read, if not for anything other than for you to see how similar you are to him. Or to me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    A friend, a physicist actually, recommended this to me after I rolled my eyes at superhero comic books. It's really great, heavy stuff. In just episode 1, Jimmy gets to meet his hero at a convention, who macks on his mom, stays the night, ignores Jimmy, and then leaves Jimmy to pass on his regrets/greetings to the mom. The big plot, though, is twofold. One, how Jimmy gets re-discovered by his father, who had earlier walked. It turns out the father had re-married, and the story of that family is A friend, a physicist actually, recommended this to me after I rolled my eyes at superhero comic books. It's really great, heavy stuff. In just episode 1, Jimmy gets to meet his hero at a convention, who macks on his mom, stays the night, ignores Jimmy, and then leaves Jimmy to pass on his regrets/greetings to the mom. The big plot, though, is twofold. One, how Jimmy gets re-discovered by his father, who had earlier walked. It turns out the father had re-married, and the story of that family is one backbone. The other concerns other members of the patriclan who walked, and mainly flashes back to 1893 Chicago, where Jimmy's great (I think) grandfather worked on the Columbian expo. Lots of textured domestic and playground scenes, as Jimmy's dad moves down in the world, arbitrary dismisses household servants (a black maid, May), for showing kindness to Jimmy against his will, and toadies to neighborhood elites, putting on a good face while he, and things in general, are rough at home. The racial entitlement of the white working class (vis-a-vis black and Italian kids), in contrast with the toadying, is intermittently threaded into the playground, and especially domestic life (it is the Italian and black characters who give any twinge of hominess to the child's life). The general trajectory is rough begets rough, until you get to Jimmy who is, merely, shell-shocked. The drawings are really interesting, moving back and forth between periods, using dialect visually as well as in the dialogue. It read well as a book, in the version I read. I look forward to seeing more of Chris Ware's work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erika Schoeps

    Goddamit. This book was an overwhelming masterpiece. I cried 4 times during this book, a new record for me. Despite the overly emotional reaction, this book isn't just a tear jerker, but a work of art. Dense and beautiful, this book makes you work for the heart breaking ending. An examination of trauma through history, the background story hurts just as much as the main story arc, if not more. On top of juggling multiple story lines, Chris Ware also handles lots of complex symbols and motifs tha Goddamit. This book was an overwhelming masterpiece. I cried 4 times during this book, a new record for me. Despite the overly emotional reaction, this book isn't just a tear jerker, but a work of art. Dense and beautiful, this book makes you work for the heart breaking ending. An examination of trauma through history, the background story hurts just as much as the main story arc, if not more. On top of juggling multiple story lines, Chris Ware also handles lots of complex symbols and motifs that gently move through both story lines, keeping things connected and cohesive. Chris Ware takes on A LOT, and makes it seem effortless. Yes, you need to stop, absorb, and constantly make sure you're grasping the story line and the various symbols, but the thinking is part of the process, and was absolutely worth it. This book is a pictoral expression of pain, discomfort, and trauma with a narrative attached. Although the narrative is important, well-constructed, and obviously central, the author's use of symbol and image to convey pain is what kept me so heavily invested. Quite honestly, I'm seriously considering re-reading this entire book as soon as I finish typing this review. There is so much I've yet to explore, and the sheer volume of what Ware has created is daunting an exciting. I'll probably add on this review with future re-reads. Go read this book, and DON'T SKIP THE "APOLOGY" ON THE ENDPAPER OF THE BACK. Just reading the apology made me cry a final time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (aka WW)

    (5++ stars) This book lives up to its billing as the best graphic novel ever to be published. I can’t believe I haven’t come across it until now (it was published in 2003), but the wait allowed time for the book to be published in paperback, which I much prefer to hardback. It’s a brick of a work (380 pages) with an incredible amount of drawings on each page. The style of drawing is relatively simplistic, but what Chris Ware manages to communicate through his simple art is incredible. I found mys (5++ stars) This book lives up to its billing as the best graphic novel ever to be published. I can’t believe I haven’t come across it until now (it was published in 2003), but the wait allowed time for the book to be published in paperback, which I much prefer to hardback. It’s a brick of a work (380 pages) with an incredible amount of drawings on each page. The style of drawing is relatively simplistic, but what Chris Ware manages to communicate through his simple art is incredible. I found myself in awe of what he managed to “say” through a series of pictures that only differ slightly from one another. A gusty night…snow slowly piling up on a telegraph line…brilliant. The story of Jimmy Corrigan is a sad one. I don’t think I saw Jimmy smile once. But he has had little to smile about in his life, having lived with an abusive, and then absent, father. As an adult, Jimmy receives a letter from his father, requesting a meeting and this is the point where the book takes off. Most of the book is flash-backs to his lonely childhood and the treatment he received from his father and other children. Any fan of graphic novels, or anyone who has ever thought of trying a graphic novel, could not go wrong with this one. Don’t expect it to be an easy read, though. Each page is different from the one before and the reader has to navigate each page in unique fashion. Brilliant…or did I already say that?

