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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

We haven't been able to discuss books at all so far on 95total. This is a shame; we like to read, and we read a lot--for school, for pleasure, and of course for this site. So when I got the urge to talk about Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, I was happy to add another piece to the cultural puzzle that we are trying to present.

Jimmy Corrigan is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Chris Ware. Although the graphic medium usually conjures thoughts of Anglo-Saxon men in tights with chiseled facial features, this is altogether an assumption that is wrong, especially today. Think of Jimmy Corrigan as any other novel you might read, with the accompaniment of some fantastic artwork.

Published in 2000, Jimmy Corrigan is an expansion on a serialized comic that Ware had printed in several of his other works including the Acme Novelty Library. The story's main character, obviously, is Jimmy Corrigan, a socially inept man in his thirties who faces issues of alienation, loneliness, and incompetence. It follows his story of meeting his father for the first time and what Jimmy learns along the way.

This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite book. Chris Ware's artistry is brilliant in many ways and shows what the medium can do for interpretation. Themes of society, consumerism, family, and the shames of life all permeate in this depressing yet redeeming tale of a lonely old man with no friends. The book is flooded with subtleties that makes the work a multiple read. Each time you look at the pages you will find nuances that you hadn't noticed before that add to the overall quality of this engaging work.

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is an exemplary piece of post-modern fiction that gives credence to the comic medium. Check it out.

(Note: Jimmy Corrigan as a child is sometimes credited as the influence for Stewie from Family Guy)

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