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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take it all in
I'll start off by saying that I read about 40 pages of this book before getting slightly confused and even bored at times. I have read many graphic novels, but this style in particular was just not something that I was used to. I think many people would be in the same boat.

To quote another reviewer, the story is very "unilaterally single-minded - about the...
Published on Jan. 6 2010 by thirteen

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3.0 out of 5 stars Truth In Advertising
In the lower right-hand corner of the cover, Chris Ware calls this book "A bold experiment in reader tolerance", and he ain't kidding.....This was one of the most hard-to-follow, dragged-out affairs I've ever read.
The book follows three generations of men (All named Jimmy Corrigan)...They're Father, Son, and Grandson, but Ware draws them all exactly the...
Published on June 24 2002 by Daniel V. Reilly


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take it all in, Jan. 6 2010
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
I'll start off by saying that I read about 40 pages of this book before getting slightly confused and even bored at times. I have read many graphic novels, but this style in particular was just not something that I was used to. I think many people would be in the same boat.

To quote another reviewer, the story is very "unilaterally single-minded - about the pathology and sadness of being a Corrigan." So that tends to get tiring sometimes when you're reading the book and you may want more depth about a different character in the story.

After visiting this site and reading other reviews, I decided that this story wasn't something I should miss. So I gave it another go and continued where I had left off. What I discovered is that each panel should be taken in slowly. Most are profound in their message, whether you are making it up in your head or not. even if you read it quickly the first time, go back and really look at some of those images over again. I'm not even sure I would read this over again for a while, since the sadness seems to seep into every part of the book and reader, but I imagine it's just as thoughtful the second time around. The characters are tragic, yet fascinating. I can't say it's the most uplifting or revolutionary story ever, but it's definitely worth sticking with.