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Abrams

    I've read my fair share of graphic novels (though less than I should), and Chris Ware is still the one who touches me deepest. I haven't read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," which has piled up the accolades, but for my money nothing can beat Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth" for sheer beautiful misery. Published in 2000, one year before our national tragedy, it chronicled the awkward, lonely life of the titular loser who must deal with father issues in the bleak midwinter of his li I've read my fair share of graphic novels (though less than I should), and Chris Ware is still the one who touches me deepest. I haven't read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," which has piled up the accolades, but for my money nothing can beat Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth" for sheer beautiful misery. Published in 2000, one year before our national tragedy, it chronicled the awkward, lonely life of the titular loser who must deal with father issues in the bleak midwinter of his life. Imagine Richard Yates' characters trapped in the panels of a comic strip and you'll have some inkling about the depth of wallow in "Jimmy Corrigan."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I can't with this book anymore. I picked it up cause it was on Amazon's 100 Books to Read in Your Lifetime. I hated it so hard. It's depressing and confusing and even more depressing. I couldn't find any redeeming qualities for this book. It also confused me like crazy, I liked the "The Story So Far" part because then I actually had a clue as to what was going on. It jumped around so much between present, Jimmy's "daydreams", the past and who knows what else that I couldn't keep track. No thanks I can't with this book anymore. I picked it up cause it was on Amazon's 100 Books to Read in Your Lifetime. I hated it so hard. It's depressing and confusing and even more depressing. I couldn't find any redeeming qualities for this book. It also confused me like crazy, I liked the "The Story So Far" part because then I actually had a clue as to what was going on. It jumped around so much between present, Jimmy's "daydreams", the past and who knows what else that I couldn't keep track. No thanks. Finally gave up on it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Great art/technique, but this is wrist-slitting reading at best.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation." This is a devastatingly heart-breaking read. A book about generations of men in a family who have been abandoned, psychologically abused, neglected, overlooked, forgotten, all with parents who should never have bred. The result is Jimmy, emotionally s Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation." This is a devastatingly heart-breaking read. A book about generations of men in a family who have been abandoned, psychologically abused, neglected, overlooked, forgotten, all with parents who should never have bred. The result is Jimmy, emotionally stunted, a fabulist who dreams of escape, suicide or homicide and who is a nowhere man living a nowhere life. Jimmy, at 36 is going to meet his father for the first time. This awkward meeting soon morphs into a tragedy but in the meantime, he gets to meet his grandfather and half-sister whose lives are almost as stagnant and lonely as Jimmy's. All the while, Jimmy is being tormented by daily calls from his possessive and weird mother. There is no one, except the sister Amy, who we can like. Chris Ware says that this story is semi-autobiographical and I feel so sad that that is true. He paints a family history of broken, neglected men leading hauntingly hollow and lonely lives. Woah, not for the faint-hearted. Reading and seeing what happened to these men as children is like having someone stick a knife in your heart and twist it. Jimmy, his father William, and his grandfather James all look the same as little boys and as they grow up into men. And their history of abandonment and abuse is similar, the cycle repeating itself. What happens to those little boys who are unloved and un-nurtured, well, we see it all around us, don't we? Some grow up bitter and nasty, some grow up lonely and pathetic. The artwork is fabulous. The text, at least in my copy of the book, was so tiny that I had to get a magnifying glass to read it, but it is brilliantly, realistically poignant. I have read Schopenhauer, Ligotti, Michelstaedter, Zaffe, Benatar, Perry, Gray, as many of the pessimist philosophers as I can. No one has illustrated more brilliantly than Chris Ware why life is just not alright, and no one has so clearly made the argument (although I don't think Ware was mounting this argument) for why people should stop breeding.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Oliver

    Wow, definitely 5 stars, no discount for being a ’mere’ graphic novel. I guess I always thought literary fiction is somehow superior to cartoons. Well, there are exceptions to the rule and I’ve just read one. It’s a a beautifully told and drawn story of Jimmy Corrigan, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The story flows in two narratives - ca 1990 and ca 1890, sometimes also moving into Jimmy’s dreams and streams-of-thought. Excellent, mesmerising artwork and a bitter, weirdly relatabl Wow, definitely 5 stars, no discount for being a ’mere’ graphic novel. I guess I always thought literary fiction is somehow superior to cartoons. Well, there are exceptions to the rule and I’ve just read one. It’s a a beautifully told and drawn story of Jimmy Corrigan, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The story flows in two narratives - ca 1990 and ca 1890, sometimes also moving into Jimmy’s dreams and streams-of-thought. Excellent, mesmerising artwork and a bitter, weirdly relatable story. I’m pretty sure this story could not have been told as well in a different medium. So I’ve badly missed graphic novels as an art form and need to check out more (I do enjoy cartoons, but this feels literary) :) Also need to reread Jimmy Corrigan, as I have a feeling this book will improve further on a re-read.

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