I picked it up years later because my roommate had a copy along with a few issues of Acme Novelty Library , and while I was able to get into Acme, I struggled to make it through the first pages of Jimmy Corrigan. When I received a copy for my birthday last year, I began reading it one more time, and stopped at the same place: the moment Jimmy Corrigan receives a letter from his father, the catalyst for the story. I was Jimmy Corrigan on the ledge of a building, thinking about the dead Superman corpse on the sidewalk rather than believing I could fly. Reading Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth in one sitting is an incredibly intense emotional journey, engrossing and exhausting at the same time. Dreams and fantasies weave in and out of everyday events, lending the book an ethereal quality that balances the stark depictions of human tragedy. As depressing as the story gets, Ware has a great sense of humor, and there are enough moments of joy interspersed throughout to ward off complete emotional devastation.

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Was Dad really an out-and-out shit? Perhaps Mum drove him away. Perhaps he thought everyone would be better off without him. Chris Ware knew the question, but only part of the answer. His father disappeared for 30 years, blipped back into his life with a few phone calls and one uneasy dinner, then stood him up at what would have been their second meeting. Before he could get in touch again - assuming that was even in his mind - he died of a heart attack.

As Ware notes here in his postscript, the four or five hours the book takes to read "is almost exactly the total time I ever spent with my father, either in person or on the phone". During the first, year separation, Ware began to work out his anger and longing in a weekly comic strip, now brought together as a beautifully produced hardback. The Jimmy of the title is a prematurely aged office dogsbody, blowing around Chicago with only fantasies to keep him company.

He is shrunken in on himself, round-shouldered and hunched as if to present the smallest possible target. He has tiny, droopy eyes, never meets a gaze, has no small talk or social graces.

The only person who even tries to connect with him is his mother, and Jimmy finds her such a burden that he buys an answering machine to keep her at bay.

Jimmy has no memories of the man whose name he bears, and when one day the mail brings an invitation to spend Thanksgiving with him, his head is filled with hope, hate and fear.

But what he finds in Michigan is neither a saint nor a devil, nor even a consistently inadequate parent. His father has brought up another child - and pretty well, to judge by the "Number 1 Dad" T-shirts she buys him. And he wants to make amends. As the world stretches out below, the father mutters something and just walks away, never to be seen again. This is a finely crafted, complex book that gets better with every chapter: Ware seems to have matured both as an artist and a person in the years it took to complete.

While so many similar projects are little more than strings of striking images, Jimmy Corrigan forces you to pause, flick back a few pages and read again, rewarding you with another insight, another overdue connection.

It is a rare and uplifting example of an artistic vision pushed to the limits.


Daddy, I hardly knew you

Mar 05, Kayfor4me rated it liked it 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 Wares graphic novel. Jimmy speaks full sentencesonly 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.


Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

Jimmy is an awkward and cheerless character with an overbearing mother and a very limited social life. After an ill-timed phone call, Jimmy agrees to meet his father without telling his mother. The experience is stressful for him as he can barely communicate with anyone other than his mother, let alone his estranged father. However, the author states it is not an account of his personal life.



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