Whether or not one enjoys the story, it's nearly indisputable that the illustrations are some of the best from a novel of this nature. The information graphics are beautifully drawn and laid out. They can be very complex, so re-reading and re-visualizing them helps. I would recommend this book solely for that even if the story wasn't great as well (luckily for us, it is).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The smartest kid, Nov. 26 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
In the first few pages of JIMMY CORRIGAN, the reader is introduced to the Super-Man, dressed in a red and yellow suit and wearing a cheap costume mask. He tells bad jokes and ends up seducing Jimmy's mother. The stage is set for a comic without heroes (or with only pathetic ones), confused children with lonely parents, and a humor that fails to conceal the underlying sadness.
There's a strange two dimensionality to the images, which makes it more illustration than drawing. Buildings tend to be drawn in elevation, interiors are in orthographic views, and simple shapes predominate. The effect is an abstraction of the environment that crosses temporal bounds, enters fantasies and nightmares, and recollects cruel memories.
Like Spiegelman and Clowes, Chris Ware takes his comic into areas that are usually considered to be the territory of literature, but it would require immense effort to imagine JIMMY CORRIGAN in novel form. The content and the form are inseparable. The story may be a downer, but ultimately it isn't depressing because it is well-told, well-illustrated, and somewhere within it is an awful truth about misogyny, race, childhood trauma, and isolation that we'd just rather not face.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly beautiful, Jan. 16 2004
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Chris Ware deserves a lot of admiration for writing and illustrating this graphic novel. It took him years to finish this 400-page tale of an unhappy, withdrawn man. The story wanders a bit, forcing you to really pay attention. (Honestly, you'll like it better the second time.) At first, his artwork seems to contradict the mood of the story --- everything is drawn with the color and lines of logos, street signs, and architectural diagrams. Everything is rendered in flat pastels. But as you continue, the panels start to look empty, with a false cheer to it. It's a style that underscores the plot.
Chris Ware could have spent years writing a big graphic novel about superheroes, wizards, or vampires --- you know, something easy. But he didn't. Instead, he stuck his neck out and created this, one of the best graphic novels ever written, but also one that challenges the reader. Chris Ware makes it clear what a real graphic novel is. It's an expert use of the comic book medium that deserves a much larger audience.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Melancholy Tale of Jimmy Corrigan, Nov. 8 2003
By 
"masonic5000" (Las Vegas, NV United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Wow, Chris Ware did a great job with this book. Let me start out by stating how deceptively simple the art is. At first, you start out thinking this'll be a cute and fun read, but as you read further into it, things get much darker and more depressing.
The story revolves around 37 year-old James Corrigan who we find out is a lonely, emotionally-impaired, human castaway. All the sudden his father, whom he's never met, decides he wants to spend time with Jimmy. Throughout the entire book, we go through not so seamless transitions into his fantasies and daydreams. At times, it can get confusing as to where they begin or end, but that's the whole point sometimes. We also go through other generations of Jimmy's family to take a look at their tribulations.
The story can get really depressing at times. Throughout the book, you're hoping for something good to happen to the protaginist. But just because of the overall depressing elements in the book doesn't mean there isn't any humor in it. There are some funny moments, but they tend to be subtle.
If you're into graphic novels, or even if you're not, I urge anyone who's in for a decent story to read this. Just don't expect the feel-good story of the year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally distant and affecting..., May 19 2003
By 
James Hiller (Beaverton, OR) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
I've never done this before. Buy a book. Can't stand it. Return it a few days later. Buy it back a few hours later. Fall in love with it. Such is my journey with Chris Ware's graphic book, "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth". Let me tell you first why I returned it, and what redeemed it.
I came across this book after a brief EW mention of it, rating it very high. Intrigued, I purchased a copy, and attempted to delve into its layers. Instead of intrigue, I found frustration, mainly because I simply didn't know how to look at the book. I didn't know where my eyes were supposed to go, so many of the early pages were difficult to read. Plus, the characters constant and sudden lapses into their daydreams made for early confusion.
So, I returned it, happy of my decision. And then, I attended a live version of "This American Life" that prominently featured the work of Ware. His artwork captivated me, enough to rebuy the book and try again. What I found was an entralling, captivating tale, multi-layered, and worth all the work to learn the language of his drawings.
It's the story of Jimmy Corrigan, an everyman without much of a life at all, who is contacted by his long lost father for a Thanksgiving reunion. Jimmy agrees to attend, which leads him on a retrospective journey of his life and his family. The story is both moving and rich, full of layers upon layers. Once you learn Ware's language, and what he tries to communicate, the story begins to shine like a lighthouse beacon through the pages. I was surprised to find myself crying at certain parts of the book; my brain was telling me this is simply a comic story, but my heart was breaking along with the characters. That alone is impressive.
Ware's drawings are incredible. He communicates so much through each drawing, you need to "read" this slowly, and internalize the story. Whereas you tend to want to skip the less important drawings, quite often they will give you the most information. This book is not one to read quickly, but enjoy, like a fine, fine wine.
I look forward to more work from Chris Ware. His artist's eye is impressive, but his storytelling is even more so.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Awkward Child Within Us All, Jan. 31 2003
By 
TorridlyBoredShopper "T(to the)B(to the)S" ("Daddy Dagon's Daycare" - Proud Sponsor of the Little Tendril Baseball Team, USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Understanding the portions that craft an individual are difficult, and harder still when the life fabricated within the tale is woven from the understandable cloth of sadness and feelings of perpetual loneliness. Still, that is what author Chris Ware painstakingly paints a portrait of for his readers, showing them the dysfunctions of life and the mounting sorrows it breeds through the eyes of Jimmy Corrigan; The Smartest 36-year-old Kid on Earth. Interestingly enough, the intentions of the story weren't that all that grandiose at first but that they would, according to the author "hopefully provide a semi-autobiographical in which (he) could work out some of the more embarrassing problems of confidence and emotional truthfulness" he was experiencing at the time. Still, five years later, the story took a turn that mimicked his own life when, out of the proverbial blue, he received a call from a father he didn't know; something that can be seen in Jimmy's life as well.
So, what's to tell in a life that could seem so ordinarily mundane that it is almost always overlooked by a world that seems to set pace against it? Well, the little ins-and-outs of the thought process that inflict someone from the childhood meeting of their then superhero idol and their mother's infectious hostility turn love-affair with said icon, for starters. There are the little turmoils inflicting a young mind, as he is groomed into a man dependent on his mother as he cultivated into a nervous shell of a man, not hanging onto, but hung by, apron strings that have never let go. It also showcases other affairs, like the redundancy of a workplace in which he yearns to know love and is bitterly rejected by the person he finds himself infatuated with, and then takes a turn of its own as Jimmy's father calls him and wants to see him again.
This is where we find Jimmy walking through the motions of awkwardness as he finds himself thrust into the lives of people he doesn't know, people that seem to superficially want to know him, as they go through their day-to-day interactions with a world that seems foreign to him. Within these moments you can see Ware's understanding of the silence booming through those clumsy moments that fall like snowflakes on an already whitened world, and we also see the way Jimmy's mind works, vividly depicting the world of surmounting woes that could come at every turn.
While here, the gaze also focuses upon other portions of the Corrigan family as well; looking into his father's life and his father's before him, showing you the emotional transgressions of a family that seems plagued by the inability to either love or to express the love they feel. Within these lives there is also the stumbling of feet and the horrors of life's shadowy moments, telling us that Jimmy isn't alone in these times of turbulence. Instead, he is one of many that suffer the awkward arrows that are fired by a world revolving on a seemingly compassionate axis.
In many ways I found the intoxication that Jimmy's mindset allowed him, those birthed by the plateaus of an almost youthful puritanicalness, to be a harrowing yet wonderful tale because, in a sense, I think everyone has known a time when a Corrigan has walked within their shoes. Added to this is the convection of thoughts that are bestowed upon the reader through sometimes prose-like statements that hit like hammers and that sometimes simply punctuate the worlds captured in the illustrations surrounding them, bringing out both the hopes and dreams that are sometimes hidden from everyone save the thinker. To me, this helped portray something fruitful in a book I had first beheld with skeptical glances and would now recommend highly to those looking for something that studies a little plateau called "the past" that is harbored in each and every one of us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Works on So Many Levels..., Aug. 7 2002
By 
J. Clarkson "jaffle: graphics monkey" (Aldie, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This is a labor of love. Chris Ware has taken time and his considerable talent and crafted a tale that should be pondered and studied. It is not easy reading, parts are heavy, edgy, sometimes crass, but all of this speaks to and supports the narrative and is not included for shock value, but rather to make the reader THINK.
Few people can boil down life, the injustices and the hurts and the monotonous solitude that all of us find ourselves victim to now and again to this polished effect. Chris Ware succeeds brilliantly. You will relate. Jimmy Corrigan is presented and treated in a way that never insults your intelligence, is never trite and is oft surprising.
As if that weren't enough, Ware's delightful sense of design, his colors and line and sense of place, are all reproduced exquisitely. High-quality paper and highly-saturated inks.
No, I do not know the guy. I don't work for the publisher. I am some random shmo. Rarely is something worth this level of praise. But when it is, credit is due. This is a piece of work that will be discussed many many years hence, on many many levels....
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3.0 out of 5 stars Truth In Advertising, June 24 2002
By 
Daniel V. Reilly (Upstate New York, United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
In the lower right-hand corner of the cover, Chris Ware calls this book "A bold experiment in reader tolerance", and he ain't kidding.....This was one of the most hard-to-follow, dragged-out affairs I've ever read.
The book follows three generations of men (All named Jimmy Corrigan)...They're Father, Son, and Grandson, but Ware draws them all exactly the same, so I had a hell of a time figuring out just who we were watching at any given time. I had to use the different lettering styles each characters story is told with to tell them apart. There were times where my tolerance was stretched to the breaking point, and I actually had to get up and walk away from the book, before I picked it up and tossed it out the window. Ware is also enamored of long stretches of tiny blocks of print that contribute nothing to the narrative. I'll never know just what that page of restaurant descriptions was supposed to be about, because I got so bored I skipped right past it.
I'll admit that by the end, I was fully drawn in to the sad tale, but getting there was a real struggle. The book is beautifully designed, and is a nice package for the price. It just seemed like a long trip to nowhere, though......
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of graphic literature., March 10 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
If ever there was a title in the comics medium that could attract the attention of the literary world, "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth" would be it. Indeed, this meticulously crafted tale of estranged fathers and sons spanning three generations has already won much acclaim from reviewers and readers alike who, until now, would typically have never even considered picking up a work of graphic literature. Originally running in serial form in the Chicago's weekly publication New City, "Jimmy Corrigan" took Ware seven years to create, though just by reading it you would never be able to tell. The artwork maintains a consistency throughout that suggests a vigorous discipline on Ware's part to create a cohesive and uniform story. Although it's true that Ware started the work as a free-form narrative experiment-never fully aware of where the story was headed from one "episode" to the next-eventually, as the tale began to take shape, he was able to rein in all the loose themes and motifs and successfully weave them together into a unified whole.
The story opens depicting the title character, Jimmy Corrigan, as a young child living with his mother and already showing signs of an unhealthily introverted personality. His father is noticeably absent from the picture. A one-night-stand his mother brings home becomes a pivotal figure in the development of Corrigan's inner psyche. Moving forward to the present, Corrigan-now a middle-aged man living out a miserable existence still indelibly attached to his mother-is abruptly contacted one day by a man claiming to be his long-lost father. Soon he finds himself on a plane bound for an awkward reunion with his progenitor, and what subsequently follows is a series of events that can only be described as Chekhovian in terms of emotional depth and scope.
Interwoven with this line of action is the tale of another member of the Corrigan clan, raised in an earlier era, with his own set of woeful circumstances also pertaining to his relationship with his father. Parallels both broad and intricate are drawn between the two storylines as Ware delicately shifts between past and the present, between the real and the imagined, between the melancholy and, well, the downright tragic. Shades of autobiography can be detected in the story's theme: Ware himself had never met his father until well into his adulthood, and when he did the results were less than joyous. Although the meeting did not occur until work on "Jimmy Corrigan" was well underway, the absence of a paternal figure throughout most of Ware's own life seems to inform the story in a deeply personal way.
One cannot discuss "Jimmy Corrigan" without mentioning its exquisite visual artistry. The book is simply stunning to look at. The story is primarily told through illustration-dialogue is sparse and largely informed by the image rather than vice versa-and is a masterful example of storytelling by way of composition and juxtaposition. Its muted color scheme (heavy on the earth tones, light on the pastels) and minimalist line-drawing artwork serves to convey the bleak, desolate state-of-mind of the title character. It's a case of style becoming substance as the aesthetics of its design are as integral to the story as its fractured narrative. Ware borrows heavily from turn-of-the-century newsprint art styles, which he obviously regards with great veneration. There is much in "Jimmy Corrigan" that demonstrates his penchant for the nostalgic; not only in the artwork but also in its storyline (the 1892 Chicago World's Fair is prominently featured as a backdrop for one of the story arcs). He frequently contrasts the old with the new, suggesting that there is a certain splendor and majesty to be found in the pop-cultural artifacts of yesteryear that has been replaced in modern times by a drab tackiness that pervades our artistic, commercial and architectural landscape.

The result of Ware's masterful combination of artwork, design and narrative is nothing short of astonishing. "Jimmy Corrigan" is a masterpiece of graphic literature; a quiet, absorbing tale that evokes the hopelessly sad, the desperately pathetic, and the heartbreakingly beautiful. It is a literary treasure that will hopefully find its way into the hands of those who have ever questioned the potential of the medium, and to those who want to be mesmerized by the talents of a wonderful storyteller.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STUFF, PLEASING TO THE EYE, BUT HARSH ON THE HEART, Feb. 26 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This is destined to be a classic in the world of comics. Although Mr. Ware is merciless in his treatment of the main character, Jimmy Corrigan, his artwork is something to behold with amazement. I still find it unbelievable that Ware does all this art and lettering on his own. I think he has people helping him with color separations, but that's about it?
The story meanders along with interesting storytelling devices to keep it lively - But then again, it's all about the artwork with this epic graphic novel. The reader will remain engrossed just at the process and execution of the entire work.
The graphics are in a 'clean' style much like Herge's TINTIN or the work of Dutch illustrator, Joost Swarte. Although a style like Ware's is very inviting and attractive, his subject matter remains gloomy and hopeless.
SIDE NOTE: In addition to this FAT collection, the individual issues of the comic, THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY, are just as essential, so get these too! ~ john
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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Hardcover - Sept. 12 2000)
